Free the Tripoli Six

I don’t know what my tens of readers can do that Nature‘s millions (?) of readers can’t, but Declan and everybody else is right — we have to try.
Briefly: five nurses and a physician are in danger of being executed by Libya for deliberately infecting children with HIV while working at al-Fateh Hospital in Benghazi in 1998. The court rejected an investigation by Luc Montagnier and Vittorio Colizzi (full report here, pdf) which found that the infections were in fact caused by poor hospital practices. The science is being ignored in favour of the political expediency of blaming some foreigners for an internal problem (the nurses are Bulgarian, the doctor Pakistani). The Libyans are not the only parties guilty of racism here: can you imagine the outcry if the nurses were, say, British and the doctor American?
This is utterly unacceptable to law, science and common decency. Please do what you can. I’ve swiped the contact information below from Mike; in addition to letters/faxes/phone calls to the people he suggests, consider supporting Advocats Sans Frontieres and, if you have a blog, writing about the case (as Bora suggests, make sure you have the words “Tripoli Six” in your entry so that Google/Technorati etc will pick it up).
People to contact:

1: Libya. This is probably going to be the least
effective, but it’s still worth a try – and you never know, it might
just work. The Libyans have invested a huge amount of effort in trying
to regain international respect, so there’s at least a small chance
that they might be responsive.

Mail:
I’d suggest mailing letters to a Libyan embassy. For Americans, the best choice would be the Libyan UN Mission.
Mission of Libya to the United Nations
309 – 315 East 48th Street,
New York, NY 10017

Phone:
The phone number for the UN mission is: (212) 752-5775

Email: The Center for Nursing Advocacy has an online form and form letter.
The email address that they are using is: libya@un.int I have not used
that address myself, and cannot vouch for whether or not it works.

2: Your own Congresscritters.
Get in touch with your own representatives. Feel free to remind them
that you vote in their districts (if this is true.) Contact them even
if their political views are totally opposed to your own, and
particularly if they also sit on a key committee.

As long as you know your zip code, this website will quickly provide you with the contact information for your representatives.

3: Key congressional committees.

Contact the majority and minority leaders of the House Committee on
International Relations and the Senate Foreign Relations Committees.

Senate:
Committee Chair: Richard Lugar
Ranking Member: Joseph Biden

Mailing Address:
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6225

Majority Phone: (202) 224-4651
Minority Phone: (202) 224-3953

House:
Chair: Henry Hyde
Ranking Member: Tom Lantos

Mailing Address:
House Committee on International Relations
2170 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Other contacts:
Phone: (202) 225-5021
Fax: (202) 225-2035
E-Mail: HIRC@mail.house.gov

4: Executive Branch Officials.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Main Switchboard:
202-647-4000

President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
comments@whitehouse.gov

Congress shall make no law respecting.. what was that again?

*rolls eyes*.

On the 50th anniversary of our national motto, “In God We Trust,” we reflect on these words that guide millions of Americans, recognize the blessings of the Creator, and offer our thanks for His great gift of liberty.
From its earliest days, the United States has been a Nation of faith. During the War of 1812, as the morning light revealed that the battle torn American flag still flew above Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key penned, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!'” His poem became our National Anthem, reminding generations of Americans to “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” On July 30, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the law officially establishing “In God We Trust” as our national motto.
Today, our country stands strong as a beacon of religious freedom. Our citizens, whatever their faith or background, worship freely and millions answer the universal call to love their neighbor and serve a cause greater than self.
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of our national motto and remember with thanksgiving God’s mercies throughout our history, we recognize a divine plan that stands above all human plans and continue to seek His will.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 30, 2006, as the 50th Anniversary of our National Motto, “In God We Trust.” I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

I have just one question: which God, asshole?

Thanks, Digby. I needed that.

Twenty-five. Twenty-five senators with something resembling principles. That’s all we got.
Fortunately, we also have Digby. I mean it, if you’re down about the Alito debacle (which is to say: if you live in the US, were paying any kind of attention and are not dead from the neck up), go read this post. It’ll help.
Update: MoveOn has a handy letter you can send to the twenty-five (not twenty, as I originally wrote!) senators who stood up. It’s as important to encourage congresscritters when they do the right thing as it is to excoriate them when they don’t, so please take a moment and send a note of thanks.

Last chance: call THESE senators today.

