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By Admin (from 26/04/2011 @ 11:00:25, in en - Global Observatory, read 2595 times)

In a new Cognitive Robotics Lab, students at Rensselaer are exploring how human thought outwits brute force computing in the real world. The lab's 20 programmable robots allow students to test the real-world performance of computer models that mimic human thought.

"The real world has a lot of inconsistency that humans handle almost without noticing -- for example, we walk on uneven terrain, we see in shifting light," said Professor Vladislav Daniel Veksler, who is currently teaching Cognitive Robotics. "With robots, we can see the problems humans face when navigating their environment."

Cognitive Robotics marries the study of cognitive science -- how the brain represents and transforms information -- with the challenges of a physical environment. Advances in cognitive robotics transfer to artificial intelligence, which seeks to develop more efficient computer systems patterned on the versatility of human thought.

Professor Bram Van Heuveln, who organized the lab, said cognitive scientists have developed a suite of elements -- perception/action, planning, reasoning, memory, decision-making -- that are believed to constitute human thought. When properly modeled and connected, those elements are capable of solving complex problems without the raw power required by precise mathematical computations.

"Suppose we wanted to build a robot to catch fly balls in an outfield. There are two approaches: one uses a lot of calculations -- Newton's law, mechanics, trigonometry, calculus -- to get the robot to be in the right spot at the right time," said Van Heuveln. "But that's not the way humans do it. We just keep moving toward the ball. It's a very simple solution that doesn't involve a lot of computation but it gets the job done."

Robotics are an ideal testing ground for that principle because robots act in the real world, and a correct cognitive solution will withstand the unexpected variables presented by the real world.

"The physical world can help us to drive science because it's different from any simulated world we could come up with -- the camera shakes, the motors slip, there's friction, the light changes," Veksler said. "This platform -- robotics -- allows us to see that you can't rely on calculations. You have to be adaptive."

The lab is open to all students at Rensselaer. In its first semester, the lab has largely attracted computer science and cognitive science students enrolled in a Cognitive Robotics course taught by Veksler, but Veksler and Van Heuveln hope it will attract more engineering and art students as word of the facility spreads.

"We want different students together in one space -- a place where we can bring the different disciplines and perspectives together," said Van Heuveln. "I would like students to use this space for independent research: they come up with the research project, they say 'let's look at this.'"

The lab is equipped with five "Create" robots -- essentially a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner paired with a laptop; three hand-eye systems; one Chiara (which looks like a large metal crab); and 10 LEGO robots paired with the Sony Handy Board robotic controller.

On a recent day, Jacqui Brunelli and Benno Lee were working on their robot "cat" and "mouse" pair, which try to chase and evade each other respectively; Shane Reilly was improving the computer "vision" of his robotic arm; and Ben Ball was programming his robot to maintain a fixed distance from a pink object waved in front of its "eye."

"The thing that I've learned is that the sensor data isn't exact -- what it 'sees' constantly changes by a few pixels -- and to try to go by that isn't going to work," said Ball, a junior and student of computer science and physics.

Ball said he is trying to pattern his robot on a more human approach.

"We don't just look at an object and walk toward it. We check our position, adjusting our course," Ball said. "I need to devise an iterative approach where the robot looks at something, then moves, then looks again to check its results."

The work of the students, who program their robots with the Tekkotsu open-source software, could be applied in future projects, said Van Heuveln.

"As a cognitive scientist, I want this to be built on elements that are cognitively plausible and that are recyclable -- parts of cognition that I can apply to other solutions as well," said Van Heuveln. "To me, that's a heck of a lot more interesting than the computational solution."

In a generic domain, their early investigations clearly show how a more cognitive approach employing limited resources can easily outpace more powerful computers using a brute force approach, said Veksler.

"We look to humans not just because we want to simulate what we do, which is an interesting problem in itself, but also because we're smart," said Veksler. "Some of the things we have, like limited working memory -- which may seem like a bad thing -- are actually optimal for solving problems in our environment. If you remembered everything, how would you know what's important?"

Source: ScienceDaily


McClatchy Newspapers writes “the US military set up a human intelligence laboratory at Guantanamo,” the Washington Post details new classified military documents obtained by the “anti-secrecy organization” present “new details” of detainees whereabouts on Sept 11, 2001 and afterward and the Daily Telegraph reports that it has exposed “America’s own analysis of almost ten years of controversial interrogations on the world’s most dangerous terrorists.”

