MonthAugust 2009

The Fifty Top U.S. War Criminals Who Need To Be Prosecuted

Compiled below, in hopes that it may be of some assistance to Eric Holder, John Conyers, Patrick Leahy, active citizens, foreign courts, the International Criminal Court, law firms preparing civil suits, and local or state prosecutors with decency and nerve is a list of 50 top living U.S. war criminals. These are men and women who helped to launch wars of aggression or who have been complicit in lesser war crimes. These are not the lowest-ranking employees or troops who managed to stray from official criminal policies. These are the makers of those policies.

The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have seen the United States target civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, use antipersonnel weapons including cluster bombs in densely settled urban areas, use white phosphorous as a weapon, use depleted uranium weapons, employ a new version of napalm found in Mark 77 firebombs, engage in collective punishment of Iraqi civilian populations — including by blocking roads, cutting electricity and water, destroying fuel stations, planting bombs in farm fields, demolishing houses, and plowing down orchards — detain people without charge or legal process without the rights of prisoners of war, imprison children, torture, and murder.

The Fifty Top U.S. War Criminals Who Need To Be Prosecuted

Goes on to list the names and probable whereabouts for 50 war criminals.

(via Cryptogon)

The “safe haven” myth

At an appearance before the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday, President Obama defended U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, calling it a “war of necessity.” He claimed that “our new strategy has a clear mission and defined goals — to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies,” and he declared that “If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”

This is a significant statement. In effect, the president was acknowledging that the only strategic rationale for an increased commitment in Afghanistan is the fear that if the Taliban isn’t defeated in Afghanistan, they will eventually allow al Qaeda to re-establish itself there, which would then enable it to mount increasingly threatening attacks on the United States.

This is the kind of assertion that often leads foreign policy insiders to nod their heads in agreement, but it shouldn’t be accepted uncritically. Here are a few reasons why the “safe haven” argument ought to be viewed with some skepticism.

Foreign Policy: The “safe haven” myth

(via Jorn Barger)

China’s CIC set to invest in U.S. mortgages

hina’s $200 billion sovereign wealth fund, which lost big on its ill-timed 2007 Morgan Stanley and Blackstone bets, plans to invest up to $2 billion in U.S. mortgages as it eyes a property market rebound, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Monday.

China Investment Corp plans to soon invest in U.S. taxpayer-subsidized investment funds that will acquire “toxic” mortgage-backed securities from the nation’s banks. CIC believes these assets are a safer bet than buying into the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), the people with direct knowledge said.

Reuters: China’s CIC set to invest in U.S. mortgages

(via Atom Jack)

Wanted to buy – Meda: a Tale of the Future and L’Utopie et le roman utopique dan la litterature anglaise

For my research on the history of the mutant, I’m looking for the following books:

Meda: a Tale of the Future as Related by Kenneth Folingsby

and

L’Utopie et le roman utopique dan la litterature anglaise by Victor DuPont.

If anyone has any leads, I’d be much obliged.

U.S. Small Business Sector One of the Smallest Amongst Comparable Countries

*The United States has the second lowest share of self-employed workers (7.2 percent).

*The United States has among the lowest shares of employment in small businesses in manufacturing – only 11.1 percent of the U.S. manufacturing workforce is in enterprises with fewer than 20 employees. Eighteen other rich countries have a higher share of manufacturing employment in small enterprises, including Germany (13.0 percent), Sweden (14.4 percent), and France (18.0 percent).

*U.S. small businesses are particularly weak in high-tech. The United States, for example, has the second lowest share of computer-related service employment in firms with fewer than 100 employees and the third lowest share of research and development related employment in firms with fewer than 100 employees.

Center for Economic and Policy Research: U.S. Small Business Sector One of the Smallest Amongst Comparable Countries

(via Kristin Wolff)

Lucky Mutants Need Less Sleep

Real mutants live among us with real super powers:

No one knows why some lucky folks thrive on five or six hours of sleep per night, while the rest of us suffer if we don’t get eight hours of shut-eye. But now scientists have discovered a genetic mutation that could be responsible for the eternal perkiness of short-sleepers.

Combing through a database of sleep-study volunteers, the researchers found two people who needed far less sleep than average. Both had abnormal copies of a gene called DEC2, which is known to affect circadian rhythms and oxygen regulation in mammals. When the scientists bred mice to have the same mutation, the mice slept less and were more active than their regular rodent peers.

Wired: Lucky Sleep Mutants Need Fewer Zzzzzs

Palm Pre Snoops on Users by Phoning Data Home

Programmer Joey Hess found that Palm Pre’s operating system webOS sends his GPS location back to Palm every day. Hess also found code that sends Palm data on which webOS apps he has used each day, and for how long he used each one.

“I was surprised by this,” Hess, who bought the Pre about a month ago, told Wired.com. “I had location services turned off though I had GPS still on because I wanted it to geotag photos. Still I didn’t expect Palm to collect this level of information.” […]

Palm’s actions trigger questions about consumer privacy and the extent to which handset makers and developers are gathering and using data about buyers’ behavior. In this case, some of the concerns may be overblown, says Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Golvin cites Sun CEO Scott McNealy, who said in 1999: “You have zero privacy. Get over it.” Says Golvin, “While that is certainly overstated, it is also true. Consumers, in general are concerned about privacy but look at the number of people who are willing to give up every detail of their personal lives for the opportunity to win a big screen TV.”

Wired: Palm Pre Snoops on Users by Phoning Data Home

Study: Monkeys share human preference for imitation

A new study shows capuchin monkeys prefer humans whose behavior mimics theirs, a trait they share with humans, scientists say.

Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health in cooperation with two Italian institutions examined how monkeys reacted to two types of humans — ones who copied their actions and ones who didn’t.

“If one person imitates what a monkey does, and the other person does not imitate, the monkey prefers to spend more time in front of the person that imitated them,” said Dr. Annika Paukner at the National Institutes of Health offices in Poolesville, Maryland.

Research has shown for some time that humans prefer to interact with others who act like them, and people have a subconscious tendency to imitate others. Paukner told CNN the new study shows it is more than just a human trait.

CNN: Study: Monkeys share human preference for imitation

(Thanks Bill!)

Church of Satan documentary on YouTube

Satanis: The Devil’s Mass, a 1970 documentary about the Church of Satan, is now on YouTube. Unfortunately, it’s a censored copy. I saw the DVD release of this and it’s great.

(Thanks Bill!)

Newt Gingrich Changes What’s Left of his Mind on End-of-life Care

What happens when suddenly the Republican party decides it wants to scare the shit out of a bunch of old people by telling them the new health care bill is going to include a provision in which “death panels” ask them “when they want to die”? Now all of the sudden Gingrich is violently against the same programs he was so windily praising earlier this year.

And make no mistake, this is exactly the same thing. The only thing that’s actually in the health care proposals is a provision that would allow Medicare to pay for exactly the kind of programs Gingrich praised, on a voluntary basis. The programs are not government-administered in any way, there’s just government money now to pay for the private programs. And now Gingrich is suddenly aghast at them:

Matt Taibi: Newt Gingrich Changes What’s Left of his Mind on End-of-life Care

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