A vow is a purely religious act which cannot be taken in a fit of passion. It can be taken only with a mind purified and composed and with God as witness. God sometimes does try to the uttermost those whom he wishes to bless. I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.
Are creeds such simple things like the clothes which a man can change at will and put on at will? Creeds are such for which people live for ages and ages. All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth..
In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. Action expresses priorities. An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.
All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.
Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into. Faith… must be enforced by reason… when faith becomes blind it dies.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi ( 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India during the Indian independence movement.
A young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.
But an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”
The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly but full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in … but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. The young man looked at the old man’s heart and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine … mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”
” “Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking … but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love….. I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them … and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges. “ Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away … and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges … giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too … and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”
The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit …. but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since lovefrom the old man’s heart flowed into his.
Supporters of the tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who insist military justice, not the federal courts, is the best way to deal with terrorists, should pay close attention to Tuesday’s events in a United States District Court in Manhattan. Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life imprisonment, five months and four days after he tried to blow up his car in Times Square.
When Mr. Shahzad was arrested, and later given a Miranda warning, the “tough on terrorists” crowd screamed about coddling and endangering the country’s security. They didn’t stop complaining, even after Mr. Shahzad cooperated with investigators and entered a guilty plea with a mandatory life sentence. All of this happened without the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department breaking laws or violating Constitutional protections.
Now let’s check in on Guantánamo Bay, where President George W. Bush opened an illegal detention camp, authorized torture and abuse, and then set up military tribunals engineered to produce guilty verdicts no matter how thin or tainted the evidence. When the courts declared the system illegal, Congress made it slightly better. President Obama improved it a bit more. But it is still not up to American standards, or to its task.
There are more than 170 inmates left in Guantánamo. Only 36 have been referred for prosecution, some very dangerous men. Forty-eight are in a long-term detention that is certainly illegal. Almost all the rest are in limbo while the Obama team tries to figure out what to do. The chances are dimming every day that prisoners like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, will ever be brought to justice.
The only inmate on trial in Guantánamo is Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was accused at age 15 of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. He has been held in extralegal detention for more than eight years, and the military has been attempting to try him since 2005. The thin evidence against him is tainted by his credible allegations of abuse.
The Pentagon has further shamed American justice during the trial by imposing censorship that included temporarily banning four reporters from the courtroom because they published the name of a witness who had been identified in news reports and public documents.
This is the choice: Justice in long-established federal courts that Americans can be proud of and the rest of the world can respect. Or illegal detentions and unending, legally dubious military tribunals. It is an easy one.
technology of warfare - Scientific American Mood:
don't ask Now Playing: Terminate the Terminators Topic: WAR
Apologies for omitting important references regarding my claim that we are witnessing a "profound escalation of warfare". The article copied below is an editorial in the July 2010 issue of Scientific American. In addition, there is a much better article of this new threat to peace in the same issue titled "War of the Machines" which is only (legally) available in hardcopy format. I'm sure most on this list will appreciate that Hezbollah is mentioned as being a perpetrator of this new technology while no mention is made of Israel which does in fact already use robotic warfare technology on Palestinians.
When U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003, they fought a traditional war of human on human. Since then, robots have joined the fight. Both there and in Afghanistan, thousands of “unmanned” systems dismantle roadside IEDs, take that first peek around the corner at a sniper’s lair and launch missiles at Taliban hideouts. Robots are pouring onto battlefields as if a new species of mechanotronic alien had just landed on our planet.
It is not the first time that the technology of warfare has advanced more rapidly than the body of international law that seeks to restrain its use. During World War I, cannons shot chemical weapons at and airplanes dropped bombs on unsuspecting cities. Only later did nations reach a verdict on whether it was acceptable to target a munitions factory next to a primary school.
Something similar is happening today with potentially even more profound and disturbing consequences. As Brookings Institution analyst P. W. Singer describes in “ War of the Machines,” the rise of robots leads to the frightening prospect of making obsolete the rule book by which nations go to war. Armed conflict between nation states is brutal, but at least it proceeds according to a set of rules grounded both in international law and in the demands of military discipline. It is not true that anything goes in the heat of battle. “Such rules are certainly not always followed, but their very existence is what separates killing in war from murder and what distinguishes soldiers from criminals,” writes Singer in Wired for War, his recent popular book on the military robotic revolution.
Those rules are stretched to their breaking point when robots go to war. The legal and ethical questions abound. Who is accountable when a Predator’s missile hits the wrong target? Missiles from errant drones have already killed as many as 1,000 civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Does responsibility reside with a field commander in the Middle East where spotters identified the “target of interest”? Or should blame be apportioned to the “remote pilot” stationed at a military base near Las Vegas who launched the strike from 7,000 miles away? And what about a software engineer who might have committed a programming error that caused a misfire?
