Category Archives: Human Being

The Long List of What we Know because of Manning

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Manning-Assange-Snowden

Written by Greg Mitchell at The Nation:

“”The debate in the media, and in political circles over Edward Snowden—Right or Wrong—often doubles back on references to Pfc. Manning, who was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison on Wednesday. Too often (that is, most of the time), the value and import of the Manning/WikiLeaks disclosures are ignored or dismissed, just as Snowden’s NSA scoops are often derided as “nothing new.”

So for those who either suffer from memory loss or ignorance on this particular score, here is a partial accounting of some of the important revelations in the Manning leak, drawn from my book—with Kevin Gosztola—on the Manning case, Truth and Consequences (the e-book just now updated to include the trial, the verdict, this week’s sentencing and reactions).

The revelations below were compiled for the book in March 2011—many others followed, including the important Gitmo files (see my piece about them) in April 2011.  Here is a New York Times take on just part of those Gitmo files: “What began as a jury-rigged experiment after the 2001 terrorist attacks now seems like an enduring American institution, and the leaked files show why, by laying bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal.”  So even this accounting below is far from complete.

And let’s not forget what started it all: the “Collateral Murder” video.

First, just a very partial list from “Cablegate” (keep in mind, this does not include many other bombshells that caused a stir in smaller nations abroad):

• Yemeni president lied to his own people, claiming his military carried out air strikes on militants actually done by the US. All part of giving US full rein in country against terrorists.

• Details on Vatican hiding big sex abuse cases in Ireland.

• US tried to get Spain to curb its probes of Gitmo torture and rendition.

• Egyptian torturers trained by FBI—although allegedly to teach the human rights issues.

• State Dept. memo: US-backed 2009 coup in Honduras was “illegal and unconstitutional.”

• Cables on Tunisia appear to help spark revolt in that country. The country’s ruling elite described as “The Family,” with Mafia-like skimming throughout the economy. The country’s first lady may have made massive profits off a private school.

• US knew all about massive corruption in Tunisia back in 2006 but went on supporting the government anyway, making it the pillar of its North Africa policy.

• Cables showed the UK promised in 2009 to protect US interests in the official Chilcot inquiry on the start of the Iraq war.

* Oil giant Shell claims to have “inserted staff” and fully infiltrated Nigeria’s government.

• US pressured the European Union to accept GM—genetic modification, that is.

• Washington was misled by our own diplomats on Russia-Georgia showdown.

• Extremely important historical document finally released in full: Ambassador April Glaspie’s cable from Iraq in 1990 on meeting with Saddam Hussein before Kuwait invasion.

• The UK sidestepped a ban on housing cluster bombs. Officials concealed from Parliament how the US is allowed to bring weapons on to British soil in defiance of treaty.

• The New York Times: “From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest man is a distinct outlier.”

• Afghan vice president left country with $52 million “in cash.”

• Shocking levels of US spying at the United Nations (beyond what was commonly assumed) and intense use of diplomats abroad in intelligence-gathering roles.

• Potential environmental disaster kept secret by the US when a large consignment of highly enriched uranium in Libya came close to cracking open and leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere.

• US used threats, spying, and more to try to get its way at last year’s crucial climate conference in Copenhagen.

* American and British diplomats fear Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program — with poor security — could lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists or a devastating nuclear exchange with India.

• Hundreds of cables detail US use of diplomats as “sales” agents, more than previously thought, centering on jet rivalry of Boeing vs. Airbus. Hints of corruption and bribes.

• Millions in US military aid for fighting Pakistani insurgents went to other gov’t uses (or stolen) instead.

• Israel wanted to bring Gaza to the ”brink of collapse.”

• The US secret services used Turkey as a base to transport terrorism suspects as part of its extraordinary rendition program.

• As protests spread in Egypt, cables revealed that strong man Suleiman was at center of government’s torture programs, causing severe backlash for Mubarak after he named Suleiman vice president during the revolt. Other cables revealed or confirmed widespread Mubarak regime corruption, police abuses and torture, and claims of massive Mubarak famiiy fortune, significantly influencing media coverage and US response.

