Bush-Cheney Torture Team in His Sights
Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón who, in 2002, issued arrest warrant for the late General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, and wanted our former secretary of state Henry Kissinger questioned by British court, is now conducting a hearing to consider torture case against Bush officials. More power to him.
Whether or not Judge Garzón succeeds in establishing a case against them, his action is laudable. It is obvious that for political and other reasons, after making the torture memos public, President Obama would rather bury the issue. But the memos supporting torture prepared by members of legal staff of the Bush administration prove that laws were broken and twisted to serve the needs of a few megalomaniacs. And to move forward without conducting a full inquiry would be the wrong thing to do. Politics, however, is full of instances when decisions are not based on what is right but what is expedient.
In the meantime, don't expect to see Bush-Cheney and the amoral members of their staff traveling in Europe. They are not going to place themselves at risk of being arrested.
Excerpts from The Guardian UK.
Criminal proceedings have begun in Spain against six senior officials in the Bush administration for the use of torture against detainees in Guantánamo Bay. Baltasar Garzón, the counter-terrorism judge whose prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet led to his arrest in Britain in 1998, has referred the case to the chief prosecutor before deciding whether to proceed.
The case is bound to threaten Spain's relations with the new administration in Washington, but Gonzalo Boyé, one of the four lawyers who wrote the lawsuit, said the prosecutor would have little choice under Spanish law but to approve the prosecution.
The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.
In a now notorious legal opinion signed in August 2002, Yoo and Bybee argued that torture occurred only when pain was inflicted "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death".
Bit of Good News in a Plethora of Bad
Surfing the web, it was almost by accident I came across Tracey Taylor's article in New York Times. Reading A Label of Pride That Pays
made me feel good. These days, logging on to the computer is fraught with risk. One can never be sure that some new unpleasant things have not surfaced during the night -- more job cuts, another Madoff-like scam, mounting damage from toxic assets of banks; and the never ending violence in some parts of the world. Shias killing Sunnis; Sunnis killing Shias; a bloodbath in the island of Sri Lanka as government forces mop up the Tamil Tigers' last stronghold and refugees seek safe havens; our drones killing a lot of civilians and some terrorists. Politicians blathering. It goes on and on.
Then there is the feeling that we are getting buried in an avalanche of shoddily manufactured imported goods -- from houseware to wearing apparel. They are cheap, yes. They look cheap and often don't last. Not all American manufacturers can claim credit for high quality products. For years, the automobile manufacturers produced ugly, gas hogging vehicles that required frequent repairs....and they were not cheap. It was competition from Japanese car makers that finally woke up Detroit. That, however, is not what this post is about.
Tracey Taylor wrote about the success of two small companies in Northern California -- one in Sausalito, and the other in Berkeley. The complete article can be accessed in New York Times
In a timeworn factory in Sausalito, Calif., 67 workers turn out Heath ceramics, doing everything from mixing the clay to applying the finishing glazes. Twenty miles away, a Japanese robot called Ziggy works day and night in a converted brass foundry in Berkeley, making precision-cut office furniture.
Still, there still seems to be an appetite for products from high-end, craft-based manufacturers in America. That proved to be the major reason that Robin Petravic and his wife, Catherine Bailey, bought Heath Ceramics six years ago even though competition from abroad had forced most artisanal potteries across the country to shut down.
They said that when they first walked into Heath’s factory in one of Sausalito’s former shipyards, they decided that Heath’s idiosyncratic way of doing things and its geographical roots could prove to be its salvation. They said they were struck by the fact that every part of the manufacturing process was under one roof. “Many of the employees had worked there for decades and knew everything, including how to fix the machines if they broke down,” Ms. Bailey said.
The company was founded in the mid-1940s by Edith Heath, a ceramicist and creative spirit, and her husband, Brian, an inventor. The company quickly earned a reputation for durable, finely crafted tableware and tile whose clean, modernist lines signaled a break from the more fussy designs of the past.
Michael Goldin, an architect and industrial designer, has also tied his company’s fate to that trend. For the last 14 years, Mr. Goldin has been contributing to the rejuvenation of a light-industrial district in Berkeley. He transformed an abandoned model airplane motor factory into his office and has designed and outfitted streamlined, open-plan office spaces for lawyers, architects and dotcom start-ups in Berkeley and neighboring Emeryville.
Mr. Goldin’s company, Swerve, has also been making furniture, seeking out the technology required to produce precision-cut aluminum taper joints and machine-tooled, eco-friendly work surfaces for the desks, workstations and shelving systems.
For Mr. Goldin, outsourcing was never an option. “Ever since I was at grad school I have felt very strongly about having my hands in what I am making — actually feeling materials and how they work,” he said. “It all started with my desire to make things and to have a shop where I could do that.”
A month into spring, the days are finally showing a warming trend. Last Tuesday (the 14th) a blustery wind blew throughout the peninsula, and it felt wintry. Now, we can say "Spring is here". New leaves on the trees and abundance of flowers are sights to lift the spirits.
Come summer, shortage of water could cause some problems. But we have survived droughts in the past and no doubt we'll survive this summer.
A mixed bag of pictures, mostly wild flowers at various preserves.
