Friday, February 27, 2009

The CPAC extremism continues with Joe the Plumber who thinks some elected members of Congress should be shot

Joe the Plumber talks like he lives in some kind of Soviet-style dictatorship where people who disagree can be shot and smacked around. But, he's a star at CPAC and fits right in with all the other right wing whackos. He's one of the their great thinkers these days. From our friends Think Progress, who have bravely ventured into the CPAC snake pit:

On Wednesday, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher said that if he were in Congress, he would “probably be in jail” because he’d be charged with “slapping some member.” He added, “And that’s not [bull] either.” ThinkProgress caught up with Joe at CPAC yesterday and asked him which members he would most like to slap. “Pretty much anybody that’s stood there and said anything bad about our troops, pretty much anybody who sat there and talked treasonous talk about America,” Joe said.

Read on...

Joe the Plumber, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, John Bolten and Sarah Palin are the core of the Republican Party. This is the official opposition party of the U.S. Scary. Tom

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The Psychological Cost of Market Transition: Mental Health Disparities in Reform-Era China

by Wei-hsin Yu, Social Problems 55, 3 (2008): 347-369.

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

China’s post-1978 economic reform has led to fundamental changes in its urban life. Yet little attention has been paid to the effects of this massive societal transformation on individuals’ psychological well-being. Using survey data collected from a national sample of 3,443 Chinese urban residents in 2005, I examine the effects of employment conditions, political affiliation, and regional level of marketization on self-reported symptoms of psychological distress. The findings show that individuals whose personal conditions expose them more to the risks and uncertainty brought about by market reform, such as self-employed workers, are more likely to suffer from psychological distress. By contrast, residents in more marketized areas tend to feel more satisfied with their economic conditions and therefore have lower levels of distress. Taken together, these results suggest that the reduced social protection resulting from reform contributes to an elevated level of psychological distress. However, a higher perceived level of economic well-being reduces distress and partly compensates for the disruptive effects of China’s market transition.

Interesting findings, but hardly surprising.

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Judges Show Coleman Mercy, Reverse Ruling To Strike Key Witness

By Eric Kleefeld - February 26, 2009, 11:16AM

The Minnesota election court just decided to cut Norm Coleman a serious break, reversing their decision yesterday to strike the testimony of a key witness in Coleman's attempt to prove double-counting of votes, after the Coleman camp failed to share evidence with the Franken side.

The court's memorandum explains why they took this severe step to begin with -- Coleman's repeated failures in the past to fully share evidence in a timely manner:

The Court recognizes that striking testimony is a severe sanction but notes that this trial has been underway for five weeks and that the parties have been repeatedly instructed of the need to supplement discovery responses. The Court believes this sanction was within its discretion in light of Contestants' repeated failures to adhere to their discovery obligations under the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure.

Read on...

Dateline 2012: Franken inches closer to being seated as Senator. Coleman vows to fight on. Tom

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Marijuana Legalization discourse officially goes Mainstream

by xxdr zombiexx
Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 03:18:32 AM PST

'O the times, they are a changin'.

Andrew Cohen @ CBS News, a very major mainstream media outlet, writes about how the economy is causing states to think about shedding non-violent prisoners from the prion roles, as a cost-saving maneuver.
This lead, naturally, to the discussion of legalizing and regulating marijuana.

The "news" is that this discussion is on something like "CBS".

Read on...

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Jail Sentences for Cops Who Planted Pot on 92-Year Old They Killed in Botched Drug Raid

By Christopher Moraff, AlterNet. Posted February 26, 2009.

Three former Atlanta police officers were sentenced for shooting Kathryn Johnston and attempting to cover up their cruel acts.

Three former Atlanta police officers were sentenced to prison time this week for the shooting death of a 92 year-old grandmother after breaking down her door during a botched drug raid.

Jason Smith, Gregg Junnier and Arthur Tesler received sentences ranging from five to 10 years on charges of conspiracy to violate civil rights resulting in death.

In November 2006, the officers -- all members of Atlanta's narcotics squad -- gunned down Kathryn Johnston inside her home. The police claimed to be acting on information they received from a confidential informant that drugs were being sold from the house. That allegation turned out to be false.

Read on...

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How a Man Was Thrown into Gitmo and Tortured for Clicking on My Article

By Barbara Ehrenreich, Barbaraehrenreich.com. Posted February 26, 2009.

America in the Bush years was so vicious and stupid that it managed to take my freedom of speech and turn it into someone else's living hell.

