The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shirdi Sai Baba

Thursday, August 29, 2013


War on Leaks Is Pitting Journalist vs. Journalist

A disgruntled loner with access to military secrets comes across documents that pull back the veil on government actions in a lost war and decides for a variety of reasons, some noble and some personal, to share them with the world.
Sang Tan/Associated Press
A supporter of Wikileaks and Pfc. Bradley Manning, who now uses the name Chelsea. Wikileaks been criticized by some journalists for its role in publishing Private Manning’s documents.
That was Daniel Ellsberg in 1969, and for his efforts, which became the publication of the Pentagon Papers, he was investigated and indicted, but eventually he was hailed as a hero and enshrined in the journalistic canon.
Today that role has been taken up by Pfc. Bradley E. Manning (who now wants to be known as Chelsea) and Edward J. Snowden. Their chances of being widely declared heroes aren’t nearly as great: Private Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison last week, and Mr. Snowden, who revealed documents showing the extent of surveillance by the National Security Agency, is still hiding in Russia beyond the reach of the United States government.
Perhaps they got what’s coming to them. They knew, or should have known, the risks of revealing information entrusted to them, and decided to proceed. Like almost all whistle-blowers, they are difficult people with complicated motives.
So, too, are the journalists who aid them. It’s not surprising that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who brokered the publishing of Private Manning’s documents, and Glenn Greenwald, the columnist for The Guardian who has led the Snowden revelations, have also come under intense criticism.
What is odd is that many pointing the finger are journalists. When Mr. Greenwald was on “Meet the Press” after the first round of N.S.A. articles, the host, David Gregory, seemingly switched the show to “Meet the Prosecutor.” He asked, “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?”
Jeffrey Toobin, who works for both CNN and The New Yorker, called Mr. Snowden “a grandiose narcissist who belongs in prison.” This week, he called David Miranda, Mr. Greenwald’s partner who was detained by British authorities for nine hours under antiterror laws, the equivalent of a “drug mule.”
Mr. Assange has also come under withering criticism, including in the pages of The New York Times, which accused him, among other things, of not smelling very nice as we cooperated with WikiLeaks in publishing reams of articles in July 2010 based on the revelations from Private Manning.
This week, Michael Grunwald, a senior national correspondent at Time, wrote on Twitter: “I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.” (He later apologized, perhaps reasoning that salivating over the killing of anyone was in poor taste.)
What have Mr. Assange and Mr. Greenwald done to inspire such rancor from other journalists? Because of the leaks and the stories they generated, we have learned that in the name of tracking terrorists, the N.S.A. has been logging phone calls and e-mails for years, recorded the metadata of correspondence between Americans, and in some instances, dived right into the content of e-mails. The WikiLeaks documents revealed that the United States turned a blind eye on the use of torture by our Iraqi allies, and that an airstrike was ordered to cover up the execution of civilians. WikiLeaks also published a video showing a United States Army helicopter opening fire on a group of civilians, including two Reuters journalists.
In the instance of the stories based on the purloined confidential documents in the Manning and Snowden leaks, we learned what our country has been doing in our name, whether it is in war zones or in digital realms.
Mr. Toobin agrees that an important debate has been joined, but says no story, no matter how big, justifies journalists’ abetting illegal acts, saying, “Journalists are not above the law.”
“The Jane Mayers, Sy Hershes and Walter Pincuses have all done superb work for decades without the rampant lawlessness that was behind these stories,” he said, adding later, “I’ve never heard any of those journalists endorsing the wholesale theft of thousands of classified government records.”
The larger sense I get from the criticism directed at Mr. Assange and Mr. Greenwald is one of distaste — that they aren’t what we think of as real journalists. Instead, they represent an emerging Fifth Estate composed of leakers, activists and bloggers who threaten those of us in traditional media. They are, as one says, not like us.
“By no means was I treated as a hero when I first came forward. I was indicted and spent two years in court,” Mr. Ellsberg said in an interview. “But in those days, journalists were not turning on journalists. With Snowden in particular, you have a split between truly independent journalists and those who are tools — and I mean that in every sense of the term — of the government. Toobin and Grunwald are doing the work of the government to maintain relationships and access.”
It is true that Mr. Assange and Mr. Greenwald are activists with the kind of clearly defined political agendas that would be frowned upon in a traditional newsroom. But they are acting in a more transparent age — they are their own newsrooms in a sense — and their political beliefs haven’t precluded other news organizations from following their leads. (In fact, The Times confirmed on Friday that it would work on a series of articles based on the N.S.A. documents with The Guardian.)
Yes, the argumentative Mr. Greenwald and the often obnoxious Mr. Assange don’t just have opinions, they tend to rub our mainstream noses in them. During the course of their collaboration and coverage of the WikiLeaks investigation, Mr. Assange and Bill Keller, then the executive editor of The Times, traded some rather memorable barbs. (I understand some of the antagonism: I was at a very proper lunch in the English countryside with Mr. Assange and he announced to the table that he thought the primary requirements for being a journalist at The New York Times were the ability to lie and obfuscate. Why thank you, Mr. Assange. Now could you pass the salad, please?)
In a phone interview, Mr. Keller suggested that he “let Julian get under my skin a little more than I should have.” But he said that Mr. Assange should be afforded the protections given to any journalist.
Mr. Keller said the relationship with sources and competitors on coverage was always fraught with peril, but technology has created significant disruption to both the business model and the practice of journalism.
“Stuff that used to happen in a sedate place with a kind of Robert’s Rules of Order have now turned into the World Wrestling Federation, with everybody piling into the ring and throwing punches,” he said. “There has been a tendency for people used to a more decorous world to bristle at the characters who have acquired prominence in this new world.”
The reflex is understandable, but by dwelling on who precisely deserves to be called a journalist and legally protected as such, critics within the press are giving the current administration a justification for their focus on the ethics of disclosure rather than the morality of government behavior.
“I think the people in our business who are suspicious of Glenn Greenwald and critical of David Miranda are not really thinking this through,” said Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief of The Guardian.
“The governments are conflating journalism with terrorism and using national security to engage in mass surveillance. The implications just in terms of how journalism is practiced are enormous.”
If the revelations about the N.S.A. surveillance were broken by Time, CNN or The New York Times, executives there would already be building new shelves to hold all the Pulitzer Prizes and Peabodies they expected. Same with the 2010 WikiLeaks video of the Apache helicopter attack.
Instead, the journalists and organizations who did that work find themselves under attack, not just from a government bent on keeping its secrets, but from friendly fire by fellow journalists. What are we thinking?;
Twitter: @carr2n

