Kucinich: Seek truth, not ‘fake political unity’

Nick Juliano – The Raw Story

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) says he won’t cease his efforts to hold the president and his administration accountable for their alleged abuses of power just because George W. Bush will be returning to his Texas ranch come January.

Kucinich says he wants Congress to create a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to examine what really went on within the Bush White House in the aftermath of 9/11 and the lead up to the Iraq war. He says only an independent body with truth-seeking as its goal — rather than “fake political unity” — can repair divisions that have emerged in an increasingly polarized nation.

During a brief press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, and in an interview with RAW STORY afterward, Kucinich said he would introduce legislation to create a commission before Congress finishes its current session at the end of this month. He said his proposal would be modeled on Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that followed periods of upheaval in other countries, such as the end of Apartheid in South Africa or to consider genocide in Rwanda.

He said the Bush administration’s transgressions rose to the level of other countries that have seen the need for Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.

“We’ve seen a dramatic erosion of our civil liberties and disruption of cherished constitutional provisions. Over a million innocent Iraqis have been killed. There’s an attempt to grab the national resources of Iraq,” he said, referring to attempts to exploit the country’s oil reserves.

“So actually, this kind of a process would lend itself to a spirit which all Americans are looking for. … ‘How do we reunite our nation?'” he continued. “But you can’t do it just through some fake political unity. The only way you can do it is to is to seek the truth, and we haven’t really done that.”

Kucinich said the commission he would propose should have the ability to subpoena testimony and documents and also retain the ability to recommend prosecution of any possible crimes it uncovers. Like Truth and Reconciliation Commissions of the past, though, it also should be able to grant blanket amnesty to anyone who agreed to provide a full accounting of their actions while in the White House. He said the work of previous bodies like the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission also would be examined by his new commission.

Congress and congressional committees already have many of the powers Kucinich described, such as the ability to subpoena witnesses, compel testimony through the threat of prosecution and grant amnesty. The problem is it’s been hesitant in exercising them. (Before Kucinich arrived at the press conference, activists lamented Congress’s failure to hold Bush administration officials like Karl Rove and Harriet Miers in inherent contempt — i.e. ordering the Capitol Police to lock them up until they agree to comply with subpoenas demanding their testimony.)

“Congress has had the opportunity to act, and it’s failed to do so,” Kucinich acknowledged to RAW STORY. “But Congress can still create a process where the work can be done, and that’s what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will do.”

False memories of July 7 cast doubt on court evidence

Memories of highly charged events such as the July 7 bombings can be totally inaccurate and too unreliable to use in court, a psychologist has found.

by Graham Tibbetts The Telegraph

More than a third of people questioned in a survey about one of the London terror incidents claimed to have seen footage which does not exist.

Dr James Ost, of the University of Portsmouth, said people create false memories which can pose problems for police investigating major crimes, social workers investigating families where abuse is suspected, adults who believe they have “recovered” memories from childhood trauma and for the courts where witness testimony is relied upon. He told the BA Festival of Science in Liverpool many people can be persuaded they have seen things which never happened.

His findings were based on a study carried out over a two-week period in October 2005, three months after the attacks on the Underground and a bus in central London.

A total of 300 people, half British, half Swedish, completed a questionnaire about their memories of the No 30 bus bombing in Tavistock Square.

Of the British respondents, 40 per cent claimed to have seen non-existent CCTV footage of the bus explode and 28 per cent claimed to have seen a non-existent computerised reconstruction of the bombing.

Some went much further when asked to describe what happened at the moment the bus exploded – which none of them could have seen.

Some answers revealed a high degree of skill in fabricating imaginary memories including:
One wrote: “The bus has stopped at a traffic light. There was a bright light and a loud bang and the top of the bus flew off and lots of screaming and then everything seemed still.”

Those who came up with false memories were significantly more fantasy-prone than people who did not, Dr Ost said.

This suggests that people who are more creative, or who have better imaginative abilities, might be more prone to these kind of errors.

The incidence of false memories is in line with other research published by Dr Ost’s team and by colleagues in Sweden and The Netherlands.

He said: “There have been numerous studies now demonstrating this basic effect.