Months after news organizations reported the Guantanamo Files might be WikiLeaks’ next release, the files are now posted on the WikiLeaks website. Nearly 800 documents, memoranda from Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the combined force in charge of the Guantanamo Bay prison to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.

The memoranda do not detail torture or how detainees were interrogated. The reports from between 2002 and 2008 show how JTF-GTMO justified when to keep detainees and also when it chose to release detainees. In cases of detainees “released,” that detainee’s “transfer” is detailed to “the custody of his own government or that of some othergovernment.”

The reports represent not just JTF-GTMO but, according to WikiLeaks, they also represent the Criminal Investigation Task Force created by the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations and the Behavioral Science Teams (BSCTs) consisting of psychologists who had “a major say in “exploitation” of [detainees] in interrogations.”

The Washington Post, the McClatchy Company, El Pais, the Telegraph, Der Spiegel, Le Monde,Aftonbladet,La Repubblica, L’Espresso, and Andy Worthington are each listed as partners. (TheNew York Times has coverage of the documents but is not listed as a partner and neither is NPR.)

What is a Guantanamo file?

First, the detainee’s personal information is listed. That information includes what the US considers to be the detainee’s name, aliases, place and date of birth, citizenship. The information also includes an Internment Serial Number (ISN).

The second section describes detainees’ mental health or physical health issues.

The third section is a “JTF-GTMO Assessment.” This section is where recommendations on whether a detainee should be held or released can be found. “Executive Summaries” in this section provide explanation for why a detainee should continue to be detained or released. The section denotes whether the detainee is a low, medium or high-risk detainee. And, under “Summary of Changes,” whether there have been changes in the information provided since the last report on the detainee is listed.

The fourth section is the detainee’s own testimony detailing the detainee’s background and how the detainee was seized and captured.

The fifth section is “capture information.” This section may be one of the more interesting sections in the released reports. Here one can see “Reasons for Transfer.” These are alleged reasons for the detainee’s transfer. WikiLeaks, however, notes there is reason to be skeptical:

The reason that [these reasons are] unconvincing is because, as former interrogator Chris Mackey (a pseudonym) explained in his book The Interrogators, the US high command, based in Camp Doha, Kuwait, stipulated that every prisoner who ended up in US custody had to be transferred to Guantánamo -- and that there were no exceptions; in other words, the "Reasons for transfer" were grafted on afterwards, as an attempt to justify the largely random rounding-up of prisoners.

A sixth section contains an analysis from the Task Force explaining whether the Force finds the detainee’s testimony to be convincing.

The seventh section presents an assessment detailing how much of a threat the detainee happens to be. This is another one of the more interesting sections of the reports because the “Reasons for Continued Detention” often come from statements from fellow detainees in Guantanamo or secret prisons run by the CIA where torture or other forms of coercion have been used to get detainees to talk. In some cases, detainees were offered rewards such as better treatment if they made statements on detainees in US military custody.

This section also looks at the “detainee’s conduct” and how a detainee has behaved citing “disciplinary infractions.”

The eighth section contains a “Detainee Intelligence Value Assessment.” This information suggests areas of intelligence that could be further “exploited.”

Finally, the “EC Status,” yet another interesting section, details whether the detainee is to still be considered an “enemy combatant” or not. Based on findings from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, just 38 out of 558 detainees that came before tribunals held in 2004-05 were determined to no longer be enemy combatants.

Now, as of 12:15 AM ET on April 25, sixty-seven detainee reports have been posted on the WikiLeaks website.

This is WikiLeaks first new leak since Cablegate. Presumably, WikiLeaks will continue to post US State Embassy Cables to its website as it releases these files.

Source: (*WLCentral will have coverage all week of the Guantanamo Files. Check back here regularly for updates.)


Under the terms of an interior ministry decree, riot police will no longer be allowed to wash down their lunch with a glass or two of beer or wine.

Officials were angered in 2010 when photos emerged of riot police drinking beer while policing a demonstration.

Riot police are sent into warring football crowds, street demonstrations and troubled estates.

One police union has called for alcohol to be allowed if meals are taken out of the view of the public.

Articulating the sense of outrage among the rank and file, Didier Mangione, who heads one French police union, wrote to the interior ministry defending the rights of riot police to drink on duty.

