The horror in Ohio’s death chamber

Kate Randall

Dennis McGuire, 53, was put to death on Thursday, January 16, in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. News of McGuire’s execution—and details of the gruesome manner in which authorities carried out his death sentence—have evoked disgust and revulsion in the US and internationally.

Family members watched as an untested, lethal cocktail of two medical drugs were injected into McGuire’s veins. He writhed in pain before being pronounced dead 25 minutes later by prison authorities.

At a press conference the next day, the condemned prisoner’s son described the horror of what he had witnessed. “I watched his stomach heave,” he said. “I watched him trying to sit up against the straps on the gurney, I watched him repeatedly clench his fist,” adding that it “appeared to me he was fighting for his life while suffocating.”

The younger McGuire continued, “The agony and terror of watching my dad suffocate to death lasted more than 19 minutes. I can’t think of any other way to describe it other than torture. Until yesterday, I did not understand what cruel and unusual punishment was. Now I do, I witnessed it. No one should have to die the way my dad did.”

Nearly 50 million living in poverty in US

Kate Randall

The ranks of the unemployed in the United States rose last year to 49.7 million, based on a new measure that provides a fuller picture of poverty than that previously reported by U.S. Census Bureau data. The revised poverty rate of 16.1 percent is up more than a percentage point from the 15 percent figure reported by the government in September.

Coming a little more than a week after the 2012 elections, the news that nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty received little attention in the media or from the Obama administration. Neither big-business party has any policies to alleviate growing poverty, which is exacerbated by entrenched unemployment and a sluggish economy.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), devised a year ago, factors in expenses for food, clothing, shelter, utilities, health care and other essentials beyond what the previous official formula took into account. It includes in its income measure such government-provided benefits as Social Security, unemployment benefits and nutrition assistance.

The SPM figures released by the Census Bureau on Thursday show that while some households may have incomes above the poverty line, factors such as medical expenses are pushing increasing numbers into poverty. The new figures also indicate that the tepid job growth in the more than four years since the financial crisis has come mostly in the form of low-wage jobs that in many cases are not able to lift families out of poverty.

Perpetuation of Past and Present Evil

Chris Floyd

Five years ago, I wrote several articles about a horrific massacre of Iraqi civilians in Ishaqi. Credible evidence and eyewitness testimony indicated that American soldiers, in the course of a raid, had executed unarmed civilians -- including several small children -- then called in an airstrike to destroy the house, and the evidence of these murders.

At the time, these articles were criticized by some for putting the "worst case" construction on the evidence. After all, in the "fog of war" -- that clapped-out rhetorical trope which has hidden a multitude of sins down through the years -- who could know what really happened? Yeah, some mistakes might or might not have been made -- crossfire, collateral damage, etc. -- but surely no one could believe that American soldiers would deliberately do such a thing. My take -- and that of this blog's co-founder, Rich Kastelein, who put together a devastating flash film on the incident -- was just the usual overblown, knee-jerk, anti-war hissy fit, etc.

But thanks to a recent WikiLeaks revelation, we now know that at least two other groups of knee-jerk, anti-war freaks were also pursuing the "worst-case" interpretation of the massacre: UN investigators, who delivered a detailed report on the evidence to the American occupation forces -- and the invaders themselves. It turns out that American authorities regarded the UN evidence very seriously; so seriously that they took immediate, decisive action .... to cover it all up.

Publicly, of course, the invaders had solemnly promised to investigate the "allegations" with all due speed and diligence; this promise was, of course, an outright lie -- as has been the case countless times with similar "allegations" in America's decade-long war on the world. The atrocity was never investigated by the Americans, who simply tossed aside not only the work of the UN investigators, but also the mountain of first-hand evidence gathered by the US-trained, pro-American Iraqi officials on the scene.

So here we are: we now know that the Americans themselves strongly suspected that the "allegations" were true, that U.S. soldiers had entered a house in an Iraqi village and executed five children under the age of five -- including a five-month old -- and four women, including a grandmother, and the children's father, a young man in this 20s. They had credible evidence for this, they took the evidence seriously -- and they bent all their efforts toward burying the case and protecting the perpetrators (and their commanders). They have sat on this evidence for five years, beyond the end of the Bush Regime and deep into the reign of the Nobel Peace Laureate.

Health Care: The voice of the ruling class

Kate Randall

NY Times’ David Brooks on “Death and Budgets

In an op-ed piece published Friday, New York Times columnist David Brooks reveals the real thinking of America’s financial aristocrats in relation to health care spending. In chilling terms he gives vent to their bitterness over the “squandering” of resources to extend the lives of commoners and their determination to put an end to it.

The column made its appearance in the midst of discussions between the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans on a bipartisan plan to slash trillions of dollars from health and retirement programs for the elderly and the poor, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The Obama administration has taken the lead in this unprecedented attack on basic social reforms dating back to the 1930s, insisting that any move to raise the debt ceiling must be tied to massive cuts.

The essence of Brooks’ column is summed up in the headline, “Death and Budgets.” In order to resolve the budget deficit, he argues, people will have to die sooner.

“This fiscal crisis is about many things,” he writes, “but one of them is our inability to face death—our willingness to spend our nation into bankruptcy to extend life for a few more sickly months.” It is the American people’s selfish and ignorant desire to live longer, not the mindless greed and extravagant wealth of the ruling elite or the trillions spent on war and bank bailouts, that is bankrupting the country, he argues.

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