Just a Few Bad Apples. Also – NSA, UFO, Iran, and Mexico [Shorter Question Everything]

At what point do you admit that the whole barrel just might be rotten? Abu Ghraib, torture, massacres. Racism, murder. It’s not much of a step between the two. they’re both fueled by hatred and they’re perpetuated in a culture that excuses – by the most ridiculous stretches in some cases – the actions. This isn’t ‘a few’ anymore, if it was ever ‘a few’. This is a wider culture.

A small comment on the US oh so graciously overlooking the nations that are continuing to do business with Iran – the US really didn’t have much of a choice and this move is akin to a guy tripping over his own feet, popping up and announcing “I meant to do that!”. Those nations had already decided that they were going to do business with Iran, regardless of US threats and tantrums. The US couldn’t risk a “so what?” response when it tried to impose sanctions, and failed miserably. Better to, well, say you meant to do that.

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Abu Ghraib US Soldier Feels No Compassion For Her Victims:

“Their lives are better. They got the better end of the deal,” England was quoted as saying. “They weren’t innocent. They’re trying to kill us, and you want me to apologise to them? It’s like saying sorry to the enemy.”

Former US soldier Lynndie England, a central figure in the 2004 Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, remains unemployable eight years after the scandal that saw her face plastered across the world’s media. But despite being condemned for her involvement in one of the defining moments of the Iraq war, she says she feels no compassion for her victims. In an interview with the internet newspaper The Daily, the 29-year-old unemployed single mother living in rural West Virginia showed little remorse for her role in a scandal that indelibly tarnished the US military presence in Iraq. [AFP/20 Mar 2012]

Afghan Massacre Suspect Had Foreclosure Problems at Home:

Being the Americans that we are, we have focused on Staff Sergeant Robert Bales and his mental state rather than the 16 Afghan civilians he killed, all of whom had names too. But indulge me for a moment to address one aspect of Bales’ mental state. It turns out that he had a mortgage problem. And as such, he probably was a victim of a violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. [firedoglake/David Dayen/20 mar 2012]

What’s puzzling you is the nature of my game:

In the days since, we’ve heard various stories about how his personal finances were in difficulty, about how he had multiple combat tours and had been passed over for promotion, that he had a traumatic brain injury, and all sorts of things that people are coming up with to try and explain why he did what he did. A lot of it has a whiff of ‘the other’ to it, as if by discovering some unique personal tragedy or problem for SSG Bales, that the author could show how he is different from us and how this act is unique to Bales and, by implication, people like him. The short version of my response to this is “Bullshit.”

Hundreds of thousands of US Servicemembers have been diagnosed with PTSD. Tens of thousands have been diagnosed with TBI. Tens of thousands have both diagnoses. Only a handful have committed serious crimes, and only one is accused of murdering sixteen civilians in their beds. SSG Bales is, and of right ought to be permitted to put on whatever defense he finds most availing, in a trial that will be as fair as possible. Considering statements made by his lawyer, I believe that it is highly likely he will use some kind of a diminished capacity defense. Personally, I think that TBI and/or PTSD aside, he could very well just be an asshole. [balloon-juice.com/Soonergrunt/20 mar 2012]

Fmr. Homicide Detective: Illegal to Kill Dogs but Not Black Kids in Florida:

“The police department in [Sanford, Florida] oppose that law,” Wheeler told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade. “What that law is saying in the state of Florida — and look at the case law — you can actually shoot a dog. It happens all the time. You can shoot a kill a dog and get arrested and put in jail, but if you kill a kid — and especially a black kid in Florida — you can walk away. That’s what that law means.” [crooksandliars/David/20 Mar 2012]

Multiple reasons to arrest George Zimmerman:

Of all the stories that I’ve only been half-following because of SXSW, the one that frustrates me the most is the case of George Zimmerman, who, by most reasonable accounts, chased down a 17-year-old kid walking back from the store with candy and a drink and shot him in cold blood. The kid, Trayvon Martin was a stranger to Zimmerman, but he was black, and so the police are simply just not arresting Zimmerman, and allowing the “self-defense requires me to chase down an unarmed teenager and shoot him even though the 911 operator asked him not to” excuse to stand. This, even though Zimmerman is clearly a paranoid public menace and strikes me as highly likely to reoffend. Colorlines has rounded up the evidence, and insofar as it’s possible to be more upset at the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed teenager, this will do it. Now, Zimmerman needs to go to jail for life simply for the reason of justice, but it’s increasingly obvious that it’s also because letting someone unhinged and armed like this roam around free is a really stupid fucking idea. [pandagon/Amanda Marcotte/20 Mar 2012]

Anti-Science ‘Monkey Bill’ Passes Tennessee Senate:

– NCSE has said of creationism that “students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level.” [thinkprogress/Climate Guest Blogger/20 mar 2012]

