Monday, December 17, 2012

Bottoming Out Culture 2012

Just as any drunk and addict bottoms out so will a culture. As much as the cold blooded killings to those beautiful children and teachers that occurred on Friday would possibly be the bottoming out of our addicted culture it will not. This one has stumped us though as a country and a culture.

Where does one start to express the anger and sadness about such an act as Sandy Hook. It is all of one piece like a tapestry. Gun laws, the making of weapons, the life of perpetual war, the senseless killings of other harmless countries children, the years of funding a war machine, killing machine. The incredible toxicities in our air and water and land, polluting our minds beyond what we really comprehend and we are not willing to fund for better understanding because of our love of weapons.

Not funding those that teach us, our teachers. Doing long days working for very little pay, their reward watching the light of learning go off in that child's mind. More funding for teachers less for war I would like to hear spoken from our politicians mouths. Teachers should be held up as high and dignified as our first responders. They were the first responders in this Sandy Hook tragedy.

How about the glorification of killing in movies and videos. These industries make billions all just making killers. The young males that get into this particular addiction should be discussed. Maybe even that the killing craze is mainly done by white males should be studied.

Greed, how about greed fellow humans. Why won't we take care of each other? Some people don't have bootstraps folks. We are continuing generations of poverty now, just so the filthy rich don't have to help others. Many good citizens now jobless, no future, no dignity, no way out, sickness hitting home, cancers. Tons of cancer, an epidemic that we don't talk about either affecting millions of people.

The planet we call home we are continuously harming. Killing off entire species. Polluting our waters so our children will be waterless. Polluting our air so our children can not breath.

It is all of the same friends. One sick addicted selfish culture.

Buy buy buy, consumerism, materialistic craze. All just band aids to a sick culture. Almost every product having some sort of plastic in it. What is plastic made of? Petroleum, fossil fuel our other major addiction. What are the hazards of plastics? Plastics are known to kill off sperm counts in males, what does it do to female eggs? Maybe that is what is causing such depravity? Ingesting plastics. We fashion ourselves an advanced culture, we could study this relationship of plastics and mental illness. But we can not as long as most of our collective money goes to the american war machine. How can we study this when we have guns to make and sell to the world.

The rant could go on. The point is it is all of one piece. We can not blame the NRA or this or that when we allow our weapons killing manufacturing buzz to continue, each of us have to consider our relationship to this massive killing machine industry. We cannot look for answers without looking at our fossil fuel oil addiction and what relationship we have to it. It is all of the same. The NRA is every military base, every nuclear weapon stored here in Albuquerque. More jobs in this country are for the killing machine then are for helping others. We are a culture based on violence and we all have a part right now.

One more thing, am I the only one that is disgusted with the vision of one of the swat military peace officers and the stupid machine gun they carry walking beside a youngster exiting the school? Is this what we have become? Ever since 911 we have funded homeland security to the tune of billions as well. For sure one of the answers to this sickness will be to have more security, instead of dealing with the problem head on. More security devices and gadgets and guns will be sold in order to protect us. Some rich pig becoming more filthy rich all with the disguise of protecting us. Maybe every school will have it's own militia like APS does now. All funded by our tax dollars.

Just like an addict we will let one day slip to the next and eventually the horror of the previous action will become distant we will forget and slip back into our addiction.

December 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM in Government, Guns, Military Affairs, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bravo! Heinrich Votes Against Flawed Defense Authorization Bill

Fresh from Rep. Martin Heinrich's office:

220px-Martin_HeinrichU.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) voted today against the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. Since coming to Congress in 2009, Rep. Heinrich, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has supported all previous defense authorization bills that have been voted on in the House of Representatives.

“Our brave men and women in uniform serve honorably every day, and it is our responsibility in Congress to ensure they receive the funding and resources they need to carry out their mission,” said Rep. Heinrich. “However, the Defense Authorization bill was used as a vehicle to authorize the military to go anywhere in the world to imprison anyone suspected of terrorism—even American citizens on U.S. soil—without charge or trial. By mandating military detention of suspected terrorists, this law places additional responsibilities on the military that they have not sought, nor have the resources to carry out, compromising our national security.”

Section 1022 (formerly Section 1032 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of civilian law enforcement authorities. This would deny civilian law enforcement authorities the flexibility necessary to conduct effective interrogation, detention, and prosecution.  Respected bipartisan members of the national security community— including the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division—oppose this provision.

