Friday, May 29, 2009

Bush still pre-screening questions at speaking events.

Throughout George W. Bush’s presidency, his handlers always made a special effort to ensure his appearances with regular Americans were scripted in such a way that shined the best possible light on Bush and his polices. Whether he was meeting troops in Iraq, leading “Ask President Bush” re-election campaign events, or trying to sell his (failed) Social Security reform plan, Bush always had a friend in the audience ready to ask a softball question or heap praise on the president. It appears that old habits die hard, as those attending Bush’s upcoming speech in Michigan will be forced to submit their questions ahead of time:

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First of all the website www.protestbush.com is back online and it has been updated. The protest is today at 3 p.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Be interesting to see how many protestors show up. Tom

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Justice Could Hold the Key to Presidential Power

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: May 24, 2009

WASHINGTON — As President Obama prepares to replace Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court, conventional wisdom says his nominee will have little chance to change the court because all the contenders appear to share Justice Souter’s approach on social issues, like abortion rights.

But the effect on presidential power could be pivotal. Important rulings on executive authority — striking down military commissions and upholding habeas corpus rights for Guantánamo detainees — have been decided by a five-vote majority, including Justice Souter, on the nine-member court.

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Threats to Judges, Prosecutors Soaring

Worried Court Personnel Resort To Guards, Identity Shields, Weapons

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 25, 2009

Threats against the nation's judges and prosecutors have sharply increased, prompting hundreds to get 24-hour protection from armed U.S. marshals. Many federal judges are altering their routes to work, installing security systems at home, shielding their addresses by paying bills at the courthouse or refraining from registering to vote. Some even pack weapons on the bench.

The problem has become so pronounced that a high-tech "threat management" center recently opened in Crystal City, where a staff of about 25 marshals and analysts monitor a 24-hour number for reporting threats, use sophisticated mapping software to track those being threatened and tap into a classified database linked to the FBI and CIA.

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FBI Blows It: Supposed Terror Plot Against NY Synagogues Is Bogus

By Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation. Posted May 23, 2009.

Turns out it is really the handiwork of a creepy FBI informant. The story strengthens the narrative that the "homeland" is under attack. It's not.

By the now, it's maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it's revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne'er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur.

I've seen this movie before.

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Protest Bush on May 29, 2009

Come and get waterboarded at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Rally outside Bush speaking engagement. Friday May 29, 3 PM to 6 PM. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front Street West, TO ONT.

Volunteers needed at Toronto Coalition to Stop the War.

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This will be an interesting protest on Friday. For the past months the Toronto Police have been demonstrating enormous good sense and restraint while policing the Tamil protests in Toronto. Crimbrary hopes they show the same restraint and good sense on Friday. Not one Tamil has been tasered in these past months. One hopes that not one anti-war, anti-war crime, protester gets tasered on Friday. And if one does what will that say about the Toronto police and their attitude towards legitimate anti-war protest? The website at the above link loads slowly. Tom

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Measuring corporate environmental crime rates: progress and problems

by Carole gibbs and Sally S. Simpson. Crime, Law and Social Change, 51, 1 (2009): 87-107.

This article is available online to members of the University of Toronto community. It is also available in print at the Centre of Criminology Library.

The problem of corporate crime rates has been the subject of debate, speculation and operationalization for decades, largely stemming from the complexity of measuring this type of crime. Examining corporate environmental crime poses challenges and creates opportunities for advancing the discussion of corporate crime rates, but criminologists are less familiar with environmental data. In the current paper, we review the strengths and weaknesses of existing environmental data that can be used to construct the components of an environmental crime rate. We also present a corporate environmental crime rate derived from data on violations of the Clean Water Act and describe problems with using it in real world data. Implications for theory, practice and future research are discussed.

Making the rules and breaking the rules: the political origins of corporate corruption in the new economy

by Robert Tillman. Crime, Law and Social Change, 51, 1 (2009): 73-86.

This article is available online to members of the University of Toronto community. It is also available in print at the Centre of Criminology Library.

Recent scandals at companies like Enron and WorldCom have pointed to the systemic origins of many corporate frauds. This paper advances the argument that behind those scandals were strategic political actions that changed the regulatory and legal environment in which those firms operated and created criminogenic institutional frameworks that facilitated acts of corporate corruption. Three case studies involving (1) the California energy crisis of the late 1990's, (2) the regulation of energy derivatives, and (3) accounting treatments of stock options, are presented to illustrate how markets and the rules that govern them are the products of political processes and how they can create motivations and opportunities for corporate fraud. The implications these case studies have for the study of corporate crime and corruption are discussed.