Top GOP Congressman Reaffirms His Doubts About Obama’s Birth Certificate, Cites Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Investigation:

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who was roundly criticized last week after ThinkProgress reported the Florida congressmen questioning whether President Obama’s birth certificate is “legitimate,” confirmed today that he is indeed a birther. When asked about the issue on Capitol Hill today, Stearns told reporters, “I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence.” He called for credence to be given to birth certificate investigations, saying, “I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say.” … The man Stearns finds it reasonable to listen to is disgraced Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, generally known for rampant racial profiling against Latinos, but more recently for assembling a team of volunteer self-styled investigators to examine Obama’s birth certificate. Earlier this month, that team concluded that the birth certificate is a “forgery and fraud.” [thinkprogress/Scott Keyes/20 Mar 2012]

NSA Chief Denies, Denies, Denies Wired’s Domestic Spying Story:

NSA chief General Keith Alexander faced tough —  and funny — questions from Congress Tuesday stemming from Wired’s story on the NSA’s capabalities and warrantless wiretapping program. Congressman Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, asked Alexander whether the NSA could, at the direction of Dick Cheney, identify people who sent e-mails making fun of his inability to hunt in order to waterboard them. [wired/Ryan Singel/20 mar 2012]

UFO deployed to Afghanistan?:

ufo720x540This photo shows what witnesses claim were seven lights hovering steadily above Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan in February 2010. Some suspect it was a UFO. (MUTUAL UFO NETWORK WITNESS DATABASE)
Forget “The X-Files.” This is “The Afghanistan-Files.” A recently filed report on a UFO tracking website discusses an alleged sighting at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province. The report, submitted Feb. 26 by an unknown individual, describes an event on or about Feb. 7, 2010, when seven equally spaced lights were spotted in the sky. Through the duration of the sighting, none of the lights appeared to move or change. The report states that the lights were at a high altitude and didn’t blink, move or make any noise. [militarytimes/Gina Harkins/20 mar 2012]

Strong Earthquake Strikes Mexico:

A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck southwest Mexico Tuesday, lasting several minutes and causing residents in the capital several hundred miles away to rush out onto the streets. The quake struck close to the tourist resort of Acapulo, just after midday, with the epicenter in the Oaxaca region, some 15 miles (25 kilometers) northeast of the town of Ometepec, the US Geological Survey said. Earlier it had estimated the magnitude at 7.9, before downgrading it to 7.6. [AFP/20 Mar 2012]

Hundreds of houses damaged after strong earthquake hits Mexico:

Mexico City (CNN) — A strong earthquake damaged hundreds of homes in southern Mexico Tuesday and rattled residents hundreds of miles away in the nation’s capital. The quake had a magnitude of 7.4, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and its epicenter was about 15 miles (25 kilometers) east of Ometepec, Guerrero. Mexican authorities reported the magnitude of the quake as 7.8. At least 500 homes in the southern coastal state were damaged, Gov. Angel Aguirre told reporters. [CNN/20 mar 2012]

U.S. Exempts Japan, 10 EU Nations From Iran Oil Sanctions:

The Obama administration is sending a message to major buyers of Iranian oil — in particular China, India and South Korea — that they can avoid new U.S. sanctions by curtailing their imports of Iranian crude by the end of June, several U.S. officials said. [bloomberg/Indira A.R. Lakshmanan/21 Mar 2012]

Peace-minded Israeli reaches out to everyday Iranians via Facebook:

It is not possible to dial an Iranian number from an Israeli telephone. It will simply not go through. That lack of communication stems from the government level, where there is no dialogue between the two countries aside from public speeches meant to carry weighty threats of war to each camp. That is why it was so difficult for Ronny Edry, an Israeli graphic designer based in Tel Aviv, to get his message across to the people of Iran. “My idea was simple, I was trying to reach the other side. There are all these talks about war, Iran is coming to bomb us and we bomb them back, we are sitting and waiting. I wanted to say the simple words that this war is crazy,” said Edry. Using his graphic design skills and his wife’s help (she is also a graphic designer), he plastered memes over pictures of himself, his wife, his friends and his neighbors. He then posted them on the Facebook page of Pushpin Mehina, his small design school, with a resounding message: IRANIANS
we will never bomb your country
We *Heart* You. [CNN/Samira Said/20 mar 2012]

Iran vows to retaliate ‘on the same level’ to US or Israel attack:

TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran will retaliate against any attack by Israeli or American forces “on the same level,” Iran’s top leader said. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on state TV to mark the Iranian new year on Tuesday, repeated his claims that the country does not seek atomic weapons, but said all of Iran’s conventional firepower was ready to respond to any attack. “We do not have atomic weapons and we will not build one. But against an attack by enemies — to defend ourselves either against the U.S. or Zionist regime — we will attack them on the same level that they attack us,” he said, using the term Iranian authorities often use for Israel. [msnbc/21 mar 2012]

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