“If we have evidence that a U.S. citizen is planning to or causing harm to our country, that person should absolutely be arrested, tried and brought to justice,” said Rep. Heinrich. “But instead, this law would harm our justice system and is at odds with the U.S. Constitution.”

Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would authorize indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens’ rights. Under this authority, any individual—including Americans on U.S. soil—suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely “until the end of hostilities.”

“Since September 11, 2001, Americans have made tremendous sacrifices in both blood and treasure,” said Rep. Heinrich.  “In President Obama’s inaugural address, he asked every American to ‘reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.’  Now, a decade after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, it is time we follow through in rejecting this false choice.  America can be both safe and free.”

December 14, 2011 at 06:54 PM in Civil Liberties, Military Affairs, National Security, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Terrorism, U.S. Constitution | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Sen. Tom Udall: Take a Minute on September 11 to Stop and Remember

In recognition of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) today released the video above encouraging New Mexicans to participate in the 9/11 National Moment of Remembrance. For one minute at 11:00 AM MDT on Sunday, September 11, 2011, Americans across the country will stop and remember, while first responders, houses of worship and towns sound sirens and bells in honor of 9/11.

“On September 11, 2001 our lives changed and our country came together to mourn, and out of tragedy, we joined in a spirit of national unity that helped our nation heal,” Udall states in the video. “Let's honor those who we lost and the sacrifices of our troops and their families by coming together to stop and remember.”

In August, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S. Res. 237, sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Udall, calling on all Americans to participate in the Moment of Remembrance.

September 7, 2011 at 12:56 PM in Events, Sen. Tom Udall, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Udall: Reauthorizing Patriot Act Is Mistake; NM Congressional Dems Vote No

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), took to the Senate floor last Wednesday to reaffirm his opposition to the Patriot Act, saying that the law undermines the constitutional right to privacy of law-abiding citizens (see video clip above). Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also spoke against the rushed reauthorization. Thank goodness at least a few Senators spoke out to demand some serious debate about this controversial law and question its validity ten years since 9-11. However, not enough others in Congress seemed to be listening -- not to mention President Obama.

Udall’s remarks came as the Senate prepared to vote on a four-year reauthorization of the three controversial provisions within the law that fail to protect the privacy rights of innocent Americans and do nothing to guard against potential abuse. Those provisions are: roving wiretaps, government access to ‘any tangible items’ such as library or business records and the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

NM Congressional Dems Vote No
Unfortunately, on Thursday, the reauthorization passed the House by a margin of 250 to 153 and passed the Senate by a vote of 72 to 23. The legislation was quickly signed by the president -- via autopen from France. Not good. However, I'm very pleased to report that the entire Democratic congressional delegation from New Mexico -- Represenatives Martin Heinrich (NM-01) and Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) and Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman -- all voted against the measure.

As Sen. Udall explained in a written statement, The Patriot Act –- which was first passed nearly a decade ago in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks –- did not receive the necessary congressional debate and scrutiny before it was passed. Only after Congress blindly expedited the passage of the far-reaching piece of legislation, was its power to undermine the constitutional right to privacy of law-abiding citizens revealed.

Ten Years Later
Udall, a member of the House of Representatives at the time, expressed deep concerns about the bill –- and was one of only 66 members to vote against its passage.

“Almost ten years later, we still haven’t had the debate that we need to have on this piece of legislation. The world’s greatest deliberative body has not weighed in with amendments. We have not moved forward in a serious way to try and tackle this piece of legislation that is so important to our country, to our freedom, to our liberty,”Udall said during his floor remarks.

Udall also voted against a procedural maneuver in the Senate that would allow quick consideration and passage of the reauthorization, and noted that he voted against final passage in part because it had not been thoroughly debated –- or had an adequate opportunity to be amended –- by the full Senate.

In 2009, Udall helped introduce the Judiciously Using Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act to address those concerns.

“To govern in a post-9/11 world, we have to strike the delicate balance of thwarting the terrorist actions of some, without infringing on the constitutional guarantees of the vast many. We are failing to strike that balance today by forcing this reauthorization of the Patriot Act without scrutinizing the long-term ramifications of the law,” Udall said. 

ACLU Files FOIA Request
Meanwhile, the ACLU today filed a new Freedom of Information request demanding that the Justice Department release information about the government's use and interpretation of Section 215, which is perhaps the most controversial of the provisions that Congress reauthorized. It allows the FBI to obtain “any tangible things” -- like business records about customers. The organization anticipates litigating the request. The battle for civil liberties in America continues unabated.

