Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
Week of 23rd to 29th of August 2009
(FLASHBACK) �We Need to Remind People that You Cannot Trample the Bill of Rights��Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Calls for Impeachment [DN]
You know, during the Revolutionary War, George Washington was approached by his generals with the idea of torturing British soldiers to extract strategic information. At that time, the British were torturing our soldiers in New York Harbor on coffin ships and killing them by the dozens every day. Washington said to them, �I would rather lose the war, because this is the first nation in history that is based upon an idea, and the idea is one of essential human dignity and justice.� And he said, �We're not�I'd rather the British continue to rule us than become�than to lose that.� And, you know, he established codes of conduct for the treatment of prisoners, fair treatment of prisoners and humane treatment. And the Hessians that he captured on Christmas Eve were so shocked by the good treatment they received from the American captors that after two weeks in prison, they agreed to walk unguarded all the way to POW camps in western Pennsylvania, and not a single one escaped.
During the Civil War, Lincoln's general suggested�made the suggestion of torture, and he was so horrified by the idea, that he created a committee to establish a standards�a report with standards for the fair treatment and humane treatment of prisoners of war. And eighty years later, that document became the Geneva Convention.
During World War II, Eisenhower was asked about torturing Germans at a time when Nazis were torturing our prisoners and POWs. And Eisenhower said, �Americans don't do that.� And he said�and during World War II, German soldiers surrendered to American soldiers by the thousands, because they had heard from their fathers, who fought in World War I, �Always surrender to an American, because Americans don't torture people.�
You know, a few weeks ago, I had John Dean on my show on Air America. And John Dean, as you know, was the counselor to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. And Dean said to me�Dean went to prison for his participation in the cover-up. And he said, �You know, we eavesdropped illegally on one office, and I went to jail for four months, and my boss was impeached and then forced to resign.� And he said, �These people have illegally eavesdropped on hundreds of thousands of Americans.� And he said, �Where's the impeachment? Where are the convictions? Where's the imprisonment? Where's the jail term? Where is the American press? Where is the indignation?�
And, you know, we need to continually remind ourselves that the Bill of Rights is not a luxury we can no longer afford and that America is not just a place where people come to, you know, increase the size of their pile, and whoever dies with the most stuff wins. Our nation is an exemplary nation. And that's the way the world regards us, and that's what they want from us. And when we start lowering our standards, we lose our prestige, we lose our capacity to influence world events, and we lose the soul of our country. And we now need to gain that back.
PAM COMMENTARY: The intersection of the Kennedy funeral and the recent torture stories seems to be this old interview with RFK Jr., and it's well worth the read.
Cheney �OK� with violating felony torture statute [WRH]
Calling the extreme interrogation techniques �absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives,� Cheney insisted, �It was good policy, it was properly carried out, it worked very, very well.�
Cheney has consistently asserted that when reports on the interrogations are released, they will show that torture of detainees worked. However, recently declassified documents show no such thing.
For example, Cheney's claim that �the individuals subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided the bulk of the intelligence we gained about Al Qaeda� does not necessarily mean that any usable intelligence resulted from the use of torture on those individuals rather than more conventional techniques.
PAM COMMENTARY: Which reminds me, why isn't this guy in prison yet?
Holder Appoints Torture Prosecutor, Rejects Nuremberg Principle [WRH]
The rejection of the Nuremberg principle and embrace of the �I was only following orders� defense would result in an implosion of the whole Obama administration if Durham tries to prosecute CIA torturers while Obama and Holder are upholding the �I was only following orders� defense. Yet, Holder says he remains wedded to Obama's idea that past crimes are not particularly important to prosecute. As he appointed Durham, Holder stated that �I share the President�s conviction that as a nation, we must, to the extent possible, look forward and not backward when it comes to issues such as these.�
Of course, if we do �look forward� to a time where torturers � along with those who ordered the torture � are not punished for their crimes, then we'll eventually have a lot more government torture. There will simply be no disincentive for government to torture. And history records that most governments often engage in torture even when strong disincentives are in place.