I like to think that some of the things I write cause discomfort in those readers who deserve to feel it. Ideally, they should squirm, they should flinch, they might even experience fleeting gastrointestinal symptoms. But I have always drawn the line at torture. It may be unpleasant to read some of my writings, especially if they have been assigned by a professor, but it should not result in uncontrollable screaming, genital mutilation or significant blood loss.

With such stringent journalistic ethics in place, I was shocked to read in the February 14 Daily Mail Online.

Read on...

I hate to say it, again, but Obama isn't walking away from many Bush policies. Beginning to wonder if he will. Tom

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Guest Column: The Crumbling Ivory Tower

By Stephen Quake

In some quarters of academia there is a deep longing for a return to the ivory tower – that time when the university was disconnected from commercial interests and faculty members were unsoiled by the financial rewards that can be associated with their research.

I must admit that in some respects I share that nostalgia – it would be good for society if there were institutions to turn to for unbiased opinions on the questions that face society. However, it is also true that universities have turned away from the ivory tower model and have embraced a more engaged role in the commercial development of the discoveries of their faculty members.

Read on...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Law and Disorder

The case for a police surge. by William J. Stuntz

We live in strange times. The federal budget deficit is higher than at any time since World War II as a percentage of GDP, yet the president and Congress are not in budget-cutting mode. Rather, they are seeking to make that deficit even larger by spending sums that, before now, seemed beyond the realm of possibility. The more obscene the amounts, the better. John Maynard Keynes's famous suggestion--pay some workers to dig ditches and others to fill them up--hasn't made it into any stimulus package, yet. But the night is still young, and politicians are still exercising their imaginations.

Sadly, in the face of record-breaking federal spending, one uncommonly good spending idea has gotten short shrift: Use federal budget dollars to pay for more cops on high-crime city streets. A modest version of that idea--$8.8 billion in federal money over six years--was enacted as part of the 1994 crime bill, and it contributed to the second-biggest crime drop of the last century.

Read on...

Just thought you might be interested what the wingnuts are reading these days. This piece from the Weekly Standard give us an idea. Tom

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Immigration: No More Secret Prisons

By Julie Greene, Huffington Post. Posted February 24, 2009.

Across the United States, tens of thousands of immigrants are being held in detention facilities that violate basic standards of humanity.

On January 22, 2009, President Obama ordered the closing of Guantanamo within one year, an overhaul of detention policies, and an end to torture and secret prisons around the world. He also called for the creation of a task force to study United States detention policy overseas. In particular, he declared that the "apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition" of individuals must not violate either the interests of national security or the interests of justice. And he ordered that our policies must comply with the Geneva Conventions, including Article 3 which stipulates that detainees be treated humanely and prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity." Human rights advocates around the world applauded the President's executive orders.

Read on...

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Zogby Poll: Majority Support for Taxing and Regulating Marijuana on the West Coast

By Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle. Posted February 20, 2009.

58% of West Coast respondents agreed that marijuana should be "taxed and regulated like alcohol and cigarettes."

Support for taxing and regulating marijuana has climbed above 50% on the West Coast, according to a national poll of 1,053 registered voters. The poll was conducted by Zogby International and was commissioned by California NORML and Oakland's Oaksterdam University.

The poll found that 58% of West Coast respondents agreed that marijuana should be "taxed and regulated like alcohol and cigarettes." Only 36% of West Coast respondents disagreed.

Read on...

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Friday, February 20, 2009

The roots of Russian organized crime: from old-fashioned professionals to the organized criminal groups of today

by Serguei Cheloukhine, Crime, Law and Social Change, 50, 4-5 (2008): 353-374.

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

This study focuses on the development of persons and organizations in the successor states of the Soviet Union, with an emphasis on Russia. It examines the development of criminal professionalism in Russia between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and argues that exiling peasants to Siberia contributed to the development of a criminal underworld and the creation of a professional criminal underclass. In the early to late Soviet periods, vory v zakone, or “thieves-in-law,” evolved together with criminal groups as a means to survive in the GULAG, these criminal groups operating within the Soviet prisons and penal colonies. Inadequacies of the Soviet system of central planning led to the criminalization of the Soviet economy and the emergence of the thieves-in-law as critical players. Activities such as racketeering, robbery, and other crimes were dangerous but predominantly secondary. The roots of the Russian mafia lie in the innermost depths of the Russian shadow economy. Some of the key aspects of the post-Soviet privatization process are analyzed together with the interaction between various levels of the Russian government and organized crime groups. It is argued that the state was not corrupted by organized crime groups, but rather the organized crime groups became the state. In the new Russia, organized crime groups and corrupt government executives work together to generate a new criminal state.