May 31, 2011 at 03:01 PM in Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, Obama Administration, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

(Updated) Fort Sill Apache Chairman Seeks Apology from President Obama for Geronimo Slur

Update: Senator Tom Udall has denounced the use of Geronimo in connection with Bin Laden.
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The Chairman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe has asked President Obama to issue a formal apology for the United State’s recent association of the name of Geronimo with Osama Bin Laden.

"We are grateful that the United States was successful in its mission against Bin Laden, but associating Geronimo's name with an international terrorist only perpetuates old stereotypes about Apaches,” said Jeff Houser, Chairman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, the successor to Geronimo’s Chiricahua Apache Tribe. “In the 1800's Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apache people were portrayed as savages. This portrayal was used as justification for the forced removal from their homelands and their subsequent imprisonment. Linking Geronimo’s name to an infamous terrorist only reinforces this false and defamatory stereotype.”

The letter (pdf), which was faxed to the White House on May 3, 2011, emphasizes the Apache leader’s status as a Native American icon, recalls the U.S. House of Representatives' February 2009 Resolution honoring him and makes a personal appeal to the President to “right this wrong.” Excerpt:

... as details of the operation came to light, our Tribe and many other Native Americans learned of a disturbing fact that tempered our positive feelings about this great accomplishment. Through various media reports our Tribe found out that the code name used for Osama bin Laden on this operation was Geronimo. As you may or may not know, Geronimo was a member of our Tribe. He is buried in the Fort Sill Apache Prisoner of War Cemetery on the Fort Sill Army Base in Lawton, Oklahoma where he died after almost 23 years of captivity.

We are quite certain that the use of the name Geronimo as a code for Osama bin Laden was based on misunderstood and misconceived historical perspectives of Geronimo and his armed struggle against the United States and Mexican governments. However to equate Geronimo or any other Native American figure with Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer and cowardly terrorist, is painful and offensive to our Tribe and to all native Americans.

The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is successor in interest to the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache people that lived in Southern New Mexico and Arizona until 1886, when they were forcibly removed and held as Prisoners of War of the United States for 28 years. The Tribe’s members are descendants of those people who, upon their release in 1914, remained in Oklahoma and maintained their status as independent Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches until the tribe was restored years later as the Fort Sill Apache Tribe. The tribe has long expressed its desire to return to its homelands.

May 5, 2011 at 12:18 AM in Native Americans, Obama Administration, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (9)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sen. Tom Udall Calls for Thorough Review of Patriot Act, Wants Our Input

Recently, without any meaningful debate, Congress voted (House, Senate) to provide a three-month extension on several very controversial provisions of the Patriot Act -- to continue surveillance of business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers and roving wiretaps. In essence, they kicked the can down the road instead of engaging in a serious, indepth analysis of the provisions and the law itself.

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) voted no on the initial enactment of the Patriot Act, as well as the extensions of various provisions that have been passed since the Act's inception almost 10 years ago, including the latest one. Now Sen. Udall is calling for a thorough review of the law before anything more is done to extend any part of the post-9/11 legislation. Watch the video above to hear his views.

To give him a perspective on how New Mexicans view the Patriot Act, Senator Udall wants to hear our opinions on whether we should extend its reach going forward, and why or why not. Just go to his Facebook page and weigh in with your comments or questions.

For more information on the Patriot Act, visit these pages at the ACLU, Wikipedia, NPR and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for starters.

February 24, 2011 at 03:17 PM in Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, National Security, Sen. Tom Udall, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sen. Tom Udall Guest Blog: Protecting Privacy at the Airport

TomUdall This is a guest blog by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), who is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Around the holidays last year, we saw significant public concern about personal privacy at our nation's airports. At the time, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had expanded screening measures at security checkpoints in airports like the Albuquerque Sunport.

The new standard became Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) or whole body scanners, which produce highly revealing body images of the individual being screened. If you refuse an AIT scan, the alternative is a full body pat-down -- also hardly ideal for personal privacy.

I asked New Mexicans to share their thoughts with me on this issue. In more than 7,000 email responses, my constituents overwhelmingly expressed concern about these TSA screening procedures.

To address these concerns, I've put forward a practical proposal that meets current airport security standards while helping travelers maintain personal privacy.

