Exclusive: The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists

This article appeared initially in Counterpunch magazine
 

The mystery of American Raymond A. Davis, currently imprisoned in the custody of local police in Lahore, Pakistan and charged with the Jan. 27 murder of two young men, whom he allegedly shot eight times with uncanny accuracy through his car windshield, is growing increasingly murky. Also growing is the anger among Pakistanis that the US is trying to spring him from a Punjab jail by claiming diplomatic immunity.

Davis (whose identity was first denied and later confirmed by the US Embassy in Islamabad), and the embassy have claimed that he was hired as an employee of a US security company called Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, which was said to be located at 5100 North Lane in Orlando, Florida. Business cards for Hyperion were found on Davis by arresting officers.

However ThisCantBeHappening! and Counterpunch magazine have investigated and uncovered the following information:

Firstly, there is not and never has been any such company located at the 5100 North Lane address. It is only an empty storefront, with empty shelves along one wall and an empty counter on the opposite wall, with just a lone used Coke cup sitting on it. A leasing agency sign is on the window.

 Hapless US consular employee, CIA agent or mercenary intelligence black-ops operative?Raymond Davis: Hapless US consular employee, CIA agent or mercenary intelligence black-ops operative?

The empty strip mall in Orlando where Davis claims his company, Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, is basedThe empty strip mall in Orlando where Davis claims his company, Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, is based

Shumaila, widow Faheem poisoned herself to death to demand justice for her husband, slain motorcyclist Mohammad Faheem.Shumaila Faheem poisoned herself to death to demand justice for her husband, slain motorcyclist Mohammad Faheem.

America's Happy Talk Media: No Jobs is Good News!

The propagandists in the corporate media are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to paint a rosy picture using the shockingly bad employment news out of the Labor Department today.

Here’s the raw data:

The official unemployment rate fell from 9.4% to 9.0%, when the prediction had been that it was going to move up slightly to 9.5%

The number of new jobs added was a net 36,000, the lowest increase since last September, when the economy was still losing jobs.

Here are some of the media quotes:

Associated Press: “The unemployment rate dropped sharply last month to 9 percent, based on a government survey that found that more than a half-million people found work.”

MSNBC: “The U.S. labor market slowed sharply last month, generating just 36,000 net new jobs, the fewest in four months, as winter storms depressed payrolls growth. Still, the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 9 percent, the lowest level in nearly two years.”

Fox News: “Economic growth is gaining momentum, with factories busy and service firms expanding, but one critical area still lags: job creation.”

Hoops were being jumped through here to try to make something terrible look good.

Here’s the reality: In a trend that has continued now since October, the number of net new jobs created by the US economy has fallen once again, thanks to layoffs by construction companies, warehouse and transportation companies and especially public employers like state and city governments and school districts, which undercut minor gains in the manufacturing and retail sectors. A gain of 36,000 jobs has to be put in perspective too–the US economy has to add 150,000 new jobs a month just to accommodate the growth in the size of the working age population. We haven’t seen those kinds of numbers since October, when the job picture slipped back into the negative zone again.

The average number of jobs created monthly over the last three months was just 83,000, according the the Labor Department.
Looking for jobs that aren't thereLooking for jobs that aren't there

President Obama’s State of the Union Speech: WTF?

 
I never expected to find myself agreeing with Sarah Palin, but I’ve got to admit that the woman nailed it regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Asked to comment on it, she said it had a lot of “WTF moments.”

That’s exactly what I found myself thinking as I read through it!

We’ve “broken the back” of the recession? WTF? The official unemployment rate is still 9.4%, and even that is down slightly from a 9.8% high only because so many people have given up trying to find a job and have left the workforce, taking early retirement or just staying home. And the real unemployment rate–the one that counts those who have given up but would work if there were actually jobs to be had, and those who have grasped at part time work just to survive–is still at between 19% and 22%, depending on how you’re counting. Who’s Obama kidding: us or himself?

We need to “out-educate” the rest of the world? WTF? All across the country, school districts are laying off teachers. In New York City, the country’s largest school district, the world’s richest mayor, $18-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, recently hired corporate hack, Cathleen P. Black, a former magazine publisher who has no educational experience or training, but who does have a reputation for whacking employee lists, as his new school chancellor, and has put out the word to teachers in New York, including those who have earned tenure through years of dedicated work, that their jobs are on the line because of a lack of money. In Philadelphia, another or the country’s largest districts, principals have been warned to prepare for 20-30% budget cuts next school year–this in a district where 40 kids to a classroom the norm, and where kids still study from dog-eared history and science textbooks dating to the 1970s and ‘80s. Obama also talked about the need to focus education on science, math and technology. WTF? What about foreign languages? What about history and political science? What about the arts? If he had actually checked what happens in China–a country he warned was outdoing us in educating its kids–he’d have discovered that music and art are key parts of every kids’s education, and that kids start learning foreign languages when they are little–not in high school. Same in most countries like Korea, Taiwan or Germany, all of which are eating our lunch in global economic competition.