Like most other workers in France, officers serving in the Compagnies Republicaines de Securite (CRS) should be entitled to "a small quarter litre of red to accompany meals on the ground", Mr Mangione wrote.

"CRS officers do not have any more or less alcohol problems than anybody else in society. They should be allowed to drink in moderation," he said.

National tradition

According to French law alcohol is banned while employees are at work - with the exception of "wine, beer, apple cider and pear cider".

That has traditionally been taken to mean that a moderate amount of beer or wine is an entirely acceptable way to punctuate a French working day.

Reports suggest the relaxed attitude to alcohol even meant that cans of beer were included in packed lunches issued to riot police while out on the streets.

But images of riot police swigging beer on the sidelines of a student demonstration in late 2010 provoked a strong reaction - and prompted an even stronger reaction from police unions.

In his complaint, Mr Mangione suggested officers should be allowed to continue as before, providing the meal is not eaten in public view.

Paul Le Guennec, of Unite Police SGP-FO, a riot police union, suggested police bosses should look at their own behaviour.

"Does the fact that having a glass of wine while eating prevent any kind of worker from carrying out their job? I don't think the chief of police drinks water when he's having a meal," he told the JDD newspaper.



Hello everyone,

I hope everyone is getting the right feed of information on recent movement developments. I hope to be able to give further clarification on what will happen from now on.

TVP's desire to disassociate from TZM: 

Last night during a very long meeting on Teamspeak Roxanne has stated that TVP wants to move on, on its own as they felt we werent going in the right direction. Numerous questions on the actual meaning of that statement were ignored. In fact the answer was never provided and that is probably because it was untrue.

It became apparant that:

1. They were not happy that we did not openly endorsed and pursued donations for their movie project
2. They felt they werent given ground to " control " The Zeitgeist Movement and its operations
3. They thought that Peter wanted to be the director of The Venus Project ( or something to this extent it was really all vague talk )
4. According to TVP, Jacque should be the only credible/reliable source to explain a resource based economy
5. We can no longer use official TVP materials such as logo's, images and designs however due to the term RBE not being trademarked/copyrighted there is no limitation on that for us. This became apparant due to Roxanne's explicit statement about this.
6. TVP now wishes to coordinate the activism teams themselves and in the meeting openly called for people to perform activism under their umbrella. 
7. There was no ground for a reasonable discussion, TVP had made up their mind and it was not going to be changed

There were many other silly statements that were quite hurtfull to a lot of members.

The Zeitgeist Movement and consequential steps: 

As much as we regret this development in which we feel we had no part and feel we could not have prevented. This does not affect movement operations in the long run.

This has no direct effect on our basic operation as a movement. To myself and a lot of coordinators it has allways been about promoting this direction, targeting the value system and informing our fellow human beings about the need and possibilities for a transition out of a self destructing and wastefull sytem.

We will continue to advocate the train of thought behind a Resource Based Economy and will likely expand and incorporate more ideas and scientifically viable solutions into our " package ".

Not particularly instigated by this situation but now certainly under attention is the development of a more structured movement. This means a higher level of organisation. More direct and tangible activism. 2011 is the year we are going to lose our Diapers as a movement. 

This means that we will need a larger team for the global day to day management of the movement. Active news updates on the front page. Feeds/Streams of Chapter news. Frequent Press releases. More street activism and appearances in public. More lecturers and Spokespersons. Increased media stalking:P and appearances etc.

And we have set the stage and framework in order to achieve this. As Global Chapters Coordinator in service of the movement i have had the privilege of having the most complete overview of the growth of this movement and its perils and i can attest to the fact that we are now gaining momentum and increased potential to become the most influential / widespread and active social movement this planet has seen till date. And seen the state of this planet and society, this is very much needed. So lets go for it!

Chapter Instructions: 

Refrain from bombarding TVP with what,how and why questions: 

While it is understandable that many of you have questions about this event, we do not want to flood TVP with questions. If you do have questions, perhaps you can send them by email in consideration of their privacy. 

Venus Project Images and essays: 

Please remove all images and writings on official chapter sites that are produced by The Venus Project as Roxanne has requested this not to be used by TZM anymore.

Chapter coordination: 

As much as TZM will continue and expand its activities, so will its Chapters and with the move by TVP to take " control " of its own activism (as far as that exists).... ,a clear distinction will need to be made in our Chapter structure. While more complex parts of this event will have to be discussed at soon planned Coordinator and International meetings, i have no reason to suspect any international chapter coordinator to wish to transition to a venus project chapter coordinator, but if that is the case you may send your resignation as a Coordinator to gilbert[at] so that we may keep an accurate account of active TZM Chapter coordinators and seek replacement.

