Friday, November 28, 2008

Faced With Setback, Franken Camp Vows To Fight On

By Eric Kleefeld - November 26, 2008, 2:36PM

The Franken camp, faced with a big setback today, is regrouping for the moment but vowing to fight on -- and may even contest the election result in court or the United States Senate itself later on.

The Franken campaign just held a briefing with reporters to respond to the news that the state canvassing board turned down their request to re-examine absentee ballots that may have been wrongly thrown out, and they announced they're not appealing the decision for now.

"We are not going to appeal today's decision. We believe it is important, as I have said over and over again, that this process be permitted to play out in an orderly fashion," said lead Franken recount lawyer Marc Elias.

Read on...

Franken's chances seem to be dwindling. Tom

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Indian Crisis "Tests" Obama

by John Nichols

This transition period was supposed to be all about getting a grip on the financial crisis -- and it looked this week as if Barack Obama has succeeded sufficiently to take the Thanksgiving holiday off. But on Wednesday, the president-elect was reminded that he is inheriting messes far beyond Wall Street.

The devastating attacks in Mumbai -- which have left more than 100 dead and three times that number seriously wounded -- have put the war on terror back in competition for Obama's urgent attention. And the reported focus of the attackers in U.S. and European visitors to India makes this anything but a foreign affair.

Wednesday's developments do not quite qualify as the "test" famously anticipated during the fall campaign by Joe Biden, the outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair who will now serve as Obama's loose-lipped vice president. But Obama and his aides are scrambling to refocus after a key American ally suffered a devastating attack that John McLaughlin, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency refers to as "India's 9-11."

Read on...

Just because someone says this is "India's 9-11" doesn't make it so. Just because someone says this validates Obama's choices of Clinton and Gates doesn't make it so. And just because someone says this is a test of Obama doesn't make it so. The U.S., Obama, and the world need a whole new approach to "terrorism". Everyone should re-read the Rand Report on fighting terrorism before embracing more of the same. And notice how even a progressive publication like The Nation can't help themselves from furthering the meme about Biden's loose lips. Tom

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If Obama Doesn't Prosecute Bush's Torture Team, We'll Pay a Big Price Down the Road

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted November 28, 2008.

Obama isn't likely to pursue torture atrocities during the Bush era, but this is one problem you simply can't wish away.

How did it come about that American military personnel stripped detainees naked, put them in stress positions, used dogs to scare them, put leashes around their necks to humiliate them, hooded them, deprived them of sleep and blasted music at them? Were these actions the result of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that's not the case."

-- Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, June 17, 2008
***
It was a short but significant report in Newsweek last week, and it began like this:

Despite the hopes of many human rights advocates, the new Obama Justice Department is not likely to launch major new criminal probes of harsh interrogations and other alleged abuses by the Bush administration. But one idea that has currency among some top Obama advisers is setting up a 9/11-style commission that would investigate counterterrorism policies and make public as many details as possible. "At a minimum, the American people have to be able to see and judge what happened," said one senior adviser, who asked not to be identified for talking about policy matters. The commission would be empowered to order the U.S. intelligence agencies to open their files for review and question senior officials who approved "waterboarding" and other controversial practices.

Read on...

Obama needs to do something about torture and a whole lot of other things. Tom

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Ontario to place prosecutors in police stations

Idea one of several to streamline lengthy trials recommended in new report

KIRK MAKIN
From Friday's Globe and Mail
November 28, 2008 at 5:00 AM EST

Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney-General will combat a plague of sprawling mega-trials by installing on-site prosecutors in police stations and creating superjudges to deal with pretrial motions early and swiftly.

"We are going to have our major-case Crowns located right in with the police, so that we have a close-working collaborative relationship with the police very early on in these major cases," Attorney-General Chris Bentley said in an interview yesterday.

He said he has already begun to implement some of the 41 recommendations in a keenly awaited report on how to stop the spread of costly, runaway criminal trials - scheduled for release today and obtained by The Globe and Mail yesterday.

Read on...

Crimbrary will post a link to the report when it becomes available. Tom

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bush's Bizarre Pardon List

By Jenny Booth, The Times of London UK. Posted November 25, 2008.

A hip-hop artist and a former Detroit police sergeant are among 16 people to be pardoned or to have their prison sentences commuted by President Bush.

A Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist and a former Detroit police sergeant are among 16 individuals to be pardoned or to have their prison sentences commuted by President Bush.

The new round of White House pardons announced late last night are Mr. Bush's first since March, and come less than two months before the end of his presidency.

Read on...

I've read conflicting reports about whether Conrad Black has asked for clemency or not. I guess the Times of London should know and it looks like Conrad is asking. The pace of pardons and clemency has been slow but Crimbrary predicts an avalanche of both coming soon. Tom

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Homophobic Hate Speech "More Than Offensive"

LGBT leaders respond to pattern of attacks across local and regional radio

WASHINGTON - November 25 - In response to Media Matters for America's recent report on "radioactive smears," which exposed the prevalence of hate speech on a wide variety of topics on local and regional radio stations nationwide, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (WI-02), co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and Neil G. Giuliano, President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), released the following statements:

"This kind of hateful speech is more than offensive," said Rep. Baldwin. "I applaud Media Matters for conducting the study 'Radioactive Smears' and exposing the homophobic comments that aim to divide our nation and deny equal rights for all Americans."