Exhorbitant CEO compensation: just reward or grand theft?

by David O. Friedrichs. Crime, Law and Social Change, 51, 1 (2009): 45-72.

This article is available online to members of the University of Toronto community. It is also available in print at the Centre of Criminology Library.

The failure of society to criminalize policies and practices of powerful organizations and individuals that are demonstrably harmful has been a central theme of the white collar crime literature since Sutherland. In recent years much commentary and criticism has been directed at vastly exorbitant compensation packages awarded to CEOs of major corporations and other major institutions. Although some criminal prosecutions have been pursued on the basis of allegations of fraud in relation to CEO compensation (e.g., the Dennis Kozlowski/Tyco case and the Conrad Black/Hollinger case), and some civil lawsuits demanding repayment of unjustifiably large CEO compensation have been initiated (e.g., the Richard Grasso/New York Stock Exchange case), most typically exorbitant CEO compensation packages result in neither criminal indictments nor civil lawsuits. This article explores the status of exorbitant CEO compensation as a criminological phenomenon, beginning with a typology of different views on such compensation. The contemporary scope of disproportionate compensation is reviewed, with the exponential increase in the gaps between the compensation of CEOs and those below them documented. Some of the different mechanisms along a continuum of legal to illegal for providing exorbitant CEO compensation are identified. Why is the awarding of exorbitant CEO compensation typically legal? What specific forms of harm arise from awarding exorbitant CEO compensation? Why do Corporate Board Compensation Committees award exorbitant CEO compensation? Indeed, what are the specifically criminogenic dimensions of Corporate Board decision-making that contribute to this process? What arguments can be advanced in favor of criminalizing exorbitant CEO compensation and against doing so? What specific practical constraints would have to be overcome to criminalize the awarding of exorbitant CEO compensation? If exorbitant CEO compensation has not been addressed traditionally as a form of white collar crime, what arguments can be advanced in favor and against doing so now? This article promotes attention to the exorbitant CEO compensation issue by white collar crime scholars, with a provisional addressing of the questions raised above.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

There's No Ammo on the Shelves -- Is It the Gun Nuts' Fear of Obama-lypse?

By Yasha Levine, AlterNet. Posted May 7, 2009.

A trip to the L.A. exurb and desert city of Victorville tells you all you need to know about why it's so hard to buy ammunition these days.

VICTORVILLE, Calif. -- Ever since it became clear that Barack Obama would be our next president, there's been an unprecedented run on guns 'n ammo in America. Partly this is fueled by fears, some justified some not, that Obama will outlaw a broad range of assault weapons; partly it's fueled by socioeconomic factors, racism and right-wing hate.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in Victorville, a desert exurb of Los Angeles that boomed faster with the subprime craze than just about any city in the country and fell harder when it all collapsed. Today, guns and ammo are in short supply here in Victorville. But there is an abundance of despair and paranoia.

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The Far Right's First 100 Days: Getting More Extreme by the Day

By Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future. Posted May 6, 2009.

Their talk is turning ugly, and it's not unthinkable that we could be in for a wave of domestic terrorism unseen since the mid-'90s.

Sometime back in February, about three weeks into Barack Obama's administration, everybody on the left suddenly noticed that there was something different going on with the conservatives.

The outrageous screeds and paranoid delusions sounded pretty much as they always had -- but there was a new fury behind them, a strident urgency that hadn't been there before, and a very audible shift of the gears in right-wing behavior and rhetoric.

None of this came as a surprise to veteran right-wing watchers -- we'd been predicting a bad backlash since the 2006 election -- but more than three months into the new administration, it's increasingly hard to ignore the fact that this ominous new trend is taking on a momentum of its own.

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Jury Finds Teens Not Guilty of Hate Crime in Beating Death of Latino

By David Neiwert , Orcinus. Posted May 6, 2009.

The facts of the case were clear, but an all-white jury decided to let a mob of racist teens off easy.

You don't have to have been from rural Pennsylvania to have been able to predict the outcome of this case:

Some satisfied, others outraged with verdict for immigrant's death

Friends and relatives of two teens accused in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant struggled to contain their relief as not-guilty verdicts were announced on the most serious charges against the former high school football stars Friday.

Gasps filled the courtroom and some had to be restrained by sheriff's deputies as they tried to rush the defense table after Derrick Donchak, 19, and Brandon Piekarsky, 17, were acquitted of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and ethnic intimidation for the death of Luis Ramirez.

