Friday, February 26, 2010

Team Canada apologizes for post-game behaviour

Canada's Jayna Hefford (16) and Gillian Apps (10) celebrate after Canada beat USA 2-0 to win the women's gold medal ice hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010.
Chris O'Meara/The Associated Press

VANCOUVER - Hockey Canada apologized Thursday for an impromptu party the Olympic women's hockey team threw for itself on the Canada Hockey Place ice after winning the gold medal.

Canadian players, still wearing their uniforms and with gold medals draped around their necks, celebrated their victory by drinking champagne and beer at centre ice following a 2-0 win over the United States.

The International Olympic Committee said it will investigate the celebration, which included drinking by one of Canada's underage players.

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Who cares? Go Canada Go. Tom

Drinking While Brown (or Gay) in Texas Will Get You Arrested

The nation's broadest public intoxication law gives TX cops virtually free range to arrest anyone for drunkenness -- even if they're quietly nursing a beer in a bar.

Creative Commons

Late on a balmy Saturday night last June, six Fort Worth cops and two officers from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission went looking for trouble. They had just raided two Hispanic bars in an industrial stretch of town and nine detainees now sat in the paddy wagon (pdf), hands bound with plastic ties. The rest of the city's bars would soon shut down. It seemed like the night was over, except for the paperwork. Then Sergeant Richard Morris had an idea. "Hey," he said. "Let's go to the Rainbow Lounge."

A half-dozen police cruisers, an unmarked sedan, and the prisoner van slid to a stop in front of the Rainbow Lounge, Fort Worth's newest gay club, at about 1:30 a.m. on June 28, 2009 -- 40 years, almost down to the minute, after New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn with billy clubs and bullhorns. Inside the bar, the officers fanned out, grabbing and arresting six patrons for public intoxication. Benjamin Guttery, a 24-year-old Army vet, says an officer told him to put down his drink, then "bulldozed" him through the crowd to the paddy wagon but then let him go. "I'm 6'8", 250 pounds, and I had just finished my second drink," Guttery told a local reporter. "I might have had enough to have a loose tongue, but not a loose walk or anything like that." Another man alleges that he was slammed against a wall, elbowed, and fell on the ground, landing him in intensive care for a week with bleeding in his brain. He was charged with public intoxication and assault.

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Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer

Her works treated as gospel by right-wing powerhouses like Alan Greenspan and Clarence Thomas, Ayn Rand found early inspiration 1920s murderer William Hickman.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

here's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don't have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?

It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the US.

One reason why most countries don't find the time to embrace her thinking is that Ayn Rand is a textbook sociopath. Literally a sociopath: Ayn Rand, in her notebooks, worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of "ideal man" that Rand promoted in her more famous books -- ideas which were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America's most recent economic catastrophe -- former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox -- along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

$100,000 Per Year to Lock up a Cheese Thief? The Perverse Logic of "Three Strikes"

That a man with unpaid-for cheese in his underwear could ever have faced essentially the same sentence as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is an absurdity.

In an era of savage budget cuts to the most basic of public services, does it make sense for a state to spend $50,000-$100,000 a year to lock up a cheese thief for the rest of his natural life?



The obvious answer to that question would be "no." After all, $100,000 could keep one or two teachers employed; could pay the home-health care costs of disabled low-income Americans; or could keep an after-school program afloat. And yet, that is precisely what a grandstanding California district attorney's office earlier this month suggested was an appropriate solution for the problem that is Robert Ferguson: a mentally ill, drug-addicted 53-year-old habitual offender who has cycled in and out of prison for most of his adult life and found himself on the wrong end of a three strikes prosecution for the monstrous crime of stuffing a $3.99 bag of shredded cheese down his underpants and hot-tailing it out of a Nugget supermarket without paying.

Read on....

Terrorists in South Carolina Must Register Before Overthrowing Government



(ChattahBox)—The State of South Carolina, home to Appalachian Trial hiker Governor Mark Sanford, and “You Lie” Joe Wilson wants to keep track of terrorists and subversives residing in the Palmetto state. And in a stroke of bureaucratic Orwellian genius, lawmakers have found a way to monitor terrorist activity. It’s called the “Subversive Activities Registration Act,” and requires that subversives pay a $5.00 filing fee and register with the Secretary of State, before overthrowing the government. Genius, right?

