Tag Archives: politics

Another MindFreedom news release from lazy blogger


This is for everyone in Oregon

In case you missed any of these news items, here is a link to April
2008 alerts about changing Oregon’s mental health system:


If that link is too long for your browser, try clicking on this link:


The big picture for April 2008?

As you may know by now, Oregon’s mental health system has two unusual
honors in the USA in 2008:


Oregon is one of the FEW USA states that is actually BUILDING new
huge psychiatric institutions. That’s right, the last legislative
session found $500,000,000 (half a billion) for the bricks, concrete
and energy for this. Whatever your stand is on replacing Earthquake-
prone buildings, consider:


Oregon is one of the FEW states to continue to have ZERO funds for
the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric
survivors. For five years Oregon has had no funding for a state-wide
newsletter, state-wide advocacy, state-wide conference, office of
consumer affairs, etc. for mental health consumer/survivors.

Five years! Not a cut-back, zero!

Well, more and more Oregonians are *doing* something about it!

So check out the April 2008 news re-cap!

You’ll find out…

**** HOW *you* can easily ask Governor Kulongoski and his
administration “Why zero? Why zero for five years for the state-wide
voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors?”
MindFreedom Oregon has determined that Governor Kulongoski’s office
itself is one of the top obstacles, since there is widespread support
in the legislature, and within the Governor’s own bureaucracy!

You can attend remaining public hearings by Oregon Dept. of Human
Services in Portland, Wednesday, April 30; Salem, Tuesday, May 6, 9
a.m. – noon; Wednesday, May 7, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.; Eastern Oregon
interactive teleconference, Thursday, May 8, 10 a.m.

**** READ the front-page article in Willamette Week about an
Oregonian blowing the whistle on psychiatric drug industry fraud.

**** READ a news story in Street Roots about the launch of a state-
wide coalition by and for mental health consumers and psychiatric
survivors. Read how Oregon’ Mental Health Division Deputy Assistant
Director Madeline Olson claims their choice was between funding a new
psychiatric institution, or funding voice for consumer/survivor
voice. (Really? But why ZERO? Not a cut-back: Zero?)

**** SEE theater in Portland in May & June exploring mental health

**** FIND OUT about a job opening in an Oregon empowering alternative
in mental health care, Empowerment Initiatives.

**** WITNESS the launch of the Oregon Mental Health Consumer/
Psychiatric Survivor Coalition.

Again, all the above April 2008 news items are here:


If that link is too long for your browser, try clicking on this link:


Other news:

REMEMBER, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 is the last day to register so you
may vote in the Oregon election — including presidential primary —
on 20 May.

PARTICIPATE IN “THE NORMATHON” — A free skit on challenging the
power of the psychiatric drug industry (watch for our Big Giant
Pill), to take place in Eugene, Oregon, Saturday, 17 May 2008, at 4 pm:

For info on the Normathon see:


More about activism to change mental health care in Oregon is here:


Join MindFreedom International here:


Check out an all-new Mad Market of books and DVD’s on changing mental
health system, proceeds fund MFI human rights campaigns, here:


Please forward this news to appropriate places on and off Internet!



David W. Oaks, Executive Director
MindFreedom International
454 Willamette, Suite 216 – POB 11284
Eugene, OR 97440-3484 USA

web: http://www.mindfreedom.org
email: oaks@mindfreedom.org
office phone: (541) 345-9106
fax: (541) 345-3737
member services toll free in USA: 1-877-MAD-PRID[e] or 1-877-623-7743

United Independent Action for Human Rights in Mental Health!

MindFreedom International is an non-profit coalition with a vision of
a non-violent revolution in mental health. Accredited by the United
as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Consultative
Roster Status.

Join now! http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate


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From MindFreedom & the NYT

The New York Times

April 1, 2008
Colorado Proposes Tough Law on Executive Accountability By DAN FROSCH

DENVER — For 30 years, Lew Ellingson loved being a telephone man.

His job splicing phone cables was one that he says gave him “a true
sense of accomplishment,” first for Northwestern Bell, then US West
and finally Qwest Communications International.

But by the time Mr. Ellingson retired from Qwest last year at 52, he
had grown angry. An insider trading scandal had damaged the company’s
reputation, and the life savings of former colleagues had evaporated
in the face of Qwest‘s stock troubles.

“It was a good place,” he said wistfully. “And then something like
this happened.”

Now, Mr. Ellingson is the public face of a proposed ballot measure in
Colorado that seeks to create what supporters hope will be the
nation’s toughest corporate fraud law.

