Rape victim jailed after reporting attack

January 30, 2007

This is beyond disgusting. Talk about victimizing the victim:

TAMPA – A young woman was walking back to her car after the Gasparilla parade on Saturday when she says a man dragged her behind a building and raped her near the intersection of Howard and Swann.

She managed to get away and called 911. Police took her to the hospital and began a routine rape investigation.

When they started checking the victim’s background, they discovered she had an arrest warrant out for her.

It was from an arrest when the woman was a juvenile and she was accused of not paying restitution. The woman says she was not aware there was a warrant out for her, and her attorney says it appears to be a paperwork error.

“They were more interested in prosecuting her for something that’s a paperwork snafu from four years ago, that was juvenile. They were more interested in working on that than finding an experienced rapist,” stated the victim’s mother.

Still, the woman was put in handcuffs and taken to jail. She was not allowed bond, and the medical staff at the jail refused to give her the Morning After Pill even though it had been prescribed at the hospital.

“The medical supervisor would not allow her to take the pill because she said it was against her, the supervisor’s, religion. So, here we have a medical supervisor imposing her beliefs on a rape victim,” claimed the victim’s attorney Virlyn Moore. “As a human being, how someone could be so violated by this monster and then the system comes along and rapes her again psychologically and emotionally – it’s outrageous and unconscionable.”


Borat vs Bill Gates – let the showdown begin!

January 30, 2007

Borat vs Bill Gates - let the showdown begin!

My country send me to United States to make movie-film. Please, come and see my film. And once you see movie, go save Darfur.

Ok, so the title of this post is a bit misleading – so sue me!

Actually, this is from an interview Larry Charles, the director of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) with Tim Ryan for Rotten Tomatoes, the movie rating website.

So what was so interesting about it that Truly Equal decided to write about it in a supposedly human rights blog? Larry Charles made an excellent point about Borat and some other movies and TV shows (emphasis is mine):

RT: You’ve worked with Borat, and before that, Bob Dylan in “Masked and Anonymous.” Both of them, in their own strange way, are sort of spokesmen, revealing some weird truths about America.

LC: Absolutely. The question I ask myself before I get involved in anything, be it TV or movies, is, “Does this need to be made? Does this need to be out there?” There’s so much s— out there that I can’t understand why people would spend tens of millions of dollars to make something that’s not going to come out good. So I ask myself, “Do we need this movie? Do we need this TV show? Will this somehow expand the dialogue, expand the discourse about the way we live and what’s important to us in out lives?” I felt in both the Bob Dylan movie and the Borat movie that these were urgent ideas and provocative ideas that might create interesting dialogue about ourselves, and about our world, about our lives, about philosophies, our beliefs. Also, they were low-budget movies, and I’m a big believer that we shouldn’t need to spend $100 million to make a great movie. If you have $100 million, you should probably be saving an African country. But for $4 million or $5 million or $10 million, you can make a great movie, and politically, you’re making a statement by making a low budget movie like that as well. On all those levels, it appeals to me.

Exactamente. Well said. Bravo Zulu.

We don’t need to see $100 million plus movies, regardless of how fantastic the idea or series is – Lord of the Rings fans, ya’ hear me? There are more important things in the world that need our attention. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the movies just like anyone else, and sometimes leave the theater in disbelief (which reminds me, more people need to see Children of Men), but you know how many lives we can help with $100 million? That’s 8 fucking zeros! You don’t need to be as rich as Bill Gates or as influential as Bill Clinton to help the world. But you do need to have some fucking common sense!

My only wish is that Borat would say so himself – maybe George W. Bush will listen to him instead.


Diary of a Guantánamo Attorney

January 28, 2007

Guantanamo Prison

It doesn’t matter if these people are being charged with terrorism, under U.S. and international law (Geneva Conventions, anybody?) you don’t get to snatch people off the streets, lock them up and torture them for 3 years or more without they knowing what they actually did to deserve that fate, then deny them their right to an attorney.

Just because I believe everyone has the right to face their captors and the evidence against them does NOT mean I am “for the terrorists”. Bush says the terrorists hate us and “our freedoms” so it is kind of stupid to take those same rights and throw them into the shitter:

I had assumed that I was well-informed about our criminal president and his assault on the rule of law; it never occurred to me that four years after being captured (and more than one year after the Supreme Court affirmed their right to hearing and counsel) individuals were still being held without legal representation. I replied to the e-mail, offering my services.

During a conference call for volunteer lawyers, I got a sense of what the job might entail. For example, attorneys are required to turn their client notes over to the government after visiting prisoners. I naively asked, “What about attorney-client privilege?” This, like so many other protections and legal principles, doesn’t apply to Guantánamo. Attorneys often return from the base with urgent news, but have to wait weeks for the government to clear their notes. The government rarely, if ever, classifies the content; this procedure simply delays and encumbers our work.