Now, an excerpt from our book on just small aspect of the Iraq war cables. As I noted, this doesn’t even include the release of the “Collateral Murder” video earlier.

Al Jazeera suggested that the real bombshell was the US allowing Iraqis to torture detainees. Documents revealed that US soldiers sent 1,300 reports to headquarters with graphic accounts, including a few about detainees beaten to death. Some US generals wanted our troops to intervene, but Pentagon chiefs disagreed, saying these assaults should only be reported, not stopped. At a time the US was declaring that no torture was going on, there were forty-one reports of such abuse still happening “and yet the US chose to turn its back.”

The New York Times report on the torture angle included this: “The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee’s fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.

And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate…. That policy was made official in a report dated May 16, 2005, saying that ‘if US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted until directed by HHQ.’ In many cases, the order appeared to allow American soldiers to turn a blind eye to abuse of Iraqis on Iraqis.

Amnesty International quickly called on the US to investigate how much our commanders knew about Iraqi torture.

A top story at The Guardian, meanwhile, opened: “Leaked Pentagon files obtained by The Guardian contain details of more than 100,000 people killed in Iraq following the US-led invasion, including more than 15,000 deaths that were previously unrecorded.

“British ministers have repeatedly refused to concede the existence of any official statistics on Iraqi deaths. US General Tommy Franks claimed ‘We don’t do body counts.’ The mass of leaked documents provides the first detailed tally by the US military of Iraqi fatalities. Troops on the ground filed secret field reports over six years of the occupation, purporting to tote up every casualty, military and civilian.

“Iraq Body Count, a London-based group that monitors civilian casualties, told the Guardian: ‘These logs contain a huge amount of entirely new information regarding casualties. Our analysis so far indicates that they will add 15,000 or more previously unrecorded deaths to the current IBC total. This data should never have been withheld from the public.’ ” The logs recorded a total of 109,032 violent deaths between 2004 and 2009.

Citing a new document, the Times reported: “According to one particularly painful entry from 2006, an Iraqi wearing a tracksuit was killed by an American sniper who later discovered that the victim was the platoon’s interpreter…. The documents…reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians—at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.”

And now, re the Afghanistan war logs, another book excerpt:

The Times highlighted it as “The War Logs” with the subhed, “A six-year archive of classified military documents offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war.” Explicitly, or by extension, the release also raised questions about the media coverage of the war to date.

The Guardian carried a tough editorial on its website, calling the picture “disturbing” and raising doubts about ever winning this war, adding: “These war logs—written in the heat of engagement—show a conflict that is brutally messy, confused and immediate. It is in some contrast with the tidied-up and sanitized ‘public’ war, as glimpsed through official communiques as well as the necessarily limited snapshots of embedded reporting.”

Elsewhere, the paper traced the CIA and paramilitary roles in the deaths of civilians in Afghanistan, many cases hidden until now. In one incident, a US patrol machine-gunned a bus, wounding or killing fifteen. David Leigh wrote, “They range from the shootings of individual innocents to the often massive loss of life from air strikes, which eventually led President Hamid Karzai to protest publicly that the US was treating Afghan lives as ‘cheap’.”

The paper said the logs also detailed “how the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.” Previously unknown friendly fire incidents also surfaced.

The White House, which knew what was coming, quickly slammed the release of classified reports— most labeled “secret”—and pointed out the documents ended in 2009, just before the president set a new policy in the war; and claimed that the whole episode was suspect because WikiLeaks was against the war. Still, it was hard to dismiss official internal memos such as: “The general view of Afghans is that current gov’t is worse than the Taliban.

Among the revelations that gained prime real estate from The New York Times: “The documents…suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.” The Guardian, however, found no “smoking gun” on this matter. The Times also reported that the US had given Afghans credit for missions carried out by our own Special Ops teams.””

Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell writes a daily blog for The Nation focusing on media, politics and culture. He is the former editor of Editor & Publisher and author of thirteen books. His latest book, on the 2012 Obama-Romney race, isTricks, Lies, and Videotape. His other books include Atomic Cover-UpThe Campaign of the Century (winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize), two books related to WikiLeaks and a pair of books with Robert Jay Lifton on Hiroshima and the death penalty in America. His Twitter feed is @GregMitch and he can be reached at:  epic1934@aol.com. His personal blog is Pressing Issues.

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Inhale: a Movie about Organ Trafficking

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Organ Trafficking

Anyone that goes to the black market looking for an organ is perpetuating the Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. It is estimated that 15 thousand people are killed every year to have their organs sold to someone that pays for it. 

A father desperate to find a lung donor to save his daughter’s life travels to Mexico to buy one in the black market. He has 24 hours and he was lucky enough to find a matching donor in Mexico. While he is waiting for his daughter to arrive for the transplant, he is playing with some kids when one of them is hit by a car and an ambulance arrives in a matter of seconds. He follows the ambulance and realizes that kids are being killed for having their organs sold in the black market. Desperate, he tries to talk to his wife that doesn’t wanna know where is the lungs coming from. He is able to save the kid’s life but not his own daughter’s life. On the other hand, the wife doesn’t accept the fact that he didn’t allow the assassination of a healthy kid to save their own daughter.

“The illegal trade in kidneys has risen to such a level that an estimated 10,000 black market operations involving purchased human organs now take place annually, or more than one an hour, World Health Organisation experts have revealed. Patients, many of whom will go to ChinaIndia or Pakistan for surgery, can pay up to $200,000 (nearly £128,000) for a kidney to gangs who harvest organs from vulnerable, desperate people, sometimes for as little as $5,000.” More at Illegal kidney trade booms as new organ is sold every hour.

Organ Trafficking

“An increasing worldwide demand for organs has created “transplant tourism” and with it, an unregulated organ bazaar. The Istanbul Declaration, the only universal agreement of its kind on organ transplantation, has laid the groundwork to curtail transplant tourism and trafficking and create international standards to ensure safe and accountable transplant surgery for both donors and recipients. In every country around the world except Iran, the exchange of human organs for cash or a “valuable commodity” to the donor is illegal. In the United States, some are proposing that organ sales should be allowed. What are the arguments surrounding the sale of organs? Where does organ trafficking fit in the human trafficking and modern-day slavery issue? What are possible solutions to organ shortage? How are public policy leaders around the world addressing organ trafficking?” – By Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Event at:

The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

About Snowden: I speak as an American Resident and as a Brazilian Citizen.

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About Snowden: I speak as an American Resident and as a Brazilian Citizen.

Today, I feel an orphan.

Today, I am ashamed to be an American resident as well as a Brazilian citizen.

Today, Brazil does not represent me.

Today, my nation has decided to ignore the fact that Edward Snowden is asking for political exile.

Today, my nation is ignoring that Snowden is one of the most important symbols of democracy.

Today, my nation is ignoring that we Brazilians have been protesting for democracy.

Today, only Russia deserves some respect for keeping Snowden safe in the Moscow Airport for 10 days.

Today, the family and friends of Edward Snowden are still suffering.

Today, we are again failing to fight for democracy.

Today, the US government is still calling Edward Snowden as well as Bradley Manning as traitors.

Today, the traitor is obviously the US government together with my country.

Today, I am ashamed to be an American resident as well as a Brazilian citizen.

Today, no nation represents me.

Today, July 2 2013.

 

Amreeka

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Amreeka

Mother and son, Muna and Fadi, are tired of the bombs and checking points of the occupied Palestine, and they decided to join their relatives in Chicago but they arrived in the US right after the nine-eleven… They are not even Muslims but, for the average American, they are just stupid Muslims or potential terrorists… The successful brother-in-law is not successful anymore, and his clients started abandoning him. Fadi, the son, is being called Osama by his “knowledgable” classmates, which are making his adaptation to a new home even harder. Despite the sadness of the plot, this movie is joyful to watch, highlighted with the positive attitude of Muna who never doubts who she really is despite all the misjudgments.