The ACLU sent out an e-mail blast after the appointment, stating that �As anyone who has seen the details of this appalling report can tell you, this investigation is necessary and long overdue, and Attorney General Holder should be commended for taking this important step. However, the very limited scope of the investigation he launched today is nowhere near as thorough and broad as the torture investigation America really needs.� And that's about right.
Durham's particular experience is prosecuting organized crime, which should be particularly apropos in an investigation of Bush-era torture. And he should know from experience that unless you take out the top criminals, the criminal syndicate continues on with little interruption. A torture investigation with meaning has to begin at the top, directly examining the criminal role of top officials in orchestrating the torture of detainees. Otherwise, the criminal enterprise of torture will continue on with little interruption.
PAM COMMENTARY: If you�ll recall from Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia, the United States doesn�t have to follow its treaties. That may seem radical to some, but may I remind you of Andrew Jackson�s famous quote? �Marshall has made his decision, now him enforce it!� In other words, Jackson said that he didn�t have to enforce ANY treaty if he didn�t want to, even if the Supreme Court ruled against him -- and he wasn�t impeached, therefore he created at least some sort of legal precedent.
The Bush administration just confirms this legal fact in ignoring the Geneva convention without impeachment or arrest-- a fact that I say should be used as legal justification to completely nullify any �harmonization� laws that come out of Codex Alimentarius.
Hey, that�s what happens when you let one little precedent like that stand! If you can selectively ignore SOME treaties, then people can take you to court and use that as legal precedent whenever they want you to ignore other treaties, or all treaties. That�s the slippery slope we�re already on, much like letting evil in the door a little, which of course justifies more evil, until an ignored treaty turns into a genocide called Trail of Tears. Or a President is torturing and murdering people, and starting unjustified wars at his leisure. If you don�t impeach or punish him, that means the next guy can do the same thing! I�ve thought that legal precedent was the real goal for a lot of the bad �policies� the Bush administration implemented, for example illegal wiretapping was allowed despite its obvious conflict with the fourth amendment.
So, the choice is yours -- do you want Bush�s crimes to stand as legal precedent, or are you going to demand that the man be put in jail with his cronies?
The best part of this story is what happened to the liberty bell. It doesn�t ring anymore, does it? That�s because it cracked beyond repair while ringing for John Marshall�s funeral. Of course no one can exactly quote what Marshall�s ghost was saying as it permanently disabled the liberty bell, but I assume it was something like �You a******* don�t know what liberty is, so I�m talkin� it with me!�
Coelacanth in Ganges River? [R]
Coelacanths, which first appeared in the Middle Devonian fossil record, were thought to have become extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period. That is until the first specimen was found off the east coast of South Africa in 1938.
Now news comes that Indian paleontologists are rushing to Calcutta in West Bengal after locals claimed to have fished a �prehistoric coelacanth� out of the water. The experts are trying to work out how what would be the biggest ever coelacanth specimen, weighing 320 kilos, came to be floating down the Ganges.
Following the Falafel Trail: FBI Mined Bay Area Food Sales [R]
Hoping that spikes in falafel and tahini purchases in the Bay Area would blaze a trail to Iranian secret agents, in 2005 and 2006, the FBI mined grocery store records for Middle Eastern food sales in the South San Francisco-San Jose area. According to Congressional Quarterly, the project didn't last long and didn't lead to any falafel-related prosecutions.
PAM COMMENTARY: Rense found this old article and linked to it.
Peru police seize cocaine sewn inside live turkeys
�Lifting up the feathers of the bird, in the chest area, police detected a handmade seam,� he said.
A veterinarian extracted 11 plastic capsules containing 4.2 pounds of cocaine from one turkey and 17 capsules weighing 6.4 pounds from the other.
Both turkeys survived the removal.
Scientist Warning of Health Hazards of Monsanto's Herbicide Receives Threats [WRH]
According to an article in the Argentine press, after news about the study broke, Dr. Carrasco was the victim of an act of intimidation, when four men arrived at his laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine and acted extremely aggressively.