Read on...

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Hate Crimes on Rise, Warn US Groups

by Alison Raphael

WASHINGTON - Leading civil rights groups today denounced the rise in hate crimes taking place in the United States, especially against Hispanics, and called for passage of a proposal that would ensure federal jurisdiction when local officials fail to act.

Hate crimes against Hispanics have risen steadily for the last four years, and crimes against African-American, Asian-American, and Jewish people, as well as gays and lesbians, all increased last year, according to FBI statistics gathered for its Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

In recent weeks alone several incidents have taken place, including the murder of 37-year-old Ecuadorian citizen Marcello Lucero by a group of Long Island teenagers, cross-burnings in New Jersey, and the timely arrest of skinheads planning to assassinate Barack Obama in Tennessee.

Read on...

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Neither Violence Against Women Nor Poverty Are Inevitable

by Irene Khan

As women around the world come together to celebrate the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, violence against women remains endemic in many forms, in all societies.

Just last month, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death by a group of 50 men in Somalia. The thirteen year-old was accused of adultery, though according to her father she was raped and had tried to report it. None of those accused of her rape nor murder have been arrested.

Violence against women and girls is a priority concern for Amnesty International and in 2004 a global campaign to Stop Violence against Women was launched. So far the campaign has contributed to successes that have brought a number of legislative and policy changes at national levels, as well as supported efforts in the international arena for the adoption of Resolutions 1325 and 1820 by the United Nations Security Council.

Read on...

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let police investigate hate speech, report says

Commission out of its depth online

COLIN FREEZE

November 25, 2008

The Canadian Human Rights Commission should get out of the business of trying to censor hate speech, says a much-anticipated report released yesterday.

Freedom of expression trumps overbroad minority-rights laws, argues its author, University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon.

In the Internet age, he writes, "any attempt to exclude all racial or other prejudice from the public discourse would require extraordinary intervention by the state."

"Because discriminatory attitudes and assumptions are so pervasive, it is vital that they be confronted, rather than censored."

Read on...

Here is the report this article is referring to. Tom

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New era for human rights

Tipsheet for Obama

By William F. Schulz

November 25, 2008

THE WORLD has applauded the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, and the delegates to a recent meeting of the Interparliamentary Union in Geneva, a group of legislators from 154 countries, were no different. "It will be wonderful to see someone other than George Bush as president, and a black man at that, but will Obama really do what is needed to restore America's credibility when it comes to human rights?" one asked.

There are many reasons the favorability rating of the United States has plummeted around the world in the past eight years, but one of the most telling has been our abandonment of human-rights leadership. Few Americans realize how much Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary renditions, and the refusal to renounce the use of torture continue to tarnish our reputation. Hopes are high that these policies will be reversed soon.

Read on...

As Obama assembles his right wing foreign policy team, and conservative financial team, it seems that the bar is getting set pretty low in this article for his human rights policies. Tom

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Monday, November 24, 2008

An Authoritative Word on Academic Freedom

by Stanley Fish

More than a few times in these columns I have tried to deflate the balloon of academic freedom by arguing that it was not an absolute right or a hallowed principle, but a practical and limited response to the particular nature of intellectual work.

Now, in a new book — “For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom,” to be published in 2009 — two distinguished scholars of constitutional law, Matthew W. Finkin and Robert C. Post, study the history and present shape of the concept and come to conclusions that support and deepen what I have been saying in these columns and elsewhere.

Read on...

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Casting out the money-lenders

From The Economist print edition

Cities and states are cracking down on payday lending

IN 2007 the small city of Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas, was trying to overhaul its ageing infrastructure and faded industrial zones. City officials launched a renewal programme, but found their efforts marred by payday lenders. These are shops that offer small, short-term loans (in advance of payday) on unfavourable terms, and their neon signs hardly suggest a thriving and vital place. “They project an opposite kind of image,” says one city official. So Mesquite passed a strict zoning ordinance that will make it difficult for any new payday lenders to set up shop. The city cannot bar the practice, but it can try to elbow it out.

The payday lending industry has taken several hits this month. On November 6th the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that large fees for small loans violate the state constitution. In Arizona, voters rejected an industry-sponsored “reform” initiative that would have done away with a sunset provision on payday lending in the current law. In Ohio, voters decided not to repeal a law capping annual interest rates. This could mean the end of payday lending in those three states.

Read on...

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Can George W. Bush 'Self-Pardon' Himself?

By Stephen M Brown, AlterNet. Posted November 24, 2008.

There's no definitive legal consensus on whether a president can pardon himself. But Bush may well give the theorists an answer.

Charlotte Dennett promised that, if she won her race for attorney general of Vermont in the recent election, she would prosecute George W. Bush for the murder of 4,000 American soldiers and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians after he left office.

Unfortunately, Dennett did not become Vermont's attorney general. But it is possible (perhaps very possible) that one or more of our other 49 state attorneys general will take up that case after Jan. 20. Hopefully, that AG will appoint -- as Dennett promised to do --famed criminal attorney Vincent Bugliosi (author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder) as special prosecutor.

Read on...

