CAP has emerged as perhaps the most influential of all think tanks during the Obama era, and there’s been a rapidly revolving door between it and the administration. CAP is also among the most secretive of all think tanks concerning its donors. Most major think tanks prepare an annual report containing at least some financial and donor information and make it available on their websites. According to CAP spokeswoman Andrea Purse, the center doesn’t even publish one.
Weird. ThinkProgress always seemed so independent and non-partisan.
The Pentagon hasn’t come close to solving the PTSD crisis plaguing the current generation of troops. But a cutting-edge realm of treatment might change that — by wiping away the fear that military personnel associate with traumatic memories.
The Pentagon this week announced an $11 million grant for three research institutions, all of them long-time hubs for the military’s ongoing PTSD investigations. Experts at Emory University, the University of Southern California and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center will study the effectiveness of D-Cycloserine (DCS). DCS is a pharmaceutical thought to help extinguish fearful memories. It’s usually taken right before exposure therapy, a process that involves recalling traumatic experiences in an effort to nullify the menacing associations that accompany them.
“We already know that exposure therapy is an effective [therapy] for PTSD, and we want to figure out how to optimize it,” Dr. Barbara Rothbaum, who will lead the Emory team’s research, told Danger Room. “I really think that this study will move beyond the theoretical. We can rescue people.”
… [One] research team will also be conducting genetic tests on every patient. In particular, they’ll be looking at a gene dubbed “BDNF.” Experts already know that a variant of the BDNF gene can make fear extinction tougher. By comparing patient results to genes, Rothbaum says they hope to “figure out what’s the best treatment approach, and whether DCS can really rescue those patients, where maybe therapy alone can’t.”
Of course, the idea of using drugs to tweak memories isn’t without controversy: An online debate flared last year among two camps of neurologists and neuroethicists, arguing over whether the existence of such drugs would “alter something that makes us all human,” or open a Pandora’s Box of illicit use “by people doing things they’d like to forget themselves, or that they would like others to forget.”
Then again, those debates hinge on DCS, or some other memory extinguisher, actually working. DCS’s efficacy is far from proven. And earlier research efforts that tested supposed “fear-extinguishing” drugs, most notably a series of much-touted, Pentagon-funded studies on Propanolol at Harvard, have all been disappointments.
Outraged against austerity, students & teachers in Philadelphia resist the machine of capitalism
May 17, 2013
Dozens to hundreds of Philadelphia students, teachers and school staff protested outside one of the city’s premiere high schools in an effort to fight proposed budget cuts to the district.
Wearing signs and handing out pamphlets to drivers, members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers lined the sidewalk outside the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts along South Broad Street Friday morning. The teachers are fighting a series of severe budget cuts proposed by the district to close a more than $300 million funding gap. The proposed cuts include ending arts and music programs, sports and cutting auxiliary staff like secretaries, librarians and counselors.
“With the austere budgets schools have received, schools will not be able to provide a high-quality education for Philadelphia’s children,” said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Jordan says the teacher’s union has been discussing labor concessions with the district. However, he says a concession that results teachers taking a pay cut is a non-starter.
“The school district is asking for salary cuts for all PFT members of anywhere between 5, 10 and 13-percent,” he said. “I don’t think that you’ll find employee in the school district and the PFT…who are going to tell you that they can afford to take that kind of pay cut.”
The teacher protest is just the first of many demonstrations planned Friday over the funding flap.
Students from Philadelphia public schools around the city have also walked out of class and are marching on the School District of Philadelphia and Philadelphia City Hall. Similar walkouts were organized last week by students, who also marched on the same spots.
District spokesman Fernando Gallard says staff will not stop students from walking out, but says officials have asked principals remind students that leaving early will results in being marked as cutting. “Schools will follow the district’s attendance policy and will take the appropriate action which triggers at least a phone call to parents to notify them of the student’s absence, a request for a parent conference at the school, or after school detention,” he said.
Students are using Twitter to organize and document their protests. The group Philly Student Union is promoting the hashtag #walkout215 as a digital rally point during the event.
A 75-year-old man stabbed to death yards from his home may have been targeted in a racially motivated attack, according to police.
Mohammed Saleem, who used a walking stick, was stabbed three times in the back as he returned home from prayers at his local mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham, on Monday, April 29th.
The blows were struck with such violence they penetrated to the front of his body.
