Through The Static

July 21, 2008

Military Trial Begins for Guantánamo Detainee

Filed under: Eeeeep!,Government,Rights,War — disciplepete @ 10:38 pm

NYT:

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — In a hushed courtroom here on Monday, a military judge opened the first American war crimes trial since World War II, culminating a nearly seven-year effort by the Bush administration to try some of the hundreds of terrorism suspects held in the detention camp…

…Even as Mr. Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver, faced trial, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, in Washington, called for legislation the administration says it needs to control the scores of legal cases from terrorism suspects challenging their detention at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in federal courts. Among his requests is a law barring the suspects from ever setting foot in the United States because of the “extraordinary risk” they pose.

Mr. Mukasey’s speech reflected the administration’s difficulty in dealing with Guantánamo, which has become a magnet for international criticism, partly because no detainee had been tried for any offense.

As Mr. Hamdan’s trial began, the military judge, Capt. Keith J. Allred of the Navy, quickly seated a panel of six senior military officers to act as a jury. The military panel was one of a number of stark differences between the proceedings here and those in American courts, where, critics have argued, civilian jurors would not be members of the same armed forces that are running the accused man’s trial…

…Critics have long asserted that the military commission system was designed partly to permit prosecutors to use confessions obtained through coercion and without giving detainees any opportunity to assert a right against self-incrimination, as they might if they were prosecuted by civilian authorities.

So even if Hamdan, Bin Laden’s former driver, is acquitted of charges, he can still be held indefinitely:

If convicted, he could face a possible life term. But because of the administration’s claim that it can hold unlawful enemy combatants indefinitely, even an acquittal would not mean release. It would simply mean he would return to his status as a detainee being held indefinitely — until, according the administration, the end of the war of terrorism…

Half of the potential jurors said they had personal connections to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, which prosecutors described as a product of the sweeping Qaeda conspiracy in which they say Mr. Hamdan was an enthusiastic participant…

…Aaron Zisser, an observer at Guantánamo for Human Rights First, said he had found the selection of the panel members troubling. American federal courts, he said, “are equipped to address both national security concerns and the fundamental rights of the accused.”

July 9, 2008

Senate Approves Bill to Broaden Wiretap Powers

Filed under: Culture,Government,Politics,Rights — disciplepete @ 8:19 pm

Better quit those late night chats with your Al-Qaeda homies. NYT:

WASHINGTON — The Senate gave final approval on Wednesday to a major expansion of the government’s surveillance powers, handing President Bush one more victory in a series of hard-fought clashes with Democrats over national security issues.

The measure, approved by a vote of 69 to 28, is the biggest revamping of federal surveillance law in 30 years. It includes a divisive element that Mr. Bush had deemed essential: legal immunity for the phone companies that cooperated in the National Security Agency wiretapping program he approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The vote came two and a half years after public disclosure of the wiretapping program set off a fierce national debate over the balance between protecting the country from another terrorist strike and ensuring civil liberties. The final outcome in Congress, which opponents of the surveillance measure had conceded for weeks, seemed almost anticlimactic in contrast.

June 16, 2008

N.Y. poised to OK marijuana for medicinal use

Filed under: Culture,Government,Grassholes,Health,Politics,Rights — disciplepete @ 6:13 pm

Daily Gazette:

Last year the Assembly passed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana; a new version of the bill has moved out of the codes committee, and another version is pending in the Senate. Those who support the bill are optimistic that this is the year New York legalizes medical marijuana.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, would allow patients to use marijuana only if they have life-threatening or debilitating conditions, and only if their doctors believe it would be the most effective treatment. Patients and caregivers would register with the state and receive identification cards that would allow them to legally purchase marijuana for medicinal use. They would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants and to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, though a state-regulated distribution system would eventually replace home cultivation. This transition would hinge on the federal government’s approval of the state-regulated distribution system.

Last year, the Assembly passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana for the first time, and this year’s version of the bill attempts to address the concerns that derailed its chances in the Senate. Some legislators felt that last year’s bill did not provide for adequate regulation; the new bill mandates that registered organizations such as pharmacies, nonprofit organizations created for the purposing of selling marijuana to chronically sick people and local health departments handle sale and distribution of the drug.

Twelve states have legalized medical marijuana, with New Mexico, which legalized medical marijuana last summer, the most recent to do.

Dozens of gay couples wed in Calif. after ruling

Filed under: Culture,Queer,Rights — disciplepete @ 6:08 pm

Yes, the countdown to Armageddon has begun folks. Yahoo:

SAN FRANCISCO – Dozens of gay couples were married Monday after a landmark ruling making California the second state to allow same-sex nuptials went into effect.

