Archive for security

Blood, Sweat and Tears

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BST

Blood, Sweat and Tears is the theme for today's show. Not the band, but the reality that those are the main components of life in the US of A in the 21st Century. Too much blood, too many dead or maimed soldiers and civilians thanks to our military incursions, misplaced ire and weapons of mass destruction. Our labor woes since the Bush depression, with a recovery made up of jobs at half the salaries we had before the meltdown, and the vilification of the labor movement that brought about workplace safety,  a 5-day/40-hour work week, vacation time, sick leave and other worker protections.

And tears. And more tears. And more to come, brought on by it all.

I don't see it getting any better, and don't see Hillary Clinton -or anyone at all from the other side - as the answer to our problems. But I do think we've shed way too much blood in unjust wars, have screwed over our working class and cried too many tears. It would be nice to see some positive change for a change, but I'm afraid we're a long way away from good times again.

Maybe if we could all just get along and live in peace.

On second thought, that'll never happen. Just look at their facial expressions when they sing the line, "we shall live in peace" during the most awkward singalong ever.

This morning, Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars joined in to talk a bit about yesterday's primary elections in NY where it looks like Charlie Rangel will hold on to his House seat (47.4-43.6), and the runoff in Mississippi which saw Sen. Thad Cochran barely beating off the upstart teabagger Chris McDaniels 51-49.

We also talked about today's three Supreme Court decisions- one that unanimously found that law enforcement must obtain warrants before searching cell phones (opinion posted here), another ruling against Aereo, a new company that rebroadcast over-the-air TV signals online - or did until now (opinion posted here)! And a third (known as Fifth Third) having to do with pensions and funds that I don't understand at all, but the opinion is posted here.

We're still awaiting decisions on NLRB v. Noel Canning (recess appointments), McCullen v. Coakley (abortion clinic buffer zones),  Harris v. Quinn (public employee unions) and Hobby Lobby (contraception mandate), which will come down tomorrow morning at 10ET. If they don't announce all the decisions tomorrow, they'll come back to finish up on Monday June 30. Talk about suspense!

In the second hour of the show, I was thrilled to welcome investigative journalist and author Dahr Jamail back to the show. When I spoke with Dahr in the past, it was to discuss our wars in Middle East, as Dahr spent more than a year in Iraq as one of a very small group of independent, UNembedded journalists covering the war. I obviously wanted his take on the mess over there now.

Lately, he's been focusing his work on climate change or, as he calls it, anthropogenic climate disruption. Obviously, both issues are closely related. I urge you to read Dahr's work on both topics, either at his own site DahrJamail.net or over at Truthout.org.  We'll definitely talk again soon because our time together today went by way too quickly!

Tomorrow, well deal with whatever the Supreme Court throws at us at the start of the show, hear some fabulous female facts from Amy Simon and the No More Bullshit Minute with Stephen Goldstein too!

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Senior Assisted Living Doesn't Mean Senior Assisted Raping

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Edgewood Vistaw Senior Living

Edgewood Vistaw Senior Living

My mother is in a seniors' assisted living and care facility. She's 95 and I'm glad to say doing very well. She's still able to amble around on her own and her faculties are perhaps even better than mine. And with nearly a century of memories to deal with, the loss of a husband and a son, she's lived through a lot. And her care is most important to me.

Safety in her housing is something that I thought was a given, but this story from Minnesota has my ears pricked up. Of course this story isn't the norm, but if it can happen in one state, it could happen in another. Bottom line is it's shocking. Anyone who has an aging relative should watch this. Then afterwards, read the horrific rest of the story.

So if this brutal attack wasn't enough, what happened afterwards was incredulous.

The Raw Story:

 The nursing home transferred the woman to a psychiatric ward at St. Luke’s Hospital for nearly three days.

“The room she was in was dark and cold … and they locked her in at night and all she had was a blanket,” nurse examiner Theresa Flesvig said in the court documents.

When Flesvig was finally able to examine the victim, she found the “biggest tear” as a result of rape that she had ever seen in her career.

Testimony filed with the court said that the nursing home’s clinical services director, Marilyn Moore, tried to defend that rapist after he had confessed to police.

They send the victim of a vicious rape to the psych ward and the 30 year old man who rapes an 89 year old woman isn't? Help me see how this isn't so wrong that it's sick.

