The U.S. general who opened the Guantanamo detention camp said Thursday it was a mistake and should be shut down because “it validates every negative perception of the United States.”
“In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong,” Marine Major General Michael Lehnert wrote in a column published in the Detroit Free Press.
Lehnert, now retired from the military and living in Michigan, was the first commander of the task force that opened the detention camp in January 2002 at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.
He said the United States opened it “because we were legitimately angry and frightened” by the September 11 hijacked plane attacks in 2001 and thought the captives sent there would provide “a treasure trove of information and intelligence.”
He quickly became convinced that most of them never should have been sent there because they had little intelligence value and there was insufficient evidence linking them to war crimes, he wrote.
“We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantanamo, both in terms of detention and torture,” Lehnert wrote. “Our decision to keep Guantanamo open has helped our enemies because it validates every negative perception of the United States…”
He added, “It is time to close Guantanamo. Our departure from Afghanistan is a perfect point in history to close the facility.”
But, that’s OK – because any attempt to redress legitimate grievances, to make things right by battlefield prisoners and kidnap victims held in violation of international law – will be met with disdain and denial by our Congress. The one body in US government which stinks worse than the Guantanamo prison camp.
The High Line, a park that turned a dilapidated stretch of elevated railway on Manhattan’s West Side into one of New York’s newest tourist attractions, may have brought a different kind of visitor: a cockroach that can withstand harsh winter cold and never seen before in the U.S.
Rutgers University insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista said the species Periplaneta japonica is well documented in Asia but was never confirmed in the United States until now. The scientists, whose findings were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, say it is too soon to predict the impact but that there is probably little cause for concern…
Michael Scharf, a professor of urban entomology at Purdue University, said the discovery is something to monitor.
“To be truly invasive, a species has to move in and take over and out-compete a native species,” he said. “There’s no evidence of that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about it…”
Periplaneta japonica has special powers not seen in the local roach population: It can survive outdoors in the freezing cold…
The likelihood that the new species will mate with the locals to create a hybrid super-roach is slim.
MIMIC is one of my favorite sci-fi flicks. That it had a terrific cast along with solid writing did it no harm. The CGI was an early example of just how intricate and realistic computer-generated illustration was becoming in the movie world.
I will wait and watch. Bwahahaha!
Prototype display before putting the real deal in the capitol rotunda
A nearly 6-foot-tall “Festivus” pole made from empty beer cans will be put up in the Florida Capitol this week as a not-so-subtle protest to the recent placement of a Christmas nativity scene.
The mock monument will be erected most likely on Wednesday in the same first-floor rotunda as a nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ put up last week by the Florida Prayer Network.
“I still chuckle, I literally can’t believe there will be a pile of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans in the state rotunda,” said Chaz Stevens, a Deerfield Beach resident who applied to the state Department of Management Services to put the Festivus pole on display.
Stevens, who operates a blog that focuses on South Florida politics, said the intent of the Festivus pole is to make a political statement on the need for the separation of church and state.
He compared the Festivus pole with the nativity scene as “my ridiculous statement versus what I consider, as an atheist, as their ridiculous statement.”
Festivus is a “holiday” created for the TV sitcom “Seinfeld” as a non-commercial festival “for the rest of us” in the Christmas and year-end holiday season. Festivus, celebrated Dec. 23, comes with a ceremonial post-dinner “airing of the grievances” in which participants describe how they have been disappointed by others in the past year and engage in “feats of strength…”
Stevens, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, requested the Festivus display space from the state Department of Management Services after reading about the nativity display. A preliminary approval was given Friday with the formal approval made Monday.
What a terrific idea. Using PBR cans fits another core American value as well. They have a Union label.
Reaching for freedom in India
There’s been widespread outrage in India’s gay community, which is in shock after the country’s top court reversed a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court ruling that had decriminalised homosexual acts.
The court has now left it to parliament to legislate on Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial law, under which a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year jail term.
Opposition to the 2009 ruling had come from more than a dozen political, social and religious groups and petitioners.
They put up an array of arguments, many of them bizarre and, some might say, disingenuous.