In conclusion: 

Until this subject has been properly discussed at a meeting, i feel we should refrain from other heavy comments or speculation.

In General i would like to express my thanks for the TREMENDOUS work everyone has done so far, and that i enjoy working with all of you and am immensely proud we have already come this far.

Let it be known that there is allways a willingness to conversate with The Venus Project from our side and that it would be great if they turned around and started acting sensible again. Putting the direction in front of the label, not behind. In any case, i thank Jacque and Roxanne for 2 years of great cooperation and wish them good luck with their efforts. 

Gilbert Ismail
Global Chapters Coordinator
The Zeitgeist Movement


" The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." 
Nelson Henderson


By Admin (from 21/04/2011 @ 14:00:38, in en - Global Observatory, read 2807 times)

A device that can detect gas being squeezed out of rocks could become the first reliable method for predicting earthquakes, according to its developers, who are about to test the device for the first time.

Scientists suspect that radon gas is released from cavities and cracks in rocks into soil and groundwater before an earthquake strikes. But commercially available detectors are too expensive to test this theory in a wide scale trial.

Now, Mexican and European scientists have developed a prototype of a simple detector cheap enough to use in large tests.

Vladimir Peskov, a member of the design team and a physicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said they aim to use a network of the cheaper detectors to test the theory that radon is released as layers of rock around a strained fault line deform before a sudden quake-causing slip.

The device is based on a technology that is already used in extreme environments such as the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

It consists of a 20-centimetre long, nine-centimetre wide aluminium tube which contains a number of wires along its length connected at either end to electrodes. When radon gas enters the tube it strips air molecules of electrons, triggering an electric current in the wire. Unlike existing detectors it works in ambient air.

The design was presented at the Vienna Conference on Instrumentation and a related paper is in press in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment.

"This is an impressive breakthrough," said Heikki Sipilä, an industrial engineer who has been developing gas detectors since the 1960s, and was not involved in the research.

"The detectors are simple and production costs low because no filling gas or expensive materials are needed," he told SciDev.Net.

Peskov told SciDev.Net that his team is planning to test several devices in the Bari region of Italy, which experiences frequent "micro earthquakes".

Tom Hockaday, managing director of ISIS Innovation, a UK technology transfer company, said that the devastating 2010 Chile and Haiti earthquakes had highlighted the dearth of technologies across the spectrum — from predicting quakes to helping with aid efforts.

Although this detector sounds promising and relatively straightforward, he said, full implementation would require fitting each detector with a radio transmitter to broadcast a signal, which might complicate its rollout in developing countries.

"There are challenges in deploying highly complex technologies in areas with relatively undeveloped infrastructure," said Hockaday, adding that it could be difficult to convince companies to invest in such early-stage technologies.

However, the inventors are optimistic and are seeking for collaborators from around the world to test the device. The long-term goal is to conduct full-scale testing along a number of fault zones with international backing, they told SciDev.Net.

If the device is proven reliable in upcoming field trials then they may be of particular interest to developing nations where the human impacts of earthquakes and related tsunamis are often at their most devastating.

Source: SciDev


About: ZM Global Radio is a weekly radio show presented by various active coordinators of The Zeitgeist Movement in a rotational fashion. These broadcasts discuss the developments and aims of The Zeitgeist Movement & The Venus Project; Organizations dedicated to creating a self-sustaining, abundant world.


Due to recent events, Federico Pistono's show will be pushed back a week so
Peter Joseph can address some time sensitive issues regarding the
relationship of The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement.


link: April 20th '11 - The ZM Global Radio - Host: Peter Joseph

link: Jacque and Roxanne answer to Peter's radio statement


This paper book is sold at factory-printing price. We encourage everyone to duplicate it at will for non-monetary distribution.

Event Time Announcer: Times around the world

The Zeitgeist Movement Global Radio show

The title is supplied by the creator of this announcement, not by

Africa | North America | South America | Asia | Australia/Pacific | Europe


* means the time shown has been adjusted for daylight saving time(DST) or summer time
(70 places listed).
Wed means Wednesday, 20 April 2011 (101 places listed).
Thu means Thursday, 21 April 2011 (40 places listed).

