Monthly Archives: November 2016

Lead by example

When America claims moral superiority over regimes that torture, murder and imprison their own, we must recognize that these claims carry with them a duty to set a higher standard for ourselves. The use of isolation and long-term sentencing in our prisons is therefore a shame we must correct, just as was the use of torture to gain intelligence information.

When we are the example for the world to follow, we embolden dissidents who fight for enlightened, humane democracy, encourage brave citizens to expose authoritarian regimes, and cast aside the sophistry of those who point to hypocrisy within our borders to excuse oppressive systems without.

(National Research Council via Washington Post)

Below, a New York Review of Books article explores the cruel and unusual effects of prison isolation. This BBC Future post also covers the subject.

America’s Invisible Inferno

Approximately 400,000 people in our prison population move in and out of solitary, and many of America’s over two million prisoners know they can be put in solitary even if they are jailed for the most minor offenses. Between 80,000 and 120,000 men and women are held in solitary confinement every day.


— Marcus

Al Akrad

The Kurds Are Nearly There

The dream of a national homeland is one that all Kurds share, no matter where they currently live. For the past century-ever since World War I brought about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent creation of new nation-states that excluded Kurdish aspirations-they have yearned in vain.

This we’ll defend


America will no doubt survive the election of a celebrity with dubious qualifications and temperament to her highest office, but if our experiment in self-rule is to continue unblemished, if not humbled, let us keep our eyes wide open to the effects of Mr. Trump’s ascendancy, and make every effort to stand up for the rights his unexamined impulses threaten.

With respect to Trump’s support for tortureleaders who want to return to a dark era must be convinced that such a path is unwise. Remember, sirs, we tried torture already. It did not lead to the end of Al Qaeda, but did convince fence sitters to join the jihad, creating additional death and chaos. America is tougher, “greater”, when we rebuke the calculated savagery of Islamic extremism. They aren’t like us. Let’s not be like them.

With respect to unconstitutional police actions, while we must keep secrets secret, we must not spy on ourselves. The 4th amendment exists because of state overreach.  Our forefathers fought and died for this right. Let’s honor that sacrifice and reject the surveillance state.

We must be vigilant. We must reward competence. We must be purposeful when we have information about a threat, act on leads, and crucially, hold trials where judges, weighing evidence, condemn the worst of the worst, imprison enablers, and, with courage, free the innocent. Let’s remember: Trials and systems are what civilization does, cruelty and caprice are the manners of savagery. When we are the model for other states to follow, cooperation will improve with our neighbors. Such cooperation is the key to our security.

Let us hope that thoughtful citizens now come forward to assist Mr. Trump, help him understand that his primary role is to defend what really matters about AmericaBrave men and women can advise Mr. Trump to think beyond impulse and instinct, and to uphold the principles that have already made America great, namely:

Amendment I

Freedoms, Petitions, Assembly

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

Right to bear arms

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III

Quartering of soldiers

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV

Search and arrest

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V

Rights in criminal cases

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI

Right to a fair trial

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.


Amendment VII

Rights in civil cases

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII

Bail, fines, punishment

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX

Rights retained by the People

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X

States’ rights

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

— Marcus