One petitioner was a TV astrologer who told the court the ruling “compromises national defence since soldiers will start having sex with each other”…Perhaps most bizarrely, a spokesman for a popular yoga guru opposed the change, telling the court that he could “cure homosexuality through yoga”…
Ranged against this were some four main groups who filed petitions supporting the Delhi court decision.
They included parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with stories of how the colonial-era law had caused trauma to them and harmed their family lives; a group of more than a dozen psychiatrists and psychologists who treat LGBT “patients”; and some distinguished academics and leading Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal…
The 2009 judgement came as a shot in the arm for India’s gay community. More and more of its members had begun to come out. “The verdict is a severe blow to them,” journalist and activist Vikram Doctor tells me. “Once people come out of the closet, they just cannot go back.”
I don’t know why I ever presumed India had left behind all the trappings of British Imperialism. Out-of-date and disfunctional, 19th Century policies are only honored by the truly backwards. Usually on the basis of religion or bigotry.
I had presumed that legal structures at least at the top of law’s pyramid in India would be self-limiting to those individuals genuinely qualified. Wrong, obviously.
The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it was beginning to phase out the use of some critical antibiotics in animals raised for meat, a major policy shift that could have far-reaching implications for industrial farming and human health.
The change, which will take effect over the next three years, is the first serious attempt by the federal government to curb the broad use of antibiotics in farm animals in decades. Pressure for action has mounted as the effectiveness of drugs important for human health has declined, and deaths from bugs resistant to antibiotics have soared. Food producers said they will abide by the new rules, but some public health advocates voiced concerns that loopholes could render the new policy toothless…
The agency has changed the rules so that food animal producers would no longer be able to use antibiotics to make animals grow faster. It will accomplish that by asking manufacturers of the drugs to change the labels in a way that would make it illegal for farmers to use the medicines for growth promotion.
The changes, which were originally proposed in 2012, are voluntary for drug companies. But F.D.A. officials said they believed the companies would comply, based on discussions during the public comment period. The two drug makers that represent a majority of such drug products have already stated their intent to participate…
Additionally, the agency is requiring that licensed veterinarians supervise the use of antibiotics, effectively requiring farmers and ranchers to obtain prescriptions in order to be able to use the drugs for their animals.
Consumer health advocates say it is an open question whether the new rules will change how much antibiotics are consumed by animals. They say that a loophole will allow animal producers to keep using the same low doses of antibiotics, by arguing that they were needed to keep animals from getting sick, and thereby avoiding the new ban on use for growth promotion…
A more meaningful move, Dr. Keeve Nachman said, would be to ban the use of antibiotics for the prevention of disease, a step the F.D.A. so far has not taken. That would limit antibiotic uses to treatment of sickness that was diagnosed by a veterinarian, a much narrower category, he said.
RTFA for a few more details. This should get rolling in the beginning of 2014 and we’ll see which Pharmas obey which regulations. Same goes for the agribusiness giants who consider consumers a fraction of a step more important than the commodity animals they slaughter.
Sixteen broken-down transport planes that cost U.S. taxpayers at least $486 million are languishing among the weeds, wooden cargo boxes and old tires at Kabul International Airport, waiting to be destroyed without ever being delivered to the Afghan Air Force.
The special inspector general for Afghanistan is investigating why the refurbished G222 turboprop aircraft from Finmeccanica SpA’s Alenia Aermacchi North America unit no longer can be flown after logging only 200 of 4,500 hours of U.S.-led training flights and missions required…because of persistent maintenance issues.
The unused transport planes are in addition to the billions of dollars in wasted U.S. funds documented by the inspector general’s office since American troops entered Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They also compound the doubts about the Afghan Air Force’s capability to operate independently after U.S. forces withdraw by the end of next year…
“We need answers to this huge waste of U.S. taxpayer money,” John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said in an e-mailed statement. “Who made the decision to purchase these planes, and why? We need to get to the bottom of this, and that’s why we’re opening this inquiry…”
The G222 transports refurbished by the unit of Rome-based Finmeccanica were supposed to make up about 15 percent of the 105-aircraft Afghan Air Force, flying top Afghan civilian officials and combat troops and conducting medical evacuations.