Amy Goodman: How Two Former PA Judges Got Millions in Kickbacks to Send Juveniles to Private Prisons

The judges even jailed some of the young people over the objections of their probation officers.

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!. Posted February 17, 2009

Amy Goodman: An unprecedented case of judicial corruption is unfolding in Pennsylvania. Several hundred families have filed a class-action lawsuit against two former judges who have pleaded guilty to taking bribes in return for placing youths in privately owned jails. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are said to have received $2.6 million for ensuring that juvenile suspects were jailed in prisons operated by the companies Pennsylvania Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Some of the young people were jailed over the objections of their probation officers. An estimated 5,000 juveniles have been sentenced by Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2002.

In addition to the jailing of the youths, the judges also admitted to helping "facilitate" the construction of private jails. The U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Martin Carlson, unveiled the charges last month.

Read on...

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Report: Real-world police forensics don't resemble 'CSI'

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The investigators on the hit CBS show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation make it look easy, but the science employed by real crime labs has "serious deficiencies," according to a federal report requested by Congress.

"CSI is television. This is reality," says Constantine Gatsonis of Brown University, co-chairman of the National Research Council team that crafted the report. Though judges allow prosecutors to present unreliable scientific evidence as "free from error," he says, "many forensic science disciplines have low or non-existent reliability standards."

Released Wednesday, the report calls for a "massive overhaul" of the science tools behind criminal convictions. In particular, the report finds:

Read on...

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On tangling with cops and the duty to obey lawful orders

by Seneca Doane
Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 08:58:41 PM PST

There is a diary on the Rec List now in which a Koster tells of his encounter with police at an Ann Coulter lecture at his college. The police acted badly post arrest and I don't defend them for that. This diary deals with the arrest itself, and the misconception that many good liberals have about the duty to follow a public safety officer's lawful orders. This misconception can quite seriously get you killed, which is why I commented in that diary and have decided to turn that comment into my own diary on the topic.
Essentially: you have to obey a lawful order. Understand that.

Seneca Doane's diary Here's my comment from the other diary:

This is a good diary and the behavior of the police, at least as reported, was inexcusable. But for your own good and those of your readers, I want to explain why you were arrested, and why that part of the story is not a scandal.

Read on...

And if you don't obey.....taser time. Tom

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

US States May Axe Executions to Cut Costs

WASHINGTON - In an unexpected twist to the economic crisis, several US states are weighing whether to abolish the death penalty as the execution process proves too great a drain on dwindling resources.

Death penalty laws remain on the books of 36 of the 50 US states, and capital punishment is supported by some two-thirds of the American public.

But across the nation, states as diverse and far-flung as Montana, Kansas, New Mexico and Maryland are among those actively considering abolishing capital punishment in a bid to overcome ballooning budget shortfalls.

"It is quite unusual that we've seen this blossoming of state legislative activity this year. It's because there is a renewed inspection of the death penalty," Steve Hall, director of the anti-capital punishment group Standdown, told AFP.

Read on...

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Bipartisan Crime Prevention Bill Takes Smart Approach to Juvenile Justice

Youth PROMISE Act Introduced in House and Senate on Same Day Sends a Strong Message, Says ACLU

WASHINGTON - February 13 - A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced H.R.1064 and S. 435, identical House and Senate bills to fund prevention and intervention programs that are comprehensive, community-centered and evidence-based efforts to combat gangs and youth violence.

The Youth Prison, Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act, known as "Youth PROMISE," is sponsored by Representatives Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA) and Michael Castle (R-DE) as well as Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Although Representative Scott sponsored this bill in the House last year, today is the first time that this legislation has been introduced in the Senate.

Read on...

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America's Shame: Can Jim Webb Fix the Prison Gulag?

By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation. Posted February 16, 2009.

An unlikely senator takes on the cause of reforming America's overloaded and barbaric jails.

Our criminal justice system is broken. The U.S. represents 5 percent of the world's population but accounts for nearly 25 percent of its prison population. We are incarcerating at a record rate with one in 100 American adults now locked up -- 2.3 million people overall. As a New York Times editorial stated simply, "This country puts too many people behind bars for too long."

