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marmar

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,190

Journal Archives

Eugene Robinson: Marriage Equality: Surrender to the Inevitable


By Eugene Robinson


By deciding not to decide, the Supreme Court may have decided: If history is a guide, same-sex marriage will soon be the law of the land.

The court’s refusal to take up cases brought by five states seeking to overturn appellate court rulings in favor of gay marriage—Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin—was a surprise. It does not mean that Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservative majority have gone all “Kumbaya.” But it can be seen as a surrender to the inevitable.

The justices’ decision not to intervene means that same-sex marriage is now legal in 24 states plus the District of Columbia. Six other states—North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming—must also heed the appeals courts whose rulings the justices allowed to stand.

This means that in three-fifths of the states plus the nation’s capital, gay marriage would be considered a constitutional right. I’d call that a tipping point. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/marriage_equality_surrender_to_the_inevitable_20141006



Juan Cole: Pan-Mideast War: ISIL and al-Qaeda attack Hizbullah outposts Near Lebanese Border


By Juan Cole


ISIL and al-Qaeda have, according to Hizbullah, launched attacks in Syria’s Qalamoun district (abutting the Lebanese border near Baalbek) on Hizbullah military outposts on the Syrian side.

Hizbullah is acting in Syria as an adjunct to the Syrian Baath Army and helped reduce Qusayr and Homs last spring. The Syrian rebels were exploring for weaknesses in the Shiite party-militia’s positions in the mountainous area.

Al-Qaeda and ISIL are said to have briefly overrun the Hizbullah outpost at the small town of Brital, but then were pushed back out. Villagers and townspeople in the area are said to have formed a militia in anticipation of fighting the Sunni extremists themselves, but Hizbullah asked them to stand down.

Hizbullah spokesmen said that 5 of its members were killed and “dozens” of the enemy were killed, and that several were captured alive. The rebels did not penetrate Lebanon. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/10/hizbullah-outposts-lebanese.html



Juan Cole: Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s Muslim Problem


By Juan Cole


Bravo to Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristoff for telling Bill Maher off about his chronic case of Muslim-hating bigotry. (He would say he doesn’t hate Muslims, only their religion, but then those who hate gays say much the same sort of thing).

Maher and Sam Harris like to demonize Islam and by association Muslims. Ben Affleck de-demonized them by appealing to the banalities of everyday life. Most Muslims, he said, just want to have a sandwich and get through their lives. This is true.
Addressing the arguments of Maher and Harris is like nailing jello to the wall. They shift between cultural practices that are now objectionable in the US (but some of which were common here until recently) and an assertion that Muslims are unusually violent. But this latter is not true. As for Islamic law, it clearly forbids terrorism.

See Terrorism and the Other Religions
and here .

Maher’s and Harris’s charges against Muslims in general are ridiculous. Neither one has ever lived in a Muslim-majority society or knows the languages or cultures. They just retail invidious calumnies second-hand. Almost anything polemicists like Sam Harris say of Muslims can be said of others; i.e. they are just describing the human condition, unfortunate as it often is. In the 1990s an ABC poll showed that 10% of Americans sympathized with far right wing white supremacist groups like the Michigan Militia. My recollection is that polling showed that a significant proportion of Chinese sympathized with the 9/11 attacks and to this day only a third think al-Qaeda committed them (i.e. it wasn’t viewed as a fundamentalist act but as an anti-imperialist one ). Note that in this last instance, the attitudes have nothing to do with religion but rather with nationalism/ imperialism, a binary pair that explains the world much better than religion/atheism. The same statistics, if glibly given by Maher or Harris for Muslims, would damn the latter and their tradition; but what about the Chinese? Is Communist-Capitalism or the Confucianist heritage to blame here? ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/10/affleck-muslim-problem.html



Chris Hedges: The Ordeal of Stanley L. Cohen: Justice as Farce


from truthdig:


The Ordeal of Stanley L. Cohen: Justice as Farce

Posted on Oct 5, 2014
By Chris Hedges


The use of the courts to erode our civil liberties, as well as expand the ability of the state and corporations to commit fraud and other crimes with impunity, has been accompanied by a campaign to silence the handful of activist attorneys who defend those demonized by the government. The state has imprisoned the great civil rights attorneys J. Tony Serra, who has served two terms behind bars, and Lynne Stewart. And it looks as if Stanley L. Cohen is now on the list. When lawyers who defend the unpopular must suffer severe punishment at the hand of the government, the judiciary is a farce.

