"I don't loan my mind to those who've had an extensive and recently and repeatedly proven history of defrauding it."
It's an interesting question.
Who do we trust?
Analogies are the best teaching tool for simplifying complex issues.
They serve as a reminder that moral principles can always be applied and universalized, and that "lying" is the root of all evil.
I think lying was the original sin.
I'm talking from about 20,000 years ago.
Picture two cavemen, Og and Bog, who've just found two apples, their first food in days. They happily wander to a relatively safe space in order to eat them, when Og says to Bog: "Me have to take crap".
Bog agrees to stay there and watch their two apples until Og gets back.
Og goes to take his crap, and when he comes back both apples are gone. Og asks Bog:
"Where the fuck is my apple?"
(Assuming swearing was in existence in some fashion, I don't believe that it's justifiable as a sin when you're gonna starve, or automatically for any fucking reason. Go ahead, sue me. Or, wait until it's made "illegal" in the "War on Terrible Language", and you can snitch and have me indefinitely detained.)
Anyway, Bog says:
"A mastodon ate it."
Og looks at him strange.
He continues to for a while until they both get eaten by a sabretooth tiger.
They were supposed to watch each other's backs for those pesky sabretooth tigers, but their safety was compromised by their lack of trust as they warily eyed each other instead of their dangerous environment.
Analogically, I'd suggest that a bank would rather loan money to someone with no credit than a horrible history of bad credit, bankruptcy, defaulting on loans, and criminally immoral or illegal behavior.
(Not that banks don't engage in all the above, but hey, I'm just sayin'...)
That seems to make sense: trust those with little history of lying over those who've made a habit of it over a number of millenia.
(Is it time to break out the Lord Acton? Oh golly-gumbucks I hope so! It's faster-actin' than "Fast-Acting Tinactin"!)
Ahem, excuse me while I break out an oldie but a goodie:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
- Lord Acton, badass old white dood
So, in terms of credibility, a few things need to be established.
Have those in power screwed up?
And when I mean "power", I don't just mean the Bush Administration, I mean those with the power to tell us how bad they've been.
The answer is yes.
Consistently and horrendously.
Much of it has been admitted, much of it has been apologized for, and much of it has remained unchanged.
And we're not all just "the worse for it" on principle, we're practically feeling the impact of increasing moral compromising and an erosion of trust in society that's leading to tribalism and paranoia.
Have those critics of power screwed up?
The answer is no.
Given half the latitude to scew up that we give government or corporate media - and the fact that most of us are unable to singularily identify any screw ups, it has to be "no".
I mean why do they (we) do it?
Why do they (we) risk swimming against the tide to drown in an ocean of derision?
Why don't they (we) play the new X-Box 360 instead?
Is it because the choices they (we) make don't allow us to afford one?
I don't loan my mind to those who've had an extensive and recently and repeatedly proven history of defrauding it.
Besides, if you do want to make money, on the Spectrum of the Left there are those who regularily expose the lies and hypocrisy of the mainstream reality and get paid millions for it. People like Jon Stewart, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Janeane Garofalo, Green Day, Al Franken...
...and the list goes on and on and on and on...
One would guess that these good folks soften our minds up enough to help us eventually understand deeper systemic truths, and that the rabbit hole isn't quite as scary once the first principles have been established:
We're being lied to all the time.
Deal with it.
In fact, as I was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day with a friend of mine, I was curious to study his reaction. He's fairly apolitical, though sympathetic to the potential problems I and others identify, and he marveled at Stewart's abililty to break down the complex geo-political issues of the day into simple humorous truths.
I mentioned that Mr. Stewart knows far more than he says, and I know because I catch him bringing stuff up out of left-field on occasion that speaks to his deeper knowledge base as a result of his research.
Believe me, he learns a lot more than he regularily discusses, and then figures out what his audience can handle.
In fact, I strongly recommend anyone recommend to anyone who doesn't give a crap about any of this stuff, to tell them to watch The Daily Show for a month straight, and learn what he establishes on a nightly basis:
Lies, damned lies, and syllogistics.
He'll get ya, he's that good, and makes it look easy.
He also brings up the most morally corrosive issue of the day: the torture and indefinite (and now secret!) detentions of thousands of arguably innocent muslims around the world, about every third episode, and sneaks in shout-outs to our living-dead-homiez whenever he can.
However, torture ain't funny.
So, he alludes... and trusts that we get it.
I hope he's right...