At least five county clerks around the state extended their hours to issue marriage licenses, and many same-sex couples got married on the spot…

…The really big rush to the altar was not expected to take place until Tuesday, which is when most counties planned to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of couples from around the country are expected to seize the opportunity to make their unions official in the eyes of the law.

June 7, 2008

Cuba approves free sex-change operations

Filed under: Gender,Health,Queer,Rights,Sex,World News — disciplepete @ 11:00 am

Viva la operacion! USA Today:

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba has authorized sex-change operations and will offer them free for qualifying citizens, an official said Friday.

The move is the latest in a series of changes implemented by President Raul Castro since he succeeded his elder brother, Fidel, in February…

…The procedure would be available to Cubans for free as part of their country’s health-care system…

…Since becoming Cuba’s first new president in 49 years, the younger Castro has done away with bans that kept most Cubans from owning cellphones in their own names and renting hotel rooms and cars. His government also has decentralized the floundering state agricultural sector, raised pensions for retirees and hiked salaries for some state employees, among other changes.

Makes me wonder if the U.S., if we actually get universal health care, would have a similar provision. I think it’ll take some time.

May 28, 2008

New York to Back Same-Sex Unions From Elsewhere

Filed under: Culture,Legislation,Politics,Rights — disciplepete @ 11:38 pm

More news on the same-sex marriage front…NYT:

ALBANY – Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.

In a directive issued on May 14, the governor’s legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere “should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union.”…

…Massachusetts and California are the only states that have legalized gay marriage, while others, including New Jersey and Vermont, allow civil unions. Forty-one states have laws limiting marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Legal experts said Mr. Paterson’s decision would make New York the only state that did not itself allow gay marriage but fully recognized same-sex unions entered into elsewhere.

Do whites need training before parenting black children?

Filed under: Culture,It's Too Punny!,Legislation,Race,Rights — disciplepete @ 4:57 pm

Article about interracial adoption…discuss amongst yourselves. CNN:

NEW YORK (AP)Several leading child welfare groups Tuesday urged an overhaul of federal laws dealing with transracial adoption, arguing that black children in foster care are ill-served by a “colorblind” approach meant to encourage their adoption by white families….

…At issue is the 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act — and revisions made to it in 1996 — governing the adoption of children from foster care.

One part of the law directs state agencies to recruit more adoptive parents of the same race as the children. The new report says this provision hasn’t been adequately enforced and calls for better funded efforts to recruit minority parents.

The more contentious part of the legislation prohibits race from being taken into consideration in most decisions about adoption from foster care. For example, white parents seeking to adopt a black child cannot be required to undergo race-oriented training that differs in any way from training that all prospective adoptive parents receive.

A key recommendation in the new report calls for amending the law so race could be considered as a factor in selecting parents for children from foster care. The change also would allow race-oriented pre-adoption training…

At the heart of the debate is the fact that the foster care system has a disproportionately high number of black children, and on average they languish there nine months longer than white children before moving to permanent homes. The latest federal figures showed that 32 percent of the 510,000 children in foster care were black in 2006, compared with 15 percent of all U.S. children.

Of the black children adopted out of foster care, about 20 percent are adopted by white families. The Donaldson report said current federal law, by stressing color blindness, deters child welfare agencies from assessing families’ readiness to adopt transracially or preparing them for the distinctive challenges they might face.

“There is a higher rate of problems in minority foster children adopted transracially than in-race,” said the report. “All children deserve to be raised in families that respect their cultural heritage.”

There’s plenty more in that article that you can go ahead and check out on your own. Opinions, anyone?

May 27, 2008

F.B.I. Witnesses to Torture

Filed under: Government,Grassholes,Rights,World News — disciplepete @ 9:30 am

NYT editorial about a report by the Justice Department which tells of F.B.I. agents who witnessed and reported to Washington torture at American military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo, but were told to zip it.

Does this sound familiar? Muslim men are stripped in front of female guards and sexually humiliated. A prisoner is made to wear a dog’s collar and leash, another is hooded with women’s underwear. Others are shackled in stress positions for hours, held in isolation for months, and threatened with attack dogs…

These atrocities were committed in the interrogation centers in American military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And they were not revealed by Red Cross officials, human rights activists, Democrats in Congress or others the administration writes off as soft-on-terror.

They were described in a painful report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, based on the accounts of hundreds of F.B.I. agents who saw American interrogators repeatedly mistreat prisoners in ways that the agents considered violations of American law and the Geneva Conventions. According to the report, some of the agents began keeping a “war crimes file” — until they were ordered to stop.