Two of the men were said to be members of an agrochemical industry body but refused to give their names. The other two claimed to be a lawyer and notary. They apparently interrogated Dr. Carrasco and demanded to see details of the experiments. They left a card Bas�co, Andrada & Santurio, attorneys on behalf of Felipe Alejandro No�
Carrasco was firm in his response: "When one is dealing with a subject of limited public interest, one can keep the study secret until all the last details have been resolved. But when one uncovers facts that are important for public health, one has an obligation to make an effort to publish the results urgently and with maximum publicity." Even so, he was clearly taken aback by the strength of the reaction. "It was a violent, disproportionate, dirty reaction", he said. "I hadn�t even discovered anything new, only confirmed conclusions that others had reached. One has to remember, too, that the study originated in contacts with communities that have suffered the impact of agro-chemicals. They are the undeniable proof of the impact." He is not intimidated: "If I know something, I will not shut my mouth."
Edward Kennedy (1932-2009): Veteran Senator Championed Civil Rights, Healthcare, Working Poor in 46-Year Career [DN]
ANJALI KAMAT: Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts has died after a bout with brain cancer. He was seventy-seven years old. Kennedy served in the Senate for forty-six years, earning the nickname the �liberal lion� for his steadfast advocacy of progressive causes. In recent years, Kennedy endorsed President Obama�s bid for the White House in what was seen as a key turning point in the presidential campaign. Soon after that endorsement, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Afterwards, Kennedy largely remained out of the public eye but made a triumphant return at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last August. He addressed the convention to a standing ovation.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: We will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American�north, south, east, west, young, old�will have decent, quality healthcare as a fundamental right and not a privilege. We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.
Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race and of gender and group against group and straight against gay. And Barack Obama will be a commander-in-chief who understands that young Americans in uniform must never be committed to a mistake, but always for a mission worthy of their bravery.
We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn�t say, �It�s too far to get there. We shouldn�t even try.� Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon. Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I�ve seen it. I�ve lived it. And we can do it again.
ANJALI KAMAT: Senator Kennedy was also a leading voice in the Senate opposing the invasion of Iraq. He voted against the 2002 resolution allowing the President to use force against Iraq, calling it the best vote he cast in the Senate. In a speech in April 2004 at the Brookings Institution, Kennedy likened Iraq to the war in Vietnam.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: Sadly, this administration has failed to live up to basic standards of open and candid debate. On issue after issue, they tell the American people one thing and do another. They repeatedly invent facts to support their preconceived agenda, facts which administration officials knew or should have known were not true. This pattern has prevailed since President Bush�s earliest days in office. And as a result, this President has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon. He has broken the basic bond of trust with the American people.
PAM COMMENTARY: There were many, many tributes to Kennedy today, and I chose this one because it deals with some real issues instead of just his personal life.
Kennedy did a lot for this country, and some authors feel that his elder brother JFK was the last real US President lawfully elected -- that the JFK assassination was in fact a coup d�etat.
However, I feel the need to comment on his death, as tasteless as it may be to criticize a dead man�s medical decisions. Namely, that the health care system Kennedy wanted to give every American SO MUCH, as a RIGHT and not a privilege, just killed him.
I can understand both sides of the health care debate going on right now -- the conservatives feel that a �government option� (something like Medicare for everyone who wants it) will drive insurance companies out of business, and then the only coverage available will be whatever government bureaucrats decide they�re willing to pay for.
And those who want some form of national health insurance feel that medical coverage is more easily controlled when elected officials can be held accountable by voters, versus almost no control by customers of insurance companies (other than taking their business to another insurance company, probably without many differences). Also, they feel that health coverage is too important NOT to provide to everyone, that many people indeed can�t possibly afford it, or are brutally dropped by their insurer when they become ill.
But my main concern is that the medical system itself needs fundamental changes. The case of Ted Kennedy makes this point, and it wasn�t for lack of money -- I�m sure all of his doctors were paid well. The problem I see is that in the American medical system, the most profitable treatments are preferred and promoted over the most effective. In other words, cheap cures are not allowed! Time after time throughout medical history, inexpensive cures were shut down or at least omitted from standard procedures, while �managing� diseases over curing them became the preferred method. How could any system afford financing maximum profits for mega-corporations? And why should people be asked to finance outrageous corporate profits with tax dollars, when the results are . . . well . . . like Ted Kennedy�s?
