Daily Archive: 08/21/2013

Aug 21 2013

Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Years

Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced this morning to  35 years in prison for passing classified documents to Wikileaks that exposed war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. None of the those crimes have been investigates and no one has been charges in their commission.

The sentence was more severe than many observers expected, and is much longer than any punishment given to any previous US government leaker.

The 25-year-old soldier was convicted last month of leaking more than 700,000 classified documents and video. The disclosures amounted to the biggest leak in US military history.

He was found guilty of 20 counts, six of them under the Espionage Act, but was acquitted of the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy”. [..]

The 1,294 days Manning has already spent in military custody, since May 2010, will be deducted from his sentence. The figure includes 112 days that is being taken off the sentence as part of a pre-trial ruling in which Lind compensated Manning for the excessively harsh treatment he endured at the Quantico marine base in Virginia.

He has to serve a minimum of a third of his sentence, meaning he will be eligible for parole in just over eight years, and, at the very earliest, could be released under parole soon as 2021. He can earn 120 days per year off his sentence for good behaviour and job performance.

Manning faced a maximum possible sentence of 90 years, although few legal experts expected he would receive anything near that amount.

The sentence will automatically be appealed.

The Center for Constitutional Rights condemned the sentence and praised Manning  as a whistleblower who never should have been prosecuted. This is part of their statement:

We are outraged that a whistleblower and a patriot has been sentenced on a conviction under the Espionage Act. The government has stretched this archaic and discredited law to send an unmistakable warning to potential whistleblowers and journalists willing to publish their information. We can only hope that Manning’s courage will continue to inspire others who witness state crimes to speak up.

There are calls for President Barack Obama to pardon Manning or commute his sentence to time served. Considering Obama had declared Manning guilty before the trial started, there are serious doubts that will happen.  

Aug 21 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Heidi Moore: How low can you get: the minimum wage scam

Wonder why benefit spending is rising? Simple: corporations get away with crappy wages, so government has to make up the rest

It’s time to get real. Allowing the federal minimum wage to be so low means knowing that it will cost us all in Medicare, food stamp and social security payments later. While some in Congress – particularly on the conservative side – have mistakenly insisted on austerity and complained about the rising cost of federal benefits, they also seem not to have done the math to figure out why those costs are going up.

The solution is simple: raise the minimum wage, add benefits, and so reduce government benefit spending. If the minimum wage remains low, and benefits sparse, government spending on benefits will continue to rise.

Barbara Garson; How Corporate America Used the Great Recession to Turn Good Jobs Into Bad Ones

Abracadabra: You’re a Part-Timer

Watch closely: I’m about to demystify the sleight-of-hand by which good jobs were transformed into bad jobs, full-time workers with benefits into freelancers with nothing, during the dark days of the Great Recession. [..]

Here’s the truly mysterious aspect of this “recovery”: 21% of the jobs lost during the Great Recession were low wage, meaning they paid $13.83 an hour or less.  But 58% of the jobs regained fall into that category. A common explanation for that startling statistic is that the bad jobs are coming back first and the good jobs will follow.  

But let me suggest another explanation: the good jobs are here among us right now — it’s just their wages, their benefits, and the long-term security that have vanished.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The women candidates we need

“Just lunch, or is it Campaign 2016 just getting started?” one pundit breathlessly asks of a meal between President Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. The New York Times does a deep dive into the Clinton Foundation, while others list “The People Already Rearranging Their Lives for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign.” And every major news outlet has asked some form of this question: Is America ready for a woman president? [..]

Will shattering the Oval Office’s glass ceiling and electing a madam president be an inspiring achievement for this country? Of course. Do we also need madam mayors, madam senators, madam councilwomen, madam sheriffs, madam governors and madam congresswomen all across the nation? You betcha.

Naureen Shah: Obama has not delivered on May’s promise of transparency on drones

An escalation of drone strikes in Yemen highlights the fact that the US public is still in the dark about this use of lethal force

The past two weeks have seen an escalation in drone strikes more dramatic than any since 2009. [..]

Earlier this summer, however, there was hope for a different way forward. In late May, the White House released more information about US drone strikes than it ever had before. Following a major address on national security by President Obama, the government pledged to keep sharing “as much information as possible”.

