Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 4th, 2008

Ubiquity commands

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Via Lifehacker, this very interesting post on the Firefox add-on Ubiquity.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 5:03 pm

Why are we not studying interrogation techniques?

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Very interesting post by Clive Thompson, which begins:

I’ve read a ton about the debate over torture, but in a piece in today’s New York Times Week In Review, Scott Shane makes a new and excellent point: The government has spent virtually nothing studying the sciences of influence and persuasion and how they apply to interrogation.

Shane points out that well-known fact that the Army Field Manual explicitly advises against torture; it offers instead a set of observations about human motivation that an interrogator can exploit. (“People tend to want to talk when they are under stress and respond to kindness and understanding during trying circumstances,” for example.) This is the sort of behavioral psychology we’ve all learned at the foot of prime-time police procedurals. But, as Shane points out, an understanding of this stuff isn’t reflected at the highest levels of government, which is either a symptom — or a cause — of the bigger problem, which is that the feds don’t avail themselves of the truckloads of research that’s been done in recent decades, partly by corporations eager to get people to buy, y’know, $300 prestressed jeans.

As Shane writes …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Improvising and the brain

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Very interesting point—and I suspect the same thing happens in the brain of those writing fiction, for example, or painting.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Spontaneous traffic jams

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They just happen:

Article here. It begins:

Traffic that grinds to a halt and then restarts for no apparent reason is one of the biggest causes of frustration for drivers. Now a team of Japanese researchers has recreated the phenomenon on a test-track for the first time.

The mathematical theory behind these so-called “shockwave” jams was developed more than 15 years ago using models that show jams appear from nowhere on roads carrying their maximum capacity of free-flowing traffic – typically triggered by a single driver slowing down.

After that first vehicle brakes, …

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Vaccines and autism

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Vaccines don’t cause autism. It’s over:

In a case-control study, the presence of measles virus RNA was no more likely in children with autism and GI disturbances than in children with only GI disturbances. Furthermore, GI symptom and autism onset were unrelated to MMR vaccine timing. Study findings are reported online in the Public Library of Science on September 4 (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003140). Prior to the implementation of measles vaccines in 1963, three to four million people were newly infected each year, 400-500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis. From January 1 through July 2008 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received 131 reports of confirmed measles virus infection in the U.S., the highest number for the same time period since 1996. Of these 131 cases, 91% occurred in individuals who had not been vaccinated or had unknown vaccination status.

In 1998, a report of the presence of measles virus RNA in intestinal tissue from children with autism spectrum disorders and GI disturbances (Wakefield et al.) resulted in public concern over the safety of MMR vaccine. Although epidemiological investigations found no associations between MMR vaccine and autism, no subsequent studies tested for the presence of viral RNA in GI tissues of children with autism and GI disturbances or examined the temporal relationship of MMR, GI disturbances, and autism. Failure to have done so may have contributed to persistent concerns that have influenced vaccine acceptance rates, resulting in outbreaks of measles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

Community organizers respond

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ThinkProgress:

Last night during her speech to the Republican National Convention, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sought to play up her experience as mayor of a small town in Alaska by mocking community organizing:

PALIN: And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities.

Today, the nation’s leading organization’s responded to Palin’s attack:

Center for Community Change: When Sarah Palin demeaned community organizing, she didn’t attack another candidate. She attacked an American tradition — one that has helped everyday Americans engage with the political process and make a difference in their lives and the lives of their neighbors.

Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now: ACORN members, leaders and staff are extremely disappointed that Republican leaders would make such condescending remarks on the great work community organizers accomplish in cities throughout this country. The fact that they marginalize our success in empowering low- and moderate-income people to improve their communities further illustrates their lack of touch with ordinary people.

USAction: These groups, and the millions of individuals they represent, are dismayed by the recent dismissal of their efforts in the form of political attacks. Community organizations have been at the heart of every major reform in modern history – from the Boston Tea Party to the civil rights movement for example, the quest for civil rights began when community organizers mobilized the disenfranchised.