New software can be installed on existing scanners to replace passenger-specific pictures with a generic, non-identifiable outline of the person being screened. I have offered an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill that would require this software to be installed on existing scanners nationwide within a year.

Advanced Imaging Technology Currently In Use
The body images produced at airport checkpoints are highly revealing and many passengers are justifiably uncomfortable being screened by the technology. Today, this is the kind of image AIT screening creates:

Current

Proposed Automatic Target Recognition Software
I propose a deadline of Jan. 1, 2012, for Automatic Target Recognition software to be installed nationwide on existing AIT machines. This software enhances privacy by eliminating passenger-specific images and instead detects potential threat items and indicates their location on a generic outline of the individual being screened, like this:

Proposed

This month, the TSA is beginning to field-test the program in Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C., and similar software is already being used abroad.

With existing technology, we can enforce airport security without sacrificing our personal privacy. By imposing a deadline for the transition to this software, we will ensure that the TSA and manufacturers have ample time to test and make any necessary modifications while preventing unnecessary delays for its implementation.

This is a guest blog by Sen. Tom Udall. To submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, click on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

February 15, 2011 at 02:21 PM in Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, Sen. Tom Udall, Terrorism, Transportation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Compare Language of Obama and Cheney Speeches on National Security

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These are word clouds created by the language used in the speeches about national security given today by President Barack Obama and Dead-Ender Dick Cheney. The bigger the word, the more it was used in the speech. Click on the images to see larger versions. Notice any big differences? Like use of the words TERRORISM and 9/11 by Cheney vs. the words WILL, AMERICAN, PEOPLE and GUANTANAMO emphasized by Obama? Click for the complete texts of the speech by Obama -- and the one by Cheney. There he goes again. Hey, Dick, go back to your bat cave!

May 21, 2009 at 03:34 PM in Afghanistan, International Relations, Iraq War, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama Administration, Terrorism, Torture | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Urge Congress to Rethink Afghanistan and Hold Oversight Hearings

President Obama and a Democratic majority Congress are in power yet the fighting in Afghanistan continues to escalate with little or no oversight or public analysis in the halls of power about what we are doing there and why. Do you know what "victory" would look like in Afghanistan? I certainly don't. Read Jeremy Scahill's disturbing piece on the latest U.S. bombing in Afghanistan. Excerpt:

As President Barack Obama prepares to send some 21,000 more US troops into Afghanistan, anger is rising in the western province of Farah, the scene of a US bombing massacre that may have killed as many as 130 Afghans, including 13 members of one family. At least six houses were bombed and among the dead and wounded are women and children. As of this writing reports indicate some people remain buried in rubble. The US airstrikes happened on Monday and Tuesday. Just hours after Obama met with US-backed president Hamid Karzai Wednesday, hundreds of Afghans—perhaps as many as 2,000— poured into the streets of the provincial capital, chanting “Death to America.” The protesters demanded a US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In Washington, Karzai said he and the US occupation forces should operate from a “higher platform of morality,” saying, “We must be conducting this war as better human beings,” and recognize that “force won’t buy you obedience.” And yet, his security forces opened fire on the demonstrators, reportedly wounding five people.

The cost of the war in Afghanistan so far? More than $172 billion and counting. New Mexico's share of that cost?

  • NM: Total war funding approved to date: $2,527,082,441
  • NM: President's new funding request (remainder FY09): $234,557,205
  • NM: Requested funding could provide:
    • People with health insurance for one year: 62,662
    • Homes with renewable electricity for one year: 366,883
    • Students with maximum Pell Grants ($5350): 43,842

Congress must not approve an $83.4 billion supplemental war funding bill until policymakers answer critical questions about this war. As Afghan civilians are dying from US air strikes, Congress should rethink a bill that would be a blank check for expanding military operations.

You can learn more here and sign a petition to Rep. Howard Berman, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, that says:

It is imperative that we hold oversight hearings on the Afghanistan conflict. Before committing more troops and taxpayer dollars to Afghanistan, we must first have a national conversation to address the many questions surrounding this war. At a time when our country faces a credibility crisis around the world, record casualties in Afghanistan, and an economic meltdown at home, oversight hearings are needed now more than ever. The government must examine how foreign policy is being executed in Afghanistan, while helping to alleviate our financial strains.

We urge the House Foreign Affairs Committee to hold oversight hearings in order to rethink our policy toward Afghanistan and uphold the nation's system of checks and balances.