On the other hand, I realize that many people need some form of health coverage, and will never get it any other way than through a government program. Of course it�d be good to cover things like chiropractic and devices considered �experimental� like a zapper, but to start maybe we just need to get something off the ground, and revisit those issues when mega-profits aren�t expected any longer. So technically, I�m still for national health insurance . . . Sort of. . .
Cal/Mag Constipation & Diverticulitis [R]
Is anyone surprised? NPR's medical advice guy, Dr. Zorba Paster, once again publically prosecutes his complete lack of understanding when it comes to supplemental & nutritional advice. This is most currently evidenced by the following 2 ladies calling in to the facile fatuousness that is Paster's PBS program, recently.
To wit: The 1st women caller said she was taking 1200mg of Calcium & Vit.D but that the Cal. was causing her some constipation. She also said that she had heard she should take Magnesium to counter these negative effects but she couldn't remember how much or what kind they'd said she was to take.
Zorba essentially said that for constipation she could take "Milk of Magnesia." Reader! This product uses a very harsh magnesium hydroxide that should be taken rarely, and only as a temporary therapy, (read the label); however, his main recommendation was that she try a couple of different Forms of Calcium, like carbonate or citrate & to increase her Vit.D.
Actually the preceding advice could help a little if she changed from the inferior Cal-Carbonate (the crap in TUMS) to the superior Cal-Citrate... but even that is not the definitive answer.
Anyway, in a subsequent show, he told another lady there was no difference between Calcium-Carbonate & Calcium-Citrate (there is in fact, a big difference) and that she should take 1500mg of Calcium, but, dangerously, he never even mentioned that you also need Magnesium -plus several other things, for that matter- required for the calcium supplementation to work in the first place!
PAM COMMENTARY: Around 5 years ago, when I still listened to Paster�s show occasionally, I remember a lady calling in about diet soda . She was pregnant, and her primary care physician had told her to stay away from aspartame/diet soda. She told Dr. Paster that she still wanted occasional sweets, though -- so should she eat a cookie (sweets also being discouraged by her doctor), or drink a diet soda?
Paster told the lady that there was no evidence that aspartame causes harm, that the CDC would have gotten complaints. To his credit, he recommended the occasional cookie instead, but without giving her an explanation.
In fact aspartame generates the most complaints of any substance to the FDA (not the CDC, which usually handles infectious disease and not food additives like the FDA). And one of aspartame�s many side effects (other than its most famous, brain cancer) is BIRTH DEFECTS. What awful advice to give a pregnant woman! I don�t remember if that�s the exact moment I stopped listening to Paster�s show permanently, but I don�t recall listening to him since. Thankfully, podcasts have become more prevalent in recent years, and so I�m now more likely to listen to podcasts of better shows from alternative stations rather than settle for PBS� lineup.
Newsweek: Inspector General Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Well, go through the questions you have for Attorney General Eric Holder around the issue of a special prosecutor.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Yeah, I mean, probably the biggest one is Holder�s people have made clear that if he does act as we think he�s going to, to have some sort of prosecutor, that it would be limited to those CIA operatives who exceeded the Justice Department legal guidelines in those memos, the legal guidelines crafted by John Yoo, Steve Bradbury and Jay Bybee. And human rights groups look at that and say that�s not good enough, because, in fact, the real crime here was the authorization of these tactics in the first place, the use of waterboarding, which now President Obama, Attorney General Holder, a whole host of people, have concluded itself constitutes torture, that the authorization of such techniques was the real crime.