The rapist gets 4 1/2 years in prison and 10 years of registering as a sex offender. Sadly his victim probably won't live long enough to get beyond this trauma. But so far nothing has been done to the nursing home -- though this upcoming trial could find them paying some pretty hefty fines. But to think this nursing home would defend a confessed rapist for an attack in their senior facility is totally off the charts.

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Surprise: Newest American Saboteurs are Democratic Senators

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aipac

When you hear names like Charlie Schumer, Mark Warner, Cory Booker, Kay Hagen, Mary Landrieu, Bob Casey and Richard Blumenthal, you usually hear that some Democratically sponsored bill has their support. And usually you're right, give or take one of the above.

Yet recently, led by Senator Bob Menendez, these US elected officials to the upper house have been sold a bill of goods. And it's not a jobs or education bill. Nor is it some health plan or civil rights issue. It's war.

Real war. A potential nuclear war.

Why these guys? This isn't the Republican Party war stalwarts, Lindsay Graham and John McCain. These are normal people -- at least as normal as it gets in the senate.

The truth is these new Hawk senators are on the dole. Not necessarily news there -- all elected officials are influenced by lobbyists. But this time, and I'm going to take heat for this, it's the Jewish Mafia. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It's the most influential Jewish lobby group in the US. And historically they have backed candidates who fight for justice and equality in social issues, and political ones when it comes to Israel.

Now Israel has a special place in my heart. Not just because it's the Jewish homeland and I was born a Jew, but my wife is a Sabra, a native born Israeli. And once you have that in your blood, you're generally a dyed-in -the-wool supporter of anything the Israeli Knesset (parliament) proposes.

This brings us to war and peace. For nearly 30 years we've been in a cold war with Iran. We've had no formal diplomatic talks with them and we've been the world leader in getting other nations to impose austere economic sanctions against them. That was until about four months ago. There was a breakthrough. John Kerry reported back to the US that talks on stopping or at least tightening nuclear safeguards with Iran were possible. But like all negotiations, there's a bit of 'give a little' to 'get a little.' The price for us was to hold off on further economic sanctions while negotiations would take place (a six months moratorium). The price to the Iranians is to allow open international monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program -- full inspections.

This was a great tit for tat -- especially as pressure was building for war between our two countries.  That would ultimately would result in a nuclear conflagration. There's no way around that. Yet here's a potentially peaceful solution at hand. The only ones unhappy in that region are Saudi Arabia (remember where the 911 trainees spent much of their pre-attack time) and Israel -- the other nuclear armed country in the region who doesn't want any competition in weapons superiority. And I can understand that.

Obviously those in the pocket of the neo-cons -- the entire GOP party hierarchy -- were against this. But the Democrats? How could they be against peace -- especially one their President is working so hard to accomplish? And if you're looking at public opinion, over 60% favor a peaceful solution with Iran over war. So how could 16 Democrats come out and favor new sanctions which would lead to Iran pulling away from the negotiating table?

Obama was told in no uncertain words that new sanctions  against Iran would be a line in the sand by the their President. Secretary of State Kerry was told the talks would be DEAD if Congress passed new sanctions by the Iranian Foreign Minister. So until we find a reason not to, why not give peace a chance?

The Republicans want war and they've been able, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. to stir the pot and brainwash the Jewish senate members (or those gentile members who aren't totally anti-semitic) by selling a bill of goods that peace negotiations can't be trusted. Netanyahu along via the dangerous and borderline deranged John McCain (who's totally bonkers) contacted his influential PAC, the AIPAC, and forced them to exert pressure on the weak and vulnerable among the Democratic senators. Face it, backbone is not a prerequisite for being a Democrat.

But don't take my word for it. Here's Chris Hayes:

Finally, some sense of sanity. Obama spoke to the Democratic Senate Caucus last night and evidently they've seen the light of their wayward ways.

UPDATE: Since this airing, according to WAPO:

But editorial boards and commentators have harshly condemned the push for a vote. Many Senate Democrats have continued to remain silent, which could well be a sign of an unwillingness to sign on to the bill. A couple Dem senators have come out against it in the last couple of days, joining 10 Dem committee chairs who have already done the same. At last whip count, this bill will not get past Harry Reid and is now considered dead.

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Video Mid Day Distraction- TSA's "12 Banned Items of Christmas"

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For those of you traveling this year. Via.

