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Showing posts from October, 2008

Hall Of Shame: The Most Hate-Filled Flyers Of The 2008 Campaign (SLIDESHOW)

"Passion and prejudice properly aroused and about as well as principle and reason in a party contest."- Thomas Elder, prominent Whig politician, 1840

In a bitterly-contested presidential election, a Democratic candidate praised for his intellectual demeanor and idealistic spirit is the target of vicious personal attacks that question his patriotism and his ethnic background.

It was 1800, and Thomas Jefferson was the subject of rumors and crude innuendo circulated in newspapers and handbills passed out in taverns claiming that he was the son of a half-breed Indian squaw squired by a Virginia mulatto father.

Obviously, things haven't changed that much.

Read on...

The democratic process in action. Check out the slideshow. Tom

JUST IN: Colorado Voter Purge Overturned!

by StuHunter Thu Oct 30, 2008 at 07:18:09 PM PDT

Once again, the GOP plan to suppress the vote has been overturned by the courts. It amazes me that the party who flaunts the jingo "Country First" continually and willfully tries to stop Americans from voting. John McCain has run the nastiest, dirtiest, most un-American campaign that I have ever seen. Shame on John McCain. He's an embarrassment to any soldier who ever fought for our civil rights and freedoms.

DENVER — Tens of thousands of Coloradans who had been removed from the state’s voter rolls will be allowed to vote in next week’s election and given extra protections so their ballots are counted, under an agreement reached late Wednesday in federal court here. The voters’ names had been removed by Mike Coffman, the Colorado secretary of state, who said he did so because the voters had moved out of state or were listed more than once on the rolls. But Mr. Coffman was sued by a coalition of voting rights and other groups…

Florida GOP County Chair: Help!Black People are Voting!!!

by fladem Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 03:21:44 AM PDT

There are days in Florida when you feel like you are living in the 19th Century. Here is part of the text of an e-mail sent by the Chairman of the Hillsborough Republican Party (this is county that contains Tampa).


Read on...

I wish I could say "only in A…

Man in Edmonton dies after taser hit

Police zap man 'at least twice' after commotion at pawn shop
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
October 30, 2008 at 5:00 AM EDT

CALGARY — A man in Edmonton has died after being hit "at least twice" with a taser as police attempted to quell a disturbance inside a pawn shop, officials said yesterday.

Police were called to Dan's Pawn Shop in the city's west end at about 11 a.m., responding to a report of a man smashing things and making threats.

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Check Crimbrary's archive for multiple stories on Tasers. It probably is going to take some 12 year old kid getting tasered to death before anyone starts paying attention. Tom

Republican Voter Suppression: A Guide

By Kate Klonick and Zachary Roth - October 29, 2008, 7:19PM

There are so many Republican gambits designed to make voting more difficult -- specifically for Democrats, of course -- that it can be hard to keep track of them all. So here's a handy -- and by no means comprehensive -- guide to what's happening in some of the key swing states.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month denied a bid by the state GOP to force Democratic secretary of state Jennifer Brunner to provide local election officials with lists of new voters whose registration information did not match that on other government documents. Voting-rights advocates had feared that making Brunner hand over the lists could lead to a slew of GOP challenges, forcing hundreds of thousands of voters to cast provisional ballots. Republican leader (and Ohioan) John Boehner -- with help from the White House -- has asked the Department of Justice to step in, but few observers expect DOJ to take any action so close to the el…

After Third Stay of Execution, Could Troy Davis Win a New Trial?

By Jonathan Springston, IPS News. Posted October 28, 2008.

The Georgia prisoner was scheduled to die, again, but a federal court has opened the door for a new round of appeals.

ATLANTA, Georgia, Oct 27 (IPS) -- A federal appeals court in Atlanta has stayed the execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis scheduled for Monday -- the third time he has been pulled back from the death chamber in just over a year.

Davis had fulfilled the requirements required for "a provisional stay of execution," the court ruled on Friday. The stay gives time for Davis's lawyers to apply for a new appeal.

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This is Crimbrary's third post on Troy Davis.

How These Gibbering Numbskulls Came to Dominate Washington

The degradation of intelligence and learning in American politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies

by George Monbiot

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind's closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama was a Muslim and a terrorist?

Like most people on my side of the Atlantic, I have for many years been mystified by American politics. The US has the world's best universities and attracts the world's finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave politi…

Shock Value: A Comparative Analysis of News Reports and Official Police Records on TASER Deployments

by Justin Ready, Michael D. White and Christopher Fisher, in Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management v.31, 1, (2008): 148-170


Purpose – This paper sets out to encompass a comparative analysis of news reports and official police records of TASER deployments from 2002 to 2005.