In fact, since May, the White House has not officially released any new information on drone strikes (though leaks still abound). While NSA surveillance has taken center-stage, the government’s policy of secrecy and obfuscation on drones persists, too. Past critics of the drone program – ranging from Senator Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky) to Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) – should take notice. It is time to renew and expand the demand for answers about who is being killed.

Amy Davidson: Breaking the Rules Thousands of Times at the N.S.A.

But how many thousands? As it turns out, there are numbers packed into the numbers. An “incident” can have affected multiple people-even multitudes. In a single one of the two thousand seven hundred and seventy-six cases, someone at the N.S.A. made a mistake in entering a number into a search request. As a result, instead of pulling information on phone calls from Egypt (country code 20) the agency got data on “a large number” of calls from Washington, D.C. (area code 202). How many, and what did they learn? There are more Egyptians than there are Washingtonians, but the N.S.A.’s mandate forbids it from spying on Americans, and singling out an area as politicized as Washington seems particularly unfortunate. Mistyping the country code for Iran could have left analysts looking at calls in North Carolina and Louisiana. Another incident involved “the unlawful retention of 3,032 files that the surveillance court had ordered the NSA to destroy…. Each file contained an undisclosed number of telephone call records.” The Post said that it was not able to tell how many Americans were affected in all. Those two examples suggest that the number could be very, very big-even by the N.S.A.’s standards.

Michelle Chen: Caring for Workers Who Care for Our Loved Ones

For many seniors, growing older means facing new kinds of stress-such as fragile health, a tight budget on a fixed income, or the travails of living alone.

And for the people who care for the aging, the stress can be just as severe. When her client is going through a rough time, one domestic worker says she lives through every minute of it, too: “Sometimes we stay there for five days…and we don’t know what’s outside…You cannot leave the job.”

Stories like this one, recorded as part of a survey of New York’s care workers, form the invisible pillar of an evolving industry that is making the private home the center of public health, and in the process, reshaping our relationships of family, work, community and social service. Yet the home care workforce, which is driven largely by poor women of color, mirrors inequities embedded in the low-wage economy. At work, caregivers manage the lives of our loved ones while often facing exploitation and abuse, and after a long day of delivering comfort to vulnerable clients, many struggle themselves to cope with ingrained poverty their communities.

Aug 21 2013

Citizen Bezos

Aug 21 2013

On This Day In History August 21

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 21 is the 233rd day of the year (234th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 132 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, Hawaii became our 50th state. Hawaii is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It occupies most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of Australia. Hawaii’s natural beauty, warm tropical climate, inviting waters and waves, and active volcanoes  make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight “main islands” are (from the northwest to southeast) Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii. The last is by far the largest and is often called “The Big Island” to avoid confusion with the state as a whole. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers who arrived sometime in the eighth century. In the early 18th century, American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood, which was much valued in China at the time. In the 1830s, the sugar industry was introduced to Hawaii and by the mid 19th century had become well established. American missionaries and planters brought about great changes in Hawaiian political, cultural, economic, and religious life. In 1840, a constitutional monarchy was established, stripping the Hawaiian monarch of much of his authority.

In 1893, a group of American expatriates and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines deposed Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was established as a U.S. protectorate with Hawaiian-born Sanford B. Dole as president. Many in Congress opposed the formal annexation of Hawaii, and it was not until 1898, following the use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the Spanish-American War, that Hawaii’s strategic importance became evident and formal annexation was approved. Two years later, Hawaii was organized into a formal U.S. territory. During World War II, Hawaii became firmly ensconced in the American national identity following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Admission, or Statehood, Day is an official state holiday. It is the home state of President Barack Obama, the only President from that state and one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The pictures were the very hard to select. The second picture (above) is an aerial view of Diamond Head.

Diamond Head is a dormant volcanic cone on the island of Oahu. It is called Le’ahi by Hawaiians, most likely from lae ‘browridge, promontory’ plus ‘ahi ‘tuna’ because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals embedded in the rock for diamonds.

Then of course there are volcanoes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The first picture on the left is the more famous of the volcanoes, Mauna Loa which is the largest volcano on Earth by volume and area and one of the five volcanoes in that form the islands.