Saturday, December 31, 2011

Defense Act Affirms Indefinite Detention of US Citizens

ATLANTA, Georgia - Civil liberties groups and many citizen activists are outraged over language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) that appears to lay the legal groundwork for indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial.

Activists in Washington DC demand the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. (Credit:Matt Daloisio/100dayscampaign.org/CC By 2.0) David Gespass, president of the National Lawyers Guild, called it an "enormous attack on the U.S. and our heritage" and a "significant step" towards fascism, in an interview with IPS.

"For a very long time the U.S. has been moving towards what I personally think of as fascist - the integration of monopoly capital with state power, that's combined with an increased repression at home and greater aggression around the world. I don't think we're there yet, but I do see that we're going in that direction," Gespass said. "I think the... act is a significant step in that direction."

"It's quite severe. If this continues, people will not be able to count on constitutional protections at all," Debra Sweet, national director of the group World Can't Wait, told IPS.

Subtitle D of the act contains several controversial provisions on indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.

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And of course the sheeple apparently could care less. Tom

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Omnibus crime bill will target gangs not teens, Justice Minister says

Canadian jail cells are not going to be filled with teenagers and college students who share marijuana with friends, according to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who says his crime bill has been grossly misrepresented.

In a year-end interview with Postmedia News, he said mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana production are designed to target organized crime, gangs and grow-ops. They don’t apply to youths — and even new provisions that aim to penalize adults who are trafficking drugs around schools mean perpetrators would have to be caught with an “eight-pound joint” to be saddled with a mandatory minimum under the safe streets and communities act, he argued.

“For the most part the laws with respect to marijuana aren’t changed, but they are changed with respect to trafficking associated with organized crime, gangs and grow-ops for the purpose of trafficking,” he said. “I want to make that very clear because it was not clear in some of the criticisms. If somebody was thrown in jail under this bill, they were in the business of trafficking.”

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Police Tactic: Keeping Crime Reports Off the Books

Jill Korber walked into a drab police station in Queens in July to report that a passing bicyclist had groped her two days in a row. She left in tears, frustrated, she said, by the response of the first officer she encountered.

“He told me it would be a waste of time, because I didn’t know who the guy was or where he worked or anything,” said Ms. Korber, 34, a schoolteacher. “His words to me were, ‘These things happen.’ He said those words.”

Crime victims in New York sometimes struggle to persuade the police to write down what happened on an official report. The reasons are varied. Police officers are often busy, and few relish paperwork. But in interviews, more than half a dozen police officers, detectives and commanders also cited departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low.

While it is difficult to say how often crime complaints are not officially recorded, the Police Department is conscious of the potential problem, trying to ferret out unreported crimes through audits of emergency calls and of any resulting paperwork.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bill Black's Handy Guide to Bankster Fraud, From 'Small Fraudulent Fry' to 'Septic Tank Scum'

The white collar criminologist calls out Bush and Obama for not prosecuting financial fraud and demands an end to the free pass for campaign contributors.

Sixty Minutes' December 11, 2011 interview of President Obama included a claim by Obama that, unfortunately, did not lead the interviewer to ask the obvious, essential follow-up questions.

“I can tell you, just from 40,000 feet, that some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street, in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn't illegal.”

Obama did not explain what Wall Street behavior he found least ethical or what unethical Wall Street actions he believed was not illegal. It would have done the world (and Obama) a great service had he been asked these questions. He would not have given a coherent answer because his thinking on these issues has never been coherent. If he had to explain his position he, and the public, would recognize it was indefensible. I offer the following scale of unethical banker behavior related to fraudulent mortgages and mortgage paper (principally collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)) that is illegal and deserved punishment. I write to prompt the rigorous analytical discussion that is essential to expose and end Obama and Bush’s “Presidential Amnesty for Contributors” (PAC) doctrine. The financial industry is the leading campaign contributor to both parties and those contributions come overwhelmingly from the wealthiest officers – the one-tenth of one percent that thrives by being parasites on the 99 percent.

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Madness: Even School Children Are Being Pepper-Sprayed and Shocked with Tasers

An alarming series of incidents offers some insight into how casual police have become about deploying "less lethal" weapons.

There is something truly disturbing about a society that seeks to control the behavior of schoolchildren through fear and violence, a tactic that harkens back to an era of paddle-bruised behinds and ruler-slapped wrists. Yet, some American school districts are pushing the boundaries of corporal punishment even further with the use of Tasers against unruly schoolchildren.