Wonder how much weight a Bush pardon will carry at the Hague. Tom

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Taser Tort

by digby

This report from the Las Vegas Sun about their police department's experience with tasers is fascinating. (Too bad the Brits didn't read it before deciding to arm their entire police force with these torture devices.) One of the most interesting thing about it is that nearly all the information police receive is from the Taser company itself.

Several cops got on their knees on a rubber gym mat. Kneeling in a line, they linked arms, interlaced hands, and looked up. All they knew of what comes next is this: It's going to smart.

Read on...

Check Crimbrary's archive for other Taser stories. This one is kind of off beat. Tom

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who profits from private prisons?

By: Julia Friday November 21, 2008 8:01 pm

The Wall Street Journal tells us that private prisons are expanding in very specific places.

Prison companies are preparing for a wave of new business as the economic downturn makes it increasingly difficult for federal and state government officials to build and operate their own jails.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons and several state governments have sent thousands of inmates in recent months to prisons and detention centers run by Corrections Corp. of America, Geo Group Inc. and other private operators, as a crackdown on illegal immigration, a lengthening of mandatory sentences for certain crimes and other factors have overcrowded many government facilities.

Prison-policy experts expect inmate populations in 10 states to have increased by 25% or more between 2006 and 2011, according to a report by the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts.

Read on...

Another example of how the prison industrial complex distorts the electoral process. Tom

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Keeping Canadians Safe

In times of uncertainty as in times of prosperity, Canadians need to be assured that they are safe in their homes and communities.

Canadians look to governments to ensure that the justice system is working effectively and that Canadians are safe. Our Government will take tough action against crime and work with partners to improve the administration of justice. Serious offences will be met with serious penalties. Legal provisions will be strengthened in key areas, such as youth crime, organized crime and gang violence. Gun laws will be focused on ending smuggling and stronger penalties for gun crimes, not at criminalizing law-abiding firearms owners. More broadly, Canada’s criminal justice system will be made more efficient. Citizens need to know that justice is served, and that it is served swiftly.

Read on...

This is the section of the Speech from the Throne that deals with criminal justice. You can click on the link at the botton to read the whole speech. Needless to say the financial crisis has probably made much of this speech inoperative. Tom

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Police Spied on Activists Through '07

Protest groups say they haven't gotten the full story from state

by Liz F. Kay

Documents released yesterday show that state police spying of nonviolent protest groups took place in 2007, more than a year after law enforcement officials said much-criticized surveillance of death-penalty activists had ended.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the spying to light this year, also determined that some political activists who appear never to have set foot in Maryland were included in databases that list them as potential terrorists.

Activists say they still aren't getting complete information from state police about 53 people identified as possible terrorists during a covert operation in 2005 and 2006, despite pledges of cooperation from the O'Malley administration. They say they'll keep demanding documents and are considering legal action.

Read on...

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Minnesota Senate Recount

Challenged ballots: You be the judge

by Than Tibbetts, Minnesota Public RadioNovember 20, 2008

Representatives from the campaigns of Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken have been challenging ballots across the state.

It's your turn to play election judge. Tell us how you would rule in the case of these challenged ballots. Use this Minnesota state statute as your guide.

DAY 2 BALLOTS

Ballot #1: The Autograph
The Franken campaign challenged this ballot, arguing the voter left an identifying mark on the ballot. Minnesota law states: "If a ballot is marked by distinguishing characteristics in a manner making it evident that the voter intended to identify the ballot, the entire ballot is defective." (Caroline Yang for MPR)

Read on...

Go the to the article and check images of some of the actual ballots. When the recount began Franken trailed by more than 200 votes. As of this morning after 46% of the votes have been recounted Franken has closed the gap to 136 votes. If the rate of change continues for the final 54% of the votes, Franken will be very close. Tom

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Fresh Start for a New Administration: Reforming Law and Justice Policies

Now that the 2008 Presidential election is over, Americans can begin to focus on the policy changes the new administration can and should make. The inauguration of the Forty-Fourth President and installation of a new Administration will bring an opportunity for a fresh evaluation of federal law and policy in every area. It is therefore important and timely to offer ideas and recommendations for a new Administration to consider as it undertakes this important task.

On October 16th and October 30th, ACS released a package of proposals for a new Administration – of either party – and hosted a panel discussion on the topics they address. The proposals, contained in two dozen papers, cover a range of law and justice policy areas, including:

Read on...

Lots of links to interesting papers on how to undo the damage wrought by 8 years of Bush. Tom

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25 Most Important Stories the Media Isn't Reporting (w/ poll)

by StanMO Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:00:37 PM PST

Need a break from talk of Joe and Hillary?

Project Censored conducts research on important national news stories that are underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored by the US corporate media. Each year, Project Censored publishes a ranking of the top 25 most censored nationally important news stories in the yearbook, Censored: Media Democracy in Action.

Here is this year's list:

Read on...

All these stories are important and dutifully ignored by the dying MSM. They are all major, interesting stories but I draw your attention to numbers 7, 18 and 20. I haven't read them all but number 25 also looks interesting. Tom

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dick Cheney indicted for organized crime by Texas grand jury

By John Amato Wednesday Nov 19, 2008 5:30am

More news coming out of TX...