These were not random acts. It is clear from the inspector general’s report that this was organized behavior by both civilian and military interrogators following the specific orders of top officials

…The study said F.B.I. agents reported this illegal behavior to Washington. They were told not to take part, but the bureau appears to have done nothing to end the abuse. It certainly never told Congress or the American people. The inspector general said the agents’ concerns were conveyed to the National Security Council, but he found no evidence that it acted on them.

May 24, 2008

270 Illegal Immigrants Sent to Prison in Federal Push

Filed under: Culture,Grassholes,Immigration,Race,Rights — disciplepete @ 1:37 pm

Article from the NYT…this is a sign of an increasingly punitive atmsphere for undocumented immigrants; it’s been unusual in the past for those arrested for being illegal to face criminal charges; it’s been usually a civil matter, followed by deportation. But in this case, a large number of undocumented workers were brought to trial on criminal charges in a span of just a few days, prompting concern that “justice” was delivered pretty hastily and carelessly.

WATERLOO, Iowa – In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

The convicted immigrants were among 389 workers detained at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in nearby Postville in a raid that federal officials called the largest criminal enforcement operation ever carried out by immigration authorities at a workplace…

The unusually swift proceedings, in which 297 immigrants pleaded guilty and were sentenced in four days, were criticized by criminal defense lawyers, who warned of violations of due process. Twenty-seven immigrants received probation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association protested that the workers had been denied meetings with immigration lawyers and that their claims under immigration law had been swept aside in unusual and speedy plea agreements.

May 19, 2008

Heter – o – Homo — Marriage: Is This What We Want, What We Really, Really Want?

Some of our dear readers might see this posting as: “RoooZERS! HeL-LO, this, is, like, soooooooo 3 days ago!” but I felt like I needed to really sit and process this “victory” while recovering from that which is known as FINALS/DEATH.

shimizu

+ jolie = Oh, What Coulda BEEN! Right.

Do I think there is something inherently WRONG with the concept of marriage, of two people being committed to each other, faithful to each other FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES?!!!

GASP, GASP, GASP…!

buh…no?

Look, marriage ain’t perfect, but it does become a sticky issue once it has become a legal institution that is on the receiving end of certain benefits liiiiiike creating a “family partnership” under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members, being entitled to inherit at least summa yo spouse’s estate (RIPieces, Anna Nicole!), and receiving social security, medicare, or disability benefits for your spouses. In other words — MO-NAY! That and a bunch o coolio stuff, like renewing leases for spouses, choosing whether or not to keep em plugged into machines (life support), or moving into “family only zones.”

At the same time, WHY MARRIAGE? Isn’t this a little archaic, to still distribute financial benefits for only those who uphold good ole Christian, Amurrican values? (And yes, marriage is a rittle monogamous phenomenon that does not find its roots in Christianity, but the instiutionalization of marriage by the US government was partially motivated over upholding Judeo Christian practices and codes of “morality,” which kinda makes you question how secular the US of A is sometimes… I mean, REALLY.)

I mean, couldn’t you just pick a friend? A special, recial friend?

But that would be MADNESS, sir BobbleBot!

Maybe so, but getting back to my original point (I’m sure I had one) is — IS MARRIAGE WHAT WE REALLY WANT and why? I mean, looking how the recent ruling in California as a victory, what is the language used in deeming this as such?

ellen portia

Oh, what beautiful blue-eyed, yellow-haired children they shall have!

Let’s take a look at one of the many Victory Jigs over the media, as reported by New American MediaGay Couples Rejoice Over Supreme Court Ruling:

SAN FRANCISCO—Since 10 a.m. yesterday morning, when the California Supreme Court released its decision that same-sex couples could legally marry in the state, a sense of jubilation has filled the air. The nearly 4,000 gay and lesbian couples who were married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004 have been on an emotional rollercoaster ride for the past several years—they went from wedded bliss to seeing their unions crushed by the rulings of lower courts. And it appears that their marriages are now once again legitimate in the eyes of the law.

Sounds great, so far, don’t it? Diff Sex couples and Same Sex couples shall probably both be entitled to the same benefits in ze state of California. (West Coast is dey Best Coast!)

Pauline Togawa-Guillermo and her partner of seven years, Jill, are one of those couples. They stood in the long line outside City Hall on Feb. 16, 2004, a damp and dreary day, to get their marriage license. They’d married each other several years earlier, in a Buddhist ceremony attended by hundreds of friends. But when the city’s then-new mayor stoked national controversy by ordering the county clerk to issue the licenses for same-sex couples, Togawa-Guillermo sensed an opportunity that she had to take. “It was a magical moment,” she recalls. “We made so many friends in that line—friendships that carried us through these long four years.”