The deployment of Tasers against “problem” students coincides with the introduction of police officers on school campuses, also known as School Resource Officers (SROs). According to the Los Angeles Times, as of 2009, the number of SROs carrying Tasers was well over 4,000.

As far back as 1988, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, American Medical Association, National Education Association, American Bar Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics recognized that inflicting pain and fear upon disobedient children is far more harmful than helpful. Yet, we continue to do it with disturbing results, despite mountains of evidence of more effective methods of discipline.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Battlefield America: Is Gitmo in Your Future?

A retired top CIA analyst ponders if he could be arrested and held under the Senate's new military detention policy.

Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the “extraordinary measures” introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.
And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, “With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater.”

The writer was Sebastian Haffner (real name Raimond Pretzel), a young German lawyer worried at what he saw in 1933 in Berlin, but helpless to stop it since, as he put it, the German people “collectively and limply collapsed, yielded and capitulated.”

“The result of this millionfold nervous breakdown,” wrote Haffner at the time, “is the unified nation, ready for anything, that is today the nightmare of the rest of the world.” Not a happy analogy.

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The 13 Best Political Films of 2011

Looking back at the movies that moved us most.

We Were Here
Photo Credit: wewerehere.com
This year was defined by anxiety: the economy roiled, the GOP was increasingly hostile, the government careened towards shutdown more than once. And while these things all still seem to loom, 12 months later, there is a landscape of renewed hope and empowerment. The Arab Spring set off revolutions across the Middle East, which first inspired the Western world to rise up into Occupy Wall Street. Now the ripple effect of people power travels further, as we see the germination of the Russian Winter. Culturally, we’re gearing for a seismic shift: In 2012, expect to see the effects of the year manifested in film, music, and art. But in 2011, we felt the tremors, and a clutch of political films and documentaries both presaged and inspired the increasing awareness and resolve we’ve seen smattering across the globe. You’ll see some of these in the Oscar nomination lineup, but all of them are must-see.

1. Margin Call (dir. JC Chandor)

As Occupy Wall Street was congealing—and the scrutiny surrounding Wall Street's robbery and subsequent bailout was occupying America's consciousness—an intensely disquieting thriller called Margin Call was released. Set over the course of 24 hours inside an ostensibly fictional Wall Street firm in the hot zone that was 2008, it's an intimate look at the decision-making that precipitated the financial crisis, "inspired" by real events, including the ultimate meltdown of mortgage securities. The all-star ensemble cast is collectively brilliant at portraying the nuance of the morality, and lack of it, that these firms displayed—Zachary Quinto's troubled math genius acts as a compass against the supreme evil embodied in the CEO and other top-level employees, portrayed by Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, and Demi Moore, whose Machiavellian greed leads them to sacrifice not only company employees, but the American people. Though the technical aspects of the financial crisis can sometimes seem arcane, Margin Call threaded together an idea of how it could happen—as interpreted by writer/director JC Chandor, who'd never made a film before this one—and gave us a clearer view into what exactly we were protesting. Stunning. (Currently in theaters.)

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The Silent Treatment

Imagine serving decades in prison for a crime your sibling framed you for. Now imagine doing it while profoundly deaf.

"This is a collect call from a correctional institution," says the robotic female voice at the other end of the line. After a moment of confusion, I realize it must be Felix Garcia, whom I'd visited several weeks earlier in a northern Florida prison. He is serving a life sentence for a robbery-murder for which his own brother now admits to framing him. I'd sent him a card for his 50th birthday. It had a picture of flowers—something he probably hasn't seen in 30 years—and some lame words of encouragement. Now he's calling to thank me and to plead for help. His words seem surreal, relayed in the emotionless drone of a TTY operator: Four of his fellow deaf inmates have tried to commit suicide—one somehow managed to swallow a razor blade. It sounds like he's thinking about doing the same. "Please,'' the voice intones, "will you phone my lawyers? I can't get through to them."

Felix has been deaf, for all practical purposes, since childhood. For most of his three decades behind bars, which began when he was 19, he's been housed in the general population with few special services for his disability. His experiences are the stuff of TV prison dramas: He's ignored or taunted by guards, raped and brutalized by other prisoners. Last year, he tried to hang himself.

"Felix," I plead awkwardly. "You are not going to kill yourself. Please, please, hold on."

"I won't do it,'' he says finally. "I have Jesus."

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Private Prisons Gone Wild

Legal challenges are no match for Arizona politicians determined to privatize the state’s correctional services.

The recent dismissal of a lawsuit filed against both Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles Ryan and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) is the latest step in the state’s hell-bent plan to roughly double its number of privately managed prison “beds.”