Design/methodology/approach – The methodology involves a content analysis of all LexisNexis and New York Times articles involving police use of the TASER during the study period (n = 353). Regional (New York Times) and national (LexisNexis) news reports describing police use of the TASER
are compared with police reports of all TASER deployments by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) during the same timeframe (n = 375).

Findings – Descriptive statistics and logistic regression are used to compare the data sources with respect to: the circumstances in which the weapon is deployed; the characteristics of the suspects involved in the TASER incidents; and the significant pr…

Dozens (40) Walk-Out McCain Slime-Call Center In Disgust!!!

by Steven R Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 03:15:37 PM PDT
Talking Points Memo breaks this great story

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Williams' daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says.
"They walked out," Williams says of her daughter and her co-workers, adding that they weren't fired but willingly sacrificed pay rather than read the lines. "They were told [by supervisors], `If you all leave, you're not gonna get paid for the rest of the day."

Read on...

Crimbrary is predicting an Obama landslide. Not a particularly risky prediction at this point. Tom

California's Big Chance to Stop Locking up Harmless Drug Offenders

AlterNet. Posted October 25, 2008.

Supporters of California's Prop 5 argue it would dramatically improve the way non-violent offenders are treated.

The following are two important articles explaining the benefits the proposed Non-Violent Offenders Act initiative on the California ballot and the latest video released by its supporters and attacking the misconceptions about it. At the bottom of the article is a powerful ad that advocates of Proposition 5 have created and will start running on television, and links to what the proponents and opponents of Prop 5 are saying.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Daniel Macallair, G. Thomas Gitchoff

California voters are rarely given the chance to vote for an initiative that addresses a problem that many thought was unsolvable. Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, provides the opportunity for voters to bring change to the state's crumbling and bankrupt criminal justice system in a manner that cannot be achieved within t…

Hell Freezes Over: White House Drug Czar Backs Decriminalization

WASHINGTON - October 27 - The Marijuana Policy Project today congratulated White House "drug czar" John Walters for backing a Mexican government proposal that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

"I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but John Walters is right," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. "We heartily second his support for eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana users in Mexico, and look forward to working with him to end such penalties in the U.S. as well."

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This drug czar will probably be out of work by Friday....Tom

New FBI Hate Crime Statistics Confirm Need for Stronger Federal Response

NEW YORK - October 27 - Hate crime statistics released today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show a continued upward trend in certain categories of bias motivated violence in 2007 and confirm the need for a more vigorous response by the federal government, including enactment of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act (S.1105, H.R. 1592) and other steps outlined in a recent report by Human Rights First.

"There have been some glaring omissions in the federal government's response to a serious and growing problem of hate crime violence," said Tad Stahnke, the Director of Human Rights First's Fighting Discrimination Program. "The United States has both legislation and an extensive monitoring system on hate crimes. However, several steps should be taken to help ensure that the climate surrounding illegal immigration does not contribute to impunity for those who perpetrate violence targeting them and to strengthen the federal and local law enforceme…

Palin: 'I Don't Know' If Abortion Clinic Bombers Are Terrorists

By Jed L, Daily Kos. Posted October 25, 2008.

Palin gives a wink and a nod to right-wing extremists, with whom she shares radical views about the reproductive rights of women.

The buffoonish nature of Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy has mostly been a disaster for the McCain-Palin campaign, but it is has delivered at least one benefit: her foibles have helped obscure the true nature of her right-wing extremism.

But now, Sarah Palin's self-destructive behavior is threatening to expose even that. In an interview broadcast yesterday on NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams asked Palin whether she felt abortion clinic bombers were terrorists.

Read on...

Can Georgia Do Right?

Troy Davis: What the Stay of Execution Means?
by David Morse

Is the legal system of the state of Georgia up to the task - when the task is to rectify the flawed trial of a black man accused of killing a white police officer?

The world is waiting to see if justice can prevail.

Fortunately, on Friday, October 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Georgia's 11th Circuit issued a stay of execution that narrowly prevented accused cop killer Troy Davis from being put to death by lethal injection the following Monday.

Read on...

'Ten Commandments' of Non-Sexist Language for Reporting on Violence Against Women

BUENOS AIRES -- An organization of over 100 journalists in Argentina has drawn up ten "commandments" for news coverage of gender-based crimes, which include avoiding expressions like "crime of passion" and incorporating terms like "femicide."
The document, by the Argentine Network of Journalists for Non-Sexist Communication (PAR), has already been debated in forums and delivered to social and cultural associations and editorial offices. It will be publicly launched on Nov. 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Read on...

Disturbing Complicity on Torture

by Haroon Siddiqui

The headlines didn't match the stories on the report of the Frank Iacobucci inquiry into the alleged torture of three Arab Canadians abroad.

The former judge of the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that Canadian officials and institutions were complicit in the detention of at least two of them and perhaps of the third as well.

They were certainly complicit in the torture of all three.