Are some celebrities eccentric or sick?

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Are some celebrities eccentric or sick?

If you ever felt that your uniqueness means that you are not like other people, and you do not have human limitation, you have entered the arena that Greek writers called “tragedy”.  In this arena, all Greek heroes often had the same flaws, excessive pride. It happens when people fail to accept human limitation, and when they believe they are not subjects to the same constrains as others. Also, the same happens to people who victimize (Carnes, 1997, pp. 84-85).

According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, here are some ways such entitlement can develop: all kind of people who were damaged or abused while growing up, and when not dealing with their issues, they end up believing that laws and rules don’t apply to themselves (e.g., sociopaths, narcissists, addicts).

Interesting is to note that people who grew up in families of extraordinary wealth, power or fame as well as people of great talent of hard work that rise to positions of great power, may share the same beliefs but with no apparent diagnosis. Often, they act in the same way, and laws and rules don’t apply to themselves. In other words, they believe they deserve privileges. They may see themselves as being better than others (e.g., smarter, tougher, etc.). Therefore, they believe that they are more deserving. Many of these famous or powerful figures died with no diagnosis… As a matter of fact, often they are just recognized as eccentrics (e.g, Steve Jobs, John F. Kennedy), and this is still a millenary heritage of our culture.

My Birthday with Steve McQueen

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It is not everybody that is keen of contemporary art but – for sure – everyone is capable of appreciating it. All we need is sensitivity and education.  The Black British artist Steve McQueen is only a little more than 40 years old but already acclaimed all over the world. So, today was my birthday and I gave myself a promenade in his exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I caught myself again in love with his art.

The Black British Artist Steve McQueen

The Black British Artist Steve McQueen

“Queen and Country” (2007/2009) is a huge and massive wood drawer with about 100 vertical drawer divided in the two sides (front and back). Steve contacted 115 families, and received the permission to use their deceased family member’s picture in this exhibition. They all died during the recent war in Iraq. The drawer is interactive and invites you to open them and see the 160 facsimile stamp with the picture of the man or the woman who died serving their country – UK. Note that each stamp comes with the silhouette of the Queen, the same one that hasn’t approved the real circulation of these stamps but McQueen intention’s is to produce them all, and it is just a matter of time. We all know that one day it will happen but until there his art is unfinished.

Another installation that was striking for me: Static (2009) (check the link!), an unstable video of the aging Liberty Statue… speechless!

MqQueen is also the director of Shame (2011) and Hunger (2012), and they are both about the absence of freedom. The non freedom inside a British prison (Hunger) and the non freedom inside a “free” body (Shame). Both movies are shocking and disturbing. Hunger talks about the IRA volunteers, prisoners that had never received the status of political prisoners. They were so strong about their cause that they found themselves with no choice but to do a hunger strike. The astonishing performance of Michael Fassbender playing Bobby Sands shows us the decay of a human body in an agonizing and slow road to death because the British government under Margaret Thatcher’s command refused to give them back their status of political activists and political prisoners. Only after 10 deaths, the prisoners regained some rights but never the recognition for their political status. On the other hand, the director shows the other side of the bars, and how miserable some men working with those prisoners were felling, and some of them committed suicide. Hunger makes a dialogue with Steve McQueen’s other movie, Shame, where a man totally officially free lives incarcerated in his body and his compulsion for sex.

“There is no such thing as political murder, political bombing, political violence.  There is only criminal murder, criminal bombing, and criminal violence.  There will be no political status.”

– By Margaret Thatcher

We need Heroes. Let’s create them! [Precisamos de mais Heróis. Então, vamos criá-los!]