It may be a bit of a leap of faith to go from Jon Stewart to deconstructing the New World Order and their historically racist and evil plans to screw all of us, but hey, it ain't like there aren't a tonne of clues in our face all over the place...
Romania Base Focus of Secret Prison Probe
By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer Thu Nov 24, 1:11 PM ET
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania - In a weedy field on this wind-swept military base, Romanians in greasy combat fatigues tinker with unmanned drone aircraft near a ragged lineup of rusting MiG-29 fighter jets.
There's not an American in sight, but the sprawling Soviet-era facility has become a key focus of a European investigation into allegations the CIA operated secret prisons where suspected terrorists were interrogated.
Top Romanian leaders and the Pentagon vehemently deny that the Mihail Kogalniceanu base in the country's southeast ever hosted a covert detention center, and the Romanians insist the United States never used it as a transit point for al-Qaida captives.
"It's impossible for something like that to have happened on this base," Lt. Cmdr. Florin Putanu, the base's No. 2 officer, angrily told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
But the compound, heavily used by American forces in 2001-2003 to transport troops and equipment to Afghanistan and Iraq, and scheduled to be handed over to the U.S. military early next year, is under increasing scrutiny.
Ioan Mircea Pascu, Romania's defense minister in 2001-2004, told the AP that parts of Mihail Kogalniceanu were off-limits to Romanian authorities, and the country's main intelligence agency said it has no jurisdiction there.
Pascu said he could not determine whether prisoners were ever held at the installation, but he conceded that planes flying captives to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may have made stopovers in Romania.
On Tuesday, Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty — heading the probe by the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog — said he was trying to acquire past satellite images of the base and Poland's Szczytno-Szymany airport. Both airfields, Human Rights Watch has alleged, were likely sites for clandestine CIA prisons.
Marty has asked the Brussels, Belgium-based Eurocontrol air safety organization to provide details of 31 suspected aircraft that landed in Europe and, according to Human Rights Watch, had direct or indirect links to the CIA.
Several of the flights stopped at the Romanian and Polish sites, the group said, basing its information on flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004. It said one of the alleged CIA flights that transited Mihail Kogalniceanu on Sept. 22, 2003, originated in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Other airports that might have been used by CIA aircraft in some capacity include Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Larnaca in Cyprus and Shannon in Ireland, as well as the U.S. air base at Ramstein, Germany, Marty said. Investigations into alleged CIA landings or flyovers are under way in Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and there have been unconfirmed reports in Macedonia and Malta.
Officials in ex-communist Romania — like Poland, a key U.S. ally in the global war on terrorism — have reacted with outrage to the suggestion that Mihail Kogalniceanu may have been used to transport, hide or interrogate suspected terrorists.
Secret detention centers, the alleged existence of which was first reported earlier this month by The Washington Post, would be illegal in both nations and could deal a huge setback to Romania's drive to join the European Union in 2007.
The CIA has refused to comment on the European investigation.
The U.S. Department of Defense "did not and does not detain enemy combatants in Romania," a spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, told AP. He said the Pentagon would not disclose what countries the U.S. military might fly over "or make brief refueling stops in during detainee movements. Doing so would constitute a safety risk to both the detainees and our troops."
Romanian President Traian Basescu said U.S. officials never asked the country to host a so-called "black site" prison. The Defense Ministry said it was unaware of any such site, and Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu said there was "nothing in our dossier" or in documents from the previous government ousted last year.
"In good faith, I have no idea of such a thing," Ungureanu told AP.
AP reporters and a photographer allowed to roam the 790-acre military base found it virtually deserted, with no Americans on the installation and no obvious sign of a detention center among its 104 buildings. They include a U.S.-built gymnasium erected in 2003 and new, wood-paneled and carpeted briefing rooms tucked amid groves of scraggly trees.
Only two Romanian soldiers guarded the front gate of the base, which is surrounded by a fence topped with concertina wire and signs warning passers-by not to take photographs.
Lt. Cmdr. Adrian Vasile, who oversees the base, said U.S. forces — who at one point numbered 3,500 — pulled out in June 2003. About 1,600 American troops returned in July and August for joint training exercises.
In October 2004, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited the installation just inland from the Black Sea port city of Constanta. The Pentagon intends to take it over as part of a strategic shift aimed at placing American forces on "lily pads" closer to potential targets in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Asked whether U.S. officials could have carried out covert activities on the base without his knowledge, Vasile said flatly: "No."
Putanu, his deputy, said he had no knowledge of any American intelligence officers or Muslim prisoners setting foot on the installation.