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Call Me, Irresponsible, Call Me John McCain

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shut up

Once again, it's Sunday's favorite talking heads GOP puppet John McCain who's running off at the mouth without really thinking of what he's saying. Along with his apology for overstating the significance of the Obama-Raul Castro handshake, McCain took to the winds with another tack.

This time it's the Obama White House not doing enough to find an American who disappeared while on a secret intelligence mission to Iran back in March of 2007. If you start first with the date, you'll find it's nearly two years before Obama was first inaugurated. If we're going to place initial blame on anyone, it should be the Bush Administration which had been in total charge of the CIA for over 7 years at that time.

Initially the report of American Robert Levinson going missing in Iran was that he was a U.S. citizen, a tourist. No mention was made publicly that he actually was a CIA spy. And realistically, getting caught is a routine risk these brave men and women serving in that capacity run. Though I'm not a CIA operative or know for sure, I've certainly heard through numbers of articles and documentaries that agents are told that their affiliation with "the organization" or "the Company" would be denied. So why the CIA didn't come forward to report US spy Robert Levinson went missing and is believed to be in Iranian hands makes a lot of sense.

Yet not to Senator McClain. According to Talking Points Memo:

McCain said he is confident the U.S. is doing all it can to learn what has happened to Robert Levinson, but he told CNN's "State of the Union" the CIA has not been forthcoming with the Congress about him.

With all the leaks the Congress is responsible for -- just look to Darrell Issa as a perfect example -- it's understandable sharing this kind of news with every congressperson is irresponsible. Maybe it was shared, but not with McCain or his committees. It might have been shared with others. Yet even if it wasn't disseminated, who do you point the finger at? I'd think the sitting president who in this case was George W. Bush.

The U.S. long has publicly described Levinson as a private citizen who traveled to an Iranian island on private business. McCain, R-Ariz., told CNN "the CIA did not tell the truth to the Congress" about Levinson.

As of this writing, the Iranian government actually has denied they are holding U.S. Spy, Levinson. and let's hope their right. It was only last week that the issue of Levinson being a CIA operative came to light:

An Associated Press investigation published last week found that Levinson was working for the CIA -- investigating the Iranian government. The U.S. long has publicly described Levinson as a private citizen who traveled to an Iranian island on private business.

How the AP got this info is something the CIA and perhaps congress might want to look into. But to have McCain going out on national television, taking away some deniability by the CIA on this man's true identity and his mission puts Levinson's life in a more precarious position. Frankly, it's irresponsible.

There still is no definitive proof of CIA sanctioned activity by Levinson.

After he vanished, the CIA at first told lawmakers he had previously done contract work for the agency, but he had no current relationship with the agency and there was no connection to Iran. However, in October 2007, Levinson's lawyer discovered emails in which Levinson told a CIA friend that he was working to develop a source with access to the Iranian government. The emails were turned over to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which touched off an internal CIA investigation.

Three veteran analysts were forced out of the CIA and seven others were disciplined as a result of a breach of agency rules.

Well if Levinson went rogue, it was bad enough. Sharing that news with others was his risk. But when this info came to light, the CIA did what it was supposed to do. It notified Congress. More so, it took action by firing and disciplining those guilty of leaking this info or taking part in this activity. Now McCain joins the public fray. Perhaps an investigation sanction against the senator from Arizona is called for.

Darrell Issa, are you listening?

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Campus Safety A Lie. Campus Justice Non-Existent. Schools Protect The Attacker

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Amhurst College

It used to be that going to college was not an issue of safety, but one of getting a higher education, transitioning from teen to adult and gaining a foot up on the future. Now it's become one of concern for personal safety.

These are but a few examples of what can only be called a spate of harmful incidents reported by HuffPo:

Alyssa Palazzo woke up just after midnight on Oct. 5, 2012, as someone screamed outside her residence hall at the University of Connecticut.

It was UConn running back Lyle McCombs, who Palazzo said was yelling, spitting and hitting his girlfriend. A few young men she believed to be his roommates stood by and watched, she said. Palazzo called police, and McCombs was arrested and charged that night with a misdemeanor, second-degree breach of peace.

Uconn campus

After reading that, I then read this in a separate HuffPo article:

Two former Amherst College students who said they had been raped at the school in Massachusetts filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, accusing the school of improper responses that one woman said included sending her to a psychiatric ward. Six current and former students at Vanderbilt University also filed Education Department complaints, saying the school in Nashville, Tenn., failed to properly respond to their reports of sex crimes or harassment. One said the university pressured her to allow the school to handle a stalking complaint, but failed to take action against the accused stalker.