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And no one seems to care. The militarization and brutalization of Canadian society continues. Tom

In Final Days Before Troy Davis Execution Date, Concerned Public Worldwide Demands Action

More than 25 Solidarity Rallies Take Place in United States and Abroad

ATLANTA, Georgia - October 23 - As the scheduled execution date for Troy Anthony Davis fast approaches, national and international support for Davis is on the rise, with the public demonstrating its outrage over the refusal to hear evidence in Davis' favor, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) reported today.

Amnesty International has mobilized its worldwide membership during its "Global Days of Action for Troy Davis" from now through Oct. 27. To date, rallies are scheduled to be held in 15 cities across the United States, including Atlanta; Tempe, AZ; Palm Springs, CA; Colorado Springs, CO as well as in Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Finland and Italy (for the complete list, please visit

Read on...

Crimbrary posted about Troy Davis in September. Tom

National homicide rate dropped in 2007

Downward trend begun in 1970s continues; Toronto site of one fifth of nation's slayings

Oct 23, 2008 09:48 AM

OTTAWA–Police reported 594 homicides in Canada in 2007, 12 fewer than in 2006.
Statistics Canada reports that stabbings accounted for a third of the homicides last year and another third involved the use of a firearm.
The agency says handguns were used in two-thirds of all firearm homicides, primarily in urban areas, while police reported that one in five homicides were gang-related.

Read on...

Justice Department Targets ACORN But Ignores GOP Voter Suppression

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet. Posted October 23, 2008.

On the eve of the 2008 election, the Department leaks a FBI probe of ACORN but remains silent on widespread voter intimidation tactics.

Partisan considerations still appear to be contributing to the Department of Justice's actions when it comes to enforcing the nation's voting rights laws.

With Election Day less than two weeks away, proponents of more tightly regulating the voting process -- this time led by congressional Republicans -- have gotten their desired response from the nation's guardian of civil rights' laws: a FBI investigation into ACORN, the low-income advocacy coalition that registered 1.3 million new voters in 2008.

Last week, two FBI officials told reporters an ACORN investigation was underway, violating Department rules for disclosing information on cases that could impact an election. The Obama campaign's response was to ask the Attorney General to include that leak in a special prosecutors'…

Advocates Settle Lawsuit on Voting Rights, Historic Voter Education Effort to Proceed in Alabama Prisons

Alabama Joins Only Vermont and Maine in Allowing Certain People to Vote While Incarcerated in State PrisonsLocal and National Organizations Join the New Bottom Line Campaign to Enter Jails and Hit the Streets to Register Eligible Voters with Felony Convictions for Drug Possession

WASHINGTON - October 22 - Yesterday, a settlement was reached between The Ordinary People's Society (TOPS) and the Alabama Department of Corrections, allowing Reverend Glasgow to resume his non-partisan ministry to register eligible voters currently incarcerated in the state's correctional facilities.

The lawsuit was filed after the Alabama Department of Corrections cancelled Reverend Glasgow's ministry following the Alabama Republican Party's objection to his voter education activities. NAACP Legal Defense Fund, under Ryan Haygood, acted as counsel for TOPS in the lawsuit

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In New McCain Robocall, Rudy Giuliani Suggests Obama Opposes Jailing Murderers And Rapists

By Greg Sargent - October 22, 2008, 2:15PM

It was perhaps predictable that the task of recording the worst of McCain's robo-slime -- the worst so far, at least -- would fall to Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani has recorded a new McCain robocall in which he suggests, in effect, that Barack Obama doesn't think sex offenders, drug dealers and murders should have to go to jail, according to Jennifer Henderson, a stay-at-home mom in Maine who tells us she received the call.

Readers in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, and Colorado also report receiving the same call. Here's audio:

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This is how criminal justice policy is abused and distorted in the U.S. election process. Follow the link the hear the audio or to read the transcript. Tom

Concerns about deployment of military on U.S. soil growing -- while mainstream media buries its head in the sand: Naomi Wolf


The following is the spin of military spokespeople in response to questions about the deployment of the First Brigade on US soil for the first time in over 200 years.

The Army Times initially reported that the First Brigade would handle domestic crowd control and subduing 'unruly individuals' and that they had 'lethal and nonlethal technologies' to do so. Then it issued a correction declaring that the 'nonlethal' package was not for domestic crowd control. Then after a hue and cry was raised by many citizens, Northern Command (NorthCom) offered a wholesale revision of their mission – and the mainstream media is eating it up. Here is an excerpt from the articled linked to in the previous sentence:

Despite conspiracy theories that this could be a first step toward martial law in the U.S., there won't be tanks on Main Street or active-duty troops putting down demonstrations. That is barred by federal law banning the mi…

Canada failed three citizens

Oct 22, 2008 04:30 AM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be tempted to portray former justice Frank Iacobucci's report on the detention and torture of three Canadian citizens in Syria and Egypt largely as a vindication of Canadian policy in the war on terror.