At a workshop for volunteer lawyers organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), I came to learn of the horrific particulars of prisoner life in Guantánamo: the hunger strikes, the suicide attempts and the dubious circumstances under which prisoners had been captured. The vast majority of Guantánamo’s inmates were apprehended in Afghanistan and elsewhere by third party forces, after the United States promised enormous bounties for “murderers and terrorists.”

The entire article is below the fold: Read the rest of this entry »


America’s Slave Labor

January 28, 2007

America’s Slave Labor

(Image from MIM, which has some cool images on almost every issue)

Most people think slave labor is dead, or that it is mostly confined to places like China (why people don’t care about this is material for another posting). Of course, we have slave labor right here in America: our prisons have become the equivalent of slave plantations. Instead of picking cotton, inmates recycle computers:

U.S. prisoners working for a computer-recycling operation run by Federal Prison Industries (FPI) are being exposed to a toxic cocktail of hazardous chemicals through their prison jobs while efforts by some prison officials to protect them have been met with stonewalling and subterfuge.

Since 1994, FPI has used inmates to disassemble electronic waste (e-waste)—the detritus of obsolete computers, televisions and related electronics goods—for recycling. According to a new report, “Toxic Sweatshops”—published jointly by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Center for Environmental Health,** California-based Computer TakeBack Campaign and the Prison Activist Resource Center—the waste contains high levels of arsenic, selenium, mercury, lead, dioxins and beryllium—all considered dangerous by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The report follows three years of mounting scrutiny of FPI by the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Critics say that the scrutiny has led to few reforms.

This sad state of affairs has been going on for quite a long time, and it has all but ignored. Is it any wonder that prisons in the U.S. are overcrowded, with the U.S. having the highest incarceration rate of the world?

Besides, what’s the big deal? Computer components are safe, right? Wrong:

A single computer contains hundreds of chemicals—including up to 8 pounds of lead—that are known to cause cancer, respiratory illness and reproductive problems, says the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. Prisoners interviewed for the report cite health issues, including slow-healing wounds, sinus problems, headaches, fatigue, and burning skin, eyes, noses and throats. Since no one on the recycling floor was issued proper protective gear, the guards and other personnel who supervised the inmates fared little better.

Leroy Smith, a health and safety manager at the facility, became concerned when air quality tests that he initiated showed elevated levels of toxins in the recycling center, which sat just feet from a food-processing area. After each test, Smith said, he would suspend operations and request further safety measures, only to be overridden by Atwater Federal Prison officials and UNICOR supervisors who insisted there was no safety threat.

The entire article is pasted below. Read the rest of this entry »


Apocalypse Soon?

January 26, 2007

Robert McNamara - Apocalypse Soon?

I’ll let Robert McNamara, the former Defense Secretary of the U.S., to lay it out for me instead:

It is time—well past time, in my view—for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power—a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years. Much of the current U.S. nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years.

I am no fan of McNamara’s lasting legacy – the Vietnam War, the “metrics” of the time, how many were killed on both sides just to prove who was right… but that does not mean the guy does NOT know what he is talking about. This is not Donald Rumsfeld: at least McNamara grew wise in his later years, while Rumsfeld apparently got more power-hungry. He knows what apocalypse can look like, and it ain’t pretty:

The destructive power of nuclear weapons is well known, but given the United States’ continued reliance on them, it’s worth remembering the danger they present. A 2000 report by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War describes the likely effects of a single 1 megaton weapon—dozens of which are contained in the Russian and U.S. inventories. At ground zero, the explosion creates a crater 300 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter. Within one second, the atmosphere itself ignites into a fireball more than a half-mile in diameter. The surface of the fireball radiates nearly three times the light and heat of a comparable area of the surface of the sun, extinguishing in seconds all life below and radiating outward at the speed of light, causing instantaneous severe burns to people within one to three miles. A blast wave of compressed air reaches a distance of three miles in about 12 seconds, flattening factories and commercial buildings. Debris carried by winds of 250 mph inflicts lethal injuries throughout the area. At least 50 percent of people in the area die immediately, prior to any injuries from radiation or the developing firestorm.