The South Carolina blog FitsNews, was right on top of this latest development in a bible-thumping state that has its share of colorful characters and right-wing political blockheads. Just recently, Republican Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who is making a run for governor, compared hungry poor people in his state to stray cats and dogs who breed when fed.

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Here's the link to the law. Hat tip Tony Doob. Tom

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks

A Quick Guide


Cover: Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks

By: Lynn E. Davis, Tom LaTourrette, David E. Mosher, Lois M. Davis, David R. Howell

Individuals may have to rely on themselves to protect their own health and safety — perhaps even their own lives — in the event of a terrorist attack. Even those who know how to take care of themselves in the event of a fire, tornado, or earthquake might not know what to do in case of a chemical, radiological, nuclear, or biological attack. This quick guide attempts to fill in some of these gaps by offering specific actions to take during each of these situations, as well as preparations that can be taken. These actions are appropriate regardless of the likelihood of an attack, its scale, or the current government alert level; are designed to be sensitive to potential variations; and have been defined in terms of simple rules that should be easy to follow. A reference card included at the back of the guide encapsulates the key points and can be removed for display in a prominent place.

A public service announcement from Crimbrary. Here is the link to the document Tom

UN Watchdog Issues Warning About Date-Rape Drugs

VIENNA (AP) -- Governments around the world must step up their efforts to limit access to ''date-rape drugs,'' sedatives that are secretly added to a person's drink to reduce their ability to resist sexual assault and remember it later, a watchdog said Wednesday.

Sexual predators can easily procure such date-rape drugs, despite existing efforts to curb their misuse, the International Narcotics Control Board said in its annual report.

Governments should quickly adopt measures to limit illegal access to such drugs, and increase public awareness about the risks of leaving food and drinks unattended at public events such as parties, the board said. They also must do a better job of analyzing urine samples in suspected cases and be consistent about compiling and sharing statistics.

''The 'date-rape drug' phenomenon, although fairly new, is evolving rapidly as sexual abusers attempt to circumvent stricter drug controls by using substances not restricted by international drug conventions,'' the Vienna-based U.N. body said in a statement accompanying the report.

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Here is a link to the full report. Tom

New York Crime Statistics: What the Researchers Say

To the Editor:

Re “Crime by the Numbers,” by William Bratton (Op-Ed, Feb. 17):

Mr. Bratton refers to a survey conducted by us. After reading the article, which disparages our research, we feel it necessary to respond.

The New York City Police Department, which has led the nation in producing historical and very real reductions in crime, is in a cramped statistical box. When precincts are under pressure to continue to reduce crime, the message radiates down to all levels. Combating their own success, the police imaginatively redouble efforts to achieve further reductions. Compstat serves as a mechanism to ensure these reductions.

Our previous writings explored how the Police Department’s Compstat system for tracking crime contributed to the city’s sharp drop in crime.

We still believe that there has been a significant drop in crime and that the fundamentals of Compstat are sound. But like the retired police commanders we surveyed and numerous other scientific studies, we also see the underside of Compstat.

Only long-neglected departmental transparency will assuage the department’s current condition. The Citizens Crime Commission’s recommendations for sharing data and internal audits are an important first step.

We have great respect for the past and present leadership of the N.Y.P.D. Our findings warrant the same respect.

Eli B. Silverman
John A. Eterno
Rockville Centre, N.Y., Feb. 22, 2010

Mr. Silverman is professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of “N.Y.P.D. Battles Crime: Innovative Strategies in Policing. Mr. Eterno, a retired N.Y.P.D. captain, is associate dean and director of graduate studies at Molloy College.

This letter to the New York Times is in response to an earlier Crimbrary post Crime by the Numbers. Tom

The New McCarthyism: Today, Speaking With the Wrong Group Can Get You 15 Years In Prison

The Patriot Act goes even further than the Hollywood blacklists that forced a generation of artists, intellectuals, and activists into unemployment and exiled abroad.