That would be wrong. Canada failed these three men, as it did Maher Arar, with chilling consequences.

Ottawa should consider issuing apologies, and compensation.

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And the public yawns. Does anyone care? Shameful. Tom

The Purell Defense

Can hand sanitizers really affect your blood-alcohol level?

By Nina Shen RastogiUpdated Monday, Oct. 20, 2008, at 6:54 PM ET

Rep. Vito Fossella of New York was convicted in a Virginia court on Friday on charges of drunken driving. A second hearing will be held to determine whether Fossella's blood-alcohol content at the time of his arrest was above 0.15, which would require a five-day jail term. Defense attorneys claimed that Fossella had used Purell several times on the day he was arrested and that the ethanol in the hand sanitizer affected his blood-alcohol reading later that night. Can hand sanitizer applied to the skin really affect a breath alcohol test?

Probably not. A 2006 study among Australian health care workers tested this very question. Twenty workers applied Avangard—a hand sanitizer with 70 percent ethanol (compared with Purell's 62 percent)—30 times during one hour, mimicking the usage in intensive-care units. One to two minutes after the final exposure, six of the…

Ruling on Guns Elicits Rebuke From the Right

By ADAM LIPTAKPublished: October 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — Four months after the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess guns, its decision is under assault — from the right.

Two prominent federal appeals court judges say that Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in the case, District of Columbia v. Heller, is illegitimate, activist, poorly reasoned and fueled by politics rather than principle. The 5-to-4 decision in Heller struck down parts of a District of Columbia gun control law.

The judges used what in conservative legal circles are the ultimate fighting words: They said the gun ruling was a right-wing version of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that identified a constitutional right to abortion. Justice Scalia has said that Roe had no basis in the Constitution and amounted to a judicial imposition of a value judgment that should have been left to state legislatures.

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Arson, Suicide, and Murder Mark the Economic Crisis, and We're Not Hearing About it

By Nick Turse, Posted October 20, 2008.

Violent reactions are bubbling up across the country to new economic realities.

On July 23d, about 90 minutes before her foreclosed Taunton, Massachusetts home was scheduled to be sold at auction, Carlene Balderrama faxed a letter to her mortgage company, letting them know that "by the time they foreclosed on the house today she'd be dead." She continued, "I hope you're more compassionate with my husband and son than you were with me." After that, she took a high-powered rifle and, according to the Boston Globe, shot herself. In an interview with the Associated Press, Balderrama's husband John said, "I had no clue." His wife handled the finances and had been intercepting letters from the mortgage company for months. "She put in her suicide note that it got overwhelming for her," he said. In the letter, she wrote, "take the [life] insurance money and pay for the house."


Iraq Veterans Against the War Report from Debate Protest

Thursday, 16 October 2008By Kristofer Goldsmith

On Wednesday, October 15th 2008, a peaceful protest outside the third Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on Long Island was met with violence and misconduct by police.

Iraq Veterans Against the War had a clear mission that night: to ensure that the issues most important to Veterans would be at the forefront of the debate. With over 4,183 service members having been killed in Iraq (at the time of the protest), it's unforgivable that the candidates have been allowing the Occupation of Iraq and it's casualties to fall into avoidable talking points instead of focused attention.

Read on...

Another example of police interferring with legitimate protest. Follow the link to video of the event. This doesn't bode well for how the police are going to treat the pitch fork wielding populace who will soon be storming neighborhood banks in search of their savings. Particularly when layed off policemen will be wielding some of the pitch f…

The War on Pot Is a War on Young People

By Paul Armentano, AlterNet. Posted October 17, 2008.

74% of all Americans busted for pot are under 30 -- it's long past time for young people to join ranks and help end this drug war.

Young people, in many cases those under 18 years of age, disproportionately bear the brunt of marijuana law enforcement.

Demographically speaking, the above statement is a "no-brainer." Yet this is hardly a fact that we as a reform community like to admit or emphasize. Instead, you'll hear reformers argue that the war on pot is a war on patients -- and at some level, it is. Or you'll hear advocates proclaim that marijuana enforcement disproportionately impacts African-Americans and Hispanics -- and to some degree, it does. Attend enough of these conferences and you'll inevitably hear that our movement needs better representation from women and minorities, both of whom face unique hardships because of the drug war, and that criticism is appropriate too. But, one thing you'll mo…

9,000 'ordinary people' flee Mexican drug war

October 20, 2008 at 8:07 AM EDT

A record number of Mexicans are fleeing to Canada, claiming their own country cannot keep them safe as it struggles to contain a grisly narcotics war that is spilling into nightclubs and restaurants.

There are currently 9,070 Mexican refugee claimants waiting to have their cases heard, the largest number yet from one country since the Immigration and Refugee Board was established in 1989.