Buttressed by local advocacy groups and criticized by a Colorado
business organization, the measure would make business executives
criminally responsible if their companies run afoul of the law. It
would also permit any Colorado resident to sue the executives under
such circumstances. Proceeds from successful suits would go to the

If passed by voters in November, the proposal would leave top
business officers having unprecedented individual accountability,
said Mr. Ellingson, a member of Protect Colorado’s Future, a
coalition of advocacy groups that supports the initiative.

“If nothing else, these folks in charge of the corporations and
companies will think twice about cutting corners to make themselves
look more profitable than they really are,” he said.

The plight of Mr. Ellingson’s former employer, Qwest, based in
Denver, was a motivation for the proposal, said Jess Knox, executive
director of Protect Colorado’s Future.

Last April, a jury in Denver convicted Qwest‘s former chief
executive, Joseph P. Nacchio, of 19 of 42 counts of insider trading.
Mr. Nacchio was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay a
fine of $19 million and forfeit $52 million in money he earned from
stock sales in 2001.

In March, however, a federal appeals court panel reversed the
conviction on the grounds that a judge had improperly excluded expert
defense testimony.

The panel ordered that Mr. Nacchio receive a new trial in front of a
different judge.

“The reality is that for years, not just in Colorado but in many
states, citizen taxpayers have paid the price for C.E.O.’s and
companies who break the rules in order to get ahead,” Mr. Knox said.

Ultimately, the proposal would extend criminal and civil liability to
executives who knew about corporate fraud and did nothing to stop it,
but who were not necessarily involved in it, said Mark Grueskin, a
lawyer for Protect Colorado’s Future.

Not surprisingly, the proposal, and subsequent versions with
alternative language that have been suggested by Protect Colorado’s
Future, has generated sharp opposition from Colorado’s business

If the measure is approved, some fear that the courts will become
overwhelmed with frivolous lawsuits. Those lawsuits, in turn, could
bankrupt small and midsize companies and make it more difficult for
legitimate lawsuits to succeed, said Joe Blake, president and chief
executive of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re very concerned that any number of people could crowd the
docket and frustrate the court system with suits that are perhaps
well-intentioned but highly frivolous,” he said. “We’re going to have
chaos out here.”

Mr. Grueskin countered that the measure would parallel current state
law and require plaintiffs to pay for their lawsuits if a court ruled
that they were frivolous.

“There is an inherent disincentive to use this as a means for a
gadfly to act as a corporate obstructionist,” he said. “I would be
surprised if there would be many responsible companies that would
have a problems with this.”

Legal fees aside, Dean Krehmeyer, executive director of the Business
Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics at the University of
, which conducts ethics training for executives and
directors, says the litigious nature of the measure could create a
chasm between businesses and their communities.

“Leading business organizations and communities can create value by
working in partnership, not necessarily by using the courts as a
first option,” he said.

The measure, whose language was already approved by a state title
board, must receive 76,000 signatures in support within six months to
be placed on the November ballot. Protect Colorado’s Future said it
planned to start a signature campaign.

A lawyer for the chamber of commerce, Doug Friednash, said the
business group would file a challenge to the proposal in Colorado
Supreme Court on Tuesday. He said the language could mislead voters
into thinking they were supporting a measure that simply cracked down
on crooked executives, as opposed to one that left business owners
and other employees susceptible to lawsuits.

But Protect Colorado’s Future has already drafted a modified version,
cleared by the review board, that limits the initiative to executive
officials, its true intention, the group said. The chamber of
commerce, has asked the board to reconsider its decision on that
version at a hearing on Wednesday.

Regardless of which version of the measure is put to voters, Mr.
Ellingson predicts that Coloradoans, with the fallout from Qwest
still fresh, will back the proposal in overwhelming numbers.

“I don’t know who can oppose this. This is common sense,” he said.
“We need businesses to survive, but we don’t need criminals running

Wouldn’t it be great if we could hold all corporations accountable for the damage done in the name of profit? How many lives have been cut short by Zyprexa and other mis-used neuroleptics while Big Pharm reaps billions?

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Forced Electroshock in Oregon + other stuff

Reprinted from OCSC:

Hi MindFreedom Oregon TALK list:

I asked for and receive statistics about State of Oregon electroshock
(that is, electroshock by State of Oregon “Hospital”).

Definitely, at least one individual received electroshock over their
expressed wishes, using involuntary electroshock.