Dave and Sarah, listening to Obama's State of the Union, both say WTF?Dave and Sarah, listening to Obama's State of the Union, both say WTF?

Tyranny American-Style: Pvt. Bradley Manning is a Hero of Our Age

 
 
Looks can be deceiving.

When you see photos of Army Specialist Bradley Manning, the fresh, boyish-faced 23-year old private who has spent the last seven months in solitary confinement, first in Kuwait and later at the Marine base at Quantico, VA, enduring the tender mercies of military guards, you don’t get the sense that this is someone who could withstand a lot of pressure and physical and mental abuse.

Pvt. Bradley Manning, the face of a heroPvt. Bradley Manning, the face of a hero

But it turns out he’s one tough hombre. Manning, according to his attorney, to a friend who has been allowed to visit him, and to activists who have been demonstrating outside Quantico for his release from this private hell, has been subjected to sleep deprivation, has been barred from exercising in the slightest, and recently was improperly placed by the Quantico base commander on suicide watch–meaning his clothing was removed, and also his reading glasses–as punishment for “disobeying” orders of the guards. (After news of this order, and publicity about it, the commander rescinded it, and was citicized by the Pentagon for allegedly overstepping his authority, an indication that public pressure in this case can help.)

Here's One for the Birthers: Is GE's Jeffrey Immelt Really an American?

 
If President Barack Obama had announced this week that he was appointing Japan’s Takanobu Ito, president and CEO of Honda, to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, one can imagine the shock wave that would go through the American body politic. A foreigner!–and one from one of America’s major competitors–to head a White House advisory panel on jobs and competitiveness?
And yet, at least the president could argue that Ito represents a company that earns the bulk of its revenues from its operations in the US.

But what are we to make of the actual announcement, that the president has named Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE Corp., to chair the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness?

Immelt heads a company that has for years topped the list of transnational corporations as ranked by the size of their foreign asset holdings. More significantly, GE is a company that for years has also received more of its revenues and its profits from abroad than from its US operations (a record 60% in 2009), that has far more of its 304,000 employees overseas than in the US, and that has more assets abroad than at “home,” where its headquarters offices are located.

Even those domestic revenues and earnings are less than they might appear, in terms of jobs at least, since they are primarily from the company’s financial subsidiaries, while most of the revenues and earnings from abroad are from its manufacturing operations.

What this means is that in very real terms, GE is not an American company. It is a foreign company that happens to be headquartered in the US, and that happens to have a chairman/CEO who was born in the US, and holds a US passport.

Don't Tone It Down, Amp It Up: In Praise of Incivility in Politics

 
“The wranglers over creeds and dogmas are perhaps the most persistent of all agitators; the bedrock idea being that a wrong exists which must be found and exterminated.”
— Eugene Debs

“Get it straight, I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.”
–Mother Jones

 
 

I’m going to take issue here with the mainstream media commentariat (and even some on the left) about the issue of “civil discourse.”

There are two main arguments being made, and both are wrong.

One is that our politic process is being damaged by violent and intemperate rhetoric, and the other is that this violence is coming from both the right and the left.

On the first point, there is a big difference between violent rhetoric and intemperate rhetoric. Violent rhetoric is where a speaker actually tries to incite her or his listeners to violent action. Intemperate rhetoric is simply rhetoric that is not temperate, as in polite, respectful, calm. That is, it is angry, it perhaps heaps scorn on some other party, it condemns the actions and motives of an opponent, and it seeks to rile up its intended audience.

There are times, I would agree, when violent rhetoric can be akin to the proverbial shout of “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and such speech–the kind of speech that used to be used to rouse a crowd to become a lynch mob–should rightly be viewed as a criminal act. But riling up a crowd to kill somebody is different from riling up a crowd to, say, damage construction equipment that is about to destroy a poor neighborhood to make way for a casino development, riling up a crowd of workers to break into a plant and engage in a sit-down strike to prevent the shipping of the machinery overseas, or riling up a crowd to resist a forcible eviction in a foreclosure.

