((I))New York Times((/I)): Americans have known about many of these acts for years, but the 524-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report erases any lingering doubt about their depravity and illegality: In addition to new revelations of sadistic tactics like "rectal feeding," scores of detainees were waterboarded, hung by their wrists, confined in coffins, sleep-deprived, threatened with death or brutally beaten. In November 2002, one detainee who was chained to a concrete floor died of "suspected hypothermia." These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of "severe physical or mental pain or suffering." They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture. So it is no wonder that today's blinkered apologists are desperate to call these acts anything but torture, which they clearly were. read more
LAS VEGAS -- ON the first day of the fall semester, I left campus from an afternoon of teaching anxious college freshmen and headed to my second job, serving at a chain restaurant off Las Vegas Boulevard. The switch from my professional attire to a white dress shirt, black apron and tie reflected the separation I attempt to maintain between my two jobs. Naturally, sitting at the first table in my section was one of my new students, dining with her parents.
This scene is a cliché of the struggling teacher, and it surfaces repeatedly in pop culture -- think of Walter White in "Breaking Bad," washing the wheels of a student's sports car after a full day teaching high school chemistry. read more
Eric L. Adams: Hours after coming out of the police academy, I was told something as a new rookie officer: You'd rather be tried by 12 jurors than carried by six pallbearers. In my impressionable first days, I saw officers leave the precinct every day touching the lockers of their fallen brothers. They started their shift on the defensive, thinking about protecting themselves, as opposed to the communities they served, regardless of the complexion of those communities. One of my white fellow officers once told me that if he saw a white individual with a gun, he took extra care for himself and the individual. When he saw a black individual with a gun, he took care only for himself. These are the lessons to which I was exposed, and the reality of what policing communities of color has been, not just in New York City but across America. There is a legacy of inequity that did not just appear overnight, but was carved into the culture of law enforcement over decades. read more
Standing just feet from the Senate chamber Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz made a declaration that should give Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell pause.
"The only people who have ever threatened a government shutdown have been President Obama and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid," said Cruz, the Texas Republican who is widely regarded as the mastermind of the GOP's 2013 government-shutdown strategy. "They forced a government shutdown last year. Nobody on the Republican side wants to see a government shutdown," he said.
Moments after Cruz spoke, McConnell held a press conference on the other side of the chamber to celebrate his election as leader. "We will not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the federal debt," he declared, repeating a promise he'd made at his victory press conference after his re-election.
President Barack Obama's anticipated order that would shield millions of immigrants now living illegally in the U.S. from deportation is not without precedent. Two of the last three Republican presidents -- Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- did the same thing in extending amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986. There was no political explosion then comparable to the one Republicans are threatening now. A tea party-influenced GOP is poised to erupt if and when Obama follows through on his promise. He wants to extend protection from deportation to millions of immigrant parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and expand his two-year-old program that shields immigrants brought illegally to this country as children.