Photo Credit: Mike Licht, Notion

At the beginning of the McCarthy Era, my great uncle Adrian Scott -- an acclaimed Hollywood producer and screenwriter -- was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee to account for his political affiliations. Now sixty years later, when most of us want to believe that that kind of suppression is long behind us, the Supreme Court is about to consider how far we've really come. I believe we are retracing our most dangerous steps.

Adrian was one of the so-called "Hollywood Ten," a group of high-profile artists and entertainers who were the first of many called before Congress to explain their association with the Communist Party. He and nine colleagues chose to invoke their rights of freedom of speech and association. He stood up to HUAC, saying, "I do not believe it is proper for this committee to inquire into my personal relationships, my private relationships, my public relationships." For invoking his First Amendment rights, my great uncle spent nine months in jail. His Hollywood career was destroyed, he was forced to write under another name, and eventually he had to leave the United States entirely to find work.

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Obama's first term is looking more and more like Bush's third term. Tom

Fact Sheet on The Obama Administration’s 2011 Budget: More Policing, Prisons, and Punitive Policies

Author(s): Justice Policy Institute

The President’s proposed FY2011 Department of Justice (DOJ) budget asks for $29.2 billion. This is on top of $4 billion provided to DOJ through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), much of which will continue to fund activities through 2011 and beyond. Although the budget has some specific allocations for juvenile justice that it had removed last year, it still reduces spending on juvenile justice programs, while allocating hundreds of millions to hire or retain police officers through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants or Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and increasing federal prison spending.

This continued funding pattern will likely result in increased costs to states for incarceration that will outweigh the increased revenue for law enforcement, with marginal public safety benefits. While “re-entry” programs such as the Second Chance Act will help reduce recidivism, too little funding is targeted towards “no-entry” programs that keep people from ending up in the criminal justice system in the first place. As states struggle with tough economic times and burgeoning prison populations, research shows that the most cost-effective ways to increase public safety, reduce prison populations, and save money are to invest in community-based programs and policies that positively impact youth and more substance use and mental health treatment services in the community.

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Here is the link to download the full fact sheet. Tom

The Last Thing We Need is More Money for Prisons, But That Is What Obama Wants

At the same time the Obama administration is talking about a dramatic "spending freeze," it's requesting more money to lock people up.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

At the same time the Obama administration is talking about a dramatic "spending freeze" on any and all projects unrelated to war-making, it is quietly increasing the federal budget for even more prisons.

On February 1, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the administration would request $2.9 billion for the Department of Justice 2011 budget -- "a 5.4 percent increase in budget authority," according to the DOJ. Approximately $527.5 million would go to the federal Bureau of Prisons, a chunk of which would provide “bed space” to house prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay (and ostensibly slated for transfer to the supermax prison in Thomson, IL).

Read on...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shocking Report Reveals Epidemic of Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Prisons

More than one out of every ten child prisoners in state custody is molested or raped, according to a new report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.



An unprecedented report released last month by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has revealed some disturbing statistics about sexual abuse in U.S. juvenile detention facilities. Twelve percent of youth held in such facilities say that they have been sexually abused over the course of one year. Or, to put it another way, more than 1 in 10 of young people under state supervision are molested and/or raped. Nearly all of these incidents involve a staff member (about 85%), while the rest involve another incarcerated youth.

According to the study, male prisoners were more likely than females to report sexual activity with facility staff, but less likely than females to report forced sexual activity with other youth. Surprisingly, a whopping 95 percent of all youth reporting staff sexual misconduct said they had been victimized by female staff members. In the most troubling facilities, between 20 and 30 percent of incarcerated youth reported abuse.

Read on...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Snowstorms Reduced City Crime, Stats Show

Baltimore Went 9 Days Without Slayings

One big upside of the back-to-back snowstorms was their impact on crime.With the weather so nasty, police have needed no other help.As the storms gripped the city, crime plummeted. Comparing last week to the same week in 2009, the most serious crimes were down 71 percent, according to city statistics.The fatal shooting early Tuesday morning of a man in the Park Heights neighborhood ended a nine-day stretch in Baltimore that was free of killing. That stretch put the yearly homicide total at 18 -- significantly less than the 32 homicides recorded year-to-date in 2009.