Cheney is accused of investing some $85 million in the Vanguard Group that houses federal inmates. The grand jury accuses Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Too bad he didn't have to do a perp walk for us.

Michael Froomkin has more:
CNN, Cheney, Gonzales indicted for alleged prisoner abuse: Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been indicted on separate charges related to alleged prisoner abuse in federal detention centers, Willacy County, Texas, District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra told CNN Tuesday.

Read on...

Needless to say this story doesn't seem to be in the New York Times. Tom

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Obama's Attorney General

Michael Isikoff

President-elect Obama has decided to tap Eric Holder as his attorney general, putting the veteran Washington lawyer in place to become the first African-American to head the Justice Department, according to two legal sources close to the presidential transition.

Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal “vetting” review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified talking about the transition process. But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted, the source said. The announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments.

Read on...

I can't say I'm thrilled with all the Clintonites rumoured to be in Obama's cabinet. I've read that Holder is a political hack, but like all of Obama's choices I guess we'll have to wait and see. Will the rule of law return to the U.S? Tom

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Poverty, Pension Fears Drive Japan's Elderly Citizens to Crime

By Stuart Biggs and Sachiko Sakamaki

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- More senior citizens are picking pockets and shoplifting in Japan to cope with cuts in government welfare spending and rising health-care costs in a fast-ageing society.

Criminal offences by people 65 or older doubled to 48,605 in the five years to 2008, the most since police began compiling national statistics in 1978, a Ministry of Justice report said.

Read on...

Watch out! The super predator senior citizen crime wave is coming to a neighbourhood near you. Tom

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fear and Punishment in Sweden: Exploring Penal Attitudes

Demker, M., A. Towns, G. Duus-Otterstrom, and J. Sebring. Punishment and Society 10, 3 (2008): 319-332.

Sweden is often portrayed as a hold out from ‘penal populism’, with a comparatively non-punitive population that prefers preventive and non-custodial sanctions to imprisonment. But while the Swedish public is still less punitive than many others, there is evidence that it has become more punitive, and less content with Swedish penal practice, over time. Trying to add to the understanding of the causes of toughening penal attitudes, we proceed to investigate the importance of media consumption for Swedish penal attitudes. We find a correlation between tabloid consumption and punitiveness. We end by a speculation that locates this finding in the wider context of an individualized, victim-centred discourse of crime.

Interesting article on the influence of the media on punitive attitudes. Available online to the U. of T. community, or in print at the Centre of Criminology Library

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Vancouver's Radical Approach to Drugs: Let Junkies Be Junkies

By Vince Beiser, Miller-McCune Magazine. Posted November 18, 2008.

Welcome to North America's only officially sanctioned "supervised injection site."

Miller-McCune magazine and Miller-McCune.com draw on academic research and other definitive sources to provide reasoned policy options and solutions for today's pressing issues.

On a chilly, overcast morning in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, a steady trickle of sallow-faced drug addicts shambles up to a storefront painted with flowers and the words "Welcome to Insite." One by one, they ring the doorbell and are buzzed into a tidy reception area staffed by smiling volunteers.

The junkies come here almost around the clock, seven days a week. Some just grab a fistful of clean syringes from one of the buckets by the door and head out again. But about 600 times a day, others walk in with pocketfuls of heroin, cocaine or speed that they've scored out on the street; sign in; go to a clean, well-lit room lined with stainless steel booths; and, under the protective watch of two nurses, shoot their drugs into their veins.

Read on...

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Record Numbers Seeking Bush Pardons

by Scott Michels

A record number of felons are seeking presidential pardons or commutations as President George W. Bush enters the final months of his term, creating one of the largest backlogs in clemency applications in recent history.

More than 2,300 people applied for a pardon or commutation in fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30, the largest number for any single year since at least 1900, according to Justice Department Statistics. The unprecedented number of applications and the lengthy time needed to make final decisions have led to a backlog of more than 2,000 pending clemency applications.

Read on...

It will be interesting to see if Conrad Black finds his way to the front of the pardon line. If I had to make a bet, I would say that Conrad will be pardoned along with Karl Rove and thousands of other administration officials who broke the law on behalf of Bush and the neo-cons. Tom

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Monday, November 17, 2008

roots of youth violence - report

The McMurtry/Curling report: rootsofyouthviolence is available online. The Criminology Library is obtaining a hardcopy of the report.

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Report seeks $100-million for youth programs

Created after death of Jordan Manners, provincial review ends with requests for spending, creation of a youth commissioner, more central role for schools in community

TIMOTHY APPLEBY

From Friday's Globe and Mail

November 14, 2008 at 4:19 AM EST

Creation of a special youth commissioner, an enhanced role for schools and a $100-million allocation of funds will head the recommendations of a long-awaited provincial report on youth violence to be released today.

"This will mark a framework for the future of young people in this province," said a source familiar with the report by former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry and former Liberal MPP Alvin Curling.

Read on...

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Report blames racism for rise in youth violence

CAROLINE ALPHONSO

With reports from Karen Howlett and Timothy Appleby

November 15, 2008

TORONTO -- Racism is "alive and well" in Ontario and shares the blame for the recent rise in youth violence, according to a long-awaited report that urges the province to gather racial data and provide anti-racism training to police.