Months in the making,  this toolkit is designed with you in mind.  It contains a breakdown of how to take individual action and encourage others, create and host events, outreach to the media and ally organizations, and plenty more.
Everyone is an activist.

Bradley Manning Support Network
All material on this website is released into the public domain unless otherwise indicated. Link and attribution appreciated.


Letter 1 (Word Count, 192):

Dear Editor,

I read your [date] article entitled [title] on the topic of Wikileaks. While I liked/had some issues with your coverage of the controversy surrounding Julian Assange, I was very disappointed that you failed to mention the other principal person involved in this controversy, the American soldier Bradley Manning without whom Wikileaks would not be a household name. US Army Intel Analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning is alleged to have released the “Collateral Murder” video, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and the US Diplomatic Cables.

Twenty-three year old Manning has been in solitary confinement in the military brig at Quantico, VA since last May. He is awaiting trial for a charge of indirectly “Aiding the Enemy,” which may result in the death penalty. This case is alarming not only because of the conditions of Manning’s pretrial confinement, which have prompted investigations by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, but also because the charges imply that those who blow the whistle on war crimes and government corruption via a public source, such as a major newspaper, may now be tried for indirectly “Aiding the Enemy.”


Letter 2 (Word Count, 193):

Dear Editor,

I read your [date] article entitled [title] on the topic of Wikileaks. While I liked/had some issues with your coverage of the controversy surrounding Julian Assange, I was very disappointed that you failed to mention the other principal person involved in this controversy, the American soldier Bradley Manning without whom Wikileaks would not be a household name. US Army Intel Analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning is alleged to have released the “Collateral Murder” video, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and the US Diplomatic Cables.

In a chat log prior to his arrest, Manning said he hoped the released cables would result in “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” Famed Pentagon Papers whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg has compared Bradley’s actions to his own, both in intent and result. Of course, the “War on Terror” has changed U.S. culture significantly since the days when Ellsberg was heralded as a hero for helping end the Vietnam War. Nevertheless, international support for Bradley Manning is building, and hopefully his name will soon be as recognizable as those of Julian Assange or Daniel Ellsberg.


Letter 3 (Word Count, 203)

Dear Editor,

I read your [date] article entitled [title] on the topic of Bradley Manning, the US soldier alleged to have released to Wikileaks the “Collateral Murder” video, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and the US Diplomatic Cables.

You failed to mention the controversy surrounding the conditions of Manning’s pretrial confinement. Although he has not been tried or convicted of any crime, twenty-three year old Manning has been in solitary confinement in the military brig at Quantico, VA since last May, without access to sunlight or meaningful exercise. He is forced to strip naked before bed each night, and to stand at attention naked the next morning. According to Marine spokesperson 1st Lt. Brian Villiard, this is for PFC Manning’s own protection. However, Brig forensic psychiatrists have consistently maintained that there is no mental health justification for the prevention-of-injury watch imposed on PFC Manning.

The conditions of Manning’s confinement have prompted investigations by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. The U.S. was once regarded as an international leader for the quality of our justice system and our fair treatment of prisoners, but the shameful treatment of pretrial prisoner Bradley Manning seriously calls that into question.

By Admin (from 14/04/2011 @ 08:00:28, in en - Global Observatory, read 2819 times)

Researchers in Germany have developed the world's thinnest "pico" video projector.

The prototype device contains an array of carefully shaped microlenses, each with its own miniature liquid-crystal display (LCD). The device is just six millimeters thick, but it produces images that are 10 times brighter than would normally be possible with such a small device.

Handheld pico projectors can be used to display movies, maps, or presentations on nearby surfaces. But the projections can be difficult to view in direct sunlight because the light source isn't very powerful. The new lens system is small enough to be incorporated into a slim smart phone.

Increasing the brightness of a projection normally means increasing the area of the light source used, says Marcel Sieler, a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Germany. Sieler was involved with developing the prototype. But to increase the area in this way requires a thicker lens to focus the larger image. "As the area of the light source increases, so does the volume of the lens," says Sieler. The result is a much bigger projector.

Sieler and colleagues created a novel type of lens that focuses light from a relatively large light source while remaining thin. The prototype video projector consists of 45 microlenses colored red, green, or blue. Each lens has an LCD with 200 by 200 pixels behind it. The light passing through each LCD is focused through a lens, and together each image is superimposed on top of each other to produce the final image. The design was inspired by a type of microlens array known as a "fly's eye condenser," which is normally used to mix light from different sources.