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Crime by the Numbers

By WILLIAM BRATTON

A RECENT survey of retired New York Police Department personnel strongly implies that the police’s reporting of crime statistics in New York City has been skewed for years, with precinct commanders and others downgrading crimes to make their results look better. According to the survey’s authors, criminologists John Eterno and Eli Silverman, and to spokesmen for the Captains Endowment Association, the pressures exerted by the department’s CompStat crime-tracking program forced commanders and their subordinates to manipulate statistics to protect themselves from abuse at CompStat meetings, where their results were discussed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

CompStat originated on my watch as police commissioner, from 1994 through early 1996, and I acknowledge that it was intended to be a tough system, using rigorous weekly reports to refocus commanders on combating crime. Nevertheless, I believe that very few precinct commanders would downgrade crimes under such pressure — and that there wouldn’t have been much effect on overall crime rates even if they had.

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An editorial in the New York Times. Tom

Exchange: Katha Pollitt and Alexander Cockburn on the Hispanic Crime Rate

By Katha Pollitt & Alexander Cockburn

Editor's Note: Nation columnist Katha Pollitt took issue with Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn's recent assertion that Ron Unz had published groundbreaking research on Hispanic crime rates. Cockburn's response to Pollitt's criticisms can be read here; Pollitt's initial response to Cockburn is reposted below and can also be found on her blog, And Another Thing.

ALEXANDER COCKBURN writes:

Petrolia

A couple of weeks ago I did a Nation column on Hispanic crime rates, citing a big piece by Ron Unz, publisher of the American Conservative, going through the statistical data and concluding on the basis of age-weighting and other considerations that contrary to popular belief, Hispanic crimes rates are at least the same as whites and--given the unknown number of illegal Hispanic immigrants in the country--could be considerably lower.

Probably naívely, I thought it encouraging that a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan should devote its March cover and a substantial number of pages to a persuasive assault on right-wing hysteria about the supposedly astronomic crime rates of Hispanics in America. At the end of this column I had a couple of paragraphs in which I recorded Unz's surprise that liberal foundations had not exerted themselves more energetically in this area to refute ignorant prejudice, with a couple of thoughts of my own on liberal racism.

This little coda is what sent Katha Pollitt scurrying to her laptop. It's "annoying," she snapped, "when conservatives take credit for work liberals have been doing for much longer and far more seriously. It's even more irritating when a leftist [that's AC] is so eager to bash liberals, he joins the parade."

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Hiring Death Squads Is Coming Back to Haunt U.S. Companies

Dole Foods and Chiquita may be on the verge of facing justice for "pacifying" their work force, suppressing labor unions and terrorizing peasant squatters in Colombia.

February 16, 2010 |

A federal judge recently refused to dismiss a civil suit filed against Chiquita which charges that the company paid leftist (FARC) guerrillas operating near its plantations in Columbia -- during a period when the FARC killed four American missionaries, according to CNN.

The company's position -- which it has held consistently since it voluntarily disclosed the payments to the Department of Justice -- has been that both left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries forced the company in an extortionate manner to make the payments "to protect the lives of its employees."

But that's become an increasingly untenable position -- especially since some of the same paramilitaries who took the payments have come in from the cold, disarming and submitting to Columbia's "Justice and Peace" process -- which allows them to receive reduced jail time for confessing to all of their terrorist crimes. The problem for Chiquita -- and now for Dole (and potentially for Del Monte) -- is that the confessions reveal a much different story.

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Profiting From Immigration Injustice

By Max Blumenthal

AP / Laura Rauch

Captured immigrants are herded onto a bus near the Arizona-Mexico border in this file photo.







When an architect named Norman Pfeiffer designed the Evo DeConcini Federal Courthouse in Tucson, Ariz., he claimed to have been inspired by its natural surroundings. “From afar,” Pfeiffer told Architecture Week, “the desert tells little of what it knows. ... But upon closer scrutiny it reveals its true self.”

The 413,000-square-foot, $67.3 million monolith that Pfeiffer erected blends easily with the pale desert landscape flanking downtown Tucson. The earth-toned structure appears so bland a casual passer-by might not even take a second glance. Only a few observers have ventured inside to witness the spectacle that takes place on the third floor.

