Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2009

"Sonic gun" used by police in Honduras now used against G-20 protesters?

by lysiasShare this on Twitter - "Sonic gun" used by police in Honduras now used against G-20 protesters? Fri Sep 25, 2009 at 09:17:30 AM PDTI couldn't help but notice a photograph on Page A16 of today's Washington Post showing demonstrators against the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh running away from "an ear-splitting siren" used by the police to disperse protesters.The Washington Post story mentions "sound cannons".Here's more mention in an AP report:The marchers did not have a permit and, after a few blocks, police declared it an unlawful assembly. They played an announcement over a loudspeaker ordering people to leave and then police in riot gear moved in to break it up. Authorities also used a crowd-control device that emits a deafening siren-like noise, making it uncomfortable for protesters to remain in the area.Read on....

Police embroiled in violent battles with G20 protesters

Alexandra Frean in Pittsburgh and David Byers

Anti-G20 protesters rampaged through the city centre of Pittsburgh tonight, smashing up shops and throwing rocks at police, as officers used tear gas and baton-charges in an attempt to bring them under control. In riots which continued through evening rush hour, about 300 protesters were reported to have remained from an initial crowd of 2,000 in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s Little Italy. Frustrated in their attempts to reach the venue where world leaders are meeting the crowd, many of whom wore face-masks and armed themselves with rocks, broke windows at fast-food restaurants, a BMW dealership and a bank in the area, about a mile from the fenced-off convention centre.
Read on...Check out the video. There is also a report that the police are using "accoustic weapons" for the first time on American soil. Lots of practice with these weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan no doubt. Tom

Garbage Men Trained To Fight Crime

Volusia County Sheriff's Office Launches Operation BoloThe Volusia County Sheriff's Office is training garbage collectors, electricians and other mobile professionals to help fight crime.

The crime initiative, called Operation Bolo for Businesses on the Lookout, will teach workers how to look for telltale signs of crime in an effort to make communities safer."We get to see a lot more than what other people get to see," garbage collector Juan Lebron said.

Read on...

Tracking Sex Offenders on Your Phone: Smart or Paranoid?

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted September 24, 2009.

A hot new iPhone App uses GPS technology to track registered sex offenders everywhere. Are they keeping you safe, or profiting off paranoia?

For a few days this past August, one of the top ten most popular paid iPhone apps of the summer suddenly went missing.

The POM Offender Locator, a product of ThinAir Wireless, hit the scene on June 2, a nifty little way to keep track of registered sex offenders using GPS technology. ("POM" stands for "peace of mind.") The paid app, which cost 99 cents, provided the convenient capacity for "anyone living in the United States to view Registered Sex Offenders living in their area," according to its official description.

"Knowledge = Safety" it read, followed by the following sales pitch:

"They know where you and your family are … Now it's time to turn the tables so that you know where they live and can make better decisions about where to allow y…

Taser Company Uses Facebook, Blogs to Improve Image Amidst Lawsuits Stun-gun maker Taser blogs to beat bad buz

by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay and Saumyadeb ChakrabartyBrian Black of Taser International demonstrates their X26 model at a trade show for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in Montreal August 26, 2008. (REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)BANGALORE - When the 49ers were battling the Cardinals in a National Football League game earlier this year, a Facebook update by stun gun maker Taser proclaimed that the San Francisco-based team's "Taser formation" could be the tipping factor.The company, whose main product is a lightning rod for criticism, is increasingly using blogs and social networks to promote new products and dispel anxieties about them.Tasers, also known as conductive energy weapons, disable people with a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity, and have become increasingly popular with police around the world.Taser's latest X3 gun, which can shoot multiple targets simultaneously, assumes the company's Facebook persona, evangelizing about products and engaging cust…

FL Deputies Raid House, Play Wii For 9 Hours

By Jeralyn,

Ever wonder what really goes on during the execution of a search warrant for drugs? Hopefully, this is an anomaly. Watch as Lakeland, FL Sheriff's deputies play a Wii bowling game on the suspects' TV for 9 straight hours. They were caught by his home security camera. The funniest part is the cop who jumps up and down for joy when getting a strike.

Read on...