Community Organizers of America: The last thing we need is for Republican officials to mock us on television when we’re trying to rebuild the neighborhoods they have destroyed. Maybe if everyone had more houses than they can count, we wouldn’t need community organizers. But I work with people who are getting evicted from their only home. If John McCain and the Republicans understood that, maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to make fun of community organizers like me.

Faith In Public Life has more responses from leading community organizers.

Check out The Sarah Palin Digest.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 4:43 pm

Posted in GOP

Amy Goodman on her arrest

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Worth reading.  [UPDATE: Also note this piece, where Goodman talks to the parents of some of the “terrorists”.]

I’m particularly shocked at the Secret Service. Column begins:

Government crackdowns on journalists are a true threat to democracy. As the Republican National Convention meets in St. Paul, Minn., this week, police are systematically targeting journalists. I was arrested with my two colleagues, Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, while reporting on the first day of the RNC. I have been wrongly charged with a misdemeanor. My co-workers, who were simply reporting, may be charged with felony riot.

The Democratic and Republican national conventions have become very expensive and protracted acts of political theater, essentially four-day-long advertisements for the major presidential candidates. Outside the fences, they have become major gatherings for grass-roots movements — for people to come, amidst the banners, bunting, flags and confetti, to express the rights enumerated in the Constitution’s First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Behind all the patriotic hyperbole that accompanies the conventions, and the thousands of journalists and media workers who arrive to cover the staged events, there are serious violations of the basic right of freedom of the press. Here on the streets of St. Paul, the press is free to report on the official proceedings of the RNC, but not to report on the police violence and mass arrests directed at those who have come to petition their government, to protest.

It was Labor Day, and there was an anti-war march, with a huge turnout, with local families, students, veterans and people from around the country gathered to oppose the war. The protesters greatly outnumbered the Republican delegates.

There was a positive, festive feeling, coupled with a growing anxiety about the course that Hurricane Gustav was taking, and whether New Orleans would be devastated anew. Later in the day, there was a splinter march. The police — clad in full body armor, with helmets, face shields, batons and canisters of pepper spray — charged. They forced marchers, onlookers and working journalists into a nearby parking lot, then surrounded the people and began handcuffing them.

Nicole was videotaping. Her tape of her own violent arrest is chilling. Police in riot gear charged her, yelling, “Get down on your face.” You hear her voice, clearly and repeatedly announcing “Press! Press! Where are we supposed to go?” She was trapped between parked cars. The camera drops to the pavement amidst Nicole’s screams of pain. Her face was smashed into the pavement, and she was bleeding from the nose, with the heavy officer with a boot or knee on her back. Another officer was pulling on her leg. Sharif was thrown up against the wall and kicked in the chest, and he was bleeding from his arm.

I was at the Xcel Center on the convention floor, interviewing delegates. I had just made it to the Minnesota delegation when I got a call on my cell phone with news that Sharif and Nicole were being bloody arrested, in every sense. Filmmaker Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films and I raced on foot to the scene. Out of breath, we arrived at the parking lot. I went up to the line of riot police and asked to speak to a commanding officer, saying that they had arrested accredited journalists.

Within seconds, they grabbed me, pulled me behind the police line and forcibly twisted my arms behind my back and handcuffed me, the rigid plastic cuffs digging into my wrists. I saw Sharif, his arm bloody, his credentials hanging from his neck. I repeated we were accredited journalists, whereupon a Secret Service agent came over and ripped my convention credential from my neck. I was taken to the St. Paul police garage where cages were set up for protesters. I was charged with obstruction of a peace officer. Nicole and Sharif were taken to jail, facing riot charges. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 4:39 pm

Community organizer

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Joe Klein has an excellent post:

Slowly, slowly, I am recovering from the extremely effective bilge festival staged by the Republicans last night. And while there is much to discuss, there was one item, in particular, that has to be considered infuriating: the attack on Barack Obama’s service as a community organizer by the odious Rudy Giuliani—he’s come to look like a villain in a Frank Capra movie, hasn’t he?—and Sarah Palin. This morning, I received a press release from a group called Catholic Democrats about the work—the mission, the witness—that Obama performed after he got out of college. Here’s the first paragraph:

Catholic Democrats is expressing surprise and shock that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech tonight mocked her opponent’s work in the 1980s for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.  She belittled Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer in Catholic parishes on the South Side of Chicago, work he undertook instead of pursuing a lucrative career on Wall Street.  In her acceptance speech, Ms. Palin said, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”  Community organizing is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching to end poverty and promote social justice.