The father of seven also had no defensive wounds in what has been described as a swift, vicious and cowardly attack by the man leading the murder investigation, Detective Superintendent Mark Payne of West Midlands police.
In 2008, a military recruitment center in Times Square, Manhattan was bombed. Five years later, a young, self-identified anarchist who has not been accused of participating in that bombing refused to appear before a grand jury and went to prison.
Jerry Koch was first subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in 2009. He refused. He was subpoenaed again, and once again refused. A website set up to support his defiance contains a statement from Jerry, which reads in part:
I refused to testify [in 2009] based on the assertion of my First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, as I will be doing again for the duration of this grand jury. During the first grand jury, the government informed my lawyers that it was believed that I was at a bar in 2008 or 2009 where a patron indicated knowledge of who had committed the bombing. When I was first subpoenaed to the grand jury in 2009 I had no recollection of any such incident— a fact that I expressed publicly. Now, almost 4 years later, I still do not recall the alleged situation.
No matter that Jerry hasn’t been accused of having anything to do with the 2008 bombing, the prosecutors wanted him to testify on the record about overhearing something at a bar — something Jerry says he doesn’t remember.
So why is the prosecutor so intent to interrogate Jerry before the grand jury?
Koch believes that the grand jury is being used as a political weapon, to glean information about New York City anarchists. Prosecutors “are engaged in a ‘fishing expedition’ to gain information concerning my personal beliefs and political associations,” he says.
Over the past few decades, the FBI has demonstrated a consistent pattern of harassment and illegal surveillance of anarchists and other radicals not only here in New York, but also across the country. Throughout this time, federal grand juries (incredibly secretive proceedings that do not permit one’s lawyers to be present) have played a significant role; a federal grand jury is authorized to ask questions about anything and anyone, and often the declared intention is simply a mask to disguise the actual goal of acquiring information for use in other politically motivated cases. It is my belief that these two federal grand juries—despite the pretense of investigation into the 2008 bombing—are actually being used to gain information about my friends, loved ones, and activists for whom I have done legal support. By declining to testify, I refuse to be coerced into participating in a political witch-hunt that eerily recalls those of the McCarthy era Red Scare.
I again assert that I have no knowledge of who is responsible for the 2008 Times Square Military Recruitment Center bombing, and I will once again refuse to testify to the federal grand jury in ethical resistance to participation in a fruitless exercise of fear-mongering and government intimidation. My decision to stay silent in defense of individual agency will most likely result in incarceration for a period up to 18 months. I accept this recompense, understanding that in doing so I will reinforce a tradition of defending individual rights in the face of state repression.
Israeli military commanders and parliament members argued Wednesday in favor of changing regulations for soldiers operating in the West Bank in front of a Knesset committee, claiming that the rules governing their actions against Palestinians were too restrictive.
According to the Israeli daily Maariv, three reserve commanders – Amram Mitzna, Danny Yatom and Uzi Dayan – spoke during a Knesset security committee meeting, saying that Israel should address a situation deemed dangerous by Israeli soldiers and field commanders.
Knesset member Moshe Feiglin said Israeli forces felt “impotent” when facing Palestinian demonstrations because of regulations restricting their possible response, Maariv reported.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon spoke of increasing incidents of soldier injuries, adding that the Israeli army needed to do everything it could to reverse the trend.
Nissim Zeev, a Knesset member and member of the ultra-Orthodox political party Shas, said that “there is nowhere else in the world where soldiers in a situation of confronting the enemy are powerless.”
Zeev described the situation in the West Bank as one of “asymmetrical warfare” in which he claimed the well-armed Israeli troops were disadvantaged when faced against Palestinian protesters.
Israeli occupation forces routinely use an arsenal of live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and skunk water against Palestinians, even during peaceful demonstrations. Palestinians protesters typically respond by throwing rocks and occasional molotov cocktails.
Wednesday’s session was attended by the chief of Israeli forces’ central command, along with heads of West Bank Jewish settlement councils and chief security officers.
According to Maariv, the security committee will hold a closed-door meeting to be attended by the Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Yaalon. The participants will address possible means to “restore Israeli forces’ deterrence and dignity in the West Bank” and give Israeli soldiers more leeway in their dealings with Palestinians.
Since January 2009, Israeli forces have killed 59 Palestinians – including 14 youths aged 18 and under – in the occupied West Bank, while Israeli settlers have killed five, according to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem.
In January, 15-year-old Salih al-Amarin from the Azza refugee camp near Bethlehem, was shot in the head and killed during a protest, and a week earlier, Samir Ahmed Abdul-Rahim,17, was shot four times and killed by Israeli soldiers in Budrus, near Ramallah.
In April, Amer Nassar, 17, and Naji al-Balbisi,19, were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Tulkarem.
On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers shot 12-year old Atta Sharadeh in the chest while he was walking with school friends near Ramallah. Sharadeh was in sent to the hospital in critical condition.
… [T]his is not about costs; that’s just a cover story. It’s about further privatizing the public schools, destroying the union, and destabilizing neighborhoods full of people that the mayor and his big business cronies would, ultimately, like to expel from the city, entirely. The teachers know it, and so does a growing portion of the community, who have joined in common cause.
The teachers have filed two class action suits against the closings, and the mayor’s school board appointees were set to take a pro-forma vote on the matter, on Wednesday. However, the teachers union fully understands that they are engaged in a political battle royalwith forces that are bigger than the mayor’s office. Philadelphia and cities across the country face near-identical assaults on their public schools, part of a full-fledged austerity offensive by corporate America. The Lords of Capital are privatizing, financializing, monetizing and de-unionizing everything.
American racism makes inner city public schools an easier target, and the privatizers have a great ally in President Barack Obama. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is best known as Obama’s former chief of staff, but he also made millions as an investment banker. Wall Street hedge funders and other speculators are betting heavily on school privatization as the next great investment frontier. Chicago’s teachers are attempting to build a community fight-back coalition that can break the stranglehold of corporate rule, and serve as an example to teachers unions and Black and brown communities across the nation. In the fight against austerity, and for community control of schools, the Chicago Teachers Union is on front line.
Congress moved closer here Wednesday to imposing a full trade embargo against Iran and pledged its support to Israel if it felt compelled to attack Tehran’s nuclear programme in self-defence.
The Senate voted 99-0 to adopt a resolution that urged President Barack Obama to fully enforce existing economic sanctions against Iran and to “provide diplomatic, military and economic support” to Israel “in its defense of its territory, people and existence”.
Washington, it said, should support Israel “in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force” if Israel “is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
The measure also re-affirmed the official policy of the administration of President Barack Obama that it would take whatever action necessary to “prevent” Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
At the same time, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Republican-led House of Representatives unanimously approved new sanctions legislation that, if passed into law, would blacklist foreign countries or companies that fail to reduce their oil imports from Iran to virtually nil within 180 days.
The same bill would expand the current blacklisting of companies that do business with Iran’s financial sector to include those engaged in the country’s automotive and mining sectors, as well.
In perhaps its most controversial section, the bill also eliminates President Obama’s ability to waive most sanctions for national-interest or national-security reasons. [++]
Today is a day of mourning for the children of Chicago. Their education has been hijacked by an unrepresentative, unelected corporate school board, acting at the behest of a mayor who has no vision for improving the education of our children. Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.
This is bad governance. CPS has consistently undermined school communities and sabotaged teachers and parents. Their actions have had a horrible domino effect. More than 40,000 students will lose at least three to six months of learning because of the Board’s actions. Because many of them will now have to travel into new neighborhoods to continue their schooling, some will be victims of bullying, physical assault and other forms of violence. Board members are wishing for a world that does not exist and have ignored the reality of the world we live in today. Who on the Board will be held responsible? Who at City Hall will be held responsible?
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis commenting on today’s news that the Board of Education has voted to close 50 Chicago public schools.
While only around 40 percent of children in Chicago are black are Latino, 90 percent of children whose schools will be shuttered are black or Latino.
Antiwar.com is taking the FBI to court.
The website’s founder and managing editor Eric Garris, along with longtime editorial director Justin Raimondo, filed a lawsuit in federal court today, demanding the release of records they believe the FBI is keeping on them and the 17-year-old online magazine.
Antiwar.com says this is one more example of post-9/11 government overreach, and a stark reminder that the First Amendment has been treated as little more than a speed bump on the road to a government surveillance state. The lawsuit is particularly timely, considering recent scandals in which the Department of Justice secretly seized months of journalists’ phone records at the Associated Press, and did the same and more to a FOX News reporter, while the IRS is acknowledging it singled out conservative groups that criticize the government for extra scrutiny.