"We all know and love Mexico and Mexican beaches, but that is not the real Mexico," said Doug Lehrer, a Toronto lawyer. "Mexican authorities are completely overwhelmed and can't offer ordinary people a reasonable level of protection."

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More collateral damage from the extended war on drugs. Tom

What Now?

By Jim Kunstler

It's fascinating to read the commentators in mainstream journals like The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal all strenuously pretending that "the worst is over" (maybe... we hope... fingers crossed... hail Mary full of grace... et cetera). The cluelessness would be funny if it didn't involve a world-changing catastrophe. All nations that have reached the fork-and-spoon level of civilization are now engineering a vast network of cyber-cables that lead directly from their central bank computers to the Death Star that is hovering above world financial affairs like a giant cosmic vacuum cleaner, sucking up dollars, euros, zlotys, forints, krona, what-have-you. As fast as the keystrokes create currency-pixels, the little electron-denominated units of exchange are sucked out of the terrestrial economies into the black hole of money death. That's what the $700-billion bail-out (excuse me, "rescue plan") and all its associated ventures a…

The Supreme Court and the Election: What's at Stake

By Herman SchwartzThis article appeared in the November 3, 2008 edition of The Nation.
October 16, 2008

The upcoming presidential election will shape the Supreme Court for decades to come. John Paul Stevens is 88, David Souter dislikes Washington and the 75-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been treated for cancer. One or more of these liberal Justices will probably leave the bench in the next four years. The replacement of one or two of them by a conservative would mean a rollback of key rulings of recent years.
Roe v. Wade has drawn the most attention, but many other liberal rulings of the past twenty years that were decided by 5-to-4 or 6-to-3 votes could be reversed. Even if these decisions are not overruled outright, conservative judges can obtain the same result by redefining what is protected, erecting procedural hurdles or forcing repeated expensive litigation. Here are some of the most important rulings that would be threatened by a McCain Court:
Read on...
The balance on the Sup…

Use of force incidents drop: police

October 17, 2008 Thana Dharmarajah

Early one morning, Guelph Police chased three men leaving a stolen vehicle on foot.

They followed one man into an alley where he hid against a wall in the darkness. One officer drew his Taser. The police found the man and told him to get on the ground.

When another officer moved to put handcuffs on the suspect, he noticed scissors in the man's pants pocket. Fearing for his safety, he stepped on the man's back and zapped the man in the back with the Taser before he could reach for the scissors.

Read on...

I have to confess I don't know if this is good or bad for a city of about 125,000. Guelph does have an overly active nightclub scene that floods the downtown with 6000 mostly drunken citizens every weekend night. But it is worth monitoring.Is seeing scissors in a pocket a good enough reason to taser someone? What do you think? Tom

The Great Reagan Pyramid Scheme Comes Crashing Down

by Juan Cole

The Republican Party that Nixon invented melded the moneyed classes of the Northeast with the white evangelicals of the South. This odd couple went on to simultaneously steal from and oppress the rest of us. The moneyed classes were happy to let the New Puritans impose their stringent morality, since they could always just buy any licentiousness they wanted, regardless of the law. And the New Puritans were so consumed with cultural issues such as homosexuality, abortion, school prayer and (yes) fighting school desegregation that they were happy to let the northeastern Money Men waltz off with a lion's share of the country's resources, consigning most Americans to stagnant wages and increasing debt. The Reagan revolution consolidated this alliance and brought some conservative Catholic workers into it.

These domestic policies at home were complemented by wars and belligerence abroad, which further took the eye of the public off the epochal bank robbery being conducte…

Are You An American Citizen?

by tristero

Are you an American citizen? Yes? Then, as far as the world's concerned, you signed your name to this:

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects -- documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.

The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency's interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing.

Read on...

An interesting tanget to this article is an article…

As the Violence Soars, Mexico Signals It's Had Enough of America's Stupid War on Drugs

By Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet. Posted October 14, 2008.

The U.S.-financed War on Drugs has had savage results in Mexico, and now its president wants to decriminalize pot, cocaine and heroin possession. Even on his most homicidal of days, Al Pacino's character in Scarface couldn't even approach the level of drug trafficking-related brutality bleeding down Mexico's streets. It is no longer unusual for the Mexican news media to report on yet another, freshly decapitated head stuck atop a fencepost or a metal spike, or a garbage bag filled with body parts, usually with a hand-scrawled note or placard attached. That amounts to a cartel's calling card, and it's usually delivered in the form of a warning to a rival cartel, or for the Mexican authorities to stay away and stop seizing their drugs. Other times, it's just a chilling placard intended to strike terror into the hearts of the people who come across the gory scene and the text: "Ha Ha Ha." To be sure …

Progressive Voter Guide to Reproductive Justice and Gender

Find out how the candidates compare on the 10 most important reproductive justice and gender issues, from abortion to equal pay.