But people who have been fighting for reform for decades are seeing new openings for change. The fiscal crisis has state governors and legislators looking for more efficient and effective alternatives to spending $50 billion a year on incarceration. At the federal level, there is reason to believe that the Obama administration and a reinvigorated Department of Justice will take a hard look at the inequities of the criminal justice system and work for a smarter and more effective approach to public safety. Finally, there are Congressional leaders -- none more prominent than Senator Jim Webb -- who understand that the system isn't functioning as it should and there is an urgent need for reform.

Read on...

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Schools seek more police as crime drops

February 18, 2009
Kristin Rushowy
EDUCATION REPORTER

The 22 Toronto public high schools assigned a police officer are reporting a drop in suspensions and criminal charges against students, and the success of the program has other schools lining up for officers.

In the first semester of the 2007-08 school year, the schools – which are scattered throughout the city – had a total of 1,353 suspensions. Last fall, that fell to 1,122, a 17 per cent drop.

Read on...

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Friday, February 13, 2009

The lessons of "Enron": Media accounts, corporate crimes, and financial markets

by James W. Williams. Published in Theoretical Criminology, v.12, no.4 (2008): 471-499

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

While the novelty of Enron and WorldCom as corporate scandals should not be overstated, these events are distinguished by the sheer volume of media coverage that followed in their wake. Drawing from an analysis of over 300 newspaper and magazine articles, this article argues that while this media coverage varies in its diagnosis of the scandals, it is rooted in a common set of taken-forgranted assumptions as to the nature, form, and operation of
financial markets. These various points of complementarity suggest that the coverage of the scandals is less significant as an exercise in collective sense-making than as a re-investment in a particular market discourse, a form of financial intelligibility germane to the scandals themselves and instructive vis-à-vis the future study of corporate and white-collar crime.

Still topical - unfortunately.

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Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit

by Ian Urbina and Sean D. Hamill

At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.

Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.

She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.
"I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare," said Hillary, 17, who was sentenced in 2007. "All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing."

Read on...

This really is over the top. Tom

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Questioning Authority: A Rethinking of the Infamous Milgram Experiments

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted February 12, 2009.

A famous 1970s experiment was recently replicated, revealing what it takes for us to question and resist those in positions of authority.

Between 1963 and 1974, Dr. Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments that would become one of the most famous social psychology studies of the 20th century. His focus was how average people respond to authority, and what he revealed stunned and disturbed people the world over.

Under the pretense of an experiment on "learning" and "memory," Milgram placed test subjects in a lab rigged with fake gadgetry, where a man in a lab coat instructed them to administer electrical shocks to a fellow test subject (actually an actor) seated in another room in "a kind of miniature electric chair."

Participants were told they were the "teachers" in the scenario and given a list of questions with which to quiz their counterparts (the "learners"). If the respondent answered incorrectly to a question, he got an electric shock as punishment.

Read on...

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Executive pay limits don't make it into stimulus legislation

By SilentPatriot Friday Feb 13, 2009 5:14am

I really have no problem with executives getting bonuses when they do a good job. But when they apply for government assistance, by definition they aren't perfoming up to standards that merit extra pay. It's really not a tough concept to understand, but apparently it's over the heads of our elected representatives.

Washington Post:
Congressional efforts to impose stringent restrictions on executive compensation appeared to be evaporating yesterday as House and Senate negotiators worked to fine-tune the compromise stimulus bill.

Read on...

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

RCMP rules on Taser use revamped

Feb 12, 2009 10:50 AM
Tonda MacCharles Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA – The RCMP has shifted its Taser policy, now training its officers that use of the stun gun poses a risk of death "particularly for acutely agitated individuals."

In the past, the RCMP had suggested using the weapon was appropriate in cases where "resistant" individuals could be subdued in order for them to be given medical attention.

Read on...

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Will You Help Me With My Next Film? ...a request from Michael Moore

by Michael Moore Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 03:26:13 AM PST

Friends,

I am in the middle of shooting my next movie and I am looking for a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know. Based on those who have already contacted me, I believe there are a number of you who know "the real deal" about the abuses that have been happening. You have information that the American people need to hear. I am humbly asking you for a moment of courage, to be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history.

Read on...

Michael Moore is making a new film. Crime on Wall Street. Can you help him? Tom

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Court Orders California to Cut Prison Population

By SOLOMON MOOREPublished: February 9, 2009

The California prison system must reduce overcrowding by as many as 55,000 inmates within three years to provide a constitutional level of medical and mental health care, a federal three-judge panel tentatively ruled Monday.