Suddenly, the press is more aware than ever that the state has the ability to secretly monitor its activities, heretofore thought of as constitutionally protected from government interference and intimidation.
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy, whether it’s AP or Antiwar.com,” said Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which is representing Antiwar.com in the case. “FBI surveillance of news organizations interferes with journalists’ ability to do their jobs as watchdogs that hold the government accountable.”
The suit was filed on Tuesday at the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. Both Garris and Raimondo live and work in the San Francisco Bay area.
According to the suit, the ACLU has made several futile attempts to obtain the FBI files since a reader alerted Garris and Raimondo to this lengthy FBI memo in 2011. The details in question begin at page 62 of the heavily redacted 94-page document. It’s clear from these documents, the suit alleges, that the FBI has files on Garris and Raimondo, and at one point the FBI agent writing the April 30, 2004 memo on Antiwar.com recommends further monitoring of the website in the form of opening a “preliminary investigation …to determine if [redaction] are engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to national security.”
“On one hand it seemed almost funny that we would be considered a threat to national security, but it’s very scary, because what we are engaging in is free speech, and free speech by ordinary citizens and journalists is now being considered a threat to national security and they don’t have to prove it because the government has the ability to suppress information and not disclose any of their activities – as witnessed with what is going on now at the AP and other things,” said Garris.
“The government’s attitude is they want to know all, but they want the public to know as little as possible.” [continue]
Nothing will be left to chance – even the hint of a green protest wave.
In 2009, 475 candidates registered to run for Iran’s presidency. Only four were approved by the Guardian Council – the all-powerful, vetting clerical committee. This year, no fewer than 686 registered for the upcoming June 14 elections. Eight were approved.
Among them, one won’t find the two who are really controversial; former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, aka “The Shark” – essentially a pragmatic conservative – and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, adviser and right-hand man to outgoing President Mahmud Ahmadinejad are both out.
Those who will run are not exactly a stellar bunch; former vice president Mohammad Reza Aref; former national security chief Hassan Rowhani; former telecommunications minister Mohammad Gharazi; the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili; Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf; the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati; secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei; and Parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel.
But they do read like a who’s who of ultimate Islamic Republic insiders – the so-called “principle-ists”.
According to the Interior Ministry, The Shark is out because of his advanced age (78). Not really. The Shark is out because he was the top moderate running – and was already catalyzing the support of most (excluded) reformists.
Mashaei is out because he would represent an Ahmadinejad continuum – supported by quite a few of Ahmadinejad’s cabinet ministers and profiting from a formidable populist political machine that still seduces Iran’s countryside and the urban poor. He would deepen Ahmadinejad’s drive for an independent executive. This may not be a done deal – yet. Both Rafsanjani and Mashaei cannot, in theory, appeal. But the Supreme Leader himself could lend them a hand. That’s unlikely, though.
Rafsanjani waited for the last day, May 11, to register as a potential candidate. Former president Khatami – of “dialogue of civilizations” fame – did not register, and announced his support for Rafsanjani the day before. One can imaginealarm bells ringing at the Supreme Leader’s abode.
The Shark was recently reconfirmed as chairman of the powerful Expediency Council – which oversees the government (Khamenei had this post while Ayatollah Khomeini was still alive). This may be interpreted as a sort of consolation prize.
Ahmadinejad, for his part, had been hinting at blackmail – threatening to spill all the beans on corruption by the Supreme Leader’s family. He will hardly be handed any favors.
Assuming the Supreme Leader remains immobile, himself and his subordinates across the conservative political elite do run a serious risk – that of totally alienating two very significant political factions in the Islamic Republic. By then, arguably the Guardian Council will have cleared the field for an easy victory by the former Revolutionary Guard Air Force commander and current Mayor of Tehran Qalibaf.
Qalibaf would be the ultimate politically correct vehicle for what I have described since 2009 as the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat – that is, the grip on Iran’s institutional life by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and conservative clerics under the real decider, Supreme Leader Khamenei.
This report alludes to the not exactly gentle side of Qalibaf. That, in itself, is not surprising. Infinitely more crucial is the question of whether Khamenei and the ultra-conservatives can afford to remain ensconced in an ivory tower as the internal economic situation deteriorates further and a vociferous Sunni Arab axis – amply instigated by the US and supported by Israel – is barking at Iran’s doors. [continue]