Social Security Works

When our elected officials stand up for us, it’s important that we stand with them. Recently, over 300,000 people stood with Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Mark Begich (D-AK) to expand, not cut, Social Security. We need you to add your name today.

Join Senators Harkin and Begich and over 300,000 people in demanding that Congress expand, not cut, Social Security.

Senators Harkin and Begich have proposed legislation that would:

  • Increase cost of living adjustments (COLAs), not decrease them. Instead of cutting benefits through a Chained CPI formula, Senators Harkin and Begich have proposed using a benefit formula designed specifically to take into account seniors’ rising living expenses such as healthcare, food, and housing.
  • Increase Social Security benefits for almost all recipients by approximately $70 per month, or $800 a year. Senator Harkin’s bill would reform the benefit formula for all beneficiaries, but target those most in need. This would result in an across the board benefit increase, with the most going to those in the lower and middle classes.
  • Ensure that the wealthy are paying their fair share into Social Security. Currently, Americans are only paying Social Security payroll taxes on their first $113,700. That means that Wall Street CEOs are not paying the same rate as the rest of us. By lifting the payroll tax cap on Social Security, we can extend the life of Social Security for decades to come while expanding benefits.
Show Senators Harkin and Begich that we have their backs. Join over 300,000 people today and demand that Congress expand, not cut, Social Security.
When Congress reconvenes next month, it’s critical that our elected officials know where we stand. Thank you for taking action and for supporting two Social Security champions.

Alex Lawson
Social Security Works

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Help Stop Corporate World Government And The Destruction Of Citizens' Rights

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We can stop the TPP.

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Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said that if the contents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were known, it could not be passed because it would be so unpopular.[1]

Under the TPP, foreign or domestic corporations could force governments to change their laws on healthcare, the environment, banking, or other public policies -- by appealing to a special tribunal of three corporate lawyers accountable to no voters, no precedents, and no appeals process.

We know this thanks to some brave whistleblower. We haven't seen the full text, but 600 corporate lawyers have seen it and are helping to write it.

Tell Congress and the President to make the text of the TPP public.

The World Trade Organization has been stopped in its tracks for years, and 16 other corporate trade agreements have been stopped by U.S. public opposition. To stop the TPP, we must demand that it be made public and that Congress refuse to allow fast-track (a process that puts the agreement to a vote without amendments or serious debate).

Click here to tell the President and Congress not to fast track the TPP, and to let us see it.

The TPP would provide special benefits to, and eliminate risks for, companies that offshore jobs. The TPP would push wages downward. The TPP would impose limits on labeling food to let you know where it comes from or how it was produced; the only way to know may be if you grow it or buy it from a neighbor who grew it.[2] But the odds will be stacked even more heavily against the small farmer if the TPP is enacted.

Corporations would be able to overturn domestic patent and drug-pricing laws. The big drug companies would be able to raise prices with extended monopolies over drugs and over surgical procedures. Internet censorship, defeated in Congress, would be snuck through within the TPP. Serious bank regulation or a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions would be forbidden.