Relying on expert testimony, the court ruled that the California prison system, the nation’s largest with more than 150,000 inmates, could reduce its population by shortening sentences, diverting nonviolent felons to county programs, giving inmates good behavior credits toward early release, and reforming parole, which they said would have no adverse impact on public safety. The panel said that without such a plan, conditions would continue to deteriorate and inmates might regularly die of suicide or lack of proper care.

“The evidence is compelling that there is no relief other than a prisoner-release order that will remedy the unconstitutional prison conditions,” the panel said in its tentative ruling."

Read on...

The way the California economy is imploding they may just open the doors to the prisons. Tom

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Suspect in Torture Case Was Imprisoned For Reading Magazine's H-Bomb Satire

By Susie Madrak Tuesday Feb 10, 2009 2:45pm

Mind you, this is the man for whose case the Obama administration is citing the state secrets act. This could be any one of us:

A British ‘resident’ held at Guantanamo Bay was identified as a terrorist after confessing he had visited a ‘joke’ website on how to build a nuclear weapon, it was revealed last night.

Binyam Mohamed, a former UK asylum seeker, admitted to having read the ‘instructions’ after allegedly being beaten, hung up by his wrists for a week and having a gun held to his head in a Pakistani jail.

It was this confession that apparently convinced the CIA that they were holding a top Al Qaeda terrorist.

Read on...

You can't make this stuff up. I have to admit I haven't confirmed this story in a MSM source. If if turns out to be untrue I'll delete. But it has that ring of verismilitude to me. Tom

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama Reneges on Justice for Torture Victims, Embraces Bush Secrecy Doctrine

by Valtin Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:29:56 PM PST

Today, new Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department embraced Bush administration claims of "state secrets" in the ACLU lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in Bush's extraordinary rendition program. Jeppesen's involvement in the "torture flights" of an undetermined number of terror suspect abductees, making a tidy profit for themselves in the meantime.

The New York Times reported on how the deal went down in San Francisco earlier today:

Valtin's diary

During the campaign, Mr. Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees, and he has broken with that administration on questions like whether to keep open the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But a government lawyer, Douglas N. Letter, made the same state-secrets argument on Monday, startling several judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Read on...

I have two Obama t-shirts. A couple of more stories like this one, and I'll be burning one of them. And unfortunately a couple of days ago Crimbrary posted a story that praised Leon Panetta for rejecting "extraordinary rendition" Crimbray should have waited a day. The next day the wingnuts on the confirmation panel made Panetta eat most of his words. Which he did willingly. Tom

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Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 45, February 9, 2009.

This Bulletin is published by the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, a group of individuals and organizations in Toronto interested in police policies and procedures, and in making police more accountable to the community they are committed to serving. Our website is http://www.tpac.ca***

In this issue:

1. Making police data public
2. Policing Toronto subways
3. The release of non-crime information
4. Minor charges clog courts
5. Subscribe to the Bulletin***

1. Making police data public

The extraordinary series about racial profiling published in the Toronto Star in 2002 was made possible because Toronto police gave a Star reporter access to the data in police computers on arrests and stops by police for a number of years. The data had been altered so none of those arrested could be identified.

The Star articles concluded that police in Toronto practiced racial profiling. (See Bulletin No. 4, October 2003.) A few years later the Star reporter asked under the Freedom of Information Act for the latest data, but this time the Toronto Police Services Board replied it had no obligation to provide the information since to make the data anonymous, it would have to run a special computer program. Even though the Toronto Star agreed to pay the cost of running this program, the Board refused to release the information. The matter went to arbitration (the arbitrator said the information should be released), and then to the Divisional Court (which said the information should not be released - see Bulletin 40, March 2008.)

A decision by the Court of Appeal this January has said the Board must release the information. The appeal court concluded that its interpretation of the Freedom on Information Act and its regulations "strongly supports the contention that the legislature contemplated precisely the situation that has arisen in this case. In some circumstances, new computer programs will have to be developed, using the institution's available technical expertise and existing software, to produce a record from a machine readable record, with the requester being held accountable for the costs incurred in developing it. That interpretation makes good sense: far more so, in my respectful view than the one suggested by the [Toronto Police Services] Board." The case is `Toronto Police Services Board vs Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and James Rankin [the Star reporter],' and can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/decisions/2009/january/2009ONCA0020.pdf .