Campus violence against women and men happens. It shouldn't, but it does. So it's the school's response to these attacks that is very important. Forcing a victim into a psych ward because she was attacked while letting the assailant go free doesn't seem to be sending the right message? Something's wrong here.

In the UConn case, the accused, McCombs, was given a warning by the school and placed on probation. But it didn't end there. He was a member of the school's football team, so his coach on the Huskies team was assigned the task of further discipline.

UConn football head coach Paul Pasqualoni decided the next day that McCombs' punishment for violating team rules would be sitting on the bench for 15 minutes.

Hardly even a hand slap for the attacker.

But what about the young woman who was attacked? She left school. And what about the girl who witnessed and reported the attack? She appealed to UConn for help.

Palazzo complained that she had to live in the same building as McCombs (the attacker) for the rest of the school year. "What about my safety?" she asked.

Palazzo said that the administrator replied, "If you feel unsafe, then you shouldn’t say anything at all."

What? She shouldn't have reported the attack? If I'm being assaulted I hope someone will call 911. What is this, the Kitty Genovese tragedy all over again?

As for the UConn football coach with the 15 minute timeout punishment, he went merrily along for another two years, despite another sexual assault charge against one of his players the following year. The kid got no punishment, not even the timeout.

So sexual crimes have no bearing on the university's disciplinary actions, especially when it's committed by a football star. Maybe sports put you outside the reach of justice. Ah, but then karma rears it's fateful head. This season, when the UConn football team started this season 0-4, the coach was fired.

What's the message here--everything's okay when you're winning? Allowing players to get away with these attacks is deemed appropriate? But lose the first four games of the season and the school will have you sh**-canned.

Now quickly back to the Amherst and Vanderbilt attacks. Perhaps justice was done there. Sorry, no dice. No charges were made against the assailants. One of the female victims did receive the school's full attention. She was forced against her will into the psych ward at the school's hospital while her attackers went free.

There is a campus sexual violence epidemic. And sadly the message UConn, Amherst and Vandy are sending is clear -- If you can't do the time, don't report the crime.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack

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Flying The Skies Got A Little Bit Friendlier

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jetliner

With all the government shutdown chatter and the upcoming debt ceiling threats, you might have missed that recently the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), those lovely people who make sure we're safe at airports and traveling on planes have loosened their check-in rules. They've relaxed some regulations and made the items list of what's prohibited a bit shorter.

It's all part of the TSA Pre✓™ program. Some of the new and improved procedures:

... that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes.

Travel-sized toiletries like hair gel and moisturizer are also allowed, as long as they are packed in clear plastic baggies.  "Eye drops, lip-gloss, whatever you need if it's in a three-ounce container or smaller," said Kip Hawley, TSA..

A few other, somewhat eye-catching items have been approved for carry on by the TSA as well:

  • Small knives with non-locking blades smaller than 2.36 inches and less than 1/2 inch in width will be permitted
  • Small Novelty Bats and Toy Bats
  • Ski Poles
  • Hockey Sticks
  • Lacrosse Sticks
  • Billiard Cues
  • Golf Clubs (Limit Two)

Before you get too excited, the TSA, a week later, rescinded the pocket knife rule. I'm glad to hear that because if I'm still prohibited from carrying on a bottle of Gatorade or a tube of toothpaste, I don't want the passenger next to me packing a knife. Though a pointed ski pole, or hockey stick does give me a bit of pause. And what about that novelty baseball bat (similar to police billy clubs) or a golfer's sand wedge -- couldn't they be at least as lethal as my toothpaste with breath freshener and tooth whitener?

I'm not sure who sits on the TSA committee but maybe a bit more common sense is still needed here. I want to fly safe, but maybe there's still a bit of Chicken Little, "the sky is falling" thinking permeating those meeting rooms. I'm still surprised that the TSA isn't asking for underwear checks since the underwear bomber. I know that happened only once, but same with the shoe bomber, that only happened one time, and until now we all had to remove our shoes for the past ten years.

Here's a fun little video to let you know about the new relaxed travel restrictions and what they'll mean to us, and our traveling companions, the next time we take to the friendly skies:

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