Call your U.S. Representative. Click here.

May 8, 2009 at 12:36 PM in Afghanistan, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Today: ABQ Bar Association Luncheon Features Guantanamo Discussion

An attorney for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the brigadier general who spent a year helping to run it and a professor of international law will offer perspectives on the future of Guantanamo at an Albuquerque Bar Association luncheon today, Tuesday, March 3, 2009.

Speaking will be Nancy Hollander, an attorney with Freedman, Boyd, Hollander & Ives, who represents two detainees; Greg Zanetti of the 111th Combat Support Brigade who spent the past year with the Joint Task Force operating the detention facility; and Jennifer Moore, professor of international law at the University of New Mexico School of Law.

The lunch begins at 11:45 AM at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1000 Woodward Place NE, off Lomas and I-25. Cost is $25 for members; $35 for nonmembers. Registration is available by calling 842-1151 or 243-2615 or emailing abqbar@abqbar.org. For more information, visit the Albuquerque Bar Association website at http://abqbar.com.

March 3, 2009 at 08:25 AM in Civil Liberties, Events, Military Affairs, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

(Updates x 2) Oh the Irony: Former U.S. Attorney Iglesias Now Set to Prosecute Gitmo Cases

Update 2: TPM provides additional info on the assigment of Iglesias to prosecute Gitmo prisoners. It had nothing to do with the Obama administration, though the timing hinted it might be.
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Update 1: Just past midnight, President Obama put an immediate halt to the Bush administration’s military commissions system for prosecuting detainees at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
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Local KRQE News 13 had the scoop this morning (see above video) and an item on TPMMuckraker today comments:

David Iglesias -- the former US Attorney who was fired in 2006 for failing to prosecute politically motivated cases as aggressively as the Bush administration and its allies wanted -- has a new job.

Iglesias, a member of the US Naval Reserve JAG corps, has been reactivated as part of a special prosecution team for Guantanamo detainees, he told a New Mexico news station this morning.

"One hundred percent of what I'm doing is prosecuting terrorist cases out of Guantanamo," he said.

Igleisas explained that he had already begun the work, having travelled to the facility once, and expecting to go back.

"It's the most significant set of orders I've had in my 24 years of navy service," he added. "The level of detail that I'm looking into some of these terrorist groups, it just takes my breath away."

Fired in the Bush era for alleged incompetence, Iglesias himself sees the irony of being given responsibilities related to some of the nation's most controversial and serious national security matters:

And he signaled what seemed to be a change in tone from the Bush years. "We want to make sure that those terrorists that did commit acts will be brought to justice -- and those that did not will be released."

Asked about the unlikelihood of being named to a frontline job in the war on terror, after being fired as a US Attorney for alienating the Bush administration, Iglesias allowed: "It's been very ironic."

President Obama has promised to shut down the U.S. holding facility at Guantanamo as soon as possible, although clearing out the prison will take time. It's being reported he will issue orders shortly to put a hold on current prosecutions until a thorough assessment is conducted and decisions are made about how to proceed. The legal considerations are complex, to say the least. But it does look like Iglesias will play a role in the process.

January 21, 2009 at 10:14 AM in Civil Liberties, Justice, Military Affairs, Terrorism, U.S. Attorney Iglesias | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Will Dems Use Their Power to Reverse Bush-Era Abuses?

Must read as Dems prepare to take control of the executive branch and both houses of Congress: Glenn Greenwald astutely dissects the disastrous attacks on American civil liberties and constitutional protections over the last decade -- many of them conducted with Democratic approval or acquiescence -- and challenges Dems to have the backbone to reverse course. Excerpt:

For the last seven years, Democrats have repeatedly cited GOP political dominance to excuse their wholesale failures to limit, let alone reverse, the devastating war waged by the Bush administration on America's core liberties and form of government. With a new Democratic president and large majorities in both Congressional houses, those excuses will no longer be so expedient. As dark and depressing as these last seven years have been for civil libertarians, culminating in an almost entirely grim 2008, there is no question that the Obama administration and the Democrats generally now possess the power to reverse these abuses and restore our national political values. But as the events of the last 12 months conclusively demonstrate, there are substantial questions as to whether they have the will to do so.

January 2, 2009 at 01:01 PM in Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Crime, Government, Iraq War, Justice, Obama Transition, Public Policy, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (1)