Read on...

Lots of interesting news from the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition in their latest Bulletin. Including the decision from the Court of Appeal that the Toronto Police Services Board had to release data on arrests and stops under a Freedom of Information Act request. This opens up lots of data to criminological researchers. Read the whole Bulletin. Tom

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Taser Policies May Get Supreme Court Review

by McKenzie Cassidy

The U.S. Supreme Court may change the way stun guns are used, after the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida petitioned the court on behalf of a north Florida man claiming a law enforcement officer was excessive with the device.

According to officials from the ACLU, this is the first time the issue of stun gun abuse will be heard by the Supreme Court and could change the way officers are allowed to use these devices on the job. The court was petitioned on Tuesday and will send a response within 30 days.

In the petition the ACLU alleges the officer violated the victim's Fourth Amendment rights - the right of the people to be secure in their person and a ban against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Read on...

Unfortunately with the present composition of the U.S. Supreme court, I have no doubt that it will decide that indiscriminate taser use is just dandy. I wonder if it would be better to not bring some issues before this court? Tom

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Rockefeller Laws: An End in Sight

Published: February 8, 2009

The New York Legislature finally seems poised to overturn the infamous Rockefeller drug laws. The impending change comes too late for the tens of thousands of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who wasted away in prison because of mandatory sentencing policies when they should have been given treatment and leniency. But after years of building support for reform, legislative leaders now have it within their power to make wholesale changes in this profoundly destructive law.

The Rockefeller laws tied the hands of judges by requiring lengthy prison terms even for first-time offenders. Essentially, the law allowed prosecutors to decide who went to jail and for how long. The system, which has been imitated throughout the country, filled the jails to bursting, while doing nothing to curb the drug trade.

Read on...

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Effort to Track Sex Offenders Draws Resistance

By ABBY GOODNOUGH and MONICA DAVEYPublished: February 8, 2009

An aggressive federal effort to keep track of sexual offenders is at risk of collapse because of objections from states and legal challenges from sex offenders and others.

The effort, approved by Congress three years ago, requires all states to adopt strict standards for registering sex offenders and is meant to prevent offenders from eluding the authorities, especially when they move out of state.

The law followed several heinous crimes by sex offenders on the run, including Joseph E. Duncan III, who in 2005 fled North Dakota, where he had been registered, and committed sex crimes and murder in three states, ending with the torture and killing of a 9-year-old boy in Montana.

Read on...

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Friday, February 6, 2009

When asked whether extraordinary renditions will continue, Panetta answers without hestitation: ‘No.’

Last week, the LA Times published a story asserting that President Obama “left intact” the CIA’s authority to carry out extraordinary renditions. (The unfounded claim was thoroughly debunked.) At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, Leon Panetta, Obama’s pick to head the CIA, declared decisively that the CIA would not carry out extraordinary renditions:

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Will the CIA continue the practice of extraordinary rendition by which the government will transfer a detainee to either a foreign government or a black site for the purpose of long-term detention and interrogation, as opposed to for law enforcement purposes?

PANETTA: No we will not.

Read on...

Obama has been disappointing in many areas, foreign policy and economic policy to name a couple. But I guess he deserves some props for this. His nominee actually talking about the rule of law as if it meant something is a nice change. I guess we'll have to see if it is only talk. Tom

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Naomi Klein: Public Revolt Builds Against Rip-off Rescue Plans for the Economy

By Naomi Klein, The Nation. Posted February 6, 2009.

Governments that respond to a crisis created by free-market ideology with the same bad ideas will not survive to tell the tale.

Watching the crowds in Iceland banging pots and pans until their government fell reminded me of a chant popular in anti-capitalist circles in 2002: "You are Enron. We are Argentina."

Its message was simple enough. You--politicians and CEOs huddled at some trade summit--are like the reckless scamming execs at Enron (of course, we didn't know the half of it). We--the rabble outside--are like the people of Argentina, who, in the midst of an economic crisis eerily similar to our own, took to the street banging pots and pans. They shouted, "¡Que se vayan todos!" ("All of them must go!") and forced out a procession of four presidents in less than three weeks. What made Argentina's 2001-02 uprising unique was that it wasn't directed at a particular political party or even at corruption in the abstract. The target was the dominant economic model--this was the first national revolt against contemporary deregulated capitalism.

It's taken a while, but from Iceland to Latvia, South Korea to Greece, the rest of the world is finally having its ¡Que se vayan todos! moment.