The show begins each day at 1 p.m., when about 75 undocumented immigrants just captured along the U.S.-Mexico border are marched into the room in leg irons and manacles and compelled all at once to plead guilty to entering the country illegally. Although the proceeding has the trappings of a trial, the defendants never challenge the charges against them, and are clearly discouraged from doing so. They know their fate is preordained: deportation to a border town, separation from their families and occasionally a few months in a privatized prison.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

More Than 25,000 Americans So Far Agree: No 'Room for Guns' in Coffeehouses

WASHINGTON - February 11 - A Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence petition drive with CREDO Mobile Company to urge the Starbucks Coffee Company to prohibit guns in its retail outlets is attracting substantial support, with more than 25,000 people signing. The petitions will be delivered to the coffee retailer soon.

The petition is at http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/starbucks_guns/?rc=brady.

"We urge Starbucks to respect the rights of the vast majority of its customers, who seek to take their families into its stores without facing the intimidating presence of openly carried guns," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Watering Torture Down

Why are the media so happy to use the T word in a child-abuse case?

Dick Cheney. Click image to expand.There's a good deal of towel-snapping going on in the blogosphere today over rampant use of the word water-boarding to describe the punishment an Iraq war veteran meted out to his 4-year-old daughter. What is not in dispute is that Joshua Tabor, a U.S. Army sergeant who served in Iraq for 15 months, was arrested on Jan. 31 and charged with assaulting a child for, among other things, holding his small daughter's head over a bathroom sink and dunking her for refusing to say her alphabet. Also not in dispute is that almost 200 media outlets, by recent count—including ABC.com, CBS.com, the New York Daily News, and the Daily Mail—used the word water-boarding in their Tabor story, often in the headline. Unwilling to go quite that far, other publications tried to make the same point a bit more subtly: AFP thus put quotation marks around water-boarding and USA Today's headline doubles down by using those same quotation marks plus the word mock. CNN.com, the outlier playing it safe, just stuck with abused.

So what is it the bloggers are yelling about? As Jared Keller at the Atlantic explains, a fight promptly broke out over whether Tabor's conduct is actually water-boarding, with Andrew Sullivan warning that "[n]o doubt Marc Thiessen [former speechwriter for George W. Bush] will object that since she wasn't strapped to an actual board and only dunked three or four times, rather than 183, and her father wasn't in the CIA, she wasn't really waterboarded." As Sullivan predicted, various right-wing bloggers flipped out because it isn't technically water-boarding if the victim isn't variously "strapped to a board" and the act isn't performed "by professionals in controlled conditions" while a "cloth is placed over the face and water is poured over the cloth."

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This is what happens when you have the media and the highest levels of government defending, promoting and justifying torture. Tom

Prisons, Redistricting and the Census

The Census Bureau struck a blow for electoral fairness recently when it decided to speed up publication of its data on prison populations to ensure it is available for the next round of redistricting. We hope this new data, which will be released in the spring of 2011, will bolster the efforts of reformers who are trying to end prison-based gerrymandering — the cynical practice of drawing legislative districts with populations inflated by inmates who do not have the right to vote and whose actual residences are often far away.

Far too often, redistricting committees pad underpopulated districts by redrawing boundaries to include large prisons. This practice typically increases the political power of rural areas where prisons are built and diminishes the influence of the urban areas to which inmates eventually return. According to a study by the Prison Policy Initiative, a research group, in some counties the phantom prison constituents make up as much 20 percent of the population.

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This is an editorial from the New York Times. Tom

It Takes a Village to Raise a Racist

Researches have found that kids don't necessarily get their prejudice from their parents -- it is the community that fosters tolerance or prejudice.



Shortly after white supremacist James von Brunn's fatal shooting attack this spring at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., his 32-year-old son issued a statement to ABC News in which he denounced his father's ideology and described the devastating impact it had had on his family.

"My father's beliefs have been a constant source of verbal and mental abuse my family has had to suffer with for many years," he said. "His views consumed him, and in doing so, not only destroyed his life, but destroyed our family and ruined our lives as well."