The sweeping report, released yesterday, described a culture where some minority groups encounter systemic barriers, while others - in particular blacks and aboriginals - suffer from an entrenched and more "virulent form" of racism.

Read on...

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Race stats confine black youths

Rosie Dimanno

Statistics are troubling. They carry a weight of certainty that is not always deserved.

Crime statistics are particularly misleading. The numbers, and what they purportedly reveal, are only as good as the data fed into a computer. Often that data is incomplete or deceptive. A single incident between suspect and police, for example, can result in a slew of charges – catch-all overcharging is routine – many of which are subsequently dropped because there was no reasonable substance to them and zero likelihood of conviction. But the record will still show X number of charges levelled, skewing annual totals in that particular column.

Read on...

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Wall Street's Bailout is a Trillion-Dollar Crime Scene -- Why Aren't the Dems Doing Something About It?

By Naomi Klein, The Nation. Posted November 14, 2008.

Washington's handling of the bailout is not merely incompetent. It may well be illegal.

The more details emerge, the clearer it becomes that Washington's handling of the Wall Street bailout is not merely incompetent. It is borderline criminal.

In a moment of high panic in late September, the U.S. Treasury unilaterally pushed through a radical change in how bank mergers are taxed -- a change long sought by the industry. Despite the fact that this move will deprive the government of as much as $140 billion in tax revenue, lawmakers found out only after the fact. According to the Washington Post, more than a dozen tax attorneys agree that "Treasury had no authority to issue the [tax change] notice."

Read on...

The financial crisis was caused by fraud, committed by the very same people who are being bailed out. When is someone going to get arrested? Tom

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What's the Best Way To Pack a Court?

The attack on merit selection for judges.

By Bert Brandenburg

Posted Friday, Nov. 14, 2008, at 7:13 AM ET

Michigan's voters delivered a small but telling electoral shock on Nov. 4. Chief Justice Cliff Taylor, a heavy favorite, got thumped by 100,000 votes by Circuit Judge Diane Hathaway, who was nominated just 59 days before the election. Taylor raised almost five times as much money as Hathaway and enjoyed at least $1.3 million more in supportive television ads from groups like the GOP and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Yet he was the first high-court justice to be voted out in Michigan in 24 years. The business sector acknowledges Taylor's loss as a stinging defeat. But some of its members still see electing judges, in general, as good for their bottom line. And now they're pushing for more of it.

Read on...

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"Justifiable Homicides" Are on the Rise: Have Self-Defense Laws Gone Too Far?

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted November 14, 2008.

With shoot first/ask questions later legislation passing across the country, are more Americans getting away with murder?

One year ago today, a 61-year old Texan named Joe Horn looked out his window in Pasadena, just outside of Houston, and saw a pair of black men on his neighbor's property. It appeared to be a burglary in action, so he called 911. But as he described what he saw to the emergency dispatcher, he began to get agitated. The police would take too long to get there, he decided. Instead, he'd stop the crime himself.

"I've got a shotgun," Horn told the 911 dispatcher. "You want me to stop him?"

Read on...

Welcome to the wild west. Tom

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eight RNC Protesters Accused of 'Furthering Terrorism' Thanks To Statute

by Matt Snyders

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL - Eryn Trimmer sits in a Loring Park coffee shop and peers out the window to the street below. Dressed in a casual charcoal-colored sweater, with wispy blond hair, the gangly 23-year-old handyman resembles your typical coffeehouse regular. You'd hardly suspect he's an accused terrorist.

The Saturday before the Republican National Convention, Trimmer was sleeping upstairs in his two-story home in Minneapolis's Powderhorn neighborhood when he was awakened by a clatter. Within seconds, armed officers burst through his bedroom, guns drawn, and arrested Trimmer, his live-in girlfriend Monica Bicking, and their roommate Garrett Fitzgerald

Read on...

Given the crackdown on protest during the Bush years, its a wonder there are any protestors left. I doubt any of the RNC8 will be found guilty of the terrorism charges. Tom

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Blanket Pardons

by digby

Evidently, there's talk of Bush issuing a blanket pardon to anyone involved in his torture regime before he leaves office and Salon is also reporting that there are some plans afoot in the Obama camp to initiate a broad congressional inquiry into the whole interrogation program, which would be even more amazing.

As to the pardons, there is precedent for a president to pardon whole categories of people --- Carter did it for draft resisters and George Washington did it for those involved in the Whiskey Rebellion. The article discusses some moral distinctions, but it seems clear to me that Bush could do this and there would be nothing anyone could do about it.

Read on...

It would be nice to see the U.S. return the the rule of law. And also nice to see a few Bushies frogmarched to jail. Not to be vengeful but I hope Obama does something. Tom

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The mild-mannered Librarians who took on the Patriot Act... and WON!

by markthshark

Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 07:12:27 PM PST

Two men in black appeared in the doorway of the Library Connection in Windsor, Connecticut as though they just stepped off the film set of the old 1960’s action series "The F.B.I." starring Efram Zimbalist Jr.

With a quick flash of their badges, the agents shuffled past the assistant and walked straight over to the man nearest the Xerox machine behind the counter. After a short introduction, the library’s director George Christian ushered the two agents into his office and closed the door. In a voice barely rising above the din of the copier outside the door, the lead agent explained to the director that the bureau was requesting "... any and all subscriber information, billing information, and access logs of any person of entity" that had used computers between 4pm and 4:45pm on February 15, 2005, in any of the 27 libraries whose computer systems were managed by the Library Connection, a nonprofit co-op of library databases.