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Jury nullification in PA. tom

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Supreme Court to Consider Life in Prison for Juveniles

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that it would decide the constitutionality of giving juveniles who commit crimes other than murder a sentence of life in prison without the chance of release.

The nation's high court agreed to hear two Florida cases, one involving a 13-year-old convicted of raping an elderly woman and the other involving a 17-year-old who took part in an armed home-invasion robbery while on probation for an earlier violent crime.

Their lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court and argued that life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, for juveniles whose crimes did not involve murder violated the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Enfranchising Convicted Felons: Current Research on Opinions Toward Felon Voting Rights

This article is available online to members of the University of Toronto community. A print copy is also available in the Centre of Criminology Library.

Due to their original intent, collateral consequences, such as felon voting restrictions, are still held to be civil in nature, but increasing evidence shows that over time their results have become punitive. Since felon disenfranchisement occurs as a collateral consequence once an individual has been convicted of a felony it arguably qualifies as an issue under the broader subject of punishment. If felony disenfranchisement was legally considered a punishment in 2007, would evolving standards of decency support its continued use? To answer this question this article will explore how punishments philosophies in the U.S. have changed in the last thirty years, then it will examine current opinion research that focuses on the re-enfranchisement or enfranchisement of convicted felons.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.
The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture rallied on Capitol Hill in March 2008.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

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Obama Likely to Pick Woman to Replace Souter

by John Nichols on 04/30/2009 @ 10:46pm

Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who has reportedly informed the White House that he plans to retire, is a relative youngster in high court terms.

Five of the current justices are older than the appointee of former President George Bush who turned out to be more liberal on a number of issues than the appointees of former President Bill Clinton. So, at 69, Souter could easily be looking forward to another two decades on the bench. (After all, Justice John Paul Stevens, another Republican appointee gone liberal, is 89 and going strong; most court watchers think Stevens is aiming to surpass the record of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who retired -- just shy of age 91 -- as the oldest justice in the high court's history.)

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Super Prude Prosecutors Charge Teenagers with Pornography and Worse For Sexy Text Messages

Taking nude pictures of yourself--nothing good can come of it.
--Police Capt. George Seranko, Greensburg, Pennsylvania

The police captain might be right, in one sense. Particularly for the unskilled or ill equipped, getting the angle right, the focus and lighting just so, might be an effort--too much for the unsteady hand, the shy poser, the butterfingers. Much better to take nude pictures with someone else, to make a game of it, a performance of seeing and being seen, an

amuse-bouche

before the banquet, or maybe in place of it. Safe sex, unless you're a teenager, in which case someone might want to arrest you.

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More wingnuttery. Tom

Armed Revolt in the Obama Era? Right-Wing Gun Nuts Share Their Paranoid Worldview

By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted May 1, 2009.

Gun show enthusiasts make it abundantly clear why they're stocking up on firepower.

On April 18 and 19, I attended gun shows in Antioch, Calif., and Reno, Nev., to probe the culture of gun enthusiasts at the onset of the Barack Obama era.

I came away from these events with a portrait of a heavily armed, tightly organized movement incited by right-wing radio to a fever-pitched resentment of Obama and his allies in Congress.

Even as the economy suffers, gun dealers and their Washington lobbyists are leveraging renewed anti-government sentiment into unprecedented sales figures and fattened membership rolls.

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Wingnuts on the warpath....won't turn out well. Tom

Justice Souter Plans to Retire from the Supreme Court

By Heather Friday May 01, 2009 5:30am

John Amato:

Things got a whole lot more interesting for President Obama. Justice David Souter is retiring from the bench and the president will be able to pick a true progressive judge to fill the vacancy in the coming months. I doubt he wanted to tackle this topic so soon with everything else on his plate, but that's the hand he was dealt and I look forward to being involved heavily in the process. I can only imagine what will come out of the mouths of the teabaggers and FOX News. Brace yourself, this is going to get ugly on their side very quickly. I hope to have our website released soon that will be dedicated to the Supreme Court. It's already designed and I'm lining up the troops as we speak.

From The Rachel Maddow Show April 30, 2009. Justice David Souter plans to retire from the Supreme Court. From the MSNBC press release:

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Remember how the Democrats in congress rolled over and approved George Bush's nominees. Remember how they didn't even get answers to their questions and they still confirmed them. I'll be surprised if Obama's first choice gets confirmed. Tom