The suit, filed in an Arizona Superior Court by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) on September 12, sought an injunction against ADC and the governor’s pending award of 5,000 new prison beds to be operated by a for-profit vendor. The state currently contracts out more than 6,500 minimum- and medium-security beds at seven facilities with Geo Group, the nation’s second largest private prison operator, and Management and Training Corporation (MTC).

AFSC argued that ADC is negligent in its statutorily required duty to conduct biennial cost and quality assessments of the state’s private prisons. The purpose of these assessments is to determine whether the state is receiving the same quality of service from private prison operators as provided by public facilities.

Nevertheless, ADC has not completed a single survey.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Return Of Debtor’s Prisons: Thousands Of Americans Jailed For Not Paying Their Bills

Federal imprisonment for unpaid debt has been illegal in the U.S. since 1833. It’s a practice people associate more with the age of Dickens than modern-day America. But as more Americans struggle to pay their bills in the wake of the recession, collection agencies are using harsher methods to get their money, ushering in the return of debtor’s prisons.

NPR reports that it’s becoming increasingly common for people to serve jail time as a result of their debt. Because of “sloppy, incomplete or even false documentation,” many borrowers facing jail time don’t even know they’re being sued by creditors:

Take, for example, what happened to Robin Sanders in Illinois. She was driving home when an officer pulled her over for having a loud muffler. But instead of sending her off with a warning, the officer arrested Sanders, and she was taken right to jail.And I didn’t know what it was about.” Sanders owed $730 on a medical bill. She says she didn’t even know a collection agency had filed a lawsuit against her. [...]

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stanley Cup riot proceedings should be televised: B.C. attorney general

The Crown gave notice in court Wednesday that the attorney general wants to televise proceedings involving accused Stanley Cup rioters.

Prosecutor Patti Tomasson told a judge that the Crown would apply to have the proceedings televised involving people accused of participating in the June 15 riot. B.C. Premier Christy Clark has said she wants to see riot-related court proceedings televised for the public.

The prosecutor gave notice Wednesday at the bail hearing of Ryan Dickinson, who remains in custody. His case was adjourned until Friday at 9 a.m. at Vancouver Provincial Court.

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Survey: 1 in 4 U.S. women victims of severe violence

It's a startling number: 1 in 4 women surveyed by the government say they were violently attacked by their husbands or boyfriends.

Experts in domestic violence don't find it too surprising, although some aspects of the survey may have led to higher numbers than are sometimes reported.

Even so, a government official who oversaw the research called the results "astounding."

"It's the first time we've had this kind of estimate" on the prevalence of intimate partner violence, said Linda Degutis of the centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey, released by the CDC Wednesday, marks the beginning of a new annual project to look at how many women say they've been abused.

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"Don't Be Fooled": The Indefinite Detention Bill DOES Apply to American Citizens on U.S. Soil

Even at this 11th hour - when all of our liberties and freedom are about to go down the drain - many people still don't understand that the indefinite detention bill passed by Congress allows indefinite detention of Americans on American soil.

The bill is confusing. As Wired noted on December 1st:

It’s confusing, because two different sections of the bill seem to contradict each other, but in the judgment of the University of Texas’ Robert Chesney — a nonpartisan authority on military detention — “U.S. citizens are included in the grant of detention authority.”

A retired admiral, Judge Advocate General and Dean Emeritus of the University of New Hampshire School of Law also says that it applies to American citizens on American soil.

The ACLU notes:

Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.

But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Film The Police

From the reaction of many police officers to being filmed, this may be more incendiary than the song that inspired it:

There has been a nationwide move to restrict the people's right to film the authorities in the course of their duties and I would expect there to be much more of that as the culture of dissent explodes across the country.

In one of the most pointed opinions yet, the U.S. First Circuit ruled unanimously against the police in one of these cases:

For those of you not familiar with Simon Glik's case, Glik was arrested on October 1, 2007, after openly using his cell phone to record three police officers arresting a suspect on Boston Common. In return for his efforts to record what he suspected might be police brutality -- in a pattern that is now all too familiar -- Glik was charged with criminal violation of the Massachusetts wiretap act, aiding the escape of a prisoner and disturbing the peace.

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Cute Little Psychokillers

Why "bad seed" films are both deeply unsettling and confoundingly popular.