What suggestions do you have for us to all do something about that?

Below is e-mail I received (in addition to the involuntary shock…
two are considered ‘voluntary’ though they received via guardian).


From: Robert.E.Nikkel@state.or.us
Date: March 6, 2008 12:30:53 PM PST
Subject: SPAM-LOW: Information on Electro-Convulsive Shock Therapy
To: oaks@mindfreedom.org
Cc: Robert.E.Nikkel@state.or.us, Madeline.M.Olson@state.or.us


The following are ECT statistics for calendar year 2007 and 2008 to

3 voluntary consents for ECT; 1 by patient and 2 by guardian
1 involuntary ECT plus 2 who had override consents but did not
receive ETC.
All ECT sessions are conducted by and at OHSU.
Maynard E. Hammer
Deputy Superintendent
Oregon State Hospital
Oregon Department of Human Services
Fax: 503-945-9429
e-mail: maynard.e.hammer@state.or.us
Bob Nikkel, MSW
Assistant Director, DHS
Addictions and Mental Health Division (AMH)
500 Summer St NE, E-86
Salem, OR 97301-1118
fax: 503-373-7327

Also,if you want, see and listen to the latest news conference by the Dalai Lama regarding the current uprising in Tibet:


And a silly animated gif:



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Causes of Poverty- reprinted- url below

Causes of Poverty


  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Tuesday, March 04, 2008
  • Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  • 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).

More Facts (and Sources) »

Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations. Why is this? Is it enough to blame poor people for their own predicament? Have they been lazy, made poor decisions, and been solely responsible for their plight? What about their governments? Have they pursued policies that actually harm successful development? Such causes of poverty and inequality are no doubt real. But deeper and more global causes of poverty are often less discussed.

Behind the increasing interconnectedness promised by globalization are global decisions, policies, and practices. These are typically influenced, driven, or formulated by the rich and powerful. These can be leaders of rich countries or other global actors such as multinational corporations, institutions, and influential people.

In the face of such enormous external influence, the governments of poor nations and their people are often powerless. As a result, in the global context, a few get wealthy while the majority struggle.

These next few articles and sections explore various poverty issues in more depth:

Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty

Cutbacks in health, education and other vital social services around the world have resulted from structural adjustment policies prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as conditions for loans and repayment. In addition, developing nation governments are required to open their economies to compete with each other and with more powerful and established industrialized nations. To attract investment, poor countries enter a spiraling race to the bottom to see who can provide lower standards, reduced wages and cheaper resources. This has increased poverty and inequality for most people. It also forms a backbone to what we today call globalization. As a result, it maintains the historic unequal rules of trade. Last updated Monday, July 02, 2007.

Read article: Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty

Poverty Around The World

Inequality is increasing around the world while the world appears to globalize. Even the wealthiest nation has the largest gap between rich and poor compared to other developed nations. In many cases, international politics and various interests have led to a diversion of available resources from domestic needs to western markets. Historically, politics and power play by the elite leaders and rulers have increased poverty and dependency. These have often manifested themselves in wars, hot and cold, which have often been trade- and resource-related. Mercantilist practices, while presented as free trade, still happen today. Poverty is therefore not just an economic issue, it is also an issue of political economics. Last updated Thursday, February 15, 2007.

Read article: Poverty Around The World

Today, over 26,500 children died around the world

Around the world, 27–30,000 children die every day. That is equivalent to 1 child dying every 3 seconds, 20 children dying every minute, a 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring almost every week, or 10–11 million children dying every year. Over 50 million children died between 2000 and 2005. The silent killers are poverty, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. In spite of the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage. Last updated Thursday, January 31, 2008.

Read article: Today, over 26,500 children died around the world

Economic Democracy

This next page is a reposting of a flyer about a new book from J.W. Smith and the Institute for Economic Democracy, whom I thank for their kind permission. The book is called Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle Of The 21st Century. Typically on this site, I do not advertise books etc, (although I will cite from and link to some, where relevant). However, in this case, I found that the text in the flyer provides an excellent summary of poverty’s historic roots, as well as of the multitude of issues that cause poverty. (Please also note that I do not make any proceeds from the sale of this book in any way.) Posted Sunday, November 26, 2000.

Read article: Economic Democracy

World Hunger and Poverty

People are hungry not because of lack of availability of food, or “over” population, but because they are too poor to afford the food. Politics and economic conditions have led to poverty and dependency around the world. Addressing world hunger therefore implies addressing world poverty as well. If food production is further increased and provided to more people while the underlying causes of poverty are not addressed, hunger will still continue because people will not be able to purchase food. Last updated Thursday, February 15, 2007.