Oh, crap. Here comes the human interest side of the story, the putting that “human face” on this issue. Not that the BobbLeBot is not in touch with its emotions, but it doesn’t like being EMOTIONALLY manipulated into favoring a specific perception.

Unless this emotional manipulation comes as a packaged deal along with a bussel of baby bunnies and roneLy puppies. RONELY PUPPIES!

seal pup yorkie BUNNIES

seal puppies are still puppies!

::runs towards them with outstretched arms::

Buuuuuut — I don’t see that here. No bunnies hopping around or baby dogs doing their bidness.

buddhist wedding + magically delicious

All I see is the Buddhist ceremony, the making of friends, and a “magical moment.” MAGICAL, I tell you! I’m not so sure if the BobbLeBot finds this story so magically dericious.

Shortly after the ceremony, however, the newlyweds received word that their marriage, along with thousands of others, would not be recognized because of rulings by lower courts. Togawa-Guillermo and her partner were already in the process of building their lives together, and the news, she says, was “shattering.”

“We were able to change our drivers’ licenses and social security cards, but the name change request was rescinded. The ruling came down, saying that our marriage was not legal, that our marriage certificate could not be used. One day we were legal, and within 24 hours we were living in sin.”

Shattering. They were SHATTERED, people! To PIECES! Ew, ew, more romantical language, and EW. “One day we were legal, and within 24 hours we were living in sin.”

SIN

Okay, drivers’ licenses and social security cards I get. I sooooooooooooo get. Not veree sexy, by any means. I mean, it’s a pain in the arse to stand in line and be shuttled from one to another in a building full of people in horribly foul moods. So THAT sucked. But “living in sin.”

oh, SIN

To be all technical about this, wouldn’t it be “living in sin” if, say, the marriage weren’t recognized in the “eyes of God” ?

::trying not to roll eyes, esp when couple had a BUDDHIST ceremony to tie ze knot::

Does Nation State = God?

So no, don’t have too much patience for the morality issue or the denial of the state of non-sin, since I highly doubt the US government can legally hold power over the status of your soul and karmic bank account. As much as I’m sure it would really, REALLY like to.

Come on, peoples! Let’s get down to IT!

“Marriage dignifies the couple and the child,” she explains. “When our daughter interacts with peers, she’s viewed as the child from a family that’s in limbo. She’s been interacting with peers whose families are recognized as a unit…the ramifications for our children are huge.”

Okay, lesbian-couple-formerly-living-in-sin-but-married-by-Buddha, you are killing me here. KILLING ME!

What, exactly, is killing the BobbLeBot, pray tell? It’s not just their line of argument, but the ideological structure they are buying into in order to justify the legalization of same-sex marriage. Yes, I can recognize that American culture can be, especially in really conservative areas, extremely judgmental of unmarried couples living under the same roof — “God”-forbid — parenting a bevy of children.

Basically, they view being a couple that is viewed as legitimately married by the government as the crux of their dilemma. They want their “dignity” and they can’t have it without the blessing of Mom and Dad God the US Government. Without governmental recognition, their child is viewed as being in a state of “limbo,” as coming from an unstable family background. They want their child to be viewed as “coming from” a stable unit, and that unit isn’t stable until it is recognized by a government that ideologically enforces Judeo Christian heteronormative values into the very fabric of our culture, our perceptions of what is “dignified”, and our legal system.

A marriage should be a SINGLE UNIT of 2 PEOPLE, dammit! Preferably recognized by the eyes of “God”. And a lot of same sex couples agree.

Welcome to HomoNormativity.

homonorms

We heard a lot about heteronormativity — not heard, but LIVE, actually, while having it rammed down our throats, whatevs, I GET it. But what IS homonormativity, pray tell?

According to Lisa Duggan (some famous ramous academic/activist involved in ze politics of sexuality and gender), it’s “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them.”

gay cake

In other words, homonormativity doesn’t exactly resist or call heteronormativity (2 people, one man and one woman and 2.5 children are the IDEAL AMERICAN COUPLE) out on its bullsh*t. In fact, homonormativity BUYS into the culture of that white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and getting registered at Williams and Sonoma. In BUYING into it, it supports and JUSTIFIES the privileges of heteronormativity.

Look, we all buy into bullsh*T. Wanna hear mine? I watch ANTM. THAT’S RIGHT, people!!! I watch America’s Next Top Model and totally thought Anya and Fathima were ROBBED!!!