Read on...

Crimbrary salutes these librarians. Tom

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Case That Could Re-Arm Thousands of Convicted Domestic Violence Abusers

WASHINGTON - November 10 - The U.S.Supreme Court will hear arguments today at 11 a.m. in United States v. Hayes, a case that will determine whether thousands of convicted domestic violence abusers will be allowed to possess guns.

The Court will interpret the federal Lautenberg Amendment, which bans gun possession by convicted domestic violence abusers. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and law enforcement groups filed a brief in June urging the Court to reverse an appeals court ruling that, if allowed to stand, could re-arm convicted abusers in a majority of states.

Read on...

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Time to Zap the Taser

The Vancouver Provice Editorial

Canada all but abolished the death penalty in 1976. It still exists for special cases in the military, though it is never used.

The last legal execution in this country was 1962 in Toronto's Don Jail, when two men, shall we say, dropped into history. Between 1867 and 1962, 710 people were executed in Canada.

It is a point of pride for millions of Canadians that we no longer hang our citizens.

Read on...

Finally a major paper makes the obvious point. Tom

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Waiting to Die: The Cruel Phenomenon of "Death Row Syndrome"

By Michael J. Carter, IPS News. Posted November 7, 2008.

As prisoners across the country spend decades awaiting execution, the psychological effects are devastating.

SEATTLE, Washington, Nov 4 (IPS) — The length of time convicted murderers wait for their execution is steadily rising in the U.S., raising concerns that more will suffer from the mental illness known as "death row syndrome.”

The United States' 3,300 death row inmates can now expect to wait an average of 12 years from the day of their sentencing to death by lethal injection or electric chair, a doubling of the time gap in the mid-1980s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice.

This increase is mainly due to mandatory appeals introduced after capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976 after a four-year suspension. These reforms have led to lengthier appeals, according to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center.

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Shelf Life: A Criminally Insane System

Forget the sensational headlines about the mentally ill. The truth is in the alternative media.

by Danielle Maestretti

Based on what the mainstream media and an ever-growing spate of TV crime shows have to say about mental illness, one could easily sketch a sinister profile of the average specimen: He's a murder convict, schizophrenic or perhaps bipolar, who snapped after he went off his meds and brutally killed someone with a baseball bat or an apple corer. Oh, and don't forget the takeaway lesson: Why was he roaming the streets in the first place? He should have been in a hospital somewhere.

"The fact is that the mentally ill are rarely violent and contribute very little to overall violence in the United States," writes psychiatrist Richard A. Friedman in "The Politics of Mental Illness," an outstanding 24-page special report in the July-August issue of the American Prospect. But it's easy to see why this myth needs dispelling: Friedman points to a 2005 study of 70 major newspapers that found that 39 percent of stories about mentally ill people "focused on dangerousness."

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Can Barack Obama Undo Bush's Tangled Legal Legacy?

by Marisa Taylor and Michael Doyle

WASHINGTON - When Barack Obama becomes president in January, he'll confront the controversial legal legacy of the Bush administration.

From expansive executive privilege to hard-line tactics in the war on terrorism, Obama must decide what he'll undo and what he'll embrace.

The stakes couldn't be higher.

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A nice overview but one of the craziest suggestions in this article is that John McCain should lead some kind of enquiry into torture policy. Did everyone just watch the same election I watched? Tom

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Marital Discord: Why Prop 8 Won

by Richard Kim

Amid the honks and cheers of joy in the Castro and West Hollywood, there are quiet signs of anxiety and, as state election results come in, a growing sense of anguish. Something is not right in the Golden State. Even as Californians gave 61 percent of their vote to Barack Obama, a majority of them, 52 percent, voted to discriminate against another kind of minority--gays and lesbians. For a brief window that began in the bridal month of June, California queers had the right to marry, thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling, and some 18,000 same-sex couples said "I do." Proposition 8--a ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman--now says "You can't!"

As I write, the results for the second most expensive campaign in the country after the presidency are not official. According to the No on 8 campaign, as many as 3 million to 4 million absentee and provisional ballots have yet to be counted, and gay activists are rightly refusing to concede until they are. But there is little reason to expect that those votes will tip the scales.

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Mercenary for Justice

Pro-life zealot James Kopp murdered an upstate abortion doctor in 1998. And he might well have escaped the FBI if not for an informant whose desire for the big reward money led him to betray a lifelong friend. In the following chronicle, the informant tells his story for the first time, offering the inside account of how the abortion war’s most notorious assassin was finally taken down.

by Robert Kolker

Dennis Malvasi was the kind of kid everyone else wanted to be—the funny one, the street-smart one, the handsome one with a natural swagger. The Brooklyn neighborhood he grew up in was one of the worst slums in the city; East New York in the mid-sixties was a gangland, perpetually on the brink of a race riot. But Dennis always seemed above it all, despite being worse off than most. He had eleven brothers and sisters, with three fathers between them. His mother was so poor she sent him for a time to an orphanage upstate. Maybe it was knowing so many unwanted children that explains what happened later.