There is YouTube video of this. I"ve played Wii bowling, and can't imagine playing it for nine hours. Tom

New Terror Alerts Coincide With Push to Renew the Patriot Act

By Jeralyn, Section War on Terror

We have vague terror threats guaranteed to strike fear in the heart of every American because they reference football stadiums, hotels, and mass transit. We have President Obama today calling for a renewal of expiring Patriot Provisions. The FBI says:"Nothing in the bulletins references the current investigation," a Federal Bureau of Investigation issued spokesman said Tuesday. Investigators still don't have specific evidence indicating an imminent threat to particular targets in the alleged plot, federal officials said.That hasn't stopped Republicans from claiming: [More...] Republicans said now isn't the time to limit the government's powers. The investigation in New York and Colorado is a reminder that "the threat to the homeland is very real," Sen. Kit Bond said in an interview Tuesday. "Tying the hands of our terror-fighters is not what we should be doing now." The current law contains ample p…

Facing Beggars

Posted Sep 9,2009 In a downturn, begging goes on an upswing. “You do see more of it,” says Roughan MacNamara of Focus Ireland, which aids the homeless. A typical government response is to crack down. Ireland, for instance, is rewriting 1847 anti-vagrancy laws so that police officers can round up “aggressive” beggars, deemed a threat to pedestrians, businesses, and tourism.Anti-begging laws are gaining popularity in North America as well, says University of Toronto criminologist Joe Hermer. But his research suggests that police initially enforce such laws, then inevitably turn to other issues—and beggars return to the streets.
Read on...Joe Hermer gets a mention in the National Geographic. Tom

Baby, You Can't Drive Your Car

A judge's favorite punishment for drunken drivers—ignition-interlock.By LaDoris Cordell

Ignition-interlock-device demonstration

Driving home from work after a long day at the courthouse, I was hit by a drunken driver. He destroyed my car and left me with bruises, a hairline fracture of the spine, and terrified about the thought of getting back on the road again. This man who wreaked havoc in my life received a fine, kept his driver's license, and was sentenced to serve a few weekends in jail. This was in November 1984.When I returned to my job as a California trial judge eight weeks later, I had a far different perspective on the crime of drunken driving. While the system that we had in place to deal with drunken drivers might have been efficient, with cases and punishments quickly dispatched, it did nothing to make our roads safer.Read on...

Black Double Amputee Tased in Wheelchair

by Steven DShare this on Twitter - Black Double Amputee Tased in Wheelchair Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 05:17:25 AM PDT

Read more at:
Two white police officers in Merced, CA used a taser twice on an African American double amputee in a wheelchair, allegedly because he resisted arrest when he held onto his wheelchair to prevent being thrown on the ground by the police officers. Then they handcuffed him while he was on the ground, after his pants had fallen down exposing his genitals to the public at the apartment complex where he lived. He spent several days in jail though he has yet to eb charged with any crime by the District Attorney: The man who was Tasered, Gregory Williams, 40, a double-leg amputee, spent six days in jail on suspicion of domestic violence and resisting arrest, but the Merced County District Attorney's office hasn't filed any charges.Read on...This one rates high on the long list of bizarre taser abuse, right up there with the granny …

Promising Models for Reforming Juvenile Justice Systems

Marian Wright EdelmanNationally, one in three Black boys and one in six Latino boys born in 2001 are at risk of going to prison during their lifetimes. Although boys are more than five times as likely to be incarcerated as girls, the number of girls in the juvenile justice system is significant and growing. This shamefully high incarceration rate of Black youths is endangering our children at younger and younger ages and poses a huge threat to our nation's future. America's cradle to prison pipeline is putting thousands of young people on a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment, and often premature death. The Children's Defense Fund's Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Crusade is committed to dismantling the pipeline, however long it takes. First, we must prevent children from entering the pipeline. Then we must help children already trapped in the pipeline find a way out rather than locking them into a lifelong spiral of arrest and incarceration.

Read more …

Frank Schaeffer: The GOP's Evangelical Subculture is a Fifth Column of Insanity

By Heather Thursday Sep 17, 2009 11:00am
Rachel Maddow talks to Frank Schaeffer about why a good deal of conservatives when polled said they weren't sure if President Obama was the anti-Christ.Maddow: I do not know what possessed this polling firm to ask whether or not that people think the President is the anti-Christ, but they did. Does the response rate among conservatives surprise you? More than one in three saying yes or they don’t know.Schaeffer: Well I was a child when President Kennedy was assassinated and my mother thought that because he died of a head wound foretold in scriptures of the anti-Christ he would be resurrected as the anti-Christ. She thought this might be a possibility. So those of us who come from the evangelical subculture have been weaned with our mother’s milk on a changing case list of villains. It might be Kennedy to one generation, Obama to the next.But the larger point this brings up is that the mainstream not just media but culture doesn’t sufficient…

Will (and when and how will) SCOTUS have to weigh in on Ohio's desire to try execution again?