These flaws in the TPP are just scratching the surface of this disastrous piece of legislation. And it has no up-side. Tell Congress and the President to make the TPP public. If it's as good as they seem to think, what have they got to lose?

Please forward this email widely to like-minded friends.

-- The team

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013, OpEdNews

It is 2015 -- Hello from Camp FEMA!
By Eugene Elander

A tongue-in-cheek tale from a future FEMS detention camp for malcontents -- no, it is not really funny, it is a terribly sad time for America.::::::::

Hello, Amerika, from Camp FEMA! No, I am not here voluntarily. Rather, as the Second Obama Term has moved along now in 2015, some FEMA troopers came and arrested me in the middle of the night, shoved me into a van, and so here I am somewhere in Louisiana in the dessicated remains of one of those FEMA trailers brought in to supposedly aid Hurricane Katrina victims. Many of us former FEMA Disaster Assistance Employees wondered what would end up being done with those trailers; now I know. They are now inside a high barbed wire fence with control towers at the corners.

I have also learned the true meaning of FEMA: Federal Executive Malcontent Assignment. That bit of information came from the Camp FEMA Commandant, who wears a storm trooper uniform, carries a swagger stick, and whistles that catchy tune from The Bridge on the River Kwai a lot. Nobody knows the real name of the Commandant, so we just call him FEMA Freddie. Oh, yes, there are lots of other Malcontents here, all rounded up in the dead of night and now put into preventive detention, for our own good, supposedly. There are no charges, no trials, no other judicial proceedings, and we have no rights, no protections, no appeals -- and no activities. We just sit here and slowly rot in the hot swamp.

Looks like it was not a good idea writing all of those critiques of the Obama Administration policies while Obama was breaking most of his Presidential promises -- like putting major provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act on indefinite hold, weakening most of our environmental protections and authorizing drilling and fracking anywhere and everywhere, appointing the worst of the worst Wall Street insiders to key financial and economic positions, giving in to the Tea Party reactionaries in Congress so often until he could no longer straighten his spine, and a host of other disappointments and abuses of trust, of his oath of office, of Constitutional and Civil rights, and of the American people.

Still, even knowing how little tolerance the Obama Administration has for dissent and dissenters, I thought that -- as a lifelong Democrat and former Obama supporter -- I would be safe from the rumored FEMA preventive detention camps. Obviously, my judgment on that matter was fatally flawed. In fact, Commandant FEMA Freddie told me that people like me are the worst type of malcontents, because we have more credibility than those who never supported President Obama, and never will -- we are apostates and betrayers, according to Freddie, who compares us to Judas.

Guess some of us are slow learners, though, as here I go putting a note into a Coke bottle and tossing it into the nearby swamp, hoping that it will eventually find its way to the Gulf of Mexico and float to some free country -- which is surely no longer Amerika. But I sure hope that nobody catches me writing or floating this note, as FEMA Freddie told me that it would be Guantanamo next time....

Poland, Malbork Castle

Poland, Torun

Poland, Crakow, View of Jagellionian University

Ireland, Rock of Cashel

Ireland, Muckross House, Ring of Kerry

Ireland, Galway

Obama Continues To Show What He's Really Made Of



By davidswanson - Posted on 20 August 2013

By Inder Comar
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., (Aug. 20, 2013) — In court papers filed today (PDF), the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.
Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.
"The DOJ claims that in planning and waging the Iraq War, ex-President Bush and key members of his Administration were acting within the legitimate scope of their employment and are thus immune from suit,” chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said.
The “Westfall Act certification,” submitted pursuant to the Westfall Act of 1988, permits the Attorney General, at his or her discretion, to substitute the United States as the defendant and essentially grant absolute immunity to government employees for actions taken within the scope of their employment.
In her lawsuit, Saleh alleges that:
-- Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz began planning the Iraq War in 1998 through their involvement with the “Project for the New American Century,” a Washington DC non-profit that advocated for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
-- Once they came to power, Saleh alleges that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz convinced other Bush officials to invade Iraq by using 9/11 as an excuse to mislead and scare the American public into supporting a war.
-- Finally, she claims that the United States failed to obtain United Nations approval prior to the invasion, rendering the invasion illegal and an act of impermissible aggression.
“The good news is that while we were disappointed with the certification, we were prepared for it,” Comar stated. “We do not see how a Westfall Act certification is appropriate given that Ms. Saleh alleges that the conduct at issue began prior to these defendants even entering into office. I think the Nuremberg prosecutors, particularly American Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson, would be surprised to learn that planning a war of aggression at a private non-profit, misleading a fearful public, and foregoing proper legal authorization somehow constitute lawful employment duties for the American president and his or her cabinet.”
The case is Saleh v. Bush (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST).