“We did it in ’68.”
Hopsicker on the SunCruz mob/murder/republican trial happening in Florida:
“Wrote one optimistic pundit, “Murder trumps fraud in the prosecutorial world.” But neither Abramoff or Adam Kidan was ever named as a suspect. The answer to “why not Kidan?” is easy.
No one would be able to convince a jury that the buck stopped with him. (Kidan was the man, after all, who wrote checks(totaling $200,000) to pay for the hit.) That meant charging Abramoff.”
This was a surprising film, as I hadn’t expected much. Turns out that if you can get past the neon orange skin colors, a Michael Bay trademark, the story is very dynamic and well spun.
These wacky characters are well developed over the course of their crime spree. The story is based on true events, by the way, and not just a muscle exploitation opportunity, as the trailer appeared to be. This is a serious crime film with darkly comedic overtones.
In some ways it’s a classic gangster scenario, getting roped into more serious consequences as ambition takes over. It pits the American dream ideal, sold on TV by arrogant millionaire huckster Johnny Wu, against the reality of working class insignificance. It pits notions of American meritocracy against get rich quick thievery. It flips the characters somewhat, so that the likable protagonists are the bad guys, and a very unlikable mark is the antagonist, but also the hero in a way. It’s an uncomfortable mess of a situation and hard to believe that it could actually have transpired.
The East has come out on DVD this past week, and home is likely to be the place most people will see it. The film is a mixed bag, some interesting ideas about corporate power and abuse, but ultimately it suffers from a plodding pace and predictability.
Brit Marling’s previous film, The Sound of My Voice, also rambled along at a snail’s pace, and it begs the question if she and her partners in crime are not putting enough plot in to fill up a full-length feature film. It seems The East was better thought out than Voice, but I still felt constrained by budget and limited locations for the middle section of the movie. They linger far too long at an abandoned, ruined house, and it tries your patience.
What’s more, and probably the true deal breaker, The East group never really sold me that it was genuine. This anarchist cult seemed more like Hollywood’s version of a rebel movement, and a lot of obligatory moments and forced on the nose dialogue kept me at arm’s length. Wearing your movement on your sleeve is a sign of bad writing, lacking subtext, and the film seemed to veer this way and that, but kept taking me out of the story with forced bits of dialogue.
The major “jam,” targeting one of the member’s fathers, also felt so contrived and given short shrift that it sunk the film at the moment things should have escalated to the next level up. That sequence failed, and it felt like not enough thought had been put into the entire film. As Kirsten said, “It fizzled at the end.”
Not sure the end is where it fizzled, but yes there is an anti-climactic wrap-up that should have been staged better. The larger ideas clicked at the ending, but the execution not so much.
The East could have been a much grittier, more raw tour de force, and it probably should have been. Instead there is a cleanliness, a neat pat style that works against the film. It far too easily mingles at luxury parties and corporate headquarters. That was one of the film’s points, but it tainted the rest of the movie, which lacked realism and authenticity. I never bought, for a second, that I was watching anything other than actors reading lines.
Take from that what you will. The East, a victim of its own slick production and budget, perhaps amounting to anarcho-exploitation rather than any meaningful examination of corporate crimes against humanity.
I’m not a fan of revenge stories, particularly horror torture porn revenge stories. Yuk. I did see I Spit on Your Grave many years ago, and so what the article says about it resonated.
It also inspired new ideas on how to portray this situation without exploiting it.
Secret plea bargain reduces life imprisonment to “time served” just like that. ..
U.S. Army veteran charged with conspiracy to help terrorists in Syria pleads to lesser count
“A U.S. Army veteran accused of fighting alongside a Syrian rebel group linked to al-Qaeda and charged with conspiracies that could have landed him in prison for life pleaded guilty Thursday to a less onerous count and was given a sentence of “time served,” court records show.”
“Harroun pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate arms control laws and prosecutors dropped the most serious charges, court records show.
It remains unclear what prompted the deal and whether the rapidly shifting political climate in Syria had an effect on the case. The plea agreement and statement of facts are both sealed.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the case is filed, declined to comment. Harroun’s defense attorney also declined to comment.”
I guess that puts another admitted terrorist back on the street. Good work, “justice” dept. Hope he doesn’t blow shit up here in America, where Obama’s “justice” dept is releasing him.
Can’t go around prosecuting people for giving material support to Al Nusra Terrorists when Obama himself just declared that law null and void on Sept. 16th.
You can’t write this shit. People would find it implausible in a fucking movie.
Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling cross paths in an edgy drama that brings much intensity. The film is a decent effort about cops and robbers and the blurry lines separating the two.
What works in Pines is the semi-unique structure, telling three stories, although each is obliquely tied to the others. It’s a three in one rather ambitious effort that feels real, as if this could have happened. Dialogue is natural and the acting believable as we follow along an unfortunate series of events and ruined lives.
The Place Beyond the Pines is out on DVD this week.
“In no case shall information be classified… in order to: conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency… or prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.”
—Executive Order 13526, Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations
“Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is this awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.”
—Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense
PFC Bradley Manning is a US Army intelligence specialist who released classified information to WikiLeaks, an organization that he understood would release portions of the information to news organizations and ultimately to the public.
Was the information that PFC Manning leaked classified for our protection and national security, as government officials contend? Or do the revelations provide the American public with information that we should have had access to in the first place? Just what are these revelations? Below are some key facts that PFC Manning have helped reveal to the public.
There is an official policy to ignore torture in Iraq.
The “Iraq War Logs” published by WikiLeaks revealed that thousands of reports of prisoner abuse and torture had been filed against the Iraqi Security Forces. Medical evidence detailed how prisoners had been whipped with heavy cables across the feet, hung from ceiling hooks, suffered holes being bored into their legs with electric drills, urinated upon, and sexually assaulted. These logs also revealed the existence of “Frago 242,” an order implemented in 2004 not to investigate allegations of abuse against the Iraqi government. This order is a direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by the United States in 1994. The Convention prohibits the Armed Forces from transferring a detainee to other countries “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” According to the State Department’s own reports, the U.S. government was already aware that the Iraqi Security Forces engaged in torture (1).
U.S. defense contractors were brought under much tighter supervision after leaked diplomatic cables revealed that they had been complicit in child trafficking activities. DynCorp — a powerful defense contracting firm that claims almost $2 billion per year in revenue from U.S. tax dollars — threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring boys purchased from child traffickers for entertainment. DynCorp had already faced human trafficking charges before this incident took place. According to the cables, Afghan Interior minister Hanif Atmar urged the assistant US ambassador to “quash” the story. These revelations have been a driving factor behind recent calls for the removal of all U.S. defense contractors from Afghanistan (2).
Guantanamo prison has held mostly innocent people and low-level operatives.
The Guantanamo Files describe how detainees were arrested based on what the New York Times referred to as highly subjective evidence. For example, some poor farmers were captured after they were found wearing a common watch or a jacket that was the same as those also worn by Al Queda operatives. How quickly innocent prisoners were released was heavily dependent on their country of origin. Because the evidence collected against Guantanamo prisoners is not permissible in U.S. courts, the U.S. State Department has offered millions of dollars to other countries to take and try our prisoners. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable written on April 17, 2009, the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners requested that the National Court indict six former U.S. officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture against five Spanish prisoners at Guantanamo. However, “Senator Mel Martinez… met Acting FM [Foreign Minister] Angel Lossada… on April 15. Martinez… underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the U.S. and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship” (3).
There is an official tally of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even though the Bush and Obama Administrations maintained publicly that there was no official count of civilian casualties, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs showed that this claim was false. Between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. government counted a total of 109,000 deaths in Iraq, with 66,081 classified as non-combatants. This means that for every Iraqi death that is classified as a combatant, two innocent men, women or children are also killed (4).
U.S. Military officials withheld information about the indiscriminate killing of Reuters journalists and innocent Iraqi civilians.
The “Collateral Murder” video released by Wikileaks depicted the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two journalists working for Reuters. The Reuters news organization has repeatedly been denied in its attempts to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters photographer and his rescuers. Two young children who were present in the attempted rescue were also seriously wounded. Ethan McCord, a U.S. army soldier who can be seen in the video carrying wounded children to safety, has said that whoever revealed this video is a “hero.” An internal U.S. military investigation concluded that the incident was consistent with the military’s “Rules of Engagement.” (5)
The State Department backed corporate opposition to a Haitian minimum wage law.
Leaked diplomatic cables show that in 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince pushed then-Haitian President Rene Preval to come out in support of powerful textile manufacturers who sought to block a popular minimum wage increase. These factory owners, who produce apparel for large brands like Nike and Nautica, had benefitted from recent free trade agreements that had severely lowered wages and working conditions in Haiti. A series of cables show that the US Embassy closely monitored the movements and activities of student protestors supporting the $5/day minimum wage bill. The bill’s supporters had argued that the increase was justified in light of rising inflation and food costs that had led to widespread starvation. According to the leaked cables, the U.S. delegation dismissed the proposed minimum wage increase as nothing more than a populist measure aimed at appeasing “the unemployed and underpaid masses.” Ultimately, the U.S. delegation succeeded in their efforts when President Preval agreed to block the increase (6).
The U.S. Government had long been faking its public support for Tunisian President Ben Ali.
The Tunisian people were already well aware of the corruption plaguing the autocratic ruling family, which for decades had abused their rights. However, the United States government had long presented a public image of strong support for the Ben Ali regime. The U.S. campaign of unwavering public support for President Ali led to a widespread belief among the Tunisian people that it would be very difficult to dislodge the autocratic regime from power. This view was shattered when leaked cables exposed the U.S. government’s private assessment: that the U.S. would not support the regime in the event of a popular uprising. While extreme economic hardship and popular discontent with rights abuses had already set the stage for an uprising, this new information played a critical role in transforming the landscape of political possibilities in Tunisia. The Tunisian people finally realized that, contrary to the U.S. government’s public relations efforts, they weren’t really up against the full force of the world’s superpower. Within one month, Ben Ali became the first Arab leader to be swept from power in the ongoing democratic movements in the region (7).
Known Egyptian torturers received training from the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.
According to a leaked diplomatic cable from Cairo, the head of Egypt’s notorious State Security Investigative Service (SSIS) thanked FBI Deputy Director John Pistole for the “excellent and strong” cooperation between the two agencies. In particular, the FBI’s training sessions in Quantico, Virginia were of “great benefit” to his interrogators. Another cable documented what the US embassy considered “credible” allegations of human rights violations by the SSIS, including torturing prisoners with “electric shocks and sleep deprivation to reduce them to a ‘zombie state’” (8). After the autocratic Mubarak regime was driven from power in the recent Egyptian Revolution, protestors stormed the “Amn Dawla” headquarters of the SSIS to uncover further evidence of torture and abuse. They posted these documents on their own site, known as “Amn Dawla Leaks.”
The State Department authorized the theft of the UN Secretary General’s DNA.
According to the “National Humint Collection Directive,” a secret document that was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and published by WikiLeaks, US diplomats were authorized to collect “biometric” and other sensitive information from top UN officials as well as UN representatives from other nations. The leaked documents show that “biometric data” specifically included samples of the officials’ DNA, among other forms of personally identifying information. They also ordered diplomats to collect credit card information and secure passwords. These activities contravene the 1946 UN Convention (9).
The Japanese and U.S. Governments had been warned about the seismic threat at Fukushima.
A cable from December 2008 showed that officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency had warned the government about the danger posed by potential seismic activity in the area. The official stated that Japan’s “safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years.” He also noted that the government had fought against a court order to close down another nuclear facility that was not adequately prepared for an earthquake. After being ignored by the Japanese government, the IAEA official also warned the U.S. ambassador to Japan about the looming threat from possible earthquake damage. These warnings went unheeded. The International Atomic Energy Agency has now ranked the Fukushima disaster as severe as Chernobyl (10).
The Obama Administration allowed Yemen’s President to cover up a secret U.S. drone bombing campaign.
Since December 2009, President Obama has authorized a secret drone bombing campaign in Yemen. A year later, WikiLeaks revealed that Yemen’s President Saleh had agreed that his regime would “continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.” These drone strikes have killed large numbers of civilians. One of the strikes that occurred shortly before the cable in question was written had killed 55 people, 41 of whom were classified as civilians (21 of these were children) according to a report by Amnesty International (11). This US military operation in Yemen, which persists to this day, has not been officially acknowledged by our government.
“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” – United States founding father Patrick Henry (1775)
Compiled by the Bradley Manning Support Network.
(1) Alex Spillius, “Wikileaks: Iraq War Logs show US ignored torture allegations,” Telegraph, October 22, 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/8082223/Wikileaks-Iraq-War-Logs-show-US-ignored-torture-allegations.html
(2) Foreign contractors hired Afghan ‘dancing boys’, WikiLeaks cable reveals,” guardian.co.uk, December 2, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/02/foreign-contractors-hired-dancing-boys
(3) Scott Shane and Benjamin Weiser, “The Guatanamo Files: Judging Detainees’ Risk, Often With Flawed Evidence,” New York Times, April 24, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/world/guantanamo-files-flawed-evidence-for-assessing-risk.html; “US embassy cables: Don’t pursue Guantánamo criminal case, says Spanish attorney general,” guardian.co.uk, December 1, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/202776 (4) Iraq War Logs Reveal 15,000 Previously Unlisted Civilian Deaths,” guardian.co.uk, October 22, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/22/true-civilian-body-count-iraq (5) Steven Clarke and Joseph Bamat, “Leaked video shows US military killing of civilians, Reuters staff,” France 24, July 27, 2010, http://www.france24.com/en/20100406-leaked-video-shows-us-military-killing-civilians-reuters-staff (6) Robert Johnson, “WIKILEAKS: U.S. Fought to Lower Minimum Wage in Haiti So Hanes and Levis Would Stay Cheap,” Business Insider, June 3, 2011, http://www.businessinsider.com/wikileaks-haiti-minimum-wage-the-nation-2011-6 (7) Gregory White, “This is the Wikileak That Sparked The Tunisian Crisis, Business Insider, January 14, 2011, http://www.businessinsider.com/tunisia-wikileaks-2011-1 (8) Daniel Tencer, “Cables: FBI trained Egypt’s state security ‘torturers,” The Raw Story, February 9, 2011, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/09/cables-fbi-trained-egypt-torturers/ (9) Gerri Peev, “Hillary Clinton ordered U.S. diplomats to spy on UN leaders,” The Daily Mail, November 29, 2010, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1333920/WikiLeaks-Hillary-Clinton-ordered-U-S-diplomats-spy-UN-leaders.html (10) “Japan Earthquake 2011: WikiLeaks Reveals Government Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety in 2008,” Huffington Post, March 16, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/16/japan-earthquake-nuclear-warning-wikileaks_n_836529.html (11) “Cable reveals US behind airstrike that killed 21 children in Yemen,” The Raw Story, December 2, 2010, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/02/cable-reveals-airstrike-killed-21-children-yemen