So here is what Giuliani and Palin didn’t know: Obama was working for a group of churches that were concerned about their parishioners, many of whom had been laid off when the steel mills closed on the south side of Chicago. They hired Obama to help those stunned people recover and get the services they needed—job training, help with housing and so forth—from the local government. It was, dare I say it, the Lord’s work—the sort of mission Jesus preached (as opposed to the war in Iraq, which Palin described as a “task from God.”) This is what Palin and Giuliani were mocking. They were making fun of a young man’s decision “to serve a cause greater than himself,” in the words of John McCain. They were, therefore, mocking one of their candidate’s favorite messages. Obama served the poor for three years, then went to law school. To describe this service—the first thing he did out of college, the sort of service every college-educated American should perform, in some form or other—as anything other than noble is cheap and tawdry and cynical in the extreme. Perhaps La Pasionaria of the Northern Slope didn’t know this when she read the words they gave her. But Giuliani—a profoundly lapsed Catholic, who must have met more than a few religious folk toiling in the inner cities—should have known. (“I don’t even know what that is,” he sneered.”) What a shameful performance.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 2:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP

GOP running against the GOP

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Very weird dynamic, which is captured well in this snippet from Froomkin’s column today:

Here’s Democratic strategist Paul Begala on CNN last night: “It seems to me the purpose of this convention tonight is to help us all forget that for eight years George W. Bush has been running the White House; for six of the last eight years, the Republicans have run the House of Representatives; for five of the last eight years, they have run the Senate; and for all of the last eight years, they’ve run the Supreme Court. They’ve got seven of the nine justices were appointed by Republicans. So I think this is a terrific attempt…to try to shift away from the Republican record and try to sort of pretend they’re an alien force that somehow is going to come into Washington and change things.”

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 2:08 pm

Posted in GOP

World’s 100 most powerful women

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Interesting list. Sarah Palin is not on it, even though she was mayor of her home town and has been governor of Alaska for almost two years. Maybe if she had actually given an order to the Alaska National Guard, she would have made the list. (Despite the “commander of the guard” rhetoric, in her time as governor she has yet to give a single order to the National Guard.)

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Daily life

Four free creative-writing apps for the Mac

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Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 1:51 pm

Fred Kaplan on Sarah Palin

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Good article in Slate. Go read it. Unless you’re already sick of Palin.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 1:45 pm

Posted in GOP

Interesting difference

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I blogged earlier today about the “terrorists” in Minneapolis-St. Paul who really had nothing in the way of weapons (a rusty machete—used for lawn work?—household supplies, and so). But they are being held, charged, and mistreated. An interesting contrast is pointed out by Dave Niewart at Firedoglake in this post:

We noticed last week that it was awfully peculiar that Colorado’s U.S. Attorney, Troy Eid, had so airily dismissed conspiracy charges against the three white-supremacist tweakers who were caught planning to assassinate Barack Obama at last week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Now it turns out that those suspicions were fully warranted:

KUSA – 9Wants to Know has learned three men in Denver planned to assassinate U.S. Senator Barack Obama during the Democratic National Convention in Denver by sneaking into one of his events and shooting him with a gun hidden inside of a camera, according to federal court records.

Nathan Johnson’s girlfriend, whom 9NEWS is not naming because she’s a juvenile, said it would have to be a suicide mission.

The plot is similar to that in the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard” starring actors Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. In the movie, Costner stops an assassination attempt against Houston by spotting a weapon hidden inside a gutted-out TV camera.

Johnson, Shawn Adolf and Tharin Gartrell all thought that Obama had a suite in the third floor of the Hyatt hotel, where they were staying. In fact, the Senator was staying in another Denver Hotel.

The men were doing methamphetamine inside the hotel with two women on Aug. 23 discussing the plot to kill Obama, according to federal records.