This new AP article, headlined "Lawyers try to stop second Ohio execution try," reports on the latest legal news concerning Ohio's plan to try again to execute Romell Broom. Here are highlights: Lawyers plan state and federal lawsuits and a request to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to stop next week's unprecedented second execution attempt of a man whose lethal injection failed on Tuesday. Cleveland attorney Tim Sweeney said Thursday that he expects lawsuits to be filed no later than Friday in an effort to halt the next attempt to put Romell Broom to death. Sweeney argues that a second try at an execution is unconstitutional. At the very least, he said, Strickland should further delay Tuesday's execution. Broom "sustained both physical and mental injuries," Sweeney said. "It's going to take time for all the psychic trauma to dissipate. Even if it never goes away, I think it's wrong to try to do it again so quickly in these circumstances."

Anti-Choice Floridians Peddling Constitutional Amendment to Criminalize Birth Control Pill

Posted by Liliana Segura, AlterNet at 2:15 PM on September 14, 2009.
The "Personhood Amendment" would define someone as a "person," regardless of age or health status, "from the beginning of the biological development of that human being."

This post originally appeared in PEEK.Florida has done it again, folks.Yes, the state that brought you Bush v. Gore, the sex offender colony under the bridge, and the shoot-first-ask-questions-later legislation known as the "Stand Your Ground Law" has another idea up its sleeve. And this one's for the ladies.Tampa Bay Online reports:TALLAHASSEE - Anti-abortion conservatives are proposing a new constitutional amendment that critics claim would make it a crime to take birth control pills in Florida.The "Personhood Amendment" that conservative activists are filing today in Tallahassee would add language to the state constitution that defines someone as a "person," regardless of age or he…

A Recipe for Disaster: School Cops Are Being Armed with 50,000-Volt Tasers

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted September 16, 2009.Tasers aren't 'nonlethal'; they've killed hundreds. With younger people being especially vulnerable to the Taser's shock, the risks could be very deadly.

One spring day this April, at the Franklin Correctional Institution on Florida's Highway 67, Sgt. Walter Schmidt pulled out his electronic immobilization device -- EID in correctional officer parlance -- and zapped two people, who immediately "yelped in pain, fell to the ground and grabbed red burn marks on their arms," according to the St.Petersburg Times.The two were not inmates at the prison, however. They were students visiting as part of "Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day."The move cost Schmidt his job, despite his claim that he merely intended to demonstrate how the devices worked. He had even asked the children's parents (who were also employees at the prison) permission first. "When they said 'sure,&#…

Over 100 Million Americans Have Smoked Marijuana -- And It's Still Illegal?

By Paul Armentano, NORML. Posted September 10, 2009.
41 percent of the U.S. population say they've tried cannabis at least once in their lives, 10 percent say they've used it in the last year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has once again released their annual survey on “drug use and health” — you know, the one where representatives of the federal government go door-to-door and ask Americans if they are presently breaking state and federal law by using illicit drugs. The same survey where respondents have historically under reported their usage of alcohol and tobacco — these two legal substances — by as much as 30 to 50 percent, and arguably under report their use of illicit substances by an even greater margin. The same survey that — despite these inherent limitations — “is the primary source of statistical information on the use of illegal drugs by the U.S. population.” Yeah, that one.So what does the government’s latest round of ’statistical (thou…

Violent crime fell 1.9 percent in '08, FBI says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Violent crime dropped for the second year in a row in 2008, according to an annual FBI crime report released Monday.

The FBI's annual crime report is based on statistics provided by almost 18,000 law enforcement agencies.
The total number of violent crimes nationwide dropped 1.9 percent compared with 2007, the FBI reported. Murders and non-negligent manslaughters declined 3.9 percent, aggravated assaults dropped 2.5 percent, and forcible rapes fell by 1.6 percent. The 89,000 estimated forcible rapes in 2008 was the lowest reported total in 20 years. Racial minorities suffered disproportionately as victims of some of the most violent crimes. Almost half of the country's 14,000 murder victims, for example, were African-American.Read on...

New FBI Report: A Pot Arrest Every 37 Seconds in 2008

By Jeralyn,

The FBI today released its report (available here) on arrests for 2008. Here's the table (jpg) for all drug arrests. Ryan Grim at Huffington Post has reviewed the report and writes:Someone is arrested in the United States for a drug-law violation every 18 seconds, an FBI report released Monday shows. More than four-fifths of those arrests were for possession only and nearly half were for possession of marijuana. Of the 847,863 marijuana arrests -- one every 37 seconds -- 89 percent were for possession alone. We're wasting vast amounts of money busting drug users. No wonder we're going broke and can't afford health insurance. Remember this report (pdf) by a Harvard University economist finding that legalizing and regulating drugs would inject tens of billions a year into the U.S. economy?