I was all set to work my way through news, press releases, blogs and so on in order to find where the crucial votes lay on the Alito/filibuster issue — but Bob Fertik has already done the legwork.
Here’s an even briefer version of Bob’s post: call THESE senators (the post below contains instructions for doing so for free):
Democrats who will vote for Alito (i.e., traitors):

  • Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551, fax: (202) 228-0012
  • Tim Johnson (D- SD) , 202-224-5842, fax: (202) 228-5765
  • Robert Byrd (D- WV) , 202-224-3954, fax: (202) 228-0002

Democrats who won’t vote for Alito but won’t support the filibuster:

  • Mark Pryor (D- AR), 202-224-2353
  • Ken Salazar (D- CO) , 202-224-5852
  • Kent Conrad (D- ND), 202-224-2043
  • Bill Nelson (D- FL), 202-224-5274
  • Daniel K. Akaka (D- HI), 202-224-6361
  • Mary Landrieu (D- LA), 202-224-5824
  • Byron L. Dorgan (D- ND) 202-224-2551

Democrats who won’t vote for Alito but are undecided about the filibuster:

  • Joseph Biden, Jr. (D- DE) , 202-224-5042 (will vote for filibuster but only once)
  • Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D- AR), 202-224-4843
  • Joseph Lieberman (D- CT), 202-224-4041
  • Thomas Carper (D- DE), 202-224-2441
  • Daniel Inouye (D- HI), 202-224-3934
  • Tom Harkin (D- IA), 202-224-3254
  • Evan Bayh (D- IN), 202-224-5623
  • Barbara Mikulski (D- MD), 202-224-4654
  • Carl Levin (D- MI), 202-224-6221
  • Mark Dayton (D- MN), 202-224-3244
  • Max Baucus (D- MT), 202-224-2651
  • Frank Lautenberg (D- NJ), 202-224-3224
  • Robert Menendez (D- NJ), 202-224-4744
  • Jeff Bingaman (D- NM), 202-224-5521
  • Jack Reed (D- RI), 202-224-4642
  • Patrick Leahy (D- VT), 202-224-4242
  • Maria Cantwell (D- WA), 202-224-3441
  • Patty Murray (D- WA), 202-224-2621
  • Herb Kohl (D- WI), 202-224-5653
  • John Rockefeller, IV (D- WV), 202-224-6472

Republicans who might do the right thing:

  • Lincoln Chafee (R- RI), 202-224-2921
  • Olympia Snowe (R- ME), 202-224-5344
  • Susan Collins (R-ME), 202-224-2523

If your State Senator is not on that list, call them anyway — calls from a constituent always carry more weight. If any of the above are your representatives, consider also calling their local offices (Bob’s post has the contact details). It’s also worth a call to those Dems who are going to support the filibuster, to thank them:

  • Barbara Boxer (D- CA) , 202-224-3553
  • Dianne Feinstein (D- CA) , 202-224-3841 (1,)
  • Christopher Dodd (D- CT), 202-224-2823 (1,)
  • Richard Durbin (D- IL) , 202-224-2152
  • Barack Obama (D- IL), 202-224-2854, fax: (202) 228-4260
  • John Kerry (D- MA) , 202-224-2742
  • Edward Kennedy (D- MA) , 202-224-4543
  • Paul Sarbanes (D- MD), 202-224-4524
  • Debbie Stabenow (D- MI) , 202-224-4822
  • Harry Reid (D- NV) , 202-224-3542
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- NY) , 202-224-4451
  • Charles Schumer (D- NY) , 202-224-6542
  • Ron Wyden (D- OR) , 202-224-5244
  • Russell Feingold (D- WI) , 202-224-5323

Tell your Senators: NO to Strip Search Sammy! We’ll even pay for the call.

Call your Senators, and then no matter where you live call Ben Nelson (who has said he will vote for Alito): if confirmed to the Supreme Court, Alito will be a disaster for progressive politics in this country for the next four or five decades.
Here’s how to do your part in the last-ditch effort to prevent this disaster (the spousal unit and I will pay for the call):

1. find your senators’ phone numbers: look here or here
2. call 1-800-323-6263 (for English) or 1-800-323-6269 (for Spanish)
3. the voice will ask for your PIN; dial 2785446232
4. the voice will ask you to dial the destination number; dial your Senator and let him/her know you’re watching, and you expect him/her to do the decent thing and vote against Samuel Alito’s nomination.
5. call Ben Nelson on 202-224-6551 (Washington) and let him know that if he votes for Alito he will betray his party and his country.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, here’s Barbara Boxer to explain:

… after reviewing the hearing record and the record of his statements, writings and rulings over the past 24 years, I am convinced that Judge Alito is the wrong person for this job.
I am deeply concerned about how Justice Alito will impact the ability of other families to live the American dream — to be assured of privacy in their homes and their personal lives, to be secure in their neighborhoods, to have fair treatment in the workplace, and to have confidence that the power of the executive branch will be checked.
As I reviewed Judge Alito’s record, I asked whether he will vote to preserve fundamental American liberties and values —
Will Justice Alito vote to uphold Congress’ constitutional power to pass laws to protect Americans’ health, safety, and welfare? Judge Alito’s record says NO.
In the 1996 Rybar case, Judge Alito voted to strike down the federal ban on the transfer or possession of machine guns because he believed it exceeded Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. His Third Circuit colleagues sharply criticized his dissent and said that it ran counter to “a basic tenet of the constitutional separation of powers.” And Judge Alito’s extremist view has been rejected by six other circuit courts and the Supreme Court. Judge Alito stood alone and failed to protect our families.
In a case concerning worker protection, Judge Alito was again in the minority when he said that federal mine health and safety standards did not apply to a coal processing site. He tried to explain it as just a “technical issue of interpretation.” I fear for the safety of our workers if Judge Alito’s narrow, technical reading of the law should ever prevail.
Will Justice Alito vote to protect the right to privacy, especially a woman’s reproductive freedom? Judge Alito’s record says NO.
We have all heard about Judge Alito’s 1985 job application, in which he wrote that the constitution does not protect the right of a woman to choose. He was given the chance to disavow that position during the hearings — and he refused to do so. He had the chance to say, as Judge Roberts did, that Roe v. Wade is settled law, and he refused.
He had the chance to explain his dissent in the Casey decision, in which he argued that the Pennsylvania spousal notification requirement was not an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion because it would affect only a small number of women, but he refused to back away from his position. The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, found the provision to be unconstitutional, and Justice O’Connor, co-writing for the Court, criticized the faulty analysis supported by Judge Alito, saying that “the analysis does not end with the one percent of women” affected… “it begins there.”
To my mind, Judge Alito’s ominous statements and narrow-minded reasoning clearly signal a hostility to women’s rights, and portend a move back toward the dark days when abortion was illegal in many states, and many women died as a result. In the 21st century, it is astounding that a Supreme Court nominee would not view Roe v. Wade as settled law when its fundamental principle — a woman’s right to choose — has been reaffirmed many times since it was decided.
Will Justice Alito vote to protect Americans from unconstitutional searches? Judge Alito’s record says NO.
In Doe v. Groody in 2004, he said a police strip search of a 10-year-old girl was lawful, even though their search warrant didn’t name her. Judge Alito said that even if the warrant did not actually authorize the search of the girl, “a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant as doing so…” This casual attitude toward one of our most basic constitutional guarantees — the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches — is almost shocking. As Judge Alito’s own Third Circuit Court said regarding warrants, “a particular description is the touchstone of the Fourth Amendment.” We certainly do not need Supreme Court justices who do not understand this fundamental constitutional protection.
Will Justice Alito vote to let citizens stop companies from polluting their communities? Judge Alito’s record says NO.
In the Magnesium Elektron case, Judge Alito voted to make it harder for citizens to sue for toxic emissions that violate the Clean Water Act. Fortunately, in another case several years later, the Supreme Court rejected the Third Circuit and Alito’s narrow reading of the law. Judge Alito doesn’t seem to care about a landmark environmental law.
Will Justice Alito vote to let working women and men have their day in court against employers who discriminate against them? Judge Alito’s record says NO.
In 1997, in the Bray case, Judge Alito was the only judge on the Third Circuit to say that a hotel employee claiming racial discrimination could not take her case to a jury.
In the Sheridan case, a female employee sued for discrimination, alleging that after she complained about incidents of sexual harassment, she was demoted and marginalized to the point that she was forced to quit. By a vote of 10 to 1, the Third Circuit found for the plaintiff.
Guess who was the one? Only Judge Alito thought the employee should have to show that discrimination was the “determinative cause” of the employer’s action. Using his standard would make it almost impossible for a woman claiming discrimination in the workplace to get to trial.
Finally, will Justice Alito be independent from the executive branch that appointed him, and be a vote against power grabs by the president? Judge Alito’s record says NO.
As a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, he authored a memo suggesting a new way for the president to encroach on Congress’ lawmaking powers. He said that when the president signs a law, he should make a statement about the law, giving it his own interpretation, whether it was consistent with what Congress had written or not. He wrote that this would “get in the last word on questions of interpretation” of the law. In the hearings, Judge Alito refused to back away from this memo.
When asked whether he believed the president could invade another country, in the absence of an imminent threat, without first getting the approval of the American people, of Congress, Judge Alito refused to rule it out.
When asked if the president had the power to authorize someone to engage in torture, Alito refused to answer.
The Administration is now asserting vast powers, including spying on American citizens without seeking warrants — in clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — violating international treaties, and ignoring laws that ban torture. We need justices who will put a check on such overreaching by the executive, not rubberstamp it. Judge Alito’s record and his answers at the hearings raise very serious doubts about his commitment to being a strong check on an ‘imperial president.’
In addition to these substantive matters, I remain concerned about Judge Alito’s answers regarding his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton and his failure to recuse himself from the Vanguard case, which he had promised to do.
[…]
Perhaps the most important statement Judge Alito made during the entire hearing process was when he told the Judiciary Committee that he expects to be the same kind of justice on the Supreme Court as he has been a judge on the Circuit Court.
That is precisely the problem. As a judge, Samuel Alito seemed to approach his cases with an analytical coldness that reflected no concern for the human consequences of his reasoning.
Listen to what he said about a case involving an African-American man convicted of murder by an all white jury in a courtroom where the prosecutors had eliminated all African-American jurors in many previous murder trials as well.
Judge Alito dismissed this evidence of racial bias and said that the jury makeup was no more relevant than the fact that left-handers have won five of the last six presidential elections. When asked about this analogy during the hearings, he said it “went to the issue of statistics… (which) is a branch of mathematics, and there are ways to analyze statistics so that you draw sound conclusions from them…”
That response would have been appropriate for a college math professor [No it wouldn’t! Shit, I expect better than this from a Senator, especially Boxer –senn], but it is deeply troubling from a potential Supreme Court justice.
As the great jurist and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote in 1881, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience… The law embodies the story of a nation’s development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics.”
What Holmes meant is that the law is a living thing, that those who interpret it must do so with wisdom and humanity, and with an understanding of the consequences of their judgments for the lives of the people they affect.
…I conclude that Judge Alito’s judicial philosophy lacks this wisdom, humanity and moderation. He is simply too far out of the mainstream in his thinking. His opinions demonstrate neither the independence of mind nor the depth of heart that I believe we need in our Supreme Court justices, particularly at this crucial time in our nation’s history.