Cohen has furiously battled back against the excesses of state power for 25 years. He has worked as an attorney for the leaders of Hamas, including Mousa Abu Marzook, whom Cohen prevented from being extradited to Israel after he was detained at Kennedy Airport in New York. Cohen represented the Kuwaiti-born cleric Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and a spokesman for al-Qaida. Abu Ghaith, who requested that Cohen handle his case after he was extradited from Jordan to the United States, was sentenced in September to life in prison. Cohen has represented hackers, Occupy activists, the homeless, anti-war protesters, Muslim clerics, American Indian activists, Weather Underground members including Kathy Boudin, members of the Black Liberation Army and some of those who were charged in the 9/11 attacks. He brought a federal suit in Washington, D.C., to bar Israel from receiving U.S. aid, charging that the Israeli government carried out a “program of killing, torture, terror and outright theft” against the Palestinians. He defended the PayPal 14 in Northern California, a Muslim radio station in South Africa and the accused in a “terrorist” case in Romania and has an ongoing case against Egypt in the African Union for its closure of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. He often worked on cases with Lynne Stewart, who was convicted of supporting terrorists by passing to the press some messages from her client, the blind sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, was disbarred as a result and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison before being released in 2013 because she has cancer. Cohen was a protégé of the attorney William Kunstler, with whom he defended Mohawk Indians who mounted an armed uprising in 1990 on a reservation in Quebec. Cohen had to reach his clients, who were surrounded by Canadian army troops, in a canoe. He was indicted by the Canadian government for his work on behalf of the Mohawks during the uprising and charged with “seditious conspiracy,” although he was later cleared. The FBI has carried out raids on his home and his law office, confiscating his electronic equipment. And he is banned in Israel and Egypt because of his defense work.

Two U.S. federal district courts have indicted Cohen on tax-related charges, claiming, in essence, that he did not file tax reports for some of his income as an attorney. Cohen, whom I reached by phone in his law office in New York, said the charges were “politically motivated” and that he was “tired of wasting so much time, energy and resources in a personal defense with no realistic end in sight.” He accepted a plea agreement with the government April 14. He will be sentenced in November by Norman A. Mordue, a senior judge of the Northern District of New York. Cohen expects to receive a prison term of 18 months.

Cohen said in the telephone interview that the government campaign over the past few years had been designed to “wear me down and silence me, although it won’t.” “The harassment began over 10 years ago,” he said, “when the Department of Justice began an investigation to attempt to charge me with material support for terrorism because of my work as an attorney for a variety of groups, especially Hamas, which is a Palestinian national liberation movement that I am proud to be associated with and defend. During my work with Hamas in the late 1990s I began to hear reports from Palestinian activists in Virginia and Chicago that the FBI was questioning them about me. The FBI, knowing that I spent a lot of time overseas in places like Beirut and the occupied territories, asked activists what my role was with Hamas. They wanted to know if I ever conveyed information or money either to or from Hamas. They were fishing for anything they could use against me.” ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/justice_as_farce_20141005



David Sirota: Economic Inequality is Much Worse Than Most Americans Believe


from In These Times:


Economic Inequality is Much Worse Than Most Americans Believe
According to a recent study, most of us severely underestimate just how bad the gap between the rich and the rest of us have gotten.

BY DAVID SIROTA


If critics of income inequality are wondering why the growing gap between rich and poor hasn’t been a more potent political issue in the upcoming elections, a new study offers some answers: Americans grossly underestimate this inequality. That's one of the key findings of a survey showing the gap between CEO and average worker pay in America is more than 10 times larger than the typical American perceives.