Source: TechnologyReview


April 7, 2011. In his latest blog post, Bradley’s attorney David Coomb’s reports that:

“the defense has been working to facilitate an official visit for Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Mr. Juan Mendez (the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture), and a representative from Amnesty International.”

Allowing such visits would not only provide the opportunity for an expert investigation into Bradley’s conditions of incarceration, but would also help raise the profile of Bradley’s case in the national media.  The above officials have finally been granted the right to visit Bradley, but with a twist.

“The Quantico Brig Order P1640.1C, paragraph 3.17 allows two types of visitors for a detainee, ‘authorized’ and ‘official,’” explains Coombs.  ”The difference between them is described here in the Brig rule.”

Unexpectedly, the officials are only being granted “authorized” visits with Bradley.  A key difference between the two types of visits is that an authorized visit, which is normally granted to family members and friends, is subject to careful monitoring, including video and tape recording.  Evidence from these visits can be used against Bradley in court.

“The Government’s position is that the above individuals are not entitled to an official visit because none of these individuals are conducting ‘official government business.’”  Yet, none of these individuals have “established a proper relationship with the prisoner prior to confinement,” as required under the Brig rule for “authorized” visits.

Somehow an investigation by the United National Special Rapporteur on Torture doesn’t qualify as official government business.

Check out our toolkit for the addresses of the Quantico officials, if you’d like to let them know how you feel about their decision.



  250 of the US's most eminent legal scholars have signed a letter protesting the treatment of accused Wikileaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning. Manning is accused of passing thousands of secret government documents to WikiLeaks and has been charged with "aiding the enemy", a capital offense. As reported in the Guardian, the letter says that Manning is being held in "degrading and inhumane conditions" that are not only illegal and unconstitutional, but could amount to torture.

The letter was published in the New York Review of Books and written by Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School and Yochai Benkler of Harvard Law School. This excerpt from the letter details the conditions Manning is held in and charges that these violate the US constitution (I have added emphases in italics):

For nine months, Manning has been confined to his cell for twenty-three hours a day. During his one remaining hour, he can walk in circles in another room, with no other prisoners present. He is not allowed to doze off or relax during the day, but must answer the question "Are you OK?" verbally and in the affirmative every five minutes. At night, he is awakened to be asked again "Are you OK?" every time he turns his back to the cell door or covers his head with a blanket so that the guards cannot see his face. During the past week he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell, and for the indefinite future must remove his clothes and wear a "smock" under claims of risk to himself that he disputes.

The sum of the treatment that has been widely reported is a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against punishment without trial. If continued, it may well amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture, defined as, among other things, "the administration or application…of… procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality."

... President Obama was once a professor of constitutional law, and entered the national stage as an eloquent moral leader. The question now, however, is whether his conduct as commander in chief meets fundamental standards of decency. He should not merely assert that Manning's confinement is "appropriate and meet[s] our basic standards," as he did recently. He should require the Pentagon publicly to document the grounds for its extraordinary actions -- and immediately end those that cannot withstand the light of day.

The signatories of the letter include:

  • Bill Clinton's former labour secretary Robert Reich
  • President Theodore Roosevelt's great-great-grandson Kermit Roosevelt
  • the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union Norman Dorsen
  • the novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is "considered to be America's foremost liberal authority on constitutional law" and who once taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign

A full list of scholars who have signed the letter can be found here.

Benkler stated in the Guardian that "it is incumbent on us as citizens and professors of law to say that enough is enough." He added that the treatment Manning is being subjected to is being used "warning to future whistleblowers" and that it is "tragic that it is Obama's administration that is pursuing whistleblowers and imposing this kind of treatment."

Also, Ackerman points out that, under the Pentagon's own rule book, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Manning's jailers could be prosecuted for abusing him according to Article 93 of the code, that "any person who is guilty of cruelty toward any person subject to his orders shall be punished."

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have denounced Manning's harsh treatment, which the United Nations' rapporteur on torture is also investigating.

I hope President Obama takes this letter very seriously. The letter notes that Wikileaks has "touched every corner of the world" and emphasizes that the whole world watches America and observes what it does, not what it says -- and the treatment of Bradley Manning does not speak well for us.

You can take action and sign this petition to end the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning.


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