In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. Just 10 days later, the clinic closed and Sanger was arrested. It took seven years of court battles before she was able to open another clinic, 20 years before the United States stopped classifying information about birth control as obscene, and another 36 years before the Supreme Court extended the right of privacy to include the use of contraceptives outside of marriage. Today, virtually every woman (98 percent) who has ever had sexual intercourse has relied on some form of contraception. Yet that right, along with so many other hard-fought gains (reproductive choice, equal pay for equal work, gender equity in education), is under assault.

The list of setbacks is as depressing as it is long: A growing number of pharmacists is refusing to fill birth control prescriptions, the…

University Student To Plead Not Guilty To Terrorism Charges

by Jon Collins and Alex Robinson

A University student arrested preemptively before the Republican National Convention will be one of the first people prosecuted under a terrorism clause in the Minnesota Patriot Act since it was passed in 2002.
Cultural studies junior Max Specktor is charged with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism.

Monday, Specktor's hearing was postponed until at least November.

Specktor and seven other defendants facing the same charge will be heard together, and face a maximum of seven and a half years of jail time.

Read on...

This really encourages students to get involved in the political process. Has Obama said what he thinks about the Patriot Act? Are politicians still afraid of the war-on-terror? Could a politican condemn the use of the Patriot Act against Max Specktor and get elected anywhere in the U.S.? Tom

Progressive Voter Guide to Drug Issues

Find out how Obama and McCain compare on everything from drug sentencing laws to drug use in politicians' personal lives.

Twelve states now have medical marijuana laws on the rolls, and hardly a week goes by without the announcement of a medical study touting the healing effects of cannabis. Yet the drug war in the United States keeps on rolling: More than 870,000 people were arrested on charges relating to marijuana last year, and Congress approves larger budgets each year for the White House drug czar.

What can we expect from Obama on drug issues if he's elected? "Bottom line," marijuana policy expert Paul Armentano recently wrote, "no administration since Jimmy Carter's has proactively taken steps to liberalize federal drug penalties, and there's little indication that Obama and Biden will possess either the desire or the political will to buck this long-running trend." We can expect even less from John McCain, given his history of statements on is…

Since Assault Weapons Ban Lifted, At Least 163 Dead, 185 Wounded, 15 Police Officers Dead, 23 Wounded

WASHINGTON - October 9 - In the four years since the federal assault weapons ban expired on September 15, 2004, at least 163 people have been killed and 185 wounded with military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, including at least 38 police officers killed or wounded, according to a report being issued today by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Restrictions on assault weapons, which drew support from Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, have been addressed by both major candidates for President: "Senator Barack Obama has stated as recently as his convention acceptance speech that it is imperative that criminals be denied the use of assault weapons," the report says. "Senator John McCain, who has opposed the NRA on gun shows and other issues, has been firm in his opposition to an assault weapon ban."

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World Is Moving Towards Banning Death Penalty, says Reprieve

Report says five nations responsible for almost all state executions in past year
by Duncan Campbell

The world is moving closer to the final abolition of the death penalty, according to the latest figures published to coincide with World Day against the Death Penalty today.

Currently, five nations are responsible for almost all the state executions carried out in the past year.

So far, a total of 137 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, while 60 countries retain its use, usually for people convicted of murder.

At least 1,252 people were known to be executed in 24 countries during 2007. Of all the executions in 2007, 88% took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the US.

By the end of the 2007, 91 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes and last year a further three countries (Albania, Cook Islands and Rwanda) joined their number, according to Reprieve, which represents death row prisoners around the world.

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Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile

Edited by Lucie Ogrodnik, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, 2008

This is the eleventh annual Family Violence in Canada report produced by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics under the Federal Family Violence Initiative. This annual report provides the most current data on the nature and extent of family violence in Canada, as well as trends over time, as part of the ongoing initiative to inform policy makers and the public about family violence issues.

Each year the report has a different focus. This year, for the first time, the focus chapter examines variations in spousal violence across the provinces and territories. The data used to examine spousal violence, the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) survey is more nationally representative than ever before. National coverage of the UCR2 survey reached 90% in 2006.

In addition, the report also presents fact sheets, data tables and figures examining family violence against children and youth, fam…

CSIS, RCMP monitor protest groups for possible Olympic threats

Jeff Lee, Canwest News ServicePublished: Thursday, October 09, 2008

Security forces are predicting protests will escalate as the 2010 Olympics approach and have mounted a number of "intelligence probes" to counteract threats.