In the report, Harvard University and Chulalongkorn University researchers analyzed survey data from 40 countries about perceptions of pay gaps between rich and poor. In every country, respondents underestimated the size of the gap between CEO and average worker pay. In the United States, for example, the researchers found the median American respondent estimated that the ratio of CEO to worker income is about 30-to-1. In reality, the gap is more than 350-to-1.

The study also found the median American respondent said the ideal pay gap is about 7-to-1—a lower ideal than respondents in many industrialized countries. Additionally, no major industrialized country has anywhere close to a 7-to-1 pay gap. That ratio is more than seven times lower than the actual gap in social democratic countries like Denmark and Sweden.

In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, one of the researchers who conducted the study said Americans' inaccurate beliefs about the pay gap may be the reason economic inequality hasn't become more of a political issue. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17217/economic_inequality_is_much_worse_than_most_americans_believe



Jeremy Scahill on Iraq/ISIS: We Created the Very Threat We Claim to be Fighting


&list=UUzuqE7-t13O4NIDYJfakrhw


Published on Oct 3, 2014

http://democracynow.org - As Vice President Joe Biden warns it will take a "hell of a long fight" for the United States to stop militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we speak to Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield." We talk about how the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that helped create the threat now posed by the Islamic State. We also discuss the role of Baathist forces in ISIS, Obama’s targeting of journalists, and the trial of four former Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.


Hong Kong, the Hard Part: Kick Out U.S., Build National Consensus


By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

This piece first appeared at Popular Resistance.



When protests in Hong Kong exploded, knowledgeable people looked for US involvement. It was not hard to find. The overt intrusion of the US is available in budgets, documents and websites; the covert involvement has not yet been uncovered but is no doubt there. What does US involvement mean for the credibility of the protest movement and the future of Hong Kong? How should Hong Kong activists respond?

The issues raised by the protests, lack of democracy and an unfair economy, are very real. But so are the concerns of Beijing for economic growth and continuing to lift people out of poverty, something China has done remarkably well. Those who seek to transform governance and create a more equal economy now have a more challenging task than protests, they must build national consensus on their issues in Hong Kong and in China’s leadership. The Chinese People’s Daily quoted a Chinese-American author who wrote the Occupy Central leadership, Yin Haoliu, said: “Democracy is a step-by-step process that cannot be approached in haste, otherwise it will bring about troubles.” How quickly those steps advance depends, in part, on how well the democracy movement organizes.

Now that the US has been exposed, it needs to be removed. US goals are very different than the people in Hong Kong. The US is in the process of encircling China militarily and economically. It sees China as a competitor, a nation that can undermine the US as the single world superpower. Conflict between Hong Kong and Beijing would serve US interests but undermine the Hong Kong economy which is tied to China. The protest movement has already begun to separate itself from people too close to the US. Hong Kong’s people and government need to go further and expel US influence, remembering the historic imperialism of the US in China and noting the current strategic goals of the United States. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/hong_kong_the_hard_part_kick_out_the_us_build_national_consensus_20141005



Employers knowingly shifting employees to inadequate retirement plans


via truthdig:


The United States’ largest employers are increasingly pushing their workers into inadequate retirement plans—and they acknowledge doing so.

Christopher Flavelle reports at Bloomberg:

A survey last month from Towers Watson, the employee benefit consultant, shows just how rapidly the defined-benefit plan—the traditional pension that guarantees workers an annual income after they retire—has moved from the norm at Fortune 500 companies to all but extinct. In 1998, just more than half offered new hires a defined-benefit plan; by 2013, that had fallen to just 7 percent.

That trend continues: According to Towers Watson, at least three of the 34 Fortune 500 companies that offered defined-benefit plans to new hires last year won’t do so this year.

Taking their place are defined-contribution plans, the 401(k)s and other such plans in which employers put money into an investment account in the worker’s name. In theory, employees can still save enough for retirement—if they put enough away, invest it wisely and engage in reasonable planning. But that’s not what usually happens—and according to another Towers Watson survey of large employers, they know it.