Adolf said “it would not matter if he killed Senator Obama because police would simply add a murder charge to his pending charges,” according to the records. There were seven outstanding warrants for Adolf’s arrest.

The underage woman told law enforcement that Adolf also talked about using “a high-powered rifle 22-250 from a high vantage point” to shoot Senator Obama during his acceptance speech at INVESCO Field at Mile High during the DNC.

Even more significant, beyond the details of the plot, was the fact that, as the Colorado Independent notes, the FBI asked for more serious charges to be filed and were turned down.

When police searched the hotel rooms and cars the men were using, they confiscated meth, needles, laptops, cell phones, a black mask, books indicating check fraud and forgery, bags of new clothes, tactical pants and bar coupons.

Based on the evidence, FBI special agent Robert Sawyer believed there was probable cause to charge the men with conspiracy to kill Senator Obama. However, US Attorney Troy Eid last week said there is insufficient evidence to indicate a true threat, plot or conspiracy against the senator.

Note the language used by Eid in dismissing the gravity of the case: the case isn’t serious because they were “more aspirational, perhaps, than operational“? Well, when it was the Liberty Seven — black Muslim men who were described by the FBI as “aspirational rather than operational” — there was no hesitation by the Justice Department in bringing charges.

Another funny thing: When a black man in prison sent a threatening letter containing baby powder to John McCain, Troy Eid brought down the full force of the law, complete with press conferences and public declarations that “We won’t stand for threats of this kind in Colorado.”

But when it’s a claque of white men with rifles, disguises, and all the accoutrement of a conspiracy – as well as open admissions to it – Troy Eid isn’t worried. After all, they just a bunch of harmless, tweakers, right? … Just like little Timmy McVeigh.

But then, when you’re a Karl Rove operative promoted to deliver justice the Republican way, as Troy Eid is, that’s the way the scales fall. As Marcy reported at the time, Eid in fact nearly didn’t get the Colorado job because of concerns about “improper lobbying.”

His failure to take this matter seriously is itself a serious matter. When law-enforcement officials let this stuff slip by, they send a dangerous message to other would-be plotters out there. And next time, they may in fact be more competent.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 1:42 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

100 books

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The following list is from Martin Seymour-Smith’s The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today (1998). For each book, Seymour-Smith provides 3-5 pages of commentary. I have put in boldface those I have read in their entirety, and in italic those from which I have read a substantial amount (generally seminar readings).