Strip Search Sammy

If you live in the US, you know that the Senate hearings regarding Samuel Alito’s appointment to the Supreme Court are underway. I’ve noted before that Alito is a dyed-in-the-wool asshole. Inter, no doubt, alia, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and People for the American Way all have petitions you can use to let your representatives know that they must do all they can to stop this self-serving, woman-hating lickspittle to the rich and powerful from being appointed for life to the most powerful court in the land. Please take a moment to sign one, or, preferably, all of them.
I’m with Rafe: this is IT for the Dems for me. If it comes down to it, they must filibuster. The nucular option is going to be hanging there all Damoclean and shit until they fight that fight anyway.

The world is run by 20-somethings.

And if more of them were like Adam Frankel we’d be a lot better off. I’m really impressed with his “ten lessons from the Kerry campaign”, for which he was a speechwriter. The excerpts below are to whet your appetite; do go read the whole thing.

The difference today between having good leaders and not having them is the difference between war and peace, life and death. It’s the difference between a satisfying, rewarding life and a miserable one, the difference between good health and sickness, prosperity and poverty, enlightenment and ignorance. Ultimately, it’s the difference between right and wrong.
When I was a senior in college, working on a thesis about the global AIDS pandemic, I met with a former Dean of the Yale School of Public Health. He asked me, “What’s the goal of the fight against AIDS?” I said, “To increase condom distribution around the world.” He said, “That’s a tactic. What’s the goal?” I tried again: “To increase our support for the Global AIDS Fund so countries can tackle their own epidemics.” He said, “That’s also a tactic.” “The goal,” he said, “is to stop the spread of AIDS and care for those who have it.”
If a politician needs a poll to know whether to raise an important issue, that politician has failed a central test of leadership.
I joined the Kerry Campaign, because I was angry about the course of our country, and I thought Kerry could change it. But as I realized, a few months into the campaign, anger will not sustain you … Whenever I was feeling exhausted or beat, no matter how small or unimportant the issue I was working on, I’d think about all the people in this country who were depending on us. That’s where I got my energy. You have to have a hunger to build — to repair — not just to tear down.
If you were born with a sense of injustice, hold onto it. If you were born with a sense of entitlement, I hope you’ll outgrow it. And if you were born with curiosity and an active mind, I hope it will lead you to a life in public service.