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Team Justice League

Team Justice League

Heroes and evils are opposite extremes in the general population and are both very rare. The majority of the population does nothing but if so, they do without any imagination, just going with the flow. In other words, the key to figure out if you are going to follow Gandhi or Hitler is way more related to the circumstances than you can possibly imagine. But the fact is:

WE NEED MORE HEROES

and according to Dr. Philip Zimbardo, we need to spread the word and show that our inner hero can be shut down by a negative environment. Moreover, we need to not let these happen and motivate the heroic action, transforming compassion into heroic action. With this purpose, Zimbardo and collegues created the Heroic Imagination Project based on scientific findings that people tend to do what the group decides to do even if they are sure that it is the wrong choice (Salomon Asch’s Conformity) or people tend to not help if the others do not help either (the Bystander effect). Worse, people tend to harm others under the obedience to unjust authority (Stanley Milgram Experiment). Therefore, what is necessary is to teach that no matter the circumstances:

WE ALWAYS HAVE THE CHANCE TO DO THE RIGHT THING

and the right choice is the one that really matters and is capable to change the world for better.

The newest hero is Nirvan Mullick, a cineast that discovered the little persistent Caine and – after watching this video – you will know the 9-year-old Caine Monroy and his Caine’s Arcade:

Nirvan Mullick with Caine Monroy

Nirvan Mullick, the Hero who discovered the little artist and persistent Caine Monroy at Caine's Arcade.

Here is a big list of the CNN HEROES ARCHIVE for 2012 and past years.

3 not well known Heroes but amazing ones cited by Zimbardo: the 9-year-old-boy Lin Hao (2008), the 15-year-old-girl Claudette Colvin (1955), and Irena Sendler (1940-43) on her 30’s. It took decades for Claudette and Irena to be recognized:

Lin Hao, the Hero

Lin Hao, the Hero of China Earthquake 2008 who came back to save his classmates.

Claudette Colvin, the Hero

Claudette Colvin, the Hero of African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 50's who refused to give her seat to a white person in the bus.

Irena Sendler, the Hero

Irena Sendler, the Hero of World War II keeping more than 2,500 Jewish kids away from nazis concentration camps.

Heróis e vilões são extremos opostos em uma população qualquer e ambos são muito raros. A maioria da população não faz nada, mas se fizer, faz sem nenhuma imaginação, só indo com a maré. Em outras palavras, a chave para descobrir se você vai acompanhar Gandhi ou Hitler está mais relacionada com as circunstâncias do que você possa imaginar. Mas o fato é que:

PRECISAMOS DE MAIS HERÓIS

e de acordo com o Dr. Philip Zimbardo, é preciso mostrar que o nosso herói interior pode ser destruído por um ambiente negativo. Além disso, é preciso não deixar que isto aconteça e motivar a atitude heróica, transformando compaixão em ação heróica. Com este propósito, Zimbardo e colegas criaram o Heroic Imagination Project baseado em descobertas científicas nas quais as pessoas tendem a fazer o que o grupo decide fazer, mesmo tendo certeza que seja a escolha errada (Salomon Asch’s Conformity) ou as pessoas tendem a não ajudar se os outros também não ajudam (the Bystander effect). Pior, as pessoas tendem a prejudicar os outros quando estão sob obediência à autoridade injusta (Stanley Milgram Experiment). Portanto, o que é necessário é ensinar que não importa as circunstâncias:

NÓS SEMPRE TEMOS A CHANCE DE FAZER A COISA CERTA

e a escolha certa é o que realmente importa e é capaz de mudar o mundo para melhor.

O mais novo herói é Nirvan Mullick, um cineasta que descobriu o persistente Caine e – depois de assistir a este vídeo – você vai saber tudo sobre Caine Monroy, um garotinho de 9 anos de idade  e sua Caine Arcade.

Aqui uma extensa lista de heróis da CNN HEROES ARCHIVE para 2012 e anos anteriores.

3 Heróis não bem conhecidos, mas incríveis citados por Zimbardo: o garoto de 9 anos Lin Hao (2008), a menina de 15 anos Claudette Colvin (1955), e Irena Sendler (1940-1943) nos seu 30. Claudette e Irena foram reconhecidas como heroínas muitas décadas mais tarde.