Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Alexandria, VA – Today, four Iraqi victims tortured at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison urged a federal district court to reject attempts by private military contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI) to have their lawsuit for the contractor’s role in their torture dismissed. Attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) argued the case on behalf of their clients.
US military investigators determined that in 2004 CACI’s employees participated in “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The district court’s 2013 dismissal of the case was overturned in June by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that torture survivors could sue a US corporation involved in torture and other war crimes in US courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). CACI now argues that the question of whether it can be held accountable for its established role in the torture is a “political question” unreviewable by the courts. The district court rejected CACI’s initial effort to have the case dismissed as a political question in 2009.
According to the old joke, an 800-pound gorilla sleeps anywhere it wants to. When it comes to the expansion of Too Big To Fail institutions in this country, we now have more than one 800-pound gorilla in the room, and all of them have been gaining weight rapidly since 2007. Far from being tamed in their appetites and slimmed down in their corpulence by remedial legislation, these institutions have been engaged in a financial binge of almost breathless proportions.
To learn more about the five largest financial institutions and their effect on the US Financial System checkout the infographic below created by New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Mary O’Callaghan, an 18-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, will stand trial in mid February of this year for the July 2012 death of 33-year old Aleasia Thomas. Charged with Abuse Under Color of Authority, O’Callaghan possibly faces a maximum of one year in county jail and/or a fine of $10,000 if convicted.
Thomas left her two small children at the 77th Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department around 2 a.m. the morning of July 22, 2012. The children reportedly had a note with them that said their grandmother should be called.
Last night, members of The Chicago Light Brigade, Project NIA, and Chicago Torture Justice Memorials gathered with friends and allies outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house to demand reparations for acts of torture committed by former police Commander Jon Burge and his “midnight crew.” An ordinance that would provide $20 million in compensation to Burge’s victims has the support of the majority of the city council, but as a matter of political convenience, the measure has been left to languish in the Finance Committee.
Listening to Garett Reppenhagen describe how he felt the first time he shot someone is like listening to an addict talk about their first time injecting heroin. “I leveled my M-4, put him in my iron sights, and took three shots. One of them hit him center mass and he went down in the middle of the road. I had this instant sense of satisfaction, overwhelming excitement and pride. It was really kind of an ecstatic feeling that I had.”
I had just seen the film American Sniper, the revisionist history popcorn propaganda piece of myth making and nationalistic war porn being sold to us by Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, and screenwriter Jason Hall an apolitical character study. I wanted to talk with an actual American Sniper, and Garett was generous enough to pick up the phone.
Washington, DC – A large and ideologically diverse coalition of civic organizations called upon (PDF) Congress today to approve the “Strengthen House Floor Integrity Resolution,” sponsored by US Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), that would end a special privilege enjoyed by former lawmakers who are now registered lobbyists: access to the US House floor during ceremonial events.
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, approved by Congress in the wake of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, applied a ban on access to the House floor for lobbyists to members-turned-lobbyists as well. However, an exemption in both House and Senate rules allows members-turned-lobbyists to access the floor during “ceremonial” events, such as the State of the Union address. At this year’s State of the Union address, at least one former member-turned-lobbyist was prominently featured on national television visiting with colleagues and networking throughout the floor of the House.
Part I - The Historical Precedent
In the spring of 1793, France, then at war with Great Britain, sent a new ambassador to the United States. His name was Edmond Charles Genet (aka Citizen Genet). His instructions were to undermine the neutral position President George Washington had taken in the conflict. To this end Genet, who had the backing of anti-British elements within the American population, went about subverting peace by commissioning American ships to act as privateers against British commercial vessels. He also tried to provoke hostilities between Americans living along the western borders and the Spaniards (then allies of Great Britain) in Florida and Louisiana. This meddling in the internal affairs of the United States was quickly recognized as dangerous, and Washington demanded that France recall Genet.
If you have ever read Edgar Allen Poe’s gruesome stories you may recall feelings of horror like those which made me, still a youngster, cringe and shudder. I have similar feelings when I hear of bloodthirsty, barely-hidden “concerts” by German “Neo-Nazis”, which too often lead to violence against subjects of their hatred: hippy-type leftist youngsters called “ticks” (their vocabulary), but above all people with other accents, clothes or skin colors.
Such groups, present all over the map, seem strongest in southeastern Saxony, northeastern Mecklenburg and the western Ruhr region, all areas plagued by unemployment, especially among young people.
Washington DC - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is providing $330 million of financing to aid Ebola-impacted countries. The plan includes $170 million of debt relief and grant-like aid for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The new plan also expands a debt relief facility previously used to cancel debt after Haiti's 2010 earthquake. The new expanded facility, the Catastrophe Containment Relief Trust (CCR), is now a permanent debt relief facility for the world's poorest countries when they experience shocks such as epidemics or natural disasters.
"This aid is so vital for the countries affected by Ebola," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization Jubilee USA Network. "Now we have a permanent debt relief vehicle for when the poorest countries face certain crises. Essentially, a global social safety net is now in place to protect the least developed countries when they experience disasters."
Washington, D.C. – Reforming the flow of money into politics and revitalizing democracy requires a new framework: a focus on enhancing political opportunity, concludes a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and New America. Such a principle would both engage the public and lead to the creation of policy proposals that are both effective and achievable.