There is a big difference between shouting “Kill the Nigger!” as listeners did during some Sarah Palin campaign events in 2008, while she said nothing to dissuade the racist crowd, on the one hand, and, on the other, declaring as I and others have done that those who would cut Medicare and Medicaid funding are condemning thousands of people to death, or writing, as I have also done, that President Obama, like President Bush before him, is a war criminal for ordering the indiscriminate use of drone missile attacks on Afghan and Pakistani housing compounds known to be filled with families, or for refusing to punish those who ordered torture, and that the punishment for such crimes can include execution.
Mother Jones Was Not CivilMother Jones Was Not Civil

Connecting the Crazy Dots: Assange, Recruiting Kids, the Tucson Massacre and General American Bloodthirstiness

There is, it cannot be denied, a tendency on the part of many Americans to grab for their guns, if not actually, then figuratively.

And let’s face it, we also have an awful lot of guns to reach for. The FBI estimates that it’s 200 million, not counting the guns owned by the military, and the National Rifle Assn. says that’s a number that rises by close to five million a year.

And we sure do use ‘em. NY Times columnist Bob Herbert reports that 150,000 people have been killed by guns in the US just in the first decade of this new century. Clearly it’s not just Tucson, a city in the state that’s also famous for the old gunslinger town of Tombstone, that is the Wild West. This whole country is gun-crazy.

Back in the 1970s, when I was a journalist in Los Angeles, I witnessed police officers there drawing their guns on people being arrested for jaywalking. One poor guy was shot dead by accident because a cop who had made a traffic stop had his gun out and tripped as he approached the driver’s window. Honest. I reported on a case where a young man, Ron Burkholder, apparently burned badly while making some PCP in his basement so that he had torn off his clothes and run out onto the street naked, was shot dead by a cop. The thing was, Burkholder was a small skinny guy, and he was naked and clearly in pain. The cop, an experienced sergeant, well over six feet tall and powerfully built, blew Burkholder away with, if I remember right, five shots from his service revolver. Not one. Five.

His excuse: He “felt threatened” by the naked, and clearly unarmed, Burkholder.

A Disturbing Meeting at the Gym

At the local YMCA today, I ran into a boy who was a childhood friend of my son’s. As my kid goes to a public arts high school in Philadelphia outside of our local school district, I don’t see much of his old grade-school friends any more. This boy, who used to be over at our house years ago at least once a week, recognized me right away though, and said, “Hey Mr. Lindorff, I haven’t seen you in years. How’s Jed!”

I was impressed by how he’d grown up, tall and strong looking. He was headed for the basketball court. I asked him, since both he and my son are seniors this year, where he was applying for college, and he stunned me by saying he had signed up for the Marines. “I’m going to be going in after graduation,” he said proudly. “The recruiter came to school, and he convinced me it’s a good move.”

I asked him what he planned to do, and he said, “Helicopter gunner! I’m really excited and proud!”

This was really shocking. This kid doesn’t own a gun. I doubt if he’s ever shot at anything except maybe a target with a .22 rifle at Boy Scout Camp, and now he’s all excited about manning a machine gun in a helicopter, where he’ll be shooting down at Afghan fighters–and inevitably at civilians, too–in a matter of months.

I really didn’t know what to say. I awkwardly told him “congratulations,” because I could see he was proud of his “accomplishment” and because I didn’t want to have him cut me off as a possible confidante. Then I added, “You know of course that I’m not really in favor of what the Marines are doing?”

He smiled and said, “Yeah, I know.”

A Profound and Jarring Disconnect

Democracy: de-moc-ra-cy, government by the people; the common people of a community, as distinguished from any privileged class

According to the latest poll conducted by CBS “60 Minutes” and the magazine Vanity Fair, 61 percent of Americans want to raise taxes on the wealthy as the primary way to cut the budget. The same poll finds that the second most popular first choice for cutting the nation’s budget deficit, at 20 percent, is cutting the military budget. That is, 81 percent of us–four out of five–would cut the deficit by taxing the rich and/or slashing military spending.

Only four percent of those polled favored cutting Medicare, the government-run program that provides health care for the elderly and disabled, and only three percent favored cutting Social Security.

President Obama meanwhile, appointed a so-called National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (quickly dubbed the “Catfood Commission” by critics) to come up with proposals to cut the budget deficit. He named as co-chairs former Republican Senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson, a troglodyte sworn enemy of Social Security who publicly declared it to be “a milk cow with 310 million tits,” and Erskine Bowles, a retired investment banker and former chief of staff to President Clinton who says he wants to cut spending, not raise taxes, which, when it comes to Social Security, means lower benefits for retirees.