Read on...

It would be nice to think that relatively non-violent protest can affect governments in these days of taser and laser crowd control. But I'm not convinced that Harper's or Obama's stimulus bailouts aren't mired in free-market ideology. The banks are bankrupt. Bank of America and Citibank market caps are miniscule but they are being given bailout money manytimes their market cap. Why? Governments just aren't ready to admit that the banks need to be nationalized. And many bankers need to be charged with fraud. Tom

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Gang project targets 300 youths

Pilot program to identify and help young people involved in criminal groups or thinking of joining

February 6, 2009
Donovan Vincent
CITY HALL BUREAU

One of the largest anti-gang initiatives the city has ever undertaken will roll out this summer, aimed at steering at-risk youths into jobs and school.

The 3 1/2-year pilot project – Ottawa will provide just under $5 million in funding – will offer intensive case management for 300 youths ages 13 to 24 from three Toronto communities where gangs are a problem: Jane and Finch, Jamestown-Rexdale and Weston-Mount Dennis.

Read on...

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

The necessity of dishonesty: Police deviance, "making the case", and the public good

by Jona Goldschmidt and Anonymous. Published in Policing & Society, v.18, no.2 (2008): 113-135

This article is available online to the U. of T. community. It is also available in print at the Centre of Criminology Library

This study presents the results of structured interviews of 10 urban police officers conducted by an insider - a fellow police officer - regarding their attitudes towards and motivations for the use of dishonesty and extra-legal means in furtherance of their law enforcement function. Their vocabulary of motives include a wide range of justifications and rationalisations for their own and their fellow officers' unlawful stops, searches, arrests, planting of evidence, false report writing, and perjured testimony. The officers' techniques for neutralising their own moral guilt or others' questioning of their untoward conduct go beyond furtherance of their noble cause, which is a dominant force. The officers benefit both personally and professionally from their deviance. They express a firm belief that their extra-legal methods are a necessary deterrent to criminal behaviour, and even desired by those segments of society most victimised by criminal behaviour. Given the constellation of motives driving the officers' behaviour, the authors suggest that multiple approaches will be necessary to address the police dishonesty problem.

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Economy not full cause of baffling 'familicide' cases

By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

The dismal economy has been blamed for a lot — even for recent cases of financially stressed fathers killing themselves and their families.

The truth may not be that simple.

Financial problems can be a factor in what researchers call "familicide," but the scholars suggest the crime is rare.

"The economic downturn is not triggering a rash of this," says Louis Schlesinger, professor of forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Hundreds of thousands have been laid off recently, he notes, and more have lost money in the stock market, without killing their families.

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Ontario rejects call to ban use of stun guns on minors

February 05, 2009 The Canadian Press

Toronto

Calls to ban the use of stun guns on young people were rejected yesterday by the Ontario government, which said such a move would be a "knee-jerk reaction" that prevents police from using the devices before a study can provide guidance on their safety.

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Not encouraging. Tom

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Are Students the New Indentured Servants?

By Jeffrey J. Williams, Dissent Magazine. Posted February 5, 2009.

College student-loan debt has revived the spirit of indenture for a sizable proportion of contemporary Americans.

When we think of the founding of the early colonies, we usually think of the journey to freedom, in particular of the Puritans fleeing religious persecution to settle the Massachusetts Bay Colony. But it was not so for a majority of the first Europeans who emigrated to these shores. "Between one-half and two-thirds of all white immigrants to the British colonies arrived under indenture,” according to the economic historian David W. Galenson, a total of three hundred thousand to four hundred thousand people. Indenture was not an isolated practice but a dominant aspect of labor and life in early America.

Rather than Plymouth, Jamestown was a more typical example of colonial settlement, founded in 1607 as a mercantile venture under the auspices of the Virginia Company, a prototype of "joint-stock” corporations and venture capitalism. The first colonists fared badly because, coming primarily from gentry, they had little practical skill at farming and were ravaged by starvation and disease. In 1620, the Virginia Company shifted to a policy of indentured servitude to draw labor fit to work the tobacco colonies. Indenture had been a common practice in England, but its terms were relatively short, typically a year, and closely regulated by law. The innovation of the Virginia Company was to extend the practice of indenture to America, but at a much higher obligation, of four to seven years, because of the added cost of transit, and also because of the added cost of the brokerage system that arose around it. In England, contracts of indenture were directly between the landowner and servant, whereas now merchants or brokers in England’s ports signed prospective workers, then sold the contracts to shippers or to colonial landowners upon the servants’ arrival in America, who in turn could re-sell the contracts.