In 2012, Towers Watson asked 371 companies how well their employees understand and make good use of their retirement plans. In most cases, the companies answered that workers fail to use the plans to their benefit. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/shift_to_bad_retirement_plans_threaten_retirees_with_privation_20141005



Chris Hedges: The Ordeal of Stanley L. Cohen: Justice as Farce


from truthdig:


The Ordeal of Stanley L. Cohen: Justice as Farce

Posted on Oct 5, 2014
By Chris Hedges


The use of the courts to erode our civil liberties, as well as expand the ability of the state and corporations to commit fraud and other crimes with impunity, has been accompanied by a campaign to silence the handful of activist attorneys who defend those demonized by the government. The state has imprisoned the great civil rights attorneys J. Tony Serra, who has served two terms behind bars, and Lynne Stewart. And it looks as if Stanley L. Cohen is now on the list. When lawyers who defend the unpopular must suffer severe punishment at the hand of the government, the judiciary is a farce.

Cohen has furiously battled back against the excesses of state power for 25 years. He has worked as an attorney for the leaders of Hamas, including Mousa Abu Marzook, whom Cohen prevented from being extradited to Israel after he was detained at Kennedy Airport in New York. Cohen represented the Kuwaiti-born cleric Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and a spokesman for al-Qaida. Abu Ghaith, who requested that Cohen handle his case after he was extradited from Jordan to the United States, was sentenced in September to life in prison. Cohen has represented hackers, Occupy activists, the homeless, anti-war protesters, Muslim clerics, American Indian activists, Weather Underground members including Kathy Boudin, members of the Black Liberation Army and some of those who were charged in the 9/11 attacks. He brought a federal suit in Washington, D.C., to bar Israel from receiving U.S. aid, charging that the Israeli government carried out a “program of killing, torture, terror and outright theft” against the Palestinians. He defended the PayPal 14 in Northern California, a Muslim radio station in South Africa and the accused in a “terrorist” case in Romania and has an ongoing case against Egypt in the African Union for its closure of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. He often worked on cases with Lynne Stewart, who was convicted of supporting terrorists by passing to the press some messages from her client, the blind sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, was disbarred as a result and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison before being released in 2013 because she has cancer. Cohen was a protégé of the attorney William Kunstler, with whom he defended Mohawk Indians who mounted an armed uprising in 1990 on a reservation in Quebec. Cohen had to reach his clients, who were surrounded by Canadian army troops, in a canoe. He was indicted by the Canadian government for his work on behalf of the Mohawks during the uprising and charged with “seditious conspiracy,” although he was later cleared. The FBI has carried out raids on his home and his law office, confiscating his electronic equipment. And he is banned in Israel and Egypt because of his defense work.

Two U.S. federal district courts have indicted Cohen on tax-related charges, claiming, in essence, that he did not file tax reports for some of his income as an attorney. Cohen, whom I reached by phone in his law office in New York, said the charges were “politically motivated” and that he was “tired of wasting so much time, energy and resources in a personal defense with no realistic end in sight.” He accepted a plea agreement with the government April 14. He will be sentenced in November by Norman A. Mordue, a senior judge of the Northern District of New York. Cohen expects to receive a prison term of 18 months.

Cohen said in the telephone interview that the government campaign over the past few years had been designed to “wear me down and silence me, although it won’t.” “The harassment began over 10 years ago,” he said, “when the Department of Justice began an investigation to attempt to charge me with material support for terrorism because of my work as an attorney for a variety of groups, especially Hamas, which is a Palestinian national liberation movement that I am proud to be associated with and defend. During my work with Hamas in the late 1990s I began to hear reports from Palestinian activists in Virginia and Chicago that the FBI was questioning them about me. The FBI, knowing that I spent a lot of time overseas in places like Beirut and the occupied territories, asked activists what my role was with Hamas. They wanted to know if I ever conveyed information or money either to or from Hamas. They were fishing for anything they could use against me.” ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/justice_as_farce_20141005



Gotta love Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! .......


...... I was just watching a DN! episode on YouTube, and Amy was running through the news headlines, which included ISIS, the Climate talks and the Jefferson County, Colo. school board's plans to change the history curriculum.
Now in all the corporate media's news stories on Jefferson County, they've used the school board's official language to describe the proposed changes: "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights"
Amy's words when describing the changes: "to promote corporatism and deference to authority."

Amy,


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