Read article: World Hunger and Poverty

Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty

Even non-emergency food aid, which seems a noble cause, is destructive, as it under-sells local farmers and can ultimately affect the entire economy of a poor nation. If the poorer nations are not given the sufficient means to produce their own food and other items then poverty and dependency may continue. In this section you will also find a chapter from the book World Hunger: 12 Myths, by Lappé et al., which describes the situation in detail and looks at the myth that food aid helps the hungry. A must read! Last updated Monday, December 10, 2007.

Read article: Food Dumping [Aid] Maintains Poverty


We often hear leaders from rich countries telling poor countries that aid and loans will only be given when they show they are stamping out corruption. While that definitely needs to happen, the rich countries themselves are often active in the largest forms of corruption in those poor countries, and many economic policies they prescribe have exacerbated the problem. Corruption in developing countries definitely must be high on the priority lists, but so too must it be on the priority lists of rich countries. Last updated Sunday, September 23, 2007.

Read article: Corruption

United Nations World Summit 2005

The UN World Summit for September 2005 is supposed to review progress since the Millennium Declaration, adopted by all Member States in 2000. However, the US has proposed enormous changes to an outcome document that is to be signed by all members. There are changes on almost all accounts, including striking any mention of the Millennium Development Goals, that aim for example, to halve poverty and world hunger by 2015. This has led to concerns that the outcome document will be weakened. Developing countries are also worried about stronger text on human rights and about giving the UN Security Council more powers. Last updated Sunday, September 18, 2005.

Read article: United Nations World Summit 2005

IMF & World Bank Protests, Washington D.C.

To complement the public protests in Seattle, the week leading up to April 16th/17th 2000 saw the other two global institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, as the focus of renewed protests and criticisms in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the mass demonstrations was to protest against the current form of globalization, which is seen as unaccountable, corporate-led, and non-democratic, and to show the link between poverty and the various policies of the IMF and the World Bank. Last updated Friday, July 13, 2001.

Read article: IMF & World Bank Protests, Washington D.C.

Poverty Facts and Stats

While the world is globalizing and the mainstream media in many developed nations point out that economies are booming (or, in periods of downturns, that the current forms of “development” and economic policies are the only ways for people to prosper), there is an increasing number of poor people who are missing out on this apparent boom, while increasingly fewer people are becoming far wealthier. Some of these facts and figures are an eye-opener, to say the least. Last updated Tuesday, March 04, 2008.

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From the Eugene Register Guard

_The Register-Guard_, Eugene, Oregon, USA

16 March 2008 – Commentary – Guest Viewpoint


Antipsychotic drugs are doing harm

By Chuck Areford

[It is essential to note at the outset that suddenly stopping or
reducing psychiatric medications can be hazardous. Adjustments in
medication are best done under the supervision of a medical

In the early 1990s, a new class of drugs promised to revolutionize
the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Known as
atypical antipsychotics, drugs such as Clozaril, Zyprexa and
Risperdal largely replaced older medications such as Thorazine,
Haldol and Prolixin. Research and advertising sponsored by the
pharmaceutical industry led to the widespread belief that the newer
medications were indisputably safer, more effective and well worth
additional billions of dollars in taxpayer money. Pharmaceutical
profits soared.

Since then, the life expectancy of those treated in community mental
health centers has plunged to an appalling 25 years less than
average. Life expectancy may have fallen by as much as 15 years since
1986. Indications are that the death rate continues to accelerate in
what must be ranked as one of the worst public health disasters in
U.S. history.

The toxicity of antipsychotic medications, also known as
neuroleptics, is thoroughly documented. Atypical antipsychotics
initially seemed less hazardous because they produce fewer movement
disorders. We now know that the newer drugs lead to more
cardiovascular disease, which is by far the leading killer of those
in the public mental health system.

People who need mental health services already suffer from high rates
of cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, substance abuse, poor
nutrition, homelessness and poor access to health care. Adding
medications pours gasoline on a fire. This lethal combination is
almost certainly driving the spiraling death rate.