The problem with prosecuting that, from a political perspective, is that we know these tactics were ultimately authorized at the highest levels of the government, by President Bush and pushed very vigorously by Vice President Cheney, approved by the National Security Council. So if you were to go down that road, you essentially would be investigating the entire upper echelon of the Bush White House. President Obama has made clear he doesn�t want to do that; he wants to look to look forward, not backward, as he said many times. And so, Holder is sort of caught in the middle here, trying to do something to address these issues without causing a political upheaval in the country that would put the entire Bush White House under investigation.
C.I.A. Abuse Cases Detailed in Report on Detainees
Although large portions of the 109-page report are blacked out, the report gives new details about a range of abuses inside the C.I.A.�s overseas prisons, including threatening to kill and possible sexually assault members of detainees� families, blowing cigar and cigarette smoke into the detainees faces to make them vomit, and staging mock executions.
Among a litany of C.I.A. tactics, the report describes the �hard takedown,� when a detainee was grabbed and thrown to the floor before being moved to a sleep-deprivation cell. It even details baths given to about times when C.I.A. officers would bathe one prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, saying he was sometimes scrubbed with �the kind of brush one uses in a bath to remove stubborn dirt.�
In July 2002, before the Justice Department formally authorized harsh methods on Aug. 1 of that year, the report says, a C.I.A. interrogator grabbed a detainee�s neck to restrict the prisoner�s carotid artery until he began to faint. The C.I.A. officer then �shook the detainee to wake him,� and the �pressure point� technique was repeated twice more.
The report also tells how a C.I.A. interrogator threatened Mr. Nashiri, by saying that if he didn�t cooperate with his captors, �we could get your mother in here� and �we can bring your family in here.�
PAM COMMENTARY: Obama needs to get over his weak knees and file charges to put Bush/Cheney et al in prison. I always assumed the CIA was directly involved in those torture cases, and that the methods used were much worse than admitted -- after all, it�s the same agency that ran the dirty wars in Latin America in the 80s, the same agency that orchestrated massive cocaine-weapons trading in Iran-Contra. And who was president back then? The older Bush - he was VP and then President, and Cheney was there, too. It�s all the same people -- they�re the worst kind of criminals, homicidal maniacs who feel it�s OK to kill or torture anyone for a buck. They needed to be locked up a long time ago.
Imprisoned Native American Activist Leonard Peltier Again Denied Parole [DN]
ERIC SEITZ: That�s right. And then there were all kinds of questions about the proceedings by which he was returned to this country from Canada. It is an admitted fact that in the extradition proceedings, the FBI used a series of affidavits that they themselves wrote, purporting to be from a witness who was an eyewitness who wasn�t even there. So the affidavits were perjured, and yet the Canadian government readily agreed at some point to send Leonard back. And after that evidence about the perjury came out, the United States government refused to take any action to correct the situation.
So there have been all kinds of issues about this case which have percolated for more than thirty-four, thirty-five years. And we were hoping at this point in time that we could get a fair consideration from the Parole Commission. We had a very good six-hour hearing before an examiner, not the commission itself, but on their review of the examiner�s recommendations, which we still have never even seen, the Parole Commission basically adopted the position of the FBI. And in some sense, that�s actually helpful to us, because it makes it clear that they are violating the law and the guidelines, and they are basically succumbing to this whole theory that if you kill an FBI agent, you should never be paroled, and that�s not what the law requires.
AMY GOODMAN: The documents that have not been released in Leonard Peltier�s case, how many are there?
ERIC SEITZ: Well, there are thousands of documents from the investigation itself going back to the mid-1970s and beyond that. And a lot of those documents have been shrouded in various levels of secrecy, and there have been Freedom of Information Act cases that have been filed. And many of them have been flushed out, and at various times that�s how we learned about the ballistics evidence that was fraudulent, and that�s how we also learned about the nature of the FBI�s investigation and the fact that they focused on Leonard and the way in which they did after losing the first trial.
Now we�re going to try to get some more of those documents and, in particular, the documents at the Parole Commission, and we�re contemplating the possibility of further litigation, although I think probably much more fruitful at this point is going to be an effort to try to get clemency for Leonard, in terms of his advanced age, in consideration of his health, and because of the fact that this just simply is a case that needs to be brought to resolution properly.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com