Considering rules of engagement for war-at-a-distance raises a surreal set of questions. Does the remote operator in Nevada remain a legal combatantin other words, a legitimate enemy targeton the trip after work to Walmart or to a daughter’s soccer match? Would an increasingly sketchy line between warrior and civilian invite attacks on U.S. soil against homes and schools?
Remote-controlled robots are here to stay, and rules can be worked out to regulate their use. But the more serious threat comes from semiautonomous machines over which humans retain nothing more than last-ditch veto power. These systems are only a software upgrade away from fully self-sufficient operation. The prospect of androids that hunt down and kill on their own accord (shades of Terminator) should give us all pause. An automatic pilot that makes its own calls about whom to shoot violates the “human” part of international humanitarian law, the one that recognizes that some weapons are so abhorrent that they just should be eliminated.
Some might call a ban on autonomous robots naive or complain that it would tie the hands of soldiers faced with irregular warfare. But although robots have clear tactical advantages, they carry a heavy strategic price. The laws of war are an act not of charity but of self-interest; the U.S. would be weakened, not strengthened, if chemical and biological weapons were widespread, and the same is true of robots. They are a cheap way to offset conventional military strength, and other nations and groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon are already deploying them. The U.S. may not always be the leader in this technology and would be well advised to negotiate restrictions on their use from a position of strength. We can never put the genie back into the bottle, but putting a hold on further development of this technology could limit the damage.
The organization best placed to work toward a ban is the International Committee of the Red Cross, the guardian of the Geneva Conventions. A good starting point would be to convene a summit to consider armed, autonomous robots in the same framework as chemical and biological agents. The scientific community at large should get involved with this issue much as the Pugwash movement has worked toward nuclear arms control. Now is the time to take steps to ensure that a war of the machines remains nothing more than a science-fiction nightmare.
Omaha police officer Larry Minard was murdered by an ambush bomb on August 17, 1970. Minard and seven other patrol officers were responding to an anonymous phone call about a woman screaming at a vacant house.
The 29 year-old policeman was killed instantly when he examined a suitcase in the vacant dwelling. Minard was buried three days later on what would have been his 30th birthday with fellow officers serving as pallbearers. Three hundred Omaha policemen attended the funeral.
Minard had planned to go out and celebrate turning 30 with his wife Karen but instead was buried in Forest Lawn cemetery on his birthday. Minard’s children, ages 4 to 11, had already wrapped his birthday presents--gifts that Larry would never open.
Larry Minard, Jr. now proudly displays a tattoo of his father’s official police photo. Family members dutifully mark anniversaries, attend court sessions, and make media statements when Minard’s death is in the news.
Larry and Karen were married in 1958, the same year Minard joined the Navy. Serving on a destroyer tender, Minard made two long overseas trips before his discharge from the service in 1961.
Minard applied for the Nebraska State Patrol but missed the deadline by one day so he then applied for positions with both the Omaha Fire and the Omaha Police Departments. The police job opened up first and Larry put on the badge.
The day Larry Minard died, his boss Assistant Chief of Police Glen Gates and Special-Agent-in-Charge Paul Young of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conspired to let the anonymous 911 caller that lured Minard to his death get away with murder.
J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, had been hounding Special Agent Young for months to get Black Panther leaders Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Longer (formerly David Rice) off the streets as part of the clandestine Operation COINTELPRO.
Young saw an opportunity to make a case against the two Panthers for the bombing but the unknown killer who made the 911 call stood in the way so a plan was hatched to send the 911 recording to Washington, D.C. where Hoover could intervene.
When Ivan Willard Conrad, the head of the FBI crime laboratory, got the tape and secret COINTELPRO memorandum from Omaha two days later he called Hoover to verify that he was to withhold a report on the identity of the 911 caller thus ending the search for Minard’s killer.
Hoover verified that no report was to be made on the 911 tape and that only oral information was to be shared with Paul Young at the Omaha FBI field office. Conrad noted his call with Hoover on the memo and initialed and dated it one day before Larry Minard was buried.
Hoover’s order held, the jury that convicted Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa never got to hear the voice of Minard’s killer. Nor did the jury know that the Omaha Two were targets of Hoover’s COINTELPRO program.
Larry Minard’s widow and children believe the official version of the crime. The awful truth that J. Edgar Hoover ordered the withholding of evidence about the identity of Minard’s killer didn’t come out until years later with the release of COINTELPRO documents and is too painful for the family to accept.
The Omaha Two, Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, remain incarcerated at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary in their 40th year of imprisonment. Both men deny any involvement in Larry Minard’s death.