The information is contained in documents obtained by Canwest News Service from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP, the lead agency for the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

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Wonder if non-violent anti-war groups are included. See story below on Maryland State Police. Tom

Documents say Detainee Near Insanity

by Pamela Hess

WASHINGTON - A U.S. military officer warned Pentagon officials that an American detainee was being driven nearly insane by months of punishing isolation and sensory deprivation in a U.S. military brig, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

While the treatment of prisoners at detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan and Iraq have long been the subject of human rights complaints and court scrutiny, the documents shed new light on how two American citizens and a legal U.S. resident were treated in military jails inside the United States.

The Bush administration ordered the men to be held in military jails as "enemy combatants" for years of interrogations without criminal charges, which would not have been allowed in civilian jails.

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"They hate us for our freedoms" - George Bush. Tom

Maryland Police Put Activists' Names On Terror Lists

by Lisa Rein

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.

Maryland State Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan said the department is sending letters to activists, inviting them to review their files.(Photo Credit: By Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

The department started sending letters of notification Saturday to the activists, inviting them to review their files before they are purged from the databases, Sheridan said.

"The names don't belong in there," he told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. "It's as sim…

Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets Ready to Carry Out "Crowd Control"

By Naomi Wolf, AlterNet. Posted October 8, 2008.

Members of Congress were told they could face martial law if they didn't pass the bailout bill. This will not be the last time.
Background: the First Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, three to four thousand soldiers, has been deployed in the United States as of October 1. Their stated mission is the form of crowd control they practiced in Iraq, subduing "unruly individuals," and the management of a national emergency. I am in Seattle and heard from the brother of one of the soldiers that they are engaged in exercises now. Amy Goodman reported that an Army spokesperson confirmed that they will have access to lethal and non lethal crowd control technologies and tanks.
George Bush struck down Posse Comitatus, thus making it legal for military to patrol the U.S. He has also legally established that in the "War on Terror," the U.S. is at war around the globe and thus the whole world is a battlefield. Thus the U.S.…

Family sues police claiming Taser raid on son

'I'm a good boy,' autistic man, 43, tells officers after they Taser him in bedroom, family alleges

Oct 07, 2008 04:30 AM Dale Anne Freed Staff Reporter

A 43-year-old physically and mentally disabled North York man and his family are suing several police officers, including members of the Emergency Task Force, and the Toronto Police Services Board for more than $9 million in damages after he was hit with a Taser in his bedroom.
According to the lawsuit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, George Lochner was in his second-floor bedroom when emergency task force officers came looking for his brother Silvano, who was wanted for allegedly threatening to assault his neighbour with a sledgehammer.
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I'm not obsessed with Tasers but it seems to me that the use of them is growing. And the situations they are used in seem to be more and more bizarre. What will it take for a more sensible Taser policy? This article hints at one possibility. Tom

Oh Canada

by digby

Conservative violence seems to be on the rise everywhere:
Toronto police patrolled a midtown area overnight, after vandals cut brake lines on at least 10 cars parked at homes with Liberal election signs on their lawns.
"We're investigating. Officers are paying special attention to the designated area and we take this very seriously," Staff-Sgt. Shawn Meloche, from 53 Division, said last night. "This is a danger to life as well as to property. Regardless of the motivation – and there appears to be a connection (to the signs) – this is a public safety issue."
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Read Digby's take on the election vandalism in Toronto. Digby is the author of the progressive blog Hullabaloo. Tom

Crime Labs Expose Preventable Forensic Errors

by John Terzano The Justice Project
Mon Oct 06, 2008 at 04:28:55 PM PDT
Police crime labs in both Detroit and Baltimore have recently come under fire for shocking errors discovered in the testing, analysis, and use of forensic evidence.
Last week the Detroit police crime lab was shut down after an audit in June of the ballistics division revealed a 10% error rate in 200 firearms cases they reviewed. A fear that this error rate pervaded all divisions was the main reason for the closure of this chronically under-funded and over-worked lab.
The discovery in the ballistics divisions has put the integrity of all forensic evidence testing and analysis in Detroit at risk. And the ramifications of the lab closure could be far-reaching. Innocent people may have been wrongfully convicted from flawed forensic evidence leaving dangerous criminals free to commit more crimes.
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Dailykos is the blog that the wingnuts love to call ultra left wing. Whatever. Follow the link in this story to the Jus…

The Bailout: How Capitalism Killed Democracy

By David Sirota, AlterNet. Posted October 4, 2008.

We now face market forces uninhibited by democratic governance. The bailout is an aggressive attempt to trade democracy for autocracy.
The marriage of American capitalism and democracy has always been a Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee affair -- stormy and erratic since its hasty wedding. But during the debate over a Wall Street bailout this week, we watched that matrimonial knot unwind into a tangled tale of terror.

As a financial crisis became a political panic, capitalism murdered democracy (ironically, while pursuing a vaguely socialist bailout). Only, unlike a typical horror story, the dead body wasn't hidden, it was dumped in the nation's public square.