Advances in brain imaging techniques show that antipsychotic
medications cause brain damage. Animal and human studies link the
drugs to shrinkage of the cerebral cortex, home to the higher
functions. One study of monkeys given either older or newer
neuroleptic medication in doses equivalent to those given humans
showed an 11 percent to 15 percent shrinkage of the left parietal
lobe. Drugs that cause brain damage almost invariably reduce life

Marketing campaigns for atypical antipsychotic drugs target new
groups of patients, including the elderly and children. Public
television recently reported that as many as 1 million children have
been newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and thus may receive
neuroleptic medication. This does not include children treated with
antipsychotics for other disorders.

The damage to developing brains cannot be overemphasized. Years ago,
the Soviet Union was condemned for giving neuroleptic medication to
political dissidents. We now are giving a more lethal form of this
medication to our children. Where is the outcry?

Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and
elsewhere demonstrate that the newer drugs are no more effective than
the older ones in reducing psychotic symptoms. Patients stop taking
the new drugs at the same high rate as the old ones because they do
not like the way the drugs affect their lives.

While medications are effective in relieving symptoms in the short
run, research indicates that people suffering from psychosis recover
more quickly and completely without medication. Incredibly, one study
showed that those not taking medications had eight times the recovery
rate of those who remained medicated. Research in Finland shows that
immediate psychosocial interventions achieve far better results than
those in this country. It simply makes sense that people recover
better when not treated with medication that causes brain damage and
shortens their lives.

Yet professionals and the public widely believe that it is unethical
to treat serious mental disorders without antipsychotic medication.
The reasons for this are complex, but foremost is the enormous
profitability of the pharmaceutical industry. In the early 1990s, the
top 10 drug companies earned more profit than all the other Fortune
500 companies combined. The sheer volume of money corrupts medical
research, and misinformation is fed to professionals, clients and the

The deplorable conditions at the Oregon State Hospital are,
unfortunately, just one more indication of the failure of psychiatry
as a whole. I know many of the psychiatric professionals in Lane
County, and they are intelligent and compassionate people who want
the best for their clients. There will always be a place for
medication in the treatment of emotional disorders, yet there must be
public acknowledgement that the long-term use of antipsychotic
medication, particularly the atypicals, is a costly mistake. Silence
truly equals death.

The Oregon Department of Addictions and Mental Health has the
responsibility to confront the terrible inadequacies of the current
system and to fund the development of alternatives. We owe this to
the taxpayers, to society and especially to those who suffer from
mental illness.


Chuck Areford of Eugene has worked in the public mental health system
for the past 25 years.

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Tomorrow is my birthday.

Today I was in a meeting with a roomful of people with from state government, colleges, think-tanks etc. I’m on the executive committee for the state Behavioral Healthcare Workforce Development Task-force. One of the proposals discussed was to dismantle the committee. I don’t think it will dismantle, though, but may evolve instead.

Simplified bird’s eye rundown- Reason for dismantling: It hasn’t accomplished anything. Reason to keep it: it hasn’t accomplished anything.

Big problem: people entering the workforce as MSW’s etc. are unprepared for the work asked of them in the community. Turnover is ridiculously high. These things are getting worse. There is a need for people to come together with some vision to change the direction things are going.

This is our current draft mission statement:

Addiction and Mental Health Division (AHM) Behavioral Health Workforce Development (BHWD)

Revised Mission Statement

In order to assure that every Oregonian with a mental or substance use disorder has the necessary support to be in recovery, we must have a behavioral health workforce that is consistently prepared to implement evidence-based practices (EBPs), practices informed by indigenous knowledge and interventions consistent with a multi-faceted definition of recovery.

To realize such a vision we need to create or coordinate with a sustainable entity that brings together consumers and families, executive level personnel from behavioral health preparation sites, recovery agencies and prevention programs, and government institutions, to provide ongoing leadership that promotes integration and alignment of science (EBPs), consumer and family choice, workforce development, cultural appropriateness, and state policy.

To that end, the Behavioral Health Workforce Development (BHWD) Committee will plan and implement strategies to meet the following objectives:

Career Development for People in Recovery

1. Significantly expand the role of individuals in recovery.

2. Design and develop career pathways for people recovering from mental illness and family members.

Professional Development and Retention

1. Service providers and academic settings must work together to stay current with issues in service and be active in exchanging knowledge.

2. Clinicians, clinical supervisors and managers must demonstrate their mastery of competencies related to recovery, staff development and agency administration.

3. Staff retention strategies must be implemented and sustained system wide including clinical supervision, coaching and mentoring.

4. Well-articulated career ladders must be established, articulated and sustained, including management and leadership skills.