Dennis entered the Vietnam War just after the Tet Offensive. He was 17 but so eager to enlist that he found a stranger in the street to sign his parental-consent form. He served one tour as a field radio operator, drawing VC fire on a number of occasions, then turned around and re-upped for a second. As a soldier, “I felt really alive, really wanted,” is how Dennis put it. Life at home was harder. He was arrested for being in a street fight—“hanging around,” he’d later say, “with some very dangerous people.” He tried to become an actor, joining an Off–Off Broadway troupe on the Lower East Side, even winning some acclaim. But in 1975, he got stopped and frisked by a police officer on a subway platform. He was carrying a .25-caliber pistol. It was his second felony. He was sent upstate to prison for two years.

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From New York magazine a story on the abortion wars. Tom

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Suffering Souls: The Search for the Roots of Psychopathy

by John Seabrook

The Western New Mexico Correctional Facility sits in high-desert country about seventy miles west of Albuquerque. Grants, a former uranium boomtown that depends heavily on prison work, is a few miles down the road. There’s a glassed-in room at the top of the prison tower, with louvred windows and, on the ceiling, a big crank that operates a searchlight. In a box on the floor are some tear-gas shells that can be fired down into the yard should there be a riot. Below is the prison complex—a series of low six-sided buildings, divided by high hurricane fences topped with razor wire that glitters fiercely in the desert sun. To the east is the snow-covered peak of Mt. Taylor, the highest in the region; to the west, the Zuni Mountains are visible in the blue distance.

One bright morning last April, Dr. Kent Kiehl strode across the parking lot to the entrance, saying, “I guarantee that by the time we reach the gate the entire inmate population will know I’m here.” Kiehl—the Doc, as the inmates call him—was dressed in a blue blazer and a yellow tie. He is tall, broad-shouldered, and barrel-chested, with neat brown hair and small ears; he looks more like a college football player, which was his first ambition, than like a cognitive neuroscientist. But when he speaks, in an unexpectedly high-pitched voice, he becomes that know-it-all kid in school who intimidated you with his combination of superior knowledge and bluster.

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An interesting article from the New Yorker. Tom

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

VIDEO: Palin Did NOT Know Africa a Continent (Fox!!) w/ juicy gossipy update!

by ksh01

I heard this live on the Fox Report, Shepard Smith's show. It was at the end of the show, a report done by Carl Cameron. But apparently the tensions and drama behind the scenes in the McCain Campaign were far, far worse than anyone in the media allowed us to believe.

According to Cameron,
Palin did NOT know Africa was a continent. She did NOT know who the parties to NAFTA were. She threw dramatic temper tantrums over bad press. She refused to prepare for the Gibson or Couric interviews.

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I couldn't resist this. Tom

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Gay Marriage Ban Looks to Have Passed in California, but Is It Legal?

By Karen Ocamb, AlterNet. Posted November 6, 2008.

Lawyers and marriage equality proponents are calling Proposition 8 illegal, and they may have good legal ground to stand on.
Hundreds of gay people and their allies at the Music Box in Hollywood on Election Night thundered their approval when states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio were called for Barack Obama. Like so many others around the world, gay people, anxious for change, felt the pendulum of history about to make a huge sweep in a progressive direction.

In between the election results and foot-stomping music, a steady stream of elected officials -- including new hero Jack O'Connell, California's superintendent of education, who appeared in a No on Prop. 8 ad condemning the "lies" promulgated by the Yes on 8 campaign -- promised to "fight for equality" even if Proposition 8 passed. But for most, that was unthinkable. How could the people of California in 2008 vote to eliminate the existing fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry and write that prohibition into the state constitution?

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The Man Behind Proposition 8

Posted by Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2008.

The reclusive billionaire, the mother of Blackwater's Erik Prince, and the drive to fund this year's most controversial referendum.

Among the local ballot measures to be decided on Election Day, California’s Proposition 8 is perhaps the most fiercely contested. Backers of the proposition to ban same-sex marriage in the state cast their campaign in apocalyptic terms. “This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” born-again Watergate felon and Prison Fellowship Ministries founder Chuck Colson told the New York Times. Tony Perkins, the president of the Christian right’s most powerful Beltway lobbying outfit, Family Research Council, echoed Colson’s language. “It’s more important than the presidential election,” Perkins said of Prop 8. “We will not survive [as a nation] if we lose the institution of marriage.”

The campaign for Prop 8 has reaped massive funding from conservative backers across the country. Much of it comes from prominent donors like the Utah-based Church of Latter Day Saints and the Catholic conservative group, Knights of Columbus. Prop 8 has also received a boost from Elsa Broekhuizen, the widow of Michigan-based Christian backer Edgard Prince and the mother of Erik Prince, founder of the controversial mercenary firm, Blackwater.

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Its interesting to look behind the curtain and see how some public policy is made in the U.S. Interesting and frightening. Tom

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Pot Wins in a Landslide: A Thundering Rejection of America's Longest War

By Rob Kampia, AlterNet. Posted November 5, 2008.

Voters dealt what may be a fatal blow to America's longest-running and least-discussed war -- the war on marijuana.

On Tuesday, largely under the radar of the pundits and political chattering classes, voters dealt what may be a fatal blow to America's longest-running and least-discussed war -- the war on marijuana.

