Here’s the problem with sporadic adherence to the rule of a law and an opaque extra-judicial legal system: We just don’t know who or what to believe. (That, and the executions.) The timing on this Iran “terror” plot is a little too convenient, isn’t it? I guess we should be grateful the terrorists — excuse me, alleged terrorists – weren’t simply sent to Gitmo. Amy Davidson in the New Yorker:
It’s hard to know, at this stage, how solid the case against two men charged with trying to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States is. But it does have one thing to recommend it: an indictment. One of the men charged, Manssor Arbabsiar, an American citizen, was arrested at J.F.K. on September 29th. (The other, Gholam Shakuri, an Iranian, is at large, but, according to Eric Holder, the Attorney General, is not believed to be in the United States.) Arbabsiar will be put on trial in a court in lower Manhattan, just as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be “Christmas Bomber,” went on trial today in a court in Detroit. Neither was sent to Guantánamo, or put before a military tribunal, or preëmptively assassinated. That sounds like a simple thing, and it should be, and can be, even when, as in this new case, the alleged crime is complex. There is something discouraging about the relief one feels at a rudimentary adherence to the rule of law.
At least six countries are part of the story: allegedly, an American who also had an Iranian passport travelled to Mexico to meet with a member of a drug cartel (who turned out to be a confidential D.E.A. informant) to recruit a hitman to kill a Saudi Arabian and maybe also attack the Israeli embassy in Argentina. (A map with pins in it would help here.) And its scale was also potentially great: according to a wiretap recording cited in the indictment, which said, “They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him, f*ck ’em.” Still: that is nothing our justice system—our real one—can’t handle, when we let it. The evidence against Arbabsiar, according to the indictment, includes “a series of Mirandized interviews” in which he “confessed to his participation in the plot” and also gave information about the involvement of others.
Today in Chicago, 40 activists dressed as Robin Hoods kayaked down the Chicago River while several hundred more protesters rallied outside a hotel to deliver a message to the Mortgage Banksters attending a national conference inside: It’s time for big banks to Pay US Back!
The Mortgage Bankers Association is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations for the big banks and they represent the mortgage arms/tentacles of the BIG 4–Wells Fargo (who happens to be sponsoring the conference), Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup–as well as numerous independent mortgage companies that created the housing bubble and blew up the economy in 2008.
One of the MBA claim’s to fame is defeating Judicial Loan Modifications – a piece of legislation that Congress was attempting to pass in order to help millions of homeowners who had fallen victim to the housing crisis. Under the current law, if you only have one home you can’t declare bankruptcy and have a judge renegotiate your debts. But if you own two homes, or a boat, you can. This is unfair and biased against working and middle class families that don’t have boats, airplanes and homes in the Hamptons. Chicago has been hardest hit by foreclosures, mostly due to the MBA blocking this legislation.
Today, the MBA held a conference in a downtown Chicago hotel.
While 600 protesters rallied and chanted outside the hotel, a team of 40 kayakers dressed like Robin Hood paddled down the Chicago River and anchored outside of the hotel chanting “We Are the 99%!” for 30 minutes while another team of activists dropped a banner from the DuSable Bridge at Michigan Avenue.
Inside the mortgage bankster meeting, a fourth team of activists were embedded in the audience, ready to interrupt the banksters’ plenary conference. Two activists were able to interrupt the discussion panel before the banksters shut down the meeting entirely to avoid further interruptions.
Apparently the power supply on my desktop has conked out. (The monitor kept turning off, and I discovered that the back of the case was really hot and one of the fans stopped working.)
I can’t fix it until next week because I’m leaving Thursday a.m., going away for a couple of days to the land of sunshine. Thank heavens I have a laptop from C&L, but it’s a pain in the ass to type on one for an extended period. Oh well!
Richard Crocker, the chaplain at Dartmouth College, gives a sermon on Occupy Wall Street. Go read the rest:
… Now I expect that some of you are agreeing with the Amos and Jesus and me. But others of you are not convinced. You wonder what I (or perhaps Amos and Jesus) know about economics. And the answer is: very little. But we do know what is right. We do know that the exploitation of the poor by the rich and powerful is wrong. And we do know that any nation that countenances such policies is really planting the seeds of its own destruction.
But wait – you may say: this is a democracy. We can change the policies of our nation by voting. Ah, yes. But it is not easy. Jeffrey Sachs, who is a well-known professor at Columbia and who does know something about economics, points out that “the rich finance candidates while the poor cannot. Political scientists have shown that members of Congress – many of whom are wealthy themselves – devote their legislative votes to the wishes of their well-to-do constituents. President Obama has dined regularly with the lords of finance; meanwhile, billionaire oil magnates fund the tax-cutting frenzy of the Tea party.” And Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize winning economist, said in Friday’s New York Times: “The protestors indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right.”
Why am I saying this to you?? What can you do about it? I am saying it to you because we are all here very privileged. We are part of the wealth of this country, even if we are not all among the top 1 per cent – though some of us at Dartmouth certainly are. You are forming your ambitions and commitments, determining how you are going to spend your lives. And the pressures at Dartmouth, the contours of passage, the incentives and structures, encourage you to give your talents to corporate America – to occupy Wall Street. I want you to question that ambition – not only for yourselves, but for your friends. Where should the most talented youth in our nation devote their energies? You must answer that question. Continue Reading »
Who says teenagers can’t change the world? In their free time after school, 15 teens from a low-income high school in Philadelphia built a car. And not just any car: their 160 mpg Factory Five GTM biodiesel hybrid kit car has outperformed other fuel-efficient cars built by professional engineers and graduate students from Ivy League universities.
Yesterday, this group of teenagers — the West Philly Hybrid X Team, a crew of 15 high school mechanics from West Philadelphia High School — were honored with the “Next Generation Award” at the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards, which recognizes visionaries whose innovation in the fields of technology, medicine, space exploration, automotive design, and environmental engineering is changing the world we live in. Other winners include Steven Squyres and his Spirit & Opportunity team, who created robotic surrogates for humans on Mars, as well as director James Cameron, who was honored with the “Leadership Award” for innovations in filmmaking technology used for the film Avatar.
Under the guidance of faculty advisor Simon Hauger — a former electrical engineer who now teaches math and science — the West Philly team entered two vehicles into last year’s Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, a $10 million prize for which 111 teams signed up. Out of the 111, West Philly was the only high school team. Their entries were a Factory Five GTM biodiesel hybrid kit car that achieved the equivalent of 160 mpg over 100 miles, and a converted Ford Focus gasoline plug-in hybrid. The team blew everyone’s expectations out of the water when they made it to the semifinals, beating out over 80 teams. Equally astounding is the fact that at a school where 85 percent of students are economically disadvantaged and in a region with a drop-out rate of over 50 percent, every single member of the X Prize team graduated.
The program at West Philly started in 1998 with an electric go-cart which won the science fair. And, as Hauger adds, “Kids from West Philly aren’t supposed to win the science fair.” Over the next few years the team developed a full-sized vehicle that got 180 mpg equivalent, and went on to beat MIT and 40 other teams in 2002 at the prestigious Tour de Sol competition. Continue Reading »