Of course, our knowledge of these effects is not entirely hypothetical. Nuclear weapons, with roughly one seventieth of the power of the 1 megaton bomb just described, were twice used by the United States in August 1945. One atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Around 80,000 people died immediately; approximately 200,000 died eventually. Later, a similar size bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On Nov. 7, 1995, the mayor of Nagasaki recalled his memory of the attack in testimony to the International Court of Justice:

Nagasaki became a city of death where not even the sound of insects could be heard. After a while, countless men, women and children began to gather for a drink of water at the banks of nearby Urakami River, their hair and clothing scorched and their burnt skin hanging off in sheets like rags. Begging for help they died one after another in the water or in heaps on the banks.… Four months after the atomic bombing, 74,000 people were dead, and 75,000 had suffered injuries, that is, two-thirds of the city population had fallen victim to this calamity that came upon Nagasaki like a preview of the Apocalypse.

Why did so many civilians have to die? Because the civilians, who made up nearly 100 percent of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were unfortunately “co-located” with Japanese military and industrial targets. Their annihilation, though not the objective of those dropping the bombs, was an inevitable result of the choice of those targets. It is worth noting that during the Cold War, the United States reportedly had dozens of nuclear warheads targeted on Moscow alone, because it contained so many military targets and so much “industrial capacity.”

Of course, the president of the United States can’t just launch a nuclear war without Congressional authorization, can he?

The whole situation seems so bizarre as to be beyond belief. On any given day, as we go about our business, the president is prepared to make a decision within 20 minutes that could launch one of the most devastating weapons in the world. To declare war requires an act of congress, but to launch a nuclear holocaust requires 20 minutes’ deliberation by the president and his advisors. But that is what we have lived with for 40 years. With very few changes, this system remains largely intact[…]

Believe it or not, if someone is crazy enough to push “the button”, we could be in an all-out nuclear war in less than an hour. In other words, all of us can die and not even know why. Is it too much to ask, please keep Bush & Cheney under adult supervision at all times?

By the way, the picture above is for the movie The Fog of War, which won the 2004 Oscar for Best Documentary. The picture above is very symbolic: an old man standing alone, who doesn’t look like much, but once upon a time was practically the gatekeeper of a nuclear world. Again, I am against all McNamara stood for in the Vietnam War, but contrary to Rumsfeld, he grew up, so to speak, and needs to be listened to. As of now, he is in the same position as in that picture: standing alone, without being listened to.

The entire article is pasted below: Read the rest of this entry »


Global Warming to Raise Sea Level for 1,000 Years!

January 25, 2007

Ho-o-o-o-ly shit:

OSLO (Reuters) – World sea levels will keep rising for more than 1,000 years even if governments manage to slow a projected surge in temperatures this century blamed on greenhouse gases, a draft U.N. climate report says.

The study, by a panel of 2,500 scientists who advise the United Nations, also says that dust from volcanic eruptions and air pollution seems to have braked warming in recent decades by reflecting sunlight back into space, scientific sources said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its report, the most complete overview of climate change science, in Paris on February 2 after a final review. It will guide policy makers combating global warming.

The draft projects more droughts, rains, shrinking Arctic ice and glaciers and rising sea levels to 2100 and cautions that the effects of a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will last far longer.

“Twenty-first century anthropogenic (human) carbon dioxide emissions will contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium, due to the timescales required for removal of this gas,” the sources quoted the report as saying.


Climate Change Seen Fanning Conflict & Terror

January 25, 2007

To anyone that has watched Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth, this is nothing new:

Global warming could exacerbate the world’s rich-poor divide and help to radicalize populations and fan terrorism in the countries worst affected, security and climate experts said on Wednesday.

“We have to reckon with the human propensity for violence,” Sir Crispin Tickell, Britain’s former ambassador to the United Nations, told a London conference on “Climate Change: the Global Security Impact”.

“Violence within and between communities and between nation states, we must accept, could possibly increase, because the precedents are all around.”

He cited Rwanda and Sudan’s Darfur region as two examples where drought and overpopulation, relative to scarce resources, had helped to fuel deadly conflicts.

I have previously discussed how climate change is creating conflict and exarcebating current ones here.

I know, I know – why bother posting this if Bush and his cronies don’t care about climate change? Maybe this will help: Osama bin Laden thinks wonders of global warming:

John Mitchell, chief scientist at Britain’s Met Office, noted al Qaeda had already listed environmental damage among its litany of grievances against the United States.

“You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries,” al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden wrote in a 2002 “letter to the American people.”

Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, said any attempt by countries to build fortress walls to keep out climate change refugees — what he called the “barbarians at the gate” mentality — was doomed to fail.

“If you just take the example of Bangladesh, if 60 million of 140 million people could not survive in Bangladesh yet they were kept there, you would have A) gigantic human suffering and B) progressive very deep radicalization — very, very angry people — and that is not in anybody’s security interest.”

What more do you need to act and tackle climate change?