Romania, which shook off communism in 1989 after decades of repression under the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, developed close ties with the United States in its quest for membership in NATO, which it joined in 2003.
At Washington's request, the country was among the first to sign a treaty exempting U.S. citizens from prosecution by the newly established International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. It has deployed non-combat troops to help U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and has allowed the United States to use its airspace.
Underscoring the friendship between the two countries, the main road leading to the base airstrip has been named George Washington Boulevard.
"Here at Kogalniceanu, we are human," Putanu said. "Really good things are happening here. It's a shame that someone who may not even know where Romania is would throw dirt on what we are trying to do."
Associated Press reporters Alison Mutler in Romania and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.
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SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051124/ap_on_re_eu/europe_s_dark_secret
Troops Who Burned Taliban Face Discipline
By DANIEL COONEY, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1 minute ago
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Four U.S. soldiers face disciplinary action for burning the bodies of two Taliban rebels, but they will not be charged with crimes because their actions were motivated by hygienic concerns, the military said Saturday.
The military started its inquiry into the incident last month after TV footage showed U.S. soldiers using the cremation to taunt other Islamic militants — an act that sparked outrage in Afghanistan.
Islam bans cremation, and the video images were compared here to photographs of U.S. troops abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
The U.S.-led coalition's operational commander, Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, said two junior officers who ordered the bodies burned would be officially reprimanded for showing a lack of cultural and religious understanding, but he said the men were unaware that what they were doing was wrong.
Kamiya also said two noncommissioned officers would be reprimanded for using loudspeakers to taunt Taliban rebels believed to be lingering in a nearby village after a clash with the troops. The two men also would face nonjudicial punishments, which could include a loss of pay or demotion in rank.
"Our investigation found there was no intent to desecrate the remains, but only to dispose of them for hygienic reasons," Kamiya said.
He added that the broadcasts, while "designed to incite fleeing Taliban to fight," violated military policy.
The video footage threatens to undermine public support for the war against a stubborn insurgency four years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban's repressive regime in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hours after it was broadcast in Australia last month, American commanders promised a full investigation and vowed that anyone found guilty would be punished to the full extent of military law.
Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid, who attended the military's news conference in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, said, "We have confidence in this investigation."
The footage shows about five soldiers in light-colored military fatigues, which did not have any distinguishing marks, standing near a bonfire in which two bodies were laid side by side.
Kamiya said the temperature at the time was 90, and the bodies had lain exposed on the ground for 24 hours and were rapidly decomposing.
"This posed an increasing health concern for our soldiers," Kamiya said. "The criminal investigation proved there was no violation of the rules of war."
The Geneva Convention forbids the burning of combatants except for hygienic purposes.
The bodies were found atop a hill following a firefight, and Kamiya said soldiers, intending to stay on the hill for two or three days for strategic reasons, believed other Taliban had fled into the village below.
Australia's SBS television, which first showed the videotape, said it was taken by a freelance journalist, Stephen Dupont, in hills outside Gonbaz village in the southern Shah Wali Kot district — an area where there is frequent Taliban activity.
Dupont told The Associated Press he took the footage while embedded with the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered his own inquiry into the videotape. That probe has also been completed but officials say it is not clear when its findings will be released.
Though Afghan media have reported the alleged desecration, the videotape has not been broadcast here and there have been no protest rallies.
The last violent anti-American protests in Afghanistan were in May over a report by Newsweek — later retracted — that U.S. soldiers at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility abused Islam's holy book, the Quran.
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SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051126/ap_on_re_as/afghan_bodies_burned
Brown to start emergency planning consulting business
Thursday, November 24, 2005; Posted: 9:01 p.m. EST (02:01 GMT)
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.
"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses -- because that goes straight to the bottom line -- then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.
Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.
In the aftermath of the hurricane, critics complained about Brown's lack of formal emergency management experience and e-mails that later surfaced showed him as out of touch with the extent of the devastation. (Watch Brown is chosen as top 'political turkey' of the year -- 2:58)
The lawyer admits that while he was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency mistakes were made in the response to Katrina. He also said he had been planning to quit before the hurricane hit.
"Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," he said.
Brown said companies already have expressed interested in his consulting business, Michael D. Brown LLC. He plans to run it from the Boulder area, where he lived before joining the Bush administration in 2001.
"I'm doing a lot of good work with some great clients," Brown said. "My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me."
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SOURCE - http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/11/24/brown.consultant.ap/index.html