Graduate Behavioral Health Workforce Training

Undergraduate, graduate and residency programs will prepare students to practice in contemporary service environments using EBPs (Evidence Based Practices) of consumer choice with the goal of initiating, enhancing and sustaining recovery.

Meanwhile the state is spending a bazillion dollars on 2 new Psych Hospitals- with nothing set aside to implement effective community programs.


Oh, and don’t even get me started on evidence based practice, the catch phrase of the year/ decade (?). It begs the questions: whose evidence? for what exactly? One answer is that the “evidence” is never aimed at discovering how people can lead happy, self-directed lives.

Today’s stupid animated gif:


Maybe one more:


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Various news items

First- (personal update):
We are still unpacking but slowly finding a sense of place in our new townhome/ apartment. Several issues to deal with- mostly monetary (getting health care premiums paid, re-establishing household supplies, 2 broken vacuum cleaners…). We have a bed- donated by May T from Meeting. Food is being brought to us by strangers- nice strangers. Most animals are back- except the white cats are still at my sister’s house.

From Common Dreams:

Bush The Torturer, The Tyrant, The Disgrace

by Pierre Tristam

On Saturday, Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have outlawed the CIA’s use of torture in interrogations (a bill, it should be noted, John McCain, alleged opponent of torture, voted against). He had the temerity, our Dear Leader, to begin his official endorsement of torture in his radio address this morning with these words: “Good morning.” Good for him and his kind of delusional sadists, maybe. Not so good for this country, whose reputation today takes one more plunk toward the abyss of rogue and less than ordinary nations. Not so good for the rest of the world, either, whose nations have been disbelievingly howling, in Babels of translations, that most American of plaints: “Say it ain’t so.” This spring training for terrorist-interrogators (for torture is terrorism at its distilled worst), it very much is so. The United States is officially, proudly, the land of torturers. It’s true that the United States has been at this for years. But the difference here is not only that the president is endorsing torture, but that he’s doing it so openly and willfully. It isn’t arrogance anymore. It isn’t even hubris. Arrogance and hubris suggest that at least some awareness that public perceptions still matter. In Bush’s mind, perceptions are for the birds. This is pure tyranny. His statement embracing torture, a study in mendacity, is worth a line-by-line look.

“This week,” he began, “I addressed the Department of Homeland Security on its fifth anniversary and thanked the men and women who work tirelessly to keep us safe.” Really? As of last May 1, Homeland Security, the Washington Post reported, “had 138 vacancies among its top 575 positions, with the greatest voids reported in its policy, legal and intelligence sections, as well as in immigration agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard.” It got so bad that a panicky report was sent to the House committee overseeing the department-the department led, as we unfortunately know, by the intrepidly dismal Michael Chertoff, who captained the agency through its finest hour: its spectatorship of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

“Because the danger remains,” Bush continued, “we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists.” All the tools. Not the necessary tools, but all the tools. The most effective way not to worry about crossing the line into the dark side is not to have a line at all. For the Dear leader there is no question of nuance, of the difference between right and wrong. It is all right as long as he declares it so. By all means necessary (although I hate to soil Malcolm’s fine line, given its context, with the Dear Leader’s criminal intent). But by that reasoning, nuking Kandahar would be justified. Aren’t nuclear weapons also tools in the fight against “terrorism”? One day, the question may well be answered. Especially if the country insists on electing John McCain (and liberals who personally despise the black one or the bitch, as their prejudices couch them, insist on helping along the reactionaries).

Where Bush Lies Like a Nixonian Sweat Bead

“The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror — the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.” The bill, of course, does no such thing. It does not take away the CIA’s right to detain anyone. It does not take away the CIA’s right to question anyone. It only forbids the CIA to employ waterboarding and other forms of torture or degrading and dehumanizing treatment of inmates-inmates, we should always, always remember, who aren’t terrorists, but alleged terrorists. Until they are proven so, it is only their incarcerators who are the demonstrably proven terrorists.

Bush then lists a series of supposed terrorist attacks the interrogations foiled. We have to trust him on that one, as several of them have never been mentioned before. Trusting Bush at this point, of course, is an exercise best left to the pathologically cretinous. One example from the plots Bush does mention-the supposed attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles. It’s an old story, peddled by his administration since 2002. But when even the Voice of America, which is barely two radio waves removed from Radio White House, gives credence to doubts about the Dear Leader’s story, it’s time to give his fictions a chance to get sold as the latest memoir. “Micheal Scheuer, who was the leading al-Qaida expert in the CIA’s counter-terrorism center in 2002,” VOA reported in 2006, “says he is not aware of any such serious threat against the West Coast in 2002. As the man in the CIA who knew more about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida than perhaps any other agency officer, he says it is unlikely that he would not have been kept informed on such a plot. “It could be that it was very closely held, but I think that’s unlikely,” he said. “It could be just a function of my failing memory. But this doesn’t sound like anything that I would recall as a major threat, or as a major success in stopping it.’”