  1. The I Ching. c. 1500 BCE
  2. The Old Testament. c. 1500 BCE
  3. Homer – The Iliad. The Odyssey. 9th century BCE
  4. The Upanishads. c. 700-400 BCE
  5. Lao-Tzu  – The Way and Its Power (Tao Te Ching). 3rd century BCE
  6. The Avesta. c. 500 BCE
  7. Confucius – Analects. c. 5th-4th century BCE
  8. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War. 5th century B.CE.
  9. Hippocrates  – Works. c. 400 BCE
  10. Aristotle – Works. 4th century BCE
  11. Herodotus – History. 4th century BCE
  12. Plato – The Republic. c. 380 BCE
  13. Euclid – Elements. c. 280 BCE
  14. The Dhammapada. c. 252 BCE
  15. Virgil – The Aeneid. 70-19 BCE
  16. Lucretius – On the Nature of Reality (De Rerum Natura). c. 55 BCE
  17. Philo of Alexandria – Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Laws. 1st century
  18. The New Testament. c. 64-110 .
  19. Plutarch – Lives. c. 50-120 .
  20. Cornelius Tacitus – Annals, From the Death of the Divine Augustus. c.120
  21. The Gospel of Truth (The Valentinian Speculation). c.1st century
  22. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations. 167 C.E.
  23. Sextus Empiricus – Outlines of Pyrrhonism. c. 150-210
  24. Plotinus – Enneads. 3d century
  25. Augustine of Hippo – Confessions. c. 400.
  26. The Koran. 7th century
  27. Moses Maimonides – Guide for the Perplexed. 1190
  28. The Kabbalah (Quabala). 12th century .
  29. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologiae. 1266-1273
  30. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy. 1321
  31. Desiderius Erasmus – In Praise of Folly. 1509
  32. Niccolo Machiavelli – The Prince. 1532
  33. Martin Luther – On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. 1520
  34. Francois Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel. 1534, 1532.
  35. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion. 1536
  36. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs. 1543
  37. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne – Essays. 1580
  38. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote. Part I, 1605; Part II, 1615
  39. Johannes Kepler – The Harmony of the World. 1619
  40. Francis Bacon – Novum Organum. 1620
  41. William Shakespeare – The First Folio. 1623
  42. Galileo Galilei – Dialogue Concerning Two New Chief World Systems. 1632
  43. Rene Descartes – Discourse on Method. 1637
  44. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan. 1651
  45. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz – Works. 1663-1716
  46. Blaise Pascal – Pensees. 1670
  47. Baruch de Spinoza – Ethics. 1677
  48. John Bunyan – Pilgrim’s Progress. 1678-1684
  49. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Principia Mathematica). 1687
  50. John Locke – Essay Concerning Human Understanding. 1689
  51. George Berkeley – The Principles of Human Knowledge. 1740, rev 1734
  52. Giambattista Vico – The New Science. 1725, rev 1730, 1744
  53. David Hume – A Treatise of Human Nature. 1739-1740
  54. Denis Diderot, ed. – The Encyclopedia. 1751-1772
  55. Samuel Johnson – A Dictionary of the English Language. 1755
  56. Francois-Marie de Voltaire – Candide. 1759
  57. Thomas Paine – Common Sense. 1776
  58. Adam Smith – An Enquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. 1776
  59. Edward Gibbon – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 1776-87
  60. Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason. 1781 rev 1787
  61. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Confessions. 1781
  62. Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France. 1790
  63. Mary Wollstonecraft – Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 1792
  64. William Godwin – An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. 1793
  65. Thomas Robert Malthus – An Essay on the Principle of Population. 1798 rev 1803
  66. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – Phenomenology of Spirit. 1807
  67. Arnold Schopenhauer – The World as Will and Idea. 1819
  68. Auguste Comte – Course in the Positivist Philosophy. 1830-1842
  69. Carl Marie von Clausewitz – On War. 1832
  70. Soren Kierkegaard – Either/Or. 1843
  71. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – The Manifesto of the Communist Party. 1848
  72. Henry David Thoreau – Civil Disobedience. 1849
  73. Charles Darwin – The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. 1859
  74. John Stuart Mill – On Liberty. 1859
  75. Herbert Spencer – First Principles. 1862
  76. Gregor Mendel – “Experiments With Plant Hybrids.” 1866
  77. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace. 1868-1869
  78. James Clerk Maxwell – Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism. 1873
  79. Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus Spake Zarathustra. 1883-1885
  80. Sigmund Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams. 1900
  81. William James – Pragmatism. 1908
  82. Albert Einstein – Relativity. 1916
  83. Vilfredo Pareto – The Mind and Society. 1916
  84. Carl Gustav Jung – Psychological Types. 1921
  85. Martin Buber – I and Thou. 1923
  86. Franz Kafka – The Trial. 1925
  87. Karl Popper – The Logic of Scientific Discovery. 1934
  88. John Maynard Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. 1936
  89. Jean-Paul Sartre – Being and Nothingness. 1943
  90. Friedrich von Hayek – The Road to Serfdom. 1944
  91. Simone de Beauvoir – The Second Sex. 1948
  92. Norbert Wiener – Cybernetics. 1948, rev 1961
  93. George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four. 1949
  94. George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff – Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. 1950
  95. Ludwig Wittgenstein – Philosophical Investigations. 1953
  96. Noam Chomsky – Syntactic Structures. 1957
  97. Thomas Samuel Kuhn – The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 1962 rev 1970
  98. Betty Friedan – The Feminine Mystique. 1963
  99. Mao Zedong – Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung. 1966
  100. B. F. Skinner – Beyond Freedom and Dignity. 1971

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 12:27 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Education