Cantwell can.

Via On The Road To 2008, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has a petition she’d like you to sign:

Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has introduced a bill to repeal the Magnuson Amendment, a law written by Washington’s own Warren Magnuson in 1977 to limit oil tanker traffic in Puget Sound. The Magnuson Amendment has kept the Cherry Point Refinery near Bellingham from becoming a super-port for oil to be shipped overseas and across the country. Stevens’ bill will undo these protections. If it passes, pristine Puget Sound is at risk for oil spills, with little economic or energy benefit to our state.
Senator Stevens has also suggested that Cherry Point should expand dramatically to refine oil taken from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As you know, I have been leading the fight in the Senate against under-handed measures to open the Refuge to drilling, and I intend to fight this expansion. Stevens’ plan will quietly reverse important protections supported by Washington’s Republicans and Democrats for decades.
Last month, Democrats and Republicans in the House blocked a similar plan, but Senator Stevens is trying again. And this time he is keeping a low profile. But we can’t let him get away with it. We have to show Senator Stevens that Washington state won’t stand by silently and let one of our greatest treasures fall to the whims of greedy oil companies. Please join me in signing this petition to keep the Magnuson Amendment in place and protect Washington’s waterways and coastlines from being overrun with oil tankers.

Stevens (R-Porkbarrel) is, you may remember, the guy who wants to build a $223 million bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska (pop. 8,900) to its airport; the ferry ride the bridge will replace takes seven minutes. Stevens is also a constant menace to the ANWR. If you have a minute, go help Sen Cantwell smack him around some.

Spend our money, call your senators.

While we wait to see whether congress will piss all over habeas corpus, the most important freedom in this wonderful experiment, the US of A, I want to ask any US resident reading this: please call your senators. I also want to repeat something that might have been lost at the bottom of the last, somewhat lengthy, post.
I know long-distance calls are spendy, and I know what it is to watch your budget to the last cent. That’s why the spousal unit and I have a phone card for your use — it won’t cost you a thing. If you’re concerned about using work facilities for political activity, the card might solve that problem too. Here’s how it works:
1. find your senators’ phone numbers: look here or here
2. call 1-800-323-6263 (for English) or 1-800-323-6269 (for Spanish)
3. the voice will ask for your PIN; dial 2785446232
4. the voice will ask you to dial the destination number; dial your
senator and let him/her know you’re watching, and you expect him/her to
do the decent thing and support the Bingaman amendment.
In fact, don’t just call your own senators. From the CCR, here’s a list of the key senators, complete with phone/fax numbers:

Collins (ME) T: (202) 224-2523 F: (202) 224-2693
Snowe (ME) T: (202) 224-5344 F: (202) 224-1946
Dewine (OH) T: (202) 224-2315 F: (202) 224-6519
Mccain (AZ) T: (202) 224-2235 F: (202) 228-2862
Warner (VA) T: (202) 224-2023 F: (202) 224-6295
Hagel (NEB) T: (202) 224-4224 F: (202) 224-5213
Nelson (NEB) T: (202) 224-6551 F: (202) 228-0012
Conrad (ND)T: (202) 224-2043 F: (202) 224-7776
Landrieu (LA) T: (202)224-5824 F: (202) 224-9735
Lieberman (CT) T: (202) 224-4041 F: (202) 224-9750
Wyden (OR) T: (202) 224-5244 F: (202) 228-2717

If you have the time, we have the money: call ’em all.
Fuck. The Bingaman amendment was rejected. When the roll call goes up you can see who the traitors were by clicking the vote number (324).
Looks like the bullshit compromise might have got up, vote 325 was on “Graham Amdt. No. 2524; In the nature of a substitute” and was agreed to.
From vote 324, the following so-called Democrats voted nay and are hereby advised (let them tremble!) that I will be working to see them out of office:
Bayh (D-IN)
Conrad (D-ND)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Nelson (D-NE)
I knew that venal ratfucker Nelson would turn. In this Congress, he’s voted more times with the Republican position than with his own party (I’ll have more on that later).