Brutality’s Euphemisms

Bush in his radio address then moves on to euphemizing torture as “specialized interrogation procedures to question a small number of the most dangerous terrorists under careful supervision.” It’s a little disingenuous for the man who turned extraordinary renditions into a secret competitor of Disney’s Vacation Club, the man who replaced the Soviet Union’s gulags with a secret gulag of his own (using, cleverly, the Soviet Union’s old prisons in some cases, as in Poland and Romania), the man under whose careful supervision the likes of Khaled el Masri and Maher Arar were wrongly imprisoned, tortured in Afghanistan and Syria, and released without apologies long after the CIA knew they had the wrong men-it’s a little disingenuous for that man now to claim “careful supervision” in torture chambers.

And to characterize torture as “these safe and lawful techniques.” Safe? When, by 2006, more than 100 individuals in American detention had been murdered by their captors? Lawful, when this very veto the Dear Leader is bandying about is an attempt to evade the law? But here’s his reasoning: limiting the CIA to interrogation techniques allowed only by the Army field manual would be wrong because the field manual deals with soldiers. The CIA deals with terrorists. Just as Bush on March 8 officially placed the United States as a champion of torture, Bush on this day also placed the United States as a champion of separating the race between legitimate human beings and sub-human creatures-”hardened terrorists.” The circular argument gives the appearance of perfect logic-if you’re willing to accept the notion that some human beings are not quite human beings. And isn’t that the notion once peddled in the United States about blacks-excuse me, about niggers? Isn’t that the notion peddled about Indians, at least while there were enough of them around that a distinction mattered? Isn’t that the kind of distinction some conservatives attempted to write into the Constitution with their prohibition of “oriental” immigrants at the turn of the last century?

Some things don’t change. Once a bigoted nation, always a bigoted nation. But this goes beyond bigotry. Bush is projecting an interpretation of human beings that links up with the sort of distinctions Nazi and apartheid regimes were known for, when they, too, facilitated the torture and murder of “enemies” by dehumanizing them in the eyes of the public. This is no different. He may be speaking the language of Anglo-Saxon civilization. He may be doing so from the august rooms of the White House. What he’s saying makes him no different in these regards than the tyrants of the 20 th century. His rhetoric is another chain-link to his actions: he dehumanizes in words in order to dehumanize in deeds.

Last month Michelle Obama was criticized for saying that finally, she can be proud of the United States, the implication being that she hadn’t been proud of it before Barack Obama’s hopeful run. She may want to rethink her newfound pride. There’s nothing to be proud of when the president reduces this country to rank criminality while calling it, of all things, a “higher responsibility” that is “keeping America safe.” No one should envy the next Americans to be taken prisoner by rogue nations and terrorists, now that we’re no better than either.

Now for something completely different- Big Bang/ Universe Expansion diagram:


Today’s Rumi:

The way of love is not a subtle argument.

The door there is devestation.

Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom.

How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling

they’re given wings.

Check out

Better Bees than Bears- my older son’s blog.


Silly animated gif:


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My dad’s war stories

I remember my father talking about things that were done by the Japanese to American prisoners during the Second World War (he was a career navy man, enlisted in 1937 and retired in 1960 or thereabouts; he had also been stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the 1941 air attack- he had a lot of stories). One of the things he talked about was “the water cure”. He had said that key officers in the Japanese military were executed after the war based particularly on the use of this technique.

I didn’t know what the “water cure” was. In my mind it was something like the “Chinese Water Torture” talked about in connection with the Korean War. And I had no idea what that meant either.

I heard someone on the radio today talking about waterboarding and the historical context. So I looked for more information.

Here is some of what I found:

After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

In this case from the tribunal’s records, the victim was a prisoner in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies:

A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession.

Here’s the testimony of two Americans imprisoned by the Japanese:

They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.

And from the second prisoner: They laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. . . . They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water.

As a result of such accounts, a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war. They were not the only defendants convicted in such cases. As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the “water cure” to question Filipino guerrillas.