Hypothetical question: What if a parasitic creature is squatting in one’s womb? What if, once born, the baby is a monster—alien and unlovable? What exactly does one do if the darkest and most unspeakable of parental fears come to terrifying fruition? These questions drive one of the classic tropes of horror: the bad seed film. Lynn Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, a psychological thriller about the relationship between Eva (Tilda Swinton) and her sociopath son, is the most recent addition to a genre that is both deeply unsettling and confoundingly popular.

In order for a film to legitimately be called a bad seed picture, it must have a strong parent-child element, and the "parent" is almost always the mother. Maternal guilt and culpability is the engine that keeps these films running, and generally, the father is at best haplessly naive and at worst complicit in the child’s misdeeds. And, as opposed to a film like Children of the Corn, in which evil children operate horrifically outside of the bounds of adult control, the bad seed movie gives us little monsters who are, at least nominally, under parental supervision. A viewer prone to identifying with characters in films, even bad horror movies, doesn’t feel sorrow over the death of lil’ Isaac, the crazed killer prophet from Children of the Corn, because his death represents the death of an aberration: a psychotic, parent-killing monster. In the evil spawn films, though, there can be no return to normal—one way or another, the order has been upended, and there is no way for these plots to end in a satisfactory manner for either the child or parent.

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Protests Boost Sales and Fears of Sonic Blaster

QUANTICO, Va.—Police deployment of sonic blasters at Occupy Wall Street and G-20 protest rallies is fueling both sales and criticism of the devices, which emit beams of sound with laser-like intensity.

In this photo taken Sept. 14, 2011, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bevington, requirements officer with the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, demonstrates one of the military's latest voice projection system and instant translation technologies, that can project a human voice a mile away and instantly translate from English to another language, at the Marine Base in Quantico Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

More U.S. police and emergency-response agencies are using the so-called Long-Range Acoustic Devices instead of megaphones or conventional loudspeakers for crowd control, according to news reports and leading manufacturer LRAD Corp. of San Diego.

But the products, which the makers developed as nonlethal options for military use, are prompting outcries from people on the receiving end, who call them "sound cannons." The city of Pittsburgh is fighting an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit claiming the piercing tone from a police blaster during the 2009 G-20 summit permanently damaged a woman's hearing. At least one Occupy Wall Street protester says New York City police also used the punishing alert tone, although police say they have used the device only to broadcast messages.

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Russian Protesters Encounter Surveillance UAV Drone

Thank goodness this sort of thing doesn’t happen in the land of the free… oh wait

Video has emerged of Russian pro Democracy protesters being watched by hovering surveillance drones overhead.

25,000 people gathered in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow Saturday, were stunned to witness the strange hovering object directly above them. Some climbed trees to take pictures and get a closer look at the “UFO”.

The craft is clearly some kind of small quadricopter drone similar to the one pictured below:

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Alex Jones is over-the-top........but........... And there is this story:

Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front

Tom

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canada's prisons becoming warehouses for the mentally ill

Canada’s prisons are facing a growing crisis as they become the “institutions of last resort” for people with mental illnesses, the Canadian Psychiatric Association says.

“Corrections [Canada] is not geared to deal with some of the needs of a vast population of people with major mental illnesses,” CPA board member Gary Chaimowitz told The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Chaimowitz will be on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning to ask the federal government to improve prison services for mentally ill offenders.

More than one in 10 men and nearly one in three women held in federal prisons have mental-health problems, according to 2009 figures from the Correctional Service of Canada. Those numbers represent a near-doubling in the total proportion of inmates with mental illnesses between 1997 and 2009

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Study Finds Racial Disparity in Presidential Pardons

A new study by Pro Publica finds whites are four times more likely to receive a presidential pardon than minorities.

ProPublica's review examined what happened after President George W. Bush decided at the beginning of his first term to rely almost entirely on the recommendations made by career lawyers in the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

The office was given wide latitude to apply subjective standards, including judgments about the "attitude" and the marital and financial stability of applicants. No two pardon cases match up perfectly, but records reveal repeated instances in which white applicants won pardons with transgressions on their records similar to those of blacks and other minorities who were denied.

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Alabama Agriculture Department Advances Plan To Replace Immigrant Workers With Prisoners

ThinkProgress has been reporting on the catastrophic economic consequences of Alabama’s harshest-in-the-nation immigration law. Undocumented workers are the backbone of Alabama’s agriculture industry, and their exodus has already created a labor shortage in the state. Farmers say crops are rotting in the field and they are in danger of losing their farms by next season.

GOP politicians have crowed that driving immigrants out of the state will reduce unemployment by letting native citizens fill those jobs. But they’ve quickly discovered that Americans are simply unwilling to do the back-breaking labor of harvesting crops.