Instead, six of the planes already have been cannibalized for spare parts, a separate audit by the Pentagon inspector general found. In addition to the 16 planes in Kabul, there are four in Germany.
Sopko’s investigation will review the decision to select the Alenia aircraft, determine the total spent to buy, sustain, and dispose of them and evaluate what procedures are in place to prevent similar failures with other purchases for the Afghan Air Force.
The inquiry was prompted by “the need to ensure that the U.S. government does not repeat the mistakes made throughout this nearly half-billion dollar program,” Sopko said in a Dec. 5 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
RTFA. I imagine few of y’all will be surprised by Pentagon failures ranging from the decision to acquire these particular aircraft, deliver them to an Afghan Air Force [what?] – all the way back to the grand plans set in motion by the money-wasters who passed themselves off as political/military experts in the days of the Bush Administrations.
I guess we should say American taxpayers get what we deserve. After all, it’s only been 52 years since President Eisenhower warned us about the crooks in the military-industrial complex taking over the political economy of the United States. Way too short a time for the average American voter to comprehend.
True, half of the 2-party karaoke fest we dance through every 4 years is composed of idiots and thieves still trying to convince themselves – and us – that Herbert Hoover and his policies really were the best thing that ever happened to the United States. The Great Depression was just a mild hiccup along the Yellow Brick Road of trickle-down economics. The other half spend their time trying to stay unnoticed while the revolving door of elected service in Congress morphed into the next logical step in employment as lobbyists for the profits-before-people mafia.
Still, a couple of dedicated bureaucrats are trying like hell to get us to understand how we’re being taken for a ride – and a few folks at Bloomberg News have taken the time to put it into print for folks who care to read.
Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana on Tuesday, a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization.
A government-sponsored bill approved by 16-13 votes in the Senate provides for regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana and is aimed at wresting the business from criminals in the small South American nation…
Cannabis consumers will be able to buy a maximum of 40 grams each month from licensed pharmacies as long as they are Uruguayan residents over the age of 18 and registered on a government database that will monitor their monthly purchases.
When the law is implemented in 120 days, Uruguayans will be able to grow six marijuana plants in their homes a year, or as much as 480 grams and form smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.
Registered drug users should be able to start buying marijuana over the counter from licensed pharmacies in April…
Uruguay’s attempt to quell drug trafficking is being followed closely in Latin America where the legalization of some narcotics is being increasingly seen by regional leaders as a possible way to end the violence spawned by the cocaine trade.
Rich countries debating legalization of pot are also watching the bill, which philanthropist George Soros has supported as an “experiment” that could provide an alternative to the failed U.S.-led policies of the long “war on drugs…”
Other countries have decriminalized marijuana possession and the Netherlands allows its sale in coffee shops, but Uruguay will be the first nation to legalize the whole chain from growing the plant to buying and selling its leaves.
RTFA. All the pros and cons are trotted by – though, regular readers will know my only problem would be figuring out a decent muffin recipe if I wished to partake. I don’t smoke anything.
I don’t doubt American politicians will be watching and listening – and ignoring positive results as thoroughly as many have, for example, ignored a national non-profit health service. Our politicians are so accustomed to pimping for unproductive useless profiteers like insurance companies, it’s not likely many would learn anything about revoking the sillyass War on Drugs.
The first same-sex weddings in England and Wales will be able to take place from 29 March 2014, Equalities Minister Maria Miller says.
Initially it was thought the first marriages would not take place until next summer…
The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaderships all backed the proposals. [Try that one in Congress]
MPs approved the principle of same-sex marriage despite opposition from many Conservatives, which caused tensions in the party. Most Lib Dem and Labour MPs supported the move…
Ms Miller said: “Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from 29 March 2014 it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.”
She said it was “just another step in the evolution of marriage“.
And she said she was “working hard” to ensure that couples who wanted to convert civil partnerships into marriages – and married people wanting to change their legal gender while remaining married – would be able to do so before the end of next year.
From June, people will also be able to take part in same-sex weddings in some British consulates and armed forces bases overseas or in military chapels.