The fiasco started, like most, with unreasonable demands. Under threat of financial meltdown, capitalism's corporate lobbyists asked our democracy to forsake its usual deliberations and hand over $700 billion of taxpayer money in less than a week.

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Last week was hist…

Controversy Grows As Taser Expands Scope

by Andy Greenberg

Sitting idle, the Taser Shockwave looks like a waist-high rack of square green teeth. But press a button, and those teeth--six electrified cartridges tethered by 25-foot wires--shoot out in a 20-degree arc. Inch-long probes emitting 50,000 volts of electricity pierce through clothing and skin. If a human being is in their path, his or her muscles immediately flex and lock involuntarily.

Use Shockwave defensively to create a perimeter around rioters, as police demonstrated in a training exercise on California's Treasure Island earlier this month, and a mob of unruly individuals can be corralled into a corner. Or fire the device into a crowd, and several targets go down in a temporarily paralyzed heap.

Shockwave, set to be deployed sometime in 2009, is one of several powerful new "less-lethal" devices coming closer to being used in the real world, as opposed to just test situations. And it's not the only experimental toy soon to be sold by Phoenix-based …

Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets

Packs of Fish Catch On as Currency, Former Inmates Say; Officials Carp


When Larry Levine helped prepare divorce papers for a client a few years ago, he got paid in mackerel. Once the case ended, he says, "I had a stack of macks."

Mr. Levine and his client were prisoners in California's Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex. Like other federal inmates around the country, they found a can of mackerel -- the "mack" in prison lingo -- was the standard currency.

"It's the coin of the realm," says Mark Bailey, who paid Mr. Levine in fish. Mr. Bailey was serving a two-year tax-fraud sentence in connection with a chain of strip clubs he owned. Mr. Levine was serving a nine-year term for drug dealing. Mr. Levine says he used his macks to get his beard trimmed, his clothes pressed and his shoes shined by other prisoners. "A haircut is two macks," he says, as an expected tip for inmates who work in the prison barber shop.

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Nice a…

Debt Rattle, October 2 2008: Showboating

Ilargi: Ireland this week announced full insurance for all bank deposits in the country, to the tune of some $650 billion. This is twice the country’s GDP. For comparison, if the US were to do the same, about $25 trillion would be required.
Is this realistic, in either of the countries? You kidding me? Ireland would only need one major bank run to turn into a scary mess, adorned with fighting in the streets. Let alone two or three.
For its part, the US has huge problems passing a $700 billion "rescue" (the Senate raised it to $800 billion), and its FDIC banking insurance fund has maybe $45 billion left.
No problem, the FDIC keeps reiterating: we can always borrow from the Treasury. Well, nice and all, but then you’re back to square one, ain’t you? You would have to put the taxpayer in deeper debt, in order to insure that same taxpayer’s bank deposits. How does that qualify as a plan?
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Ilargi of the blog Automatic Earth rants about economic collapse and speculates about …

Police Lieutenant in Taser Case Commits Suicide

By CHRISTINE HAUSER and SHARON OTTERMANPublished: October 2, 2008

A New York City police lieutenant who gave the order to fire a Taser stun gun at an emotionally disturbed man who then fell to his death in Brooklyn committed suicide early on Thursday, law enforcement officials said.

Lt. Michael W. Pigott, a 21-year veteran of the force, was found in a police locker room at a former airfield in Brooklyn, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, said Paul Browne, the police department’s deputy commissioner for public information.

“On behalf of all of the members of the New York City Police Department, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lt. Michael W. Pigott who served with dedication for 21 years,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement.

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And another one. Tom

Reports Show Widespread Confusion About The Voting Rights Of People With Criminal Records

Misinformation Could Disenfranchise Hundreds Of Thousands Of Eligible Voters

NEW YORK - October 1 - A report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law reveals widespread misunderstanding among state elections officials of laws governing the right to vote of citizens with felony convictions.

A second ACLU report, also released today, finds that voter registration forms in states across the country fail to clearly explain the eligibility of voters with criminal records.

Both reports highlight widespread problems that endanger the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of eligible voters nationally in a presidential election year.

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B.C. man dies after being tasered by police

B.C. man dies after being tasered by police
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
September 30, 2008 at 10:10 PM EDT

VANCOUVER — A man has died after Mounties in the Vancouver suburb of Langley used a taser to subdue him after he jumped out of the window of a house. Police said the man died en route to hospital Tuesday afternoon. Officers used the stun gun after they responded to reports that an armed bank robbery suspect was holed up in a Langley house. RCMP Corporal Peter Thiessen told CTV news that shortly after police arrived at the house, the man smashed through the front window and landed on the ground. He was naked and bleeding from the chest. Earlier, shouts were heard from the house and police said there were reports that a woman was inside.
Read on... We've posted on this before: But it just keeps happening. Not sure what it will take to get Taser policy changed. Tom