The bottom line is that when “water treatment” was practiced against our side, it was called a war crime. That was the ruling against the Japanese after the Second World War by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and by the military courts that tried what were called in the Far East, the “B” and ”C” level war criminals.

When the leaders of Japan were found guilty of multiple and horrific war crimes, one of them was the “water treatment.” Those who actually did the “water treatment” – the officers who directed torture (B level) and those who carried it out (C level) were guilty of war crimes. Some were executed.

So, who’s right? Is waterboarding torture, or is it merely a stressful psychological technique?

Interestingly, the United States has long since answered that question. Following the end of the Second World War we prosecuted a number of Japanese military and civilian officials for war crimes. including the torture of captured Allied personnel. At one of those trials, United States v. Sawada, here’s how Captain Chase Nielsen, a crew member in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan, described his treatment, when he was captured, (and later tried for alleged war crimes by a Japanese military commission):

Q: What other physical treatment was administered to you at that time?

A: Well, I was given what they call the water cure.

Q: Explain to the Commission what that was.

A: Well, I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water was poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let me up until I’d get my breath, then they’d start over again.

Q: When you regained consciousness would they keep asking you questions?

A: Yes sir they did.

Q: How long did this treatment continue?

A: About twenty minutes.

Q: What was your sensation when they were pouring water on the towel, what did you physically feel?

A: Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death.

The prosecutor in that case was vehement in arguing that the captured Doolittle fliers had been wrongfully convicted by the Japanese tribunal, in part because they were convicted based on evidence obtained through torture. “The untrustworthiness of any admissions or confessions made under torture,” he said, “would clearly vitiate a conviction based thereon.”

At the end of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East of which the United States was a leading member (the Tribunal was established by Douglas MacArthur) convicted former Japanese Prime Minister Tojo and numerous other generals and admirals of a panoply of war crimes. Among them was torture:

Historical uses

Spanish Inquisition

A form of torture similar to waterboarding called toca, along with garrucha (or strappado) and the most frequently used potro (or the rack), was used (though infrequently) during the trial portion of the Spanish Inquisition process. “The toca, also called tortura del agua, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning.” One source has claimed that the use of water as a form of torture also had profound religious significance to the Inquisitors.

Colonial times

Agents of the Dutch East India Company used a precursor to waterboarding during the Amboyna massacre, which took place on the island of Amboyna in the Molucca Islands in 1623. At that time, it consisted of wrapping cloth around a victim’s head, after which the torturers “poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water.” In one case, the torturer applied water three or four times successively until the victim’s “body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead.”

World War II

During World War II, Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, as well the Gestapo, the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. The German technique was called the German equivalent of “u-boat”. During the Double Tenth Incident, waterboarding consisted of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach.

Algerian War

The technique was also used during the Algerian War (1954-1962). The French journalist Henri Alleg, who was subjected to waterboarding by French paratroopers in Algeria in 1957, is one of only a few people to have described in writing the first-hand experience of being waterboarded. His book The Question, published in 1958 with a preface by Jean-Paul Sartre (and subsequently banned in France until the end of the Algerian War in 1962) discusses the experience of being strapped to a plank, having his head wrapped in cloth and positioned beneath a running tap:

The rag was soaked rapidly. Water flowed everywhere: in my mouth, in my nose, all over my face. But for a while I could still breathe in some small gulps of air. I tried, by contracting my throat, to take in as little water as possible and to resist suffocation by keeping air in my lungs for as long as I could. But I couldn’t hold on for more than a few moments. I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably. “That’s it! He’s going to talk,” said a voice.

The water stopped running and they took away the rag. I was able to breathe. In the gloom, I saw the lieutenants and the captain, who, with a cigarette between his lips, was hitting my stomach with his fist to make me throw out the water I had swallowed.

Alleg has stated that the incidence of “accidental” death of prisoners being subjected to waterboarding in Algeria was “very frequent.”

Vietnam War

Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in the Vietnam War. On January 21, 1968, The Washington Post published a controversial photograph of an American soldier supervising the waterboarding of a North Vietnamese POW near Da Nang.photo. The article described the practice as “fairly common.” The photograph led to the soldier being court-martialled by a U.S. military court within one month of its publication, and he was thrown out of the army. Another waterboarding photograph of the same scene is also exhibited in the War Remnants Museum at Ho Chi Minh City.

Khmer Rouge

The Khmer Rouge at the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, used waterboarding as a method of torture between 1975 and 1979.

We have certainly come a long way.

For so many reasons, I can’t understand why George W. Bush has not been impeached.

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