Going to be lots of happy couples in the UK starting with the end of March. No, that doesn’t include the opposition who, of course, don’t believe in everyone having a right to fall in love and enjoy the rights of citizenship.
So what? On sum, I’m confident the increase in happy folks outweighs unhappy homophobes.
Also home of the Alcatraz of the Rockies – for you prison buffs
A Colorado mother said her 6-year-old son has “sexual harassment” on his record for kissing a girl he feels mutual affection for on the hand.
Jennifer Saunders said her son, Hunter Yelton, a first grader in Canon City, was suspended from school for the entire day Monday because of an incident that took place in class last week.
“It was during class yeah. We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That’s what happened,” Hunter Yelton said.
“She was fine with it, they are ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. The other children saw it and went to the music teacher. That was the day I had the meeting with the principal, where she first said ‘sexual harassment’. This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a 6 year old. Now my son is asking questions. … what is sex mommy? That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a 6 year old,” Saunder said.
Officials with School District RE-1 said the boy’s actions fit the district’s definition of sexual harassment. They said school records remain within the district.
Yelton, who was previously suspended for rough housing and kissing the same girl on the cheek, was scheduled to return to school Tuesday morning.
Obviously, everyone has been warned to keep an eye on the young Lothario and turn his butt in if he looks longingly at something dearer than a cupcake.
The Nanny State is ready to apply Christian puritanism as the rules governing life regardless of age. Poisonally, if you want to raise your children as if normal life is a den of iniquity – yank them out of public school – and take the teachers and administrators who think the same – with you.
I used to pass through Canon City every other week when I was on the road. Looked like a nice little town seeking nature tourists, folks who enjoyed flyfishing. Good thing I never stopped on the outskirts to pee in the bushes. I might have been arrested for attempted rape of a trout.
Researchers studying speciation of butterfly orchids on the Azores have been startled to discover that the answer to a long-debated question “Do the islands support one species or two species?” is actually “three species.” Hochstetter’s Butterfly-orchid, newly recognized following application of a battery of scientific techniques and reveling in a complex taxonomic history worthy of Sherlock Holmes, is arguably Europe’s rarest orchid species. Under threat in its mountain-top retreat, the orchid urgently requires conservation recognition…
The research team, led by independent botanist Prof. Richard Bateman in collaboration with local botanist Dr. Mónica Moura…and plant morphologist Dr. Paula Rudall…originally viewed these butterfly-orchids as a simple, tractable system ideal for studying the origin of species and so they initiated a focused exploration of all nine Azorean islands.
A combination of field and laboratory research soon showed that butterfly-orchids first colonized the Azores from the Mediterranean rather than from North America, rapidly undergoing miniaturization of their ancestrally large flowers. It proved easy to distinguish the widespread Short-spurred Butterfly-orchid (Platanthera pollostantha) from the rarer Narrow-lipped Butterfly-orchid (P. micrantha) using morphology, DNA sequences, and the identities of mycorrhizal fungi associated with the roots of the orchids. However, this ‘simple’ study was thrown into disarray when Dr. Moura explored remote dwarfed laurisilva forests along the highest volcanic ridge on the central island of São Jorge and found an unusual population of butterfly orchids…
Bateman then realised that this “new” orchid had in fact been illustrated (but never correctly identified as a new species) in the first ever Flora of the islands, published in 1844, but thereafter had consistently been confused with other more frequent Azorean species. The illustrated specimen, deposited in the herbarium at Tübingen by German botanist Karl Hochstetter, was collected during his tour of six of the nine Azorean islands in 1838…
In the meantime, the team are anxious to obtain conservation protection for the newly-recognized and exceptionally rare orchid. “This remarkable species languished unrecognized for 173 years,” commented Bateman. “It’s rediscovery and recognition beautifully illustrate the value of integrating field-based and laboratory-based approaches to generate a modern monograph. This methodology both demonstrates that the species is genuine and allows us to make informed recommendations for its future conservation.”
What a delightful tale. Can you imagine being part of this search and discovery?
The Azores are a beautiful and wonderful enough place to experience on their own. Add in the quest for knowledge rewarded by what actually is a rediscovery – you expand the symbiotic qualities of science and nature.