Read on...

Doesn't sound to me like the "war on drugs" is winding down. Tom

Bench Press: Are Obama’s judges really liberals?

by Jeffrey Toobin

The Obama Administration wanted to send a message with the President’s first nomination to a federal court. “There was a real conscious decision to use that first appointment to say, ‘This is a new way of doing things. This is a post-partisan choice,’ ” one White House official involved in the process told me. “Our strategy was to show that our judges could get Republican support.” So on March 17th President Obama nominated David Hamilton, the chief federal district-court judge in Indianapolis, to the Seventh Circuit court of appeals. Hamilton had been vetted with care. After fifteen years of service on the trial bench, he had won the highest rating from the American Bar Association; Richard Lugar, the senior senator from Indiana and a leading Republican, was supportive; and Hamilton’s status as a nephew of Lee Hamilton, a well-respected former local congressman, gave him deep connections. The hope was that Hamilton’s appointment would begin a profound and rapid chan…

Spanish Judge Resumes Torture Case Against Six Senior Bush Lawyers

By Andy Worthington, AlterNet. Posted September 9, 2009.
A Spanish newspaper reports that Judge Baltasar Garzón is pressing ahead with a case against attorneys who implemented torture at Guantánamo.

The Spanish newspaper Públicoreported exclusively on Saturday that Judge Baltasar Garzón is pressing ahead with a case against six senior Bush administration lawyers for implementing torture at Guantánamo.Back in March, Judge Garzón announced that he was planning to investigate the six prime architects of the Bush administration's torture policies -- former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, a former lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, who played a major role in the preparation of the OLC's notorious "torture memos"; Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy; William J. Haynes II, the Defense Department's former general counsel; Jay S. Bybee, Yoo's superior in the OLC, who signed off on the August…

Michael Moore's 'Capitalism' Flick Rips into Crimes of Wall Street

By Xan Brooks, The Guardian. Posted September 9, 2009.
Moore's latest documentary drew tumultuous applause at the Venice film festival, suggesting that the veteran tub-thumper has lost none of his power to whip up a response.

The bankrobbers caught on camera at the start of Capitalism: A Love Story are a forlorn and feeble bunch. We see a bedraggled old man in a Hawaiian shirt, and what looks to be a 12-year-old boy wearing a balaclava. For all their flailing efforts, they've got nothing on the real crooks: the banking CEOs who recently absconded with $700bn of public money, no strings attached. That's what's known as a clean getaway.Michael Moore's latest documentary drew tumultuous applause at the Venice film festival, suggesting that the veteran tub-thumper has lost none of his power to whip up a response. If the film finally lacks the clean, hard punch provided by the record-breaking Fahrenheit 9/11, that can only be because the crime scene is so vast …

Will Proof That Texas Executed an Innocent Man Change People's Minds On the Death Penalty?

Posted by Suzanne Ito, Blog of Rights at 2:00 PM on September 7, 2009.
Cameron Todd Willingham's last words were: "I have been persecuted 12 years for something I didn't do."

Cameron Todd Willingham's last words were: "I have been persecuted 12 years for something I didn't do." And now, five years after he was executed by the state of Texas, Willingham is probably as close to an exoneration as he’ll ever get. The blogs and news media have been filled with commentary about the revelation that Willingham was most likely innocent when he was executed, and it’s renewing calls for an examination of the death penalty in this country.In The Hill blog, John Feehery writes:Without getting into all of the facts in this particular case, it is clear that we live with an imperfect justice system. The system makes mistakes. Wrong people are accused and convicted. Witnesses sometimes misremember the facts, and sometimes they lie for their own self-interest.…

How Do We Pass Rational Sex-Offender Laws With Psychos Like Phillip Garrido on the Loose?

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted September 4, 2009.
With apparent psychos like Garrido wreaking havoc, it's hard for society to be reasonable about the thousands of people have been wrongly swept up by excessive sex offender laws.

"Philip Garrido isn't a man, he isn't an animal; he is a monster from the deep recesses who preys on innocence and those he can overpower. He is a degenerate who should have stayed locked up in prison. He should have but he was allowed to go free."-- Kristen Houghton, "Jaycee Lee Dugard's monster from the depths of hell," from the Examiner.comThis pretty much sums up the popular response to the horrific case of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the 29-year-old California woman who, as a young girl, was kidnapped on her way to school and and held hostage for 18 years, during which she was systematically raped, giving birth to two daughters while in captivity.With the possible exception of Josef Fritzl, the 73-year-old Austrian…

Is America Ready to Admit Defeat in Its 40-Year War on Drugs? A wave of decriminalization is sweeping through Latin America