FBI raided six homes of eight peace activists Mood:
energetic Now Playing: Send Letters (links below) to demand justice "Fire FBI Director Mueller" Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS
Two days ago the FBI raided six homes of eight peace activists in Minneapolis and Chicago as well as a Minneapolis office of an antiwar group. Agents kicked down doors of homes with guns drawn, smashed furniture, and seized computers, documents, phones, and other materials without making any arrests. These groups do not use guns and bombs. They are not terrorists. Their "weapons" are leaflets, newsletters, and nonviolent demonstrations.
The FBI searches highlight a dangerous trend that has been building for nearly a decade: domestic surveillance of peace activists. We are writing you to put these raids in context and to urge you to take action.
The raids took place just a few days after a report of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice examined 8,000 pages of documents from 2001 to 2006. The report blasted the Federal Bureau of Investigation for spying on anti-war activists, animal-rights groups, and environmentalists, calling the improper "terror" investigations "unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy." Among those targeted were the anti-war Thomas Merton Center, the Quakers, the Catholic Worker, Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and an individual Quaker peace activist. According to the Inspector General, there was "little or no basis" for the investigations.
Another report found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation used lies and trickery to illegally obtain thousands of records, then issued after-the-fact approvals in an attempt to cover it up. Released in January, this report was the result of another Justice Department investigation which built on a 2007 report covering similar matters. The Inspector General focused on the FBI's unlawful misuse of the already-unconstitutional informal requests known as "exigent letters" to demand information which they knew was illegal. The DOJ report described a "complete breakdown" of procedures within the FBI. According to the report, the "FBI broke law for years in phone record searches." Agents repeatedly and knowingly violated the law by invoking nonexistent "terror emergencies" to get access to information they were not authorized to have.
Nor do these reports cover all the incidences of domestic surveillance of peace advocates. Former FBI special agent and whistleblower, Colleen Rowley, reports that "in 2008, we found out through a Freedom of Information request that there are 300 pages of--I think it was four or five, six agents trailing a group of students in Iowa City to parks, libraries, bars, restaurants. They even went through their trash."
Just today, another Inspector General report found that hundreds of FBI employees cheated on exams related to domestic surveillance. The report described how they consulted with others while taking the exam even though that was forbidden. Others used or distributed answer sheets or study guides that provided test answers. Still others exploited a computer flaw that revealed answers. The agents were being tested on 2008 guidelines that FBI employees must follow when conducting domestic investigations.
There has been a constant battle between the constitution and domestic surveillance of political activists, especially peace advocates, for decades. The FBI has a long history of abusing its authority. If we do not act to curtail these actions we are all in danger of being spied on and added to terrorist watch lists for doing nothing more than attending a rally, signing a petition or holding a sign.
Steps are urgently needed to protect the basic constitutional rights of peace activists and others. These include:
President Obama needs to speak out against the surveillance of Americans who are merely exercising their constitutional rights. As a former law professor he knows the long history of such abuse and how important it is to contain enforcement. Click here to write President Obama.
Removal of FBI director Robert Mueller. His tenure since 2001 has been littered with abuses of domestic spying. The Inspector General has concluded Director Mueller provided "inaccurate and misleading information" to Congress. Mueller also failed to put in place adequate procedures to ensure the law is obeyed and to ensure agents are aware of the laws regarding domestic surveillance. You can write President Obama by clicking here. You can write Director Mueller and urge his resignation by clicking here.
Congress needs to hold hearings to investigate the extent of domestic spying on Americans who are merely exercising the rights to free speech, to assembly, and to petition the government. These fundamental political rights need to be protected by tightening up the laws regarding domestic surveillance which were loosened by the PATRIOT Act. Click here to write your Member of Congress.
The escalation of wars abroad by the Obama administration is moving forward alongside an escalation against antiwar activists at home. The groups targeted in these raids, while Marxist in ideology, endorsed and supported the election of President Obama. Their Political Report noted "Obama's election represents a rejection of the Bush administration policies and a desire amongst the people for a progressive agenda from the government." Now we know that the Obama administration is moving forward with Bush-era policies that target anti-war political dissent at the same time that more Americans oppose Obama's wars. Please act today to stop this from continuing.
Torture IS an “American” Value: Reality Versus the Rhetoric
May 1, 2007
I became aware of torture as a U.S. policy in 1969 when I was serving as a USAF combat security officer working near Can Tho City in Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta. I was "informed" about the CIA’s Phong Dinh Province Interrogation Center (PIC) in Can Tho City and a POW camp near the Can Tho Army airfield where supposedly "significant members" of the VCI (Viet Cong Infrastructure) were taken for torture as part of the Phoenix "Pacification" Program. A huge nearby French-built prison was also apparently utilized for torture of "suspects" from the Delta region. The word was that many of the VC suspects were routinely murdered, and subsequent historical accounts confirm this.