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Obama to Expand Bush Faith Program

by Carrie Budoff Brown

President Barack Obama, who has been reversing course on a host of Bush administration policies, Thursday will make a bid to expand and strengthen one of the programs most closely associated with his predecessor.

George W. Bush created the White House faith-based grant program, and Obama intends to keep the same structure. But Obama is going a significant step further, with the creation of a new board of advisers whose recommendations will be woven directly into his policy-making apparatus.

Under Bush, a White House-based program to encourage grants to faith-based social service programs began with high hopes and a barrage of publicity. But over time this Bush hallmark suffered amid complaints from many of its backers that it had become marginalized and used for partisan purposes by White House political aides.

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How is this change? Tom

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

15 Most Loathsome People of 2008

By Allan Uthman and Ian Murphy, Buffalo Beast.

Limbaugh, Palin, Warren, and more. They're the worst people in America, and unfortunately they dominated last year's headlines.

The Buffalo Beast has released its 50 Most Loathsome People in America list for 2008. We here at AlterNet rounded up 15 people from their list that we thought most deserved the insulting honor. Read through our top picks from their list, go check out the Beast's full list, and then drop some of the folks you think are the most loathsome people in America in the comments below. Happy hunting.

15. Michele Bachmann
Charges: Exemplifies the simmering, all-American fascism lurking behind the forced smiles of uptight church ladies throughout "real America." Echoing Sarah Palin's alarming hints about "helping" the media do its job, Bachmann's casual call for a "penetrating" press investigation into "anti-Americanism" in congress was so fucking dumb it made Chris Matthews seem smart. Once it occurred to the Oral Roberts University graduate that calling for witchhunts against Democrats might be a tad extreme for election season, she decided to just pretend she didn't say it, and then she blamed Chris Matthews. Then she just blamed words. Then she denied it again. Then she won. Way to go, Minnesota's 6th.
Exhibit A: BACHMANN: Actually, that's not what I said at all. COLMES: Well, I'm just -- I'm reading your exact quote. BACHMANN: Actually that's not I said. It's an urban legend that was created. That isn't what I said at all. COLMES: We have -- it's on tape.

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Crimbrary didn't do any year end lists so thought this might make up for it. If you have ideas for a top 10 loathsome Canadians List put them in a comment. Tom

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

UK drug rehabilitation service is 'collapsing'

Private clinics struggle to get funding as government policy favours less effective – but cheaper – methadone clinics. Nina Lakhani reports

Britain's rehab services are facing collapse. No fewer than 15 of the UK's 100 rehab centres have closed in the past 15 months, despite an increase in the number of people seeking help for addictions.

Because of changes in government health policy, private rehab centres are finding fewer and fewer health authorities are willing to foot the bill for addicts to have residential treatment, despite that fact that it is much more effective in getting them off drugs, according to the Addiction Recovery Foundation.

The Independent on Sunday learnt this weekend that a flagship rehab centre – £26m Winthrop Hall in Kent – is preparing to shut after only one year of operation.

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Defining ‘Cruel and Unusual’ When Offender Is 13

By ADAM LIPTAKPublished: February 2, 2009

In 1989, someone raped a 72-year-old woman in Pensacola, Fla. Joe Sullivan was 13 at the time, and he admitted that he and two older friends had burglarized the woman’s home earlier that day. But he denied that he had returned to commit the rape.

The victim testified that her assailant was “a colored boy” who “had kinky hair and he was quite black and he was small.” She said she “did not see him full in the face” and so would not recognize him by sight. But she recalled her attacker saying something like, “If you can’t identify me, I may not have to kill you.”

At his trial, Mr. Sullivan was made to say those words several times.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Prison Riot Underway Due to Inhumane Treatment & Death! GEO Group Cited for Worst Prisons Ever!

by Dee321 Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 07:54:53 PM PST

A Prison Uprising is underway at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC). This is the second uprising in 2 months. The detainees say prison conditions are inhumane and they lack needed medical treatment. The trigger setting them off in December was a prisoner dying.

This center is located in Pecos, Tx, an extremely "out of the way" location. It houses approximately 2,400 minimum security inmates and immigration detainees. It is operated by the GEO group. GEO attempted to cover up the reason for the prisoner's death by saying the young prisoner died of natural causes. The detainees, risking their lives, protested.

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