More on police actions at RNC

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One commenter seems okay with this, but I see the police actions in Minneapolis-St. Paul as moving toward a police state. Here’s a good post at Firedoglake. Read it. It begins:

Here’s the news from the streets of St. Paul and the cells of the Ramsey County Jail

Jason was tased seven times on the street, while completely unresisting. We just heard from him-he’s still pulling copper out of his hip from the taser gun, has a long, deep laceration in his leg that is still untreated, was beaten up badly and has a black eye, a hurt mouth and many lacerations, but says he’s doing great. Elliot Hughes, a sweet, nineteen year old who came to our day camp, was badly beaten when the cops knocked him off his bicycle. They stepped on his chest, and he was coughing blood all night but received no medical treatment. The guards were calling him ‘Princess’ and making homophobic remarks. We heard from Jason that last night, Elliot was making noises to protest not receiving any food for more than twelve hours. Twelve officers entered his cell. Screams were heard for over five minutes. He was tasered three times, maced, and beaten, then removed and the men were told he was being taken to a restraint chair. [Starhawk]

To put it bluntly, uniformed “law” enforcement in St. Paul and Ramsey County:

  • torture with electroshock weapons (Tasers)
  • torture with chemical weapons
  • stomp on a young man’s chest
  • cruelly (perhaps fatally) deny medical care to a victim spitting up blood (the fancy medical name is hemoptysis) from thoracic trauma
  • respond to calls for food with torture by beating, Taser, and chemical weapons: the same chemical weapons known to cause respiratory arrest and death in victims with pulmonary disease. “Spitting up blood” is a symptom of pulmonary disease so severe as to require emergency medical evaluation.
  • then tie up the victim in “restraint chairs” known to exacerbate pre-existing breathing difficulties in some victims of thoracic trauma.

The Ramsey County Jail officials did this in plain earshot of other detainees: that’s a pretty strong sign they don’t see anything to hide. Which—when one’s been doing the same thing over and over for years—is a common assumption.

Does the torture inflicted on Elliot Hughes sound strange and alien to you? Not me. In the mid-90’s the Humboldt County Sheriff planned and carried out torture of three groups non-violent forest activists by painting their eyes with the chemical weapon known as “pepper spray”. The “law” enforcement officers who did this thought it was such a good idea they made training videos. Those training videos, when they hit national news, provoked immediate revulsion, and helped turn public opinion against the brutal “policing” then the norm in California’s “Deep North”. Ultimately, the forest protectors won their Federal civil suit against their torturers.

Continue reading. And it is IMPORTANT to read the whole thing. And then see whether you’re comfortable with this.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 11:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Excellent post by Andrew Sullivan

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Andrew Sullivan is a conservative, but he thinks. Here’s a very good post by him:

Roger Simon nails it [and do click this link—I’ve posted the beginning below – LG]. For one brief moment, the press looked at the fantasist incompetence of the Republican establishment and did some actual reporting and vetting. Now, they seem cowed again by a bully like Steve Schmidt. For my part, I don’t believe the lesson of the past eight years is that the press should not ask every single question – and get honest, prompt answers – when we are being told things that we have to take on trust. After the WMD fiasco, when we all but gave the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime to be truthful about the very basis of a war, we have a responsibility to keep probing, filtering, vetting, asking. It’s our fricking duty. I learned my lesson not to take anything these people say on trust.

The McCain camp landed America and the world with someone who could technically be president of the US next February with close to no vetting and no real knowledge of who she is – and we are supposed to just accept the propaganda being peddled by people who once worked for Karl Rove.

Never again. Keep asking. Keep Googling. In so many ways, the Republican myth machine has finally met its match. It’s not the “Washington establishment” for Pete’s sake. They were busy sipping champagne and nibbling on truffles with Washington celebrity McCain at fabulous restaurants until very recently. It’s you, ordinary citizens with modems and questions. That’s who they’re afraid of. That’s who they want to intimidate.

Not this time.