Michigan voters made their state the 13th to allow the medical use of marijuana by a whopping 63 percent to 37 percent, the largest margin ever for a medical marijuana initiative. And by 65 percent to 35 percent, Massachusetts voters decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, replacing arrests, legal fees, court appearances, the possibility of jail and a lifelong criminal record with a $100 fine, much like a traffic ticket, that can be paid through the mail.

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Pot may have had some victories on Tuesday but the defeat of Proposition 5 in Californai was a setback. Tom

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SCREW you California HOmophobes

On a night that I spent earlier, weeping for joy at the thought of seeing and experiencing something I never imagined possible, a black man as President of the United States of America, I end the night with a mix of dull shock and bitter fury.

The California Constitution has been amended to institutionalize discrimination against fellow citizens of the State of California, those who are gay and lesbian.

Read on...

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Voters oppose Prop. 5, Prop. 6, support Prop. 9

(11-04) 23:04 PST SAN FRANCISCO --

California voters were trouncing a pair of contrasting anti-crime measures, one that aimed to shrink prisons and another that promised to grow them while boosting funding for law enforcement.

Proposition 5 would expand programs to divert drug addicts and nonviolent offenders from prison to rehabilitation. It was designed to keep them from cycling in and out of overcrowded prisons that cost taxpayers more than $10 million a year.

Opponents said the programs were ripe for abuse.

I really don't know but it strikes me that this isn't the best way to make criminal justice policy. Tom

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South Dakota Beats Abortion Ban, Homophobes Win in 4 States

by Meteor Blades Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 01:20:53 AM PST

Two terrible proposals were beaten Tuesday. In South Dakota, the effort to ban most abortions failed for the second time in two years. In Colorado, the effort to define a fertilized egg as a person also failed. But measures to ban gay marriage succeeded in Florida, Arizona and, most likely, California. Gay adoption was banned in Arkansas. Here are the results of these and other important ballot measures. The numbers in parentheses are the percentage of precincts counted

Arizona Proposition 102 defining marriage as between a man and a woman (92%) For: 1,009,693 - 57% Against: 777,359 - 43%

Arizona Proposition 202 revoking business licenses for hiring undocumented workers (92%) For: 702,839 – 41% Against: 1,020,204 - 59%

Arkansas: Ban Gay Adoption (90%) For: 549,074 – 57% Against: 418,648 - 43%

Obama may have won but there is still a large hate vote in the states. Check out this list of results. Tom

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sarah Palin sounds like she knows she lost. She also refuses to say if she voted for Stevens.

John Aravosis (DC)

Can't get rid of "that one" fast enough. Watch the video, she and her husband both sound like they know they lost. And it's simply amazing that she may have voted for a convicted felon for Senator.

The woman did next to no real interviews, never held a press conference, and McCain hasn't held one in two and a half months. And the media did nothing about it. On that account, they let us down. Yes, there is something they could have done. How about not letting Palin and McCain go on SNL and Letterman and every other goofy fluffy show until they hold a real press conference? How about pulling your reporters off their bus and their plane? Our media allowed McCain to set a precedent where presidential candidates are no longer required to be publicly accountable. Yet another way in which the Republicans are continually watering down our democracy, and the media, the supposed watchdogs of that democracy, yet again are complicit.

Yes the media failed just like the Canadian media allows itself to be manipulated by Harper. But the media's performance in the U.S., when Bush gave press conferences, was hopeless in any case. Its not like they ever asked him any tough questions. Just shows how bad a choice Palin was that she couldn't even be trusted to talk to the cheerleading, emasculated mainstream U.S. media. Tom

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No One Should Concede a Contested Election

posted by John Nichols on 11/04/2008 @ 06:22am

The final polls before today's presidential election suggested that Democrat Barack Obama is well ahead of Republican John McCain – both nationally and in key battleground states. But surveys conducted prior to the voting, and exit polls of voters leaving their polling places, are not always definitional. In 2004, John Kerry was an exit-poll winner, but on election night he found himself locked in a county-by-county, precinct-by-precinct fight for the decisive state of Ohio.

Before all the votes were counted and all the conflicts were resolved in Ohio, Kerry conceded the election to Republican George Bush.

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Early reports of a huge voter turnout portends well for Obama. Crimbrary is confident it will be an Obama landslide. But there may also be lots of problems....long lines, malfunctioning machines, harassment and probably a few riots. Tom

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Criminal Justice Reform Battle in California: Cynical Politicians and Powerful Interests Attacking the Public Good

By Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post. Posted November 2, 2008.

We can't allow a sensible solution to be drowned out by people know the "tough on crime" approach is worthless public policy.

Here is picture that sums up much that is wrong with American politics. Five governors of California, Democrats and Republicans, joining forces to oppose something that is indisputably in the public interest.

This is an image that could be repeated, with different faces, in region after region of our country, involving issue after issue. Public officials standing against the public good, with the disastrous results on display from Detroit to Wall Street. All suffering from the same destructive force: the power of entrenched special interests to cloud the vision of our leaders, causing them to thwart good sense, good legislation, and the will of the people.

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It will be interesting to follow what happens to Proposition 5 tomorrow night. Tom

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