Erik von Brunn's repudiation of his father's bigotry runs counter to the conventional wisdom that virulent racists will produce children like themselves. Indeed, the movement has its share of parent-child notables, including neo-Nazi leaders Tom and John Metzger, white supremacists Don and Derek Black, and Klan/skinhead organizers Ron and Steven Edwards. But the younger von Brunn is hardly alone in rejecting a parent's beliefs — and experts say that's no surprise.

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Mall Riots: Why Are Some Americans Becoming Violent Shoppers?

Americans used to protest in the streets; now some have resorted to fighting each other in shopping malls. What happened?

On Dec. 23 of last year, police narrowly averted a consumer uprising in suburban Sacramento, California, where over 1,000 people had gathered at a shopping mall and nearly sparked a riot. The cause of all this unrest was a pair of shoes. Every member of the angry horde was after the latest line of Nike Air Jordans, complete with a $175 price tag.



What is turning Americans into such violent consumers?

Al Sandine's new book, The Taming of the American Crowd: From Stamp Riots to Shopping Sprees, unpacks some of the history and sociology embedded in these bizarre modern consumer gatherings. Sandine focuses on three factors that spawned the U.S. shopping craze: Cars, freeways and suburbs. None of these economic touchstones rose to prominence without the others, and together, they laid the foundation for the wild U.S. culture of consumption we know today. And what a unique way of living it is: "Americans spend more time shopping than anyone else, three or four times as much as Europeans," Sandine writes.

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ACLU Sues Over Unconstitutional Airport Detention And Interrogation Of College Student Carrying Arabic Flashcards

Incident At Philadelphia Airport Highlights Misdirected Security Efforts, Says ACLU

bors_tsa_250x250.jpgACLU Sues Over Unconstitutional Airport Detention And Interrogation Of College Student Carrying Arabic Flashcards

PHILADELPHIA – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania today filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pomona College student Nicholas George, who was abusively interrogated, handcuffed and detained for nearly five hours at the Philadelphia International Airport because of a set of English-Arabic flashcards he was carrying in connection with his college language studies.

"Arresting and restraining passengers who pose no threat to flight safety and are not breaking any law not only violates people's rights, but it won't make us any safer. It may actually make us less safe, by diverting vital resources and attention away from true security threats," said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "Nick George was handcuffed, locked in a cell for hours and questioned about 9/11 simply because he has chosen to study Arabic, a language that is spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world. This sort of harassment of innocent travelers is a waste of time and a violation of the Constitution."

Read on...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Security, At What Cost?

Quantifying people’s trade-offs
across liberty, privacy
and security

Neil Robinson, Dimitris Potoglou, Chong Woo Kim,
Peter Burge, Richard Warnes

Sponsored by the RAND Europe Board of Trustees

The heightened security environment in the United Kingdom today is resplendent with examples of government policy that must strike a delicate balance between strengthening security without jeopardising public liberties and personal privacy. The introduction of national identity cards and biometric passports, the expansion of the DNA database, and cross-departmental sharing of information raise a number of privacy issues. Civil liberties may be suspended by the exercise of stop and search powers by the police or detention of suspects prior to a trial. Much of the current privacy vs. security debate occurs at an emotional level with little evidence informing the argument. This report outlines the results of a stated preference discrete choice modelling study that sought to objectively understand the real privacy, liberty and security trade-offs of individuals so that policy makers can be better informed about individuals true preferences in this domain. Three real-life case studies were investigated where these factors come into play; applying for a passport; travel on the national rail network and attendance at a major public event such as the opening ceremony of the Olympics. A panel of internet users demographically weighted to the UK population were asked to choose amongst different alternatives for each of the scenarios. The data was analysed and individuals were found to be willing to pay for advanced CCTV cameras with facial recognition technology, X-Ray machines & body scanners and various forms of security personnel. Socio-demographic segments in the sample also became evident.


Read on...