Here’s the beginning of the Roger Simon piece:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 11:38 am

Posted in GOP, Media

Dems: Give whistleblowers protection under the law

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This is disgusting:

The U.S. Labor Department has only “ruled in favor of [corporate] whistleblowers 17 times out of 1,273 complaints filed since 2002,” and has dismissed 841 cases. Many of the dismissals were based “on the technicality that workers at corporate subsidiaries aren’t covered” by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Act, passed after the Enron and Worldcom scandals, contained the first federal protections for corporate whistleblowers. Senator Patrick Leahy, who helped draft the Act, says it covers workers in corporate subsidiaries. “Otherwise,” he explained, “a company that wants to do something shady, could just do it in their subsidiary.” The Labor Department disagrees. One of the whistleblower cases it dismissed involves communications giant WPP. A former staffer at WPP’s ad firm Ogilvy & Mather claims he was fired “in retaliation for his cooperation with a federal criminal investigation into his employer’s billing practices.” Two former Ogilvy executives received prison sentences for overbilling the U.S. government, but the staffer’s whistleblower complaint was dismissed. Even though WPP describes its firms as “centrally integrated,” the Labor Department ruled that Ogilvy is a subsidiary not covered by Sarbanes-Oxley.

Source: Wall Street Journal (sub req’d), September 4, 2008

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 11:32 am

Jon Stewart on the VP nominee

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A good example of “It’s OK if you’re a Republican.”

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Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 11:26 am

Posted in Daily life

Lies, lies, lies: the GOP

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Thanks to Liz, read the fact check on last night’s speeches.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 11:07 am

Posted in GOP

The Vegetarian 100

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Via The Accidental Hedonist, here’s another list of 100 foods, this time for the vegetarian. Source here. I’ve put in bold those I have eaten. The Indian dishes are from various Indian restaurants The Wife introduced me to. Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone took me through some of these—fresh fava beans, for example. I got 94%. 🙂

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked
2. Tabouleh
3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam)
4. Fresh figs
5. Fresh pomegranate
6. Indian dal of any sort
7. Imam bayildi
8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu
9. Freshly made hummus
10. Tahini
11. Kimchi
12. Miso
13. Falafel
14. Potato and pea filled samosas
15. Homemade yogurt
16. Muhammara
17. Brie en croute
18. Spanikopita
19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
20. Insalata caprese
21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards)
22. Freshly made salsa
23. Freshly made guacamole
24. Cr
éme brûlée
25. Fava beans
26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles
27. Fattoush
28. New potatoes
29. Coleslaw
30. Ratatouille
31. Baba ganoush
32. Winter squash
33. Roasted beets
34. Baked sweet potatoes
35. Plantains
36. Chocolate truffles
37. Garlic mashed potatoes
38. Fresh water chestnuts
39. Steel cut oats
40. Quinoa
41. Grilled portabello mushrooms
42. Chipotle en adobo
43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas
45. Frittata
46. Basil pesto
47. Roasted garlic
48. Raita of any type
49. Mango lassi
50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)
51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry
52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie
53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette
54. Quince in any form
55. Escarole, endive or arugula
56. Sprouts other than mung bean
57. Naturally brewed soy sauce
58. Dried shiitake mushrooms
59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…)
60. Fresh peach ice cream
61. Chevre
62. Medjool dates
63. Kheer

64. Flourless chocolate cake
65. Grilled corn on the cob
66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili
67. Tempeh
68. Seitan or wheat gluten
69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese
70. Sweet potato fries
71. Homemade au gratin potatoes
72. Cream of asparagus soup
73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip
74. Mushroom risotto
75. Fermented black beans
76. Garlic scapes
77. Fresh new baby peas
78. Kalamata olives
79. Preserved lemons
80. Fried green tomatoes
81. Chinese scallion pancakes
82. Cheese souffle
83. Fried apples
84. Homemade frijoles refritos
85. Pasta fagiole
86. Macadamia nuts in any form

87. Paw paw in any form (? — I don’t know this at all)
88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind
89. Paneer cheese
90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!)
91. Fresh pasta in any form
92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps

93. Green papaya salad
94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes
95. Pickled ginger

96. Methi greens
97. Aloo paratha
98. Kedgeree (just looked it up—will definitely have this)
99. Okra
100. Roasted brussels sprouts

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2008 at 10:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

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