Still, I’m not gonna vote to make it a requirement to watch every episode of ANTM every Wednesday on the CW at 8PM/9PM Central in order to be eligible for a tax exemptions on magazine and cosmetics purchases. I’m not for giving health benefits to the people who watch it. It’s a load of interesting, pretty-pretty crap that the dumb/13-year-old and elitist/academic sides of me watch every other week on youtube.

murdaaaaah

ANYWAY, I super found the above linked article helpful, and if you’re interested in it, you should totally read it, but here’s a few snippets to clarify:

For many, such articulations of gay and lesbian identity in the public sphere provide evidence of true social and political progress. Yet in the past decade, some radical activists and scholars have cited such developments not as progressive signs of liberation but as reactionary responses linked directly to the privatizing imperatives of a powerful, ascendant brand of neoliberal politics that coalesced in the 1990s.

Can I get a WhUT-WHUT from the fallout of multiculturalism? Ah, neoLiberalism! There you are again, old friend! (buy RED! BUY IiiiiIT! ::shakes fist:: ) What — eating at Panda Express doesn’t liberate us from racism? What — watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy doesn’t fight our internalized homophobia? ::looks around:: WHAT?!

In accordance with this new homonormativity, prominent lesbian and gay rights organizations increasingly embrace agendas that vie for acceptance within contemporary economic and political systems, thereby abandoning their earlier commitments to economic redistribution and protecting sexual freedoms. This shift has made strange bedfellows out of lesbian and gay rights organizations and social conservatives: both endorse normative and family-oriented formations associated with domestic partnership, adoption, and gender-normative social roles; both tend to marginalize those who challenge serial monogamy and those – including transgender, bisexual, pansexual, and intersex constituencies – who feel oppressed by a binary gender or sex system. Moreover, because of its economic base in the neoliberal philosophy of consumer rights rather than that of citizen rights, the politics of homonormativity exercises an influence beyond U.S. borders, through gay and lesbian tourism, the global proliferation of gay and lesbian-themed U.S. cultural productions, and economic and political interventions that claim to make “gay rights” a global issue.

So the rest of this article/essay is super coolio, so yesh, yesh, read it if your brain can handle more brilliance. I mean, the BobbLeBot DOES tend to boggle the braiiiiiiiiiiiin…

What is a “right” anyway? And it bothers me that the issue of same-sex/gay/whatever-else-ya-wanna-call-it marriage upholds and reinforces the heteronormative structures of gender that oppressed the Queer, LBGTI community to begin with. THE OPPRESSED BECOMING THE OPPRESSORS, THE SELF-POLICING OF IDENTITY POLITICS!

BALTAR

Baltar… LIVES!

HeLLo — this is TOTALLY like Season 2.5 of BattleStar Galactica with the human police working in tandem with the CyLons to oppress (but really “liberate” in their frakked up minds) their fellow peoples! Sorry if I ruined that for some BSG fans. Um. It was allll gonna come out anyway.

So WHAT is my issue? Not really MARRIAGE (I mean, if you want to pick one, singular human being/animal/CyLon and commit to spend the REST OF YOUR LIFE with it, then that’s your funeral decision) or that now that Buddhist-ceremony-same-sex-formerly-living-in-“sin” couple are now entitled to the same benefits as heterosexed legally married couples.

SIN! + buddha!

It’s the whole buying into and supporting a system that kind of worked to oppress you, settling for a seat at the lunch counter as-long-as-you-keep-quiet in lieu of destroying that institution that persecuted you in the first place. You’re still on a leash and your value as a human being is still controlled and dictated by a government and culture that still doesn’t completely accept you with open arms. Because somewhere, deep down in the root of this acceptance of negotiated legalities, in these conditioned settlements of “rights” is a seed, a root of internalized self hate.

Colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia and all other various forms of oppression cut DEEP, peoples. Real DEEP.

I guess the question is — is this REALLY a victory? You see why the bobblebot is conflicted on this issue? Hence, cannot stand and celebrate at the par-tay, but will stand in weirdly-delineated space of solidarity.

When the news of the court’s decision broke, multitudes of gay and lesbian couples crowded the street outside the San Francisco courthouse, braving the sweltering, 90-degree heat to celebrate. Togawa-Guillermo was no exception. “My whole being was filled with euphoria,” she says. “And shortly after that, there was a sense of peace—that this was right. The court gave us a sense of dignity, which had been taken away from us. Fairness and social justice have been achieved.”

Oh, dear. Oh, DEER! Oh — Bambi.

ccaaaaaaaaaake

homonormativity is magically dericious.

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