This is a Rand Corporation Technical Report. Tom

Facing Our Future

Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement

Ajay Chaudry, Randolph Capps, Juan Pedroza, Rosa Maria Castaneda, Robert Santos, Molly M. Scott

Abstract

This report examines the consequences of parental arrest, detention, and deportation on 190 children in 85 families in six locations, providing in-depth details on parent-child separations, economic hardships, and children's well-being. The contentious immigration debates around the country mostly revolve around illegal immigration. Less visible have been the 5.5 million children with unauthorized parents, almost three-quarters of whom are U.S.-born citizens. Over several years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intensified enforcement activities through large-scale worksite arrests, home arrests, and arrests by local law enforcement. The report provides recommendations for stakeholders to mitigate the harmful effects of immigration enforcement on children.

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This report is from the Urban Institute. Tom

Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges for Prisoners

SUMMARY

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are released from prison, many with health, substance abuse, economic and family problems that need to be addressed in order for them to become productive, law-abiding members of society.

From 2001 to 2008, staff at the Urban Institute analyzed the characteristics and experiences of prisoners returning from prison to homes in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland and Houston. The study, Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry, aimed to enhance understanding of former prisoners and improve policies promoting their successful reentry into society.

Key Findings

  • Two-thirds of prisoners reported more than weekly drug use or alcohol intoxication prior to incarceration.
  • Some 80 percent of men and 90 percent of women had chronic health conditions requiring treatment or management.
  • Many prisoners did not receive needed health services while incarcerated, and treatment rates were lower after release than before.
  • Most recently released prisoners (68 percent of men, 58 percent of women) lacked health insurance eight to 10 months after release.
  • Those with health problems of any kind were less likely to have made housing arrangements before release and reported more problems finding employment than those without such problems.
  • Family members provided much economic and emotional support, and were the primary source of post-release housing.
  • Eight to 10 months out, about one-third of former prisoners reported recent substance use, and by one year, one in five had been returned to prison.
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The Vancouver Experiment

Does It Work?

One study of Vancouver's injection-drug users has taken harm reduction to a level even beyond Insite. In 2003, the same year that the supervised-injection site opened its doors, an epidemiologist named Martin Schecter began planning a trial that had never been conducted in North America: heroin maintenance. Would a daily course of heroin, administered in a clinical setting, release users from the destructive aspects of maintaining their addiction? Would it benefit society and allow users to stabilize their lives? Similar studies had been conducted in Europe with positive results. Switzerland alone has 38 heroin maintenance centers, and they are a fully integrated part of its national health system; Germany followed suit last year. Schecter, who has worked in Vancouver since the first signs of the AIDS epidemic in 1983, wanted to see whether such a program would make a difference in Canada.

For the neighborhood's recovering addicts, the ability to escape the daily demands of supporting an addiction is often achieved with a dose of methadone. Methadone's relative benefits are well established: It is slow-acting. It greatly reduces cravings for heroin and blocks heroin's euphoric effects. When successful, methadone maintenance can give addicts their lives back. But there are high rates of relapse among long-term addicts.

Read on...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chapter 4 - A Ponzi Scheme of Torture

Rendition Victim Moves to Sue US

A Canadian man who was deported by US officials to Syria, where he was imprisoned and allegedly tortured, has appealed a court ruling preventing him from suing the US.

[Arar was deported to Syria by US authorities where he was allegedly tortured. (Associated Press)]Arar was deported to Syria by US authorities where he was allegedly tortured. (Associated Press)

Maher Arar filed a lawsuit before the US supreme court on Monday, appealing a lower court ruling that rejected his case because it involved national security information.

Arar was arrested by US authorities while transiting through New York's JFK International Airport in 2002, on his way home to Canada from a family vacation in Tunis.

He was detained on information shared by Canadian police that suggested he had ties to "terrorist" groups.

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Charges against top cop Fantino dropped

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OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, left, and activist Gary McHale.

CAYUGA, ONT.— A criminal charge against Ontario’s top cop over allegations he tried to influence municipal officials was withdrawn Wednesday, a move that the activist who brought the private charge against provincial police Commissioner Julian Fantino vowed to fight.

Gary McHale has been pushing to have Fantino charged after the commissioner allegedly sent an email in 2007 telling the mayor and councillors in Caledonia, Ont., not to attend McHale’s rallies. McHale led a number of rallies in the community to protest what he called two-tier justice in the policing of an aboriginal land occupation.

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