Is America Ready to Admit Defeat in Its 40-Year War on Drugs? A wave of decriminalization is sweeping through Latin Americaby Ed Vulliamy in Tijuana Bruno Avangera, a 40-year-old web designer from Tucumán in Argentina, pauses to relight a half-smoked joint of cannabis. Then he speaks approvingly of "progress and the right decision" by the country's seven supreme court judges, who decided last week that prosecuting people for the private consumption of small amounts of narcotics was unconstitutional."Last year three of my friends were caught smoking a spliff in a park and were treated like traffickers," he said. "They went to court, which took six months. One went to jail alongside murderers. The others were sent to rehab, where they were treated for an addiction they didn't have, alongside serious heroin and crack users. It was pointless and destroyed their lives."Members of the 'Rastrojos' drug trafficking group after surrendering w…

Gov. Schwarzenegger to Appeal Prisoner Reduction Order to U.S. Supreme Court

By Jeralyn,

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to seek a stay of the federal appeals court order directing California to reduce its prison population by 40,000 prisoners and appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.Schwarzenegger backed a state senate bill that would have made reductions, and included provisions such as releasing elderly and severely ill prisoners, increased use of home detention for some inmates and, for low level offenders, reduced parole supervision and some minor sentencing reductions. But, the state assembly passed its own, weaker measure on Monday. [More...] Is the Governor back-tracking?In public, Schwarzenegger has said the state must deal with overcrowding because the prison system is "collapsing under its own weight" and contended his plan would not harm public safety.But in the motion filed Tuesday, the governor argued that reducing the prison population as the judges have ordered would likely cause an increase in crime and s…

Dying, Paralyzed Amputee Susan Atkins Denied Parole

By Jeralyn,

California's parole board yesterday denied parole for Susan Atkins. Atkins has served more than 40 years in prison for her role in the Sharon Tate/LaBianca murders. She has served more time than any other female inmate in California history.She is dying of cancer, paralyzed and several years ago had a leg amputated. She's no threat to society. Susan Atkins was sentenced to life with parole -- not life without parole. They are not the same thing. [More...] Parole boards have a duty to consider more than just the severity of the offense. Susan Atkins has had a model record of behavior while in prison. By only considering the heinousness of the crime, the parole board has usurped the power of the court and nullified her sentence, unilaterally changing it to life without parole.Read on...

A Justice Slows His Hiring, and Some Wonder About His Future

By ADAM LIPTAK Published: September 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — A Supreme Court clerkship is a glittering prize and the ultimate credential in American law, one coveted by the top graduates of the best law schools. Until recently, though, only connoisseurs of ambition and status followed the justices’ hiring process closely.
It turns out those hiring decisions may be a sort of early warning system for hints about the justices’ retirement plans. “We’ve started tracking Supreme Court hiring in real time,” said David Lat, the founder of Above the Law, a legal blog.Justice David H. Souter’s failure to hire clerks this spring accurately signaled his decision to step down. On Wednesday, the court confirmed that Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 89, has hired only one clerk, instead of the usual four, for the term starting in October 2010. That ignited speculation that Justice Stevens may be planning to step down next summer.

Read on...

Preemptive Arrest

by Abby ZimetA year after St. Paul police rounded up and arrested over 200 people who were planning to protest the Republican National Convention - but hadn't actually done anything yet - 27 plaintiffs filed a class action suit against the city on behalf of all those arrested. Police officers used pepper spray, non-lethal ammunition and horses against the protesters, none of whom was convicted of anything except not liking Republicans.Read on...I remember watching Minority Report when it came out in 2002. It was topical. The U.S. was already well into justifying preemptive war, so it wasn't much of a stretch to imagine preemptive arrest. And of course it happened. I wonder how many peace protesters will get arrested this fall during anti-war demonstrations. Preemptively or not. Tom

Bush's Third Term? You're Living It

by David SwansonIt sounds like the plot for the latest summer horror movie. Imagine, for a moment, that George W. Bush had been allowed a third term as president, had run and had won or stolen it, and that we were all now living (and dying) through it. With the Democrats in control of Congress but Bush still in the Oval Office, the media would certainly be talking endlessly about a mandate for bipartisanship and the importance of taking into account the concerns of Republicans. Can't you just picture it? There's Dubya now, still rewriting laws via signing statements. Still creating and destroying laws with executive orders. And still violating laws at his whim. Imagine Bush continuing his policy of extraordinary rendition, sending prisoners off to other countries with grim interrogation reputations to be held and tortured. I can even picture him formalizing his policy of preventive detention, sprucing it up with some "due process" even as he permanently removes ha…