“For example, another study we conducted at Portsmouth showed that some people believe they have seen video footage of the moment Princess Diana’s car crashed, taken by paparazzi photographers. But, again, no such footage exists.

“Taken as a whole, this is further evidence that our memories are not perfect. They are not like a videotape you can rewind and replay for perfect recall.

“Because of this, memory alone is not reliable enough to form the basis of legal decisions.

“We find some people are susceptible to fantasy; they are highly prone to believe they have witnessed something they cannot possibly have seen. They have fooled themselves into believing they saw things.”

Despite Rumors, Black Hole Factory Will Not Destroy Earth

By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

Scientists could generate a black hole as often as every second when the world’s most powerful particle accelerator comes online in 2007.

This potential “black hole factory” has raised fears that a stray black hole could devour our planet whole. The Lifeboat Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to safeguarding humanity from what it considers threats to our existence, has stated that artificial black holes could “threaten all life on Earth” and so it proposes to set up “self-sustaining colonies elsewhere.”

But the chance of planetary annihilation by this means “is totally miniscule,” experimental physicist Greg Landsberg at Brown University in Providence, R.I., told LiveScience.

Black holes possible

The accelerator, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is under construction in an underground circular tunnel nearly 17 miles long at the world’s largest physics laboratory, CERN, near Geneva.

Black holes are among a handful of threats to the planet. But Earth is more resilient than you might think. >>>

At its maximum, each particle beam the collider fires will pack as much energy as a 400-ton train traveling at 120 mph. By smashing particles together and investigating the debris, scientists hope to help solve mysteries such as the origin of mass and why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.

If theories about the universe containing extra dimensions other than those of space and time are correct, the accelerator might also generate black holes, Landsberg and his colleague Savas Dimopoulos at Stanford University in California calculated in 2001. Physicists Steve Giddings at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Scott Thomas at Stanford University in California reached similar conclusions.

Black holes possess gravitational fields so strong that nothing can escape them, not even light. They normally form when the remains of a dead star collapse under their own gravity, squeezing their mass together. Although black holes can’t be seen, astronomers infer their existence by the gravitational effects they have on gas and stars around them.

Making black holes

A number of models of the universe suggest extra dimensions of reality exist that are each folded up into sizes ranging from as tiny as a proton, or roughly a millionth of a billionth of a meter, to as big as a fraction of a millimeter. At distances comparable to the size of these extra dimensions, gravity becomes far stronger, these models suggest. If this is true, the collider will cram enough energy together to initiate gravitational collapses that produce black holes.

If any of the models are right, the accelerator should create a black hole anywhere from every second to every day, each roughly possessing 5,000 times the mass of a proton and each a thousandth of a proton in size or smaller, Landsberg said.

Still, any fears that such black holes will consume the Earth are groundless, Landsberg said.

For one thing, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking calculated all black holes should emit radiation, and that tiny black holes should lose more mass than they absorb, evaporating within a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, “before they could gobble up any significant amount of matter,” Landsberg said.

Not destroyed yet

CERN spokesman and former research physicist James Gillies also pointed out that Earth is bathed with cosmic rays powerful enough to create black holes all the time, and the planet hasn’t been destroyed yet.

“Still, let’s assume that even if Hawking is a genius, he’s wrong, and that such black holes are more stable,” Landsberg said. Nearly all of the black holes will be traveling fast enough from the accelerator to escape Earth’s gravity. “Even if you produced 10 million black holes a year, only 10 would basically get trapped, orbiting around its center,” Landsberg said.

However, such trapped black holes are so tiny, they could pass through a block of iron the distance from the Earth to the Moon and not hit anything. They would each take about 100 hours to gobble up one proton.

At that rate, even if one did not take into account the fact that each black hole would slow down every time it gobbled up a proton, and thus suck down matter at an even slower rate, “about 100 protons would be destroyed every year by such a black hole, so it would take much more than the age of universe to destroy even one milligram of Earth material,” Landsberg concluded. “It’s quite hard to destroy the Earth.”

If the Large Hadron Collider does create black holes, not only will it prove that extra dimensions of the universe exist, but the radiation that decaying black holes emit could yield clues that help finally unite all the current ideas about the forces of nature under a “theory of everything.”