Naive, I was shocked! The Agency for International Development (AID) working with Southern Illinois University, for example, trained Vietnamese police and prison officials the "art" of torture ("interrogations") under cover of "Public Safety." U.S. officials believed they were teaching "better methods," often making "suggestions" during torture sessions conducted by Vietnamese police.
Instead of the recent euphemism, "illegal combatants," the U.S. in Viet Nam claimed prisoners were "criminal" thus exempting them from Geneva Convention protections.
Use of torture as a function of terror, or its equivalent in sadistic behavior, has been historic de facto U.S. American policy.
Our European ancestor’s shameful, sadistic treatment of the original Indigenous inhabitants based on an ethos of arrogance and violence has become ingrained in our values. "Manifest Destiny" has rationalized as a religion the elimination or assimilation of those perceived to be blocking "American" progress — at home or abroad — a belief that expansion of the nation, including subjugation of natives and others, is divinely ordained, that our "superior race" is obligated to "civilize" those who stand in the way.
When examining my "roots" in New York and New England, I discovered that Indian captives were skinned alive and dragged through the streets of New Amsterdam (New York City) in the 1640s. Scalping enabled Indian bounty hunters to be paid.
Captains Underhill and Endicott in the Massachusetts Bay Colony governed by John Winthrop spent their time "burning and spoiling the country" of Indians in Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1636-37 while sparing the children and women as slaves.
My hometown of Geneva in the Finger Lakes region of New York State was once home to the Seneca Nation with its flourishing farms, orchards, and sturdy houses. In one two-week period in September 1779, General George Washington’s orders "to lay waste, that the country . . . be . . . destroyed," instilling "terror" among the Indians, were dutifully carried out by General Sullivan who promised that "the Indians shall see that there is malice enough in our hearts to destroy everything that contributes to their support." Sullivan’s campaign has been described as a ruthless policy of scorched earth, bearing comparison with Sherman’s march to the sea or the search-and-destroy missions of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam.
In northern California where I now live the same grueling history exists. Bret Harte wrote in 1860 that little children and old women were mercilessly stabbed and their skulls crushed by axes, "old women . . . lay weltering in blood, their brains dashed out . . . while infants . . . with their faces cloven with hatchets and their bodies ghastly wounds" lay nearby.
In 1920 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) investigated the conduct of U.S. troops who had occupied Haiti since 1915: More than 3,000 Haitians had been killed by U. S. Marines, many having been tortured.
When Indigenous Nicaragua resistance fought against occupying United States Marines in the late 1920s, the Marines launched counter insurgency war. U.S. policy makers insisted on "stabilizing" the country to enforce loan repayments to U.S. banks. They defined the resistance forces as "bandits," an earlier equivalent to the "criminal prisoners" in Viet Nam and "illegal combatants" in Iraq. Thus, since the U.S. claimed not to be fighting a "legitimate" military force, any Nicaraguan perceived as interfering with the occupiers was commonly subjected to beatings, tortures, and beheadings. When the U.S-installed Somoza dictatorship was overthrown in 1979, the Somoza torture centers were immediately destroyed.
In 1946, the U.S. Army institutionalized teaching torture techniques to Latin American militaries with the opening of its School of the Americas (SOA) which continues today as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC).
Torture has been an historical U.S. practice in police stations and prisons (and via countless vigilante crimes of sadistic torture and mutilations against Black Americans).
The Wickersham Commission’s 1931 Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement, concluded that "The third degree is the employment of methods which inflict suffering, physical or mental, upon a person, in order to obtain from that person information about a crime. . . . The third degree is widespread. The third degree is a secret and illegal practice."
Seventy years later, the 2002 Human Rights Watch World Report documented systematic use of torture by U.S. police: ". . . thousands of allegations of police abuse, including excessive use of force, such as unjustified shootings, beatings, fatal chokings, and rough treatment."
My studies of brutality in Massachusetts prisons in 1981 concluded (in Walpole State Prison, Massachusetts: An Exercise in Torture), "a clear pattern and history of systematic torture including withholding water, heat, bedding, medical care, and showers; imposition of hazards such as flooding cells, placing foreign matter in food, igniting clothes and bedding, spraying with mace and tear gas; regular physical assaults and beatings; and forcing prisoners to lie face down, naked and handcuffed to one another . . . on freezing . . . outdoor ground while being kicked and beaten." This was two decades before the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo revelations.
Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist has testified about human rights abuses in U.S. prisons: "The plight of prisoners in the USA is strikingly similar to the plight of the Iraqis who were abused by American GIs. Prisoners are maced, raped, beaten, starved, left naked in freezing cold cells and otherwise abused in too many American prisons, as substantiated by findings in many courts. . . ."
It would behoove us to attempt to understand the underlying psychological "defenses" that seem to have afflicted us like a cultural mental illness since our origins.