Indian Warriors, Coal Mine Creek, Portola Valley, CA.
Vetch, Fremont-Older Open Space Preserve
Hikers, Easter Sunday 2009
Star Lily, Fremont-Older Open Space Preserve
Oak tree with new leaves, Fremont-Older Open Space Preserve
Meadow full of miniature lupines, Los Trancos Trail, Foothills Park
Blue Myrtle (Periwinkle), Los Trancos Trail, Foothills Park
Pink Trillium, Rancho San Antonio
Wild turkey at Rancho San Antonio
Mule's Ears, Rancho San Antonio
Wild California Poppy, Russian Ridge
Owl's Clover, Russian Ridge
A Clouded Sulfur Butterfly and Buttercups, Fremont-Older Open Space Preserve
What is all this juice and all this joy ?
A strain of earth's sweet being in the beginning...
--Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring
A Small Step Toward A Sane Policy
No, the invisible wall is not going to come tumbling down although that is the impression one gets from the scream coming out of anti-Cuba groups after President Obama lifted travel and spending restrictions. It was time.
Politically, expressing support for normal relations with Cuba is still risky. The anti-Cuba forces in Florida no longer have the clout they once enjoyed but they have friends, mostly Republicans, in high places who rant about the "Communist regime" in our backyard. Perhaps they yearn for the good old days of the Dictator Fulgencio Batista! Get over it.
Fidel Castro is still alive but no longer at the helm. His brother, Raul Castro became president of Cuba in 2008. There are many allegations about human rights abuses during Castro's rule. No doubt some of them are true. But the American government has had cozy relationship with dictators who were much worse. The history of our support of juntas in Latin American countries is shameful. And let's not forget that at one time we were in bed with the late Saddam Hussein and the Shah of Iran when torture and murder of dissidents were routinely carried out in Iraq and Iran.
President Obama did the right thing. Let's hope that the rabble-rousers would accept the fact that their irrational, unjustified campaign against Cuba has no support in the rest of the free world.*****
* Friday Morning Charivari
"Morally bankrupt"....that is what Nevada politicians, who voted against a tax on prostitution service, feel about the world's oldest profession. Another example of pot calling the kettle black. Most of the politicians in Nevada bend over backward to do the bidding of casino owners. No doubt the two-faced lawmakers believe that gambling is a pure and blessed activity! Call them expedient.
Excerpts from Reuters, Apr 9, 2009
CARSON CITY, Nevada (Reuters) - Nevada lawmakers on Thursday defeated a proposed prostitution tax that had won support from brothel owners and working ladies willing to do their part to ease the state's $3 billion budget crisis.
State Senator Bob Coffin, a Democrat, proposed levying a $5-per-customer service tax on patrons of some 20 legal brothels operating in rural Nevada, all of them outside Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County, where prostitution remains outlawed.
But a sharply divided Nevada state Senate committee voted 4-3 on Thursday to kill the tax, which Coffin said would have raised an estimated $2 million a year.
Coffin said similar proposals never went very far in the past due to opposition from legislators who felt that taxing prostitution would further legitimize an industry they regard as distasteful and morally bankrupt.
A bouquet for the working women engaged in prostitution who supported the tax.Gay Rights
Interesting to see gay rights making progress in different states of the country. Iowa Supreme Court's recent ruling that gay marriage ban is unconstitutional was quite unexpected. A sign of the times. People are no longer unquestioningly accepting arguments about homosexuality being sinful and giving gays full legal rights, including the right to marry, would lead to moral decay that various religious groups have had success with in the past.*****
The Boss and Neil Young * Karzai Backs Down
Hamid Karzai Backs Down
The logo is a copyright of www.glastonbury.co.uk
The largest open air music and performing arts festival in the world is scheduled from June 24th to 28th....and is sold out. The location is Worthy Farm, Pilton, near Glastonbury in Somerset, England.
This year, both Bruce Springsteen (The Boss) and Neil Young who were passionate about their opposition to Bush's war in Iraq, have been booked to appear at Glastonbury. Springsteen actively campaigned for Obama. Bush and his cohorts are gone but the war is still going on. In 2006, Neil Young produced an album that contained a song titled "Impeach the President". Not going to happen but they are great and courageous artists. See The Boss and Protest Singer
Not happily, but faced with intense condemnation of the rape law that he readily signed only a month ago, Hamid Karzai backed down -- agreed to "scrap the law". He might not find it that easy. In Afghanistan, it is not only among the Taleban that Islamic fundamentalists exist. Karzai, Bush administration's handpicked candidate to rule Afghanistan has been a failure. Not an easy job for anyone, certainly not for a corrupt man like Hamid Karzai.
It is said to forbid women to refuse to have sex with their husbands and force them to get their spouses' permission before leaving the house, looking for a job, going to the doctor or receiving education.
Gordon Brown has led the international condemnation of the law, saying today it would be unacceptable for British soldiers to die defending a regime that enacted oppressive legislation of this kind. The prime minister told Sky News that Nato leaders had attacked the law in the communique issued at the end of the summit in Strasbourg, and that Karzai had told him it would not come into force in the way that it had been reported.