Monday, January 14, 2008

Today's News Fixation

Mikaela says:
I'm avoiding most news today, but these two I can't shake off.

Reposted from Democracy Now:

Court: Gitmo Detainees Do Not Meet Definition of “Person”

The D.C. Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by four British men who were held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The four men had sued former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse. The judges effectively ruled that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law. The court ruling read in part “Because the plaintiffs are aliens and were located outside sovereign United States territory at the time their alleged claim arose, they do not fall with the definition of 'person.'"

This smacks me in the face as even worse than the 3/5 solution, the 1757 ruling that black men counted as 3/5 of a person to determine districts for representation in Congress. Even our stupid government way back then believed slaves should be considered people on some level and acknowledged they got representation - even though only symbolic -- in Congress! These men (enemy combatants, prisoners, innocent, tortured folks) not only are not considered people, they have no legal redress. There is no reason not to torture them, if they are not considered people, which would give them some measure of protection. This is so illegal I can't stand it. It also does not bode well for the immigration debate that the word "alien" is being expanded into this context. Are we going to deport Mexican "aliens" to GitMo now???

This next one shows progress on the mortgage crisis front. Cleveland is one of planning's heroic cities, starting with the progressive "equity planning," a la Norm Krumholz in the 1970s. Now the City's leading the charge to sue predatory lenders whose racist, classist practices caused a nation-wide economic crisis.

Cleveland Sues 21 Banks Over Subprime Mortgage Crisis

In business news, the city of Cleveland has sued twenty-one banks including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo for their role in the subprime mortgage crisis. Cleveland has been at the epicenter of the country’s foreclosure crisis. The lawsuit alleges that the predatory lending practices of the banks has created a public nuisance that hurt property values and city tax collections. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said “To me, this is no different than organized crime or drugs. It has the same effect as drug activity in neighborhoods." There were more than 7,500 foreclosures in Cleveland last year – up from less than 120 in 2002.

Love that Mayor! (Image from Cleveland's City Planning website.) Go get em, Cleveland! Watching, America?