To stave off the disastrous collapse of state agriculture, Alabama officials are seriously considering replacing immigrant workers with prison laborers who they could perhaps pay even less than immigrants. Earlier this year, the head of Alabama’s agriculture department floated this idea. Now, the department is actively promoting it to the state’s farmers:

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Pepper Spray, Tasers, and LRADs — What's Behind the Explosion of 'Less Lethal' Weapons for Crowd Control?

From the battlefield of Afghanistan to your local Occupation, the government has invested big bucks in weapons that don't cause permanent damage.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the research and development of more "media-friendly" weapons for everyday policing and crowd control, and as uprisings around the world spread, the demand for nonlethal weapons is increasing.

According to an October report by the Homeland Security Research Corporation, the global market for "less lethal" weapons is predicted to triple by 2020, with more than half of the current market devoted to crowd dispersal weapons like those being used against protesters at Occupy Wall Street.

Americans have a rich history of taking to the streets to demand social justice. From the labor strikes of the progressive era to the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 60s and 70s, the reaction by the powers-that-be has been the same: send in the riot police. As the Occupy Wall Street movement advances this tradition, the powerful have again reacted with overwhelming force. But the riot police of yesterday were armed much differently than they are today.

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Tory crime bill will make matters worse for mentally ill: expert

At least one group that never got a chance to make its pitch before a Commons committee reviewing the omnibus crime bill is now coming forward to voice its concerns after Conservatives used their majority Monday night to push the bill through the House of Commons.

Forensic psychiatrist and Canadian Psychiatric Association board member Gary Chaimowitz will be in Ottawa Wednesday to put forward a series of recommendations aimed at addressing the problem of mental illness in provincial and federal prisons — something critics have argued is completely ignored in Bill C-10.

“The issue exists notwithstanding this bill, but the bill will likely exacerbate the crisis for patients with mental illness in the criminal justice system,” Chaimowitz said in an interview Tuesday, noting that in some parts of the country as much as half the inmate population could be suffering from mental illness and not receiving proper treatment.

“It is timely.”

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Even Bahrain's Use of 'Miami Model' Policing Will Not Stop the Uprising

Bahraini leaders have hired the architect of Miami's brutal policing methods, showing their disregard for reform

In 2003, as a photography student in Chicago, I travelled to Miami to cover protests by trade unionists and other activists at a meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. I had just returned from witnessing the repressive tactics of the Israeli army against Palestinians – invasions, curfew, violent crackdown on unarmed protests – but never expected to see them deployed at home in a US city.

I was shocked when I reached Miami and found it similar to a West Bank town under occupation. The city was largely empty save for police vehicles speeding in every direction and helicopters hovering above. Once the protests began, it was impossible to move more than a few feet in any direction without confronting the police and their brutality. The thousands of police dressed in full riot gear and armed with teargas, rubber bullets, batons, electric tasers – all of which were used against protesters and journalists – were everywhere around Miami.

The "model", as Miami public officials called it at the time, was the brainchild of police chief John Timoney. After leading the head-bashing of protesters as Philadelphia's police commissioner during the Republican party's national convention in 2000, Timoney was hired by Miami and given more than $8m to introduce a level of police brutality unlike any we had ever seen in the US.

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Five things about crime and doing the time in Canada

Colin Price

The Post’s Sarah Boesveld lists five things you should know about the Statistics Canada Report on Cases in Adult Court by Province 2009-10:

1. Cases on the decline
Canada’s courts heard far fewer criminal cases during the period of 2009-10 than the year prior, dropping to 262,616 criminal cases from the 392,907 disposed of by judges in the 2008-09 period. The number of cases was almost the same the year before that, but about 3% higher than in 2006-07. Before that, criminal court case loads had been dropping for four years.

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Former Mountie paints picture of near daily harassment

RCMP Constable Janet Merlo says she felt compelled to respond when a supervising officer made a sexist remark to her in the company of a high-ranking official from the force.

“You know, if I were to make a complaint, I could probably retire on just what you say to me alone,” she said.

“What was that?” her boss replied. “Did you say you want to retire on me? Does that mean you like it on top?”

It was at this point that the senior RCMP officer in the room interjected.

“If you’re going to talk to her like that, do it somewhere else,” he said to the male officer. “I don’t want to be a witness to stuff like that.”

It was at that moment that Janet Merlo realized just how little hope there was for women in the force who, like her, were dealing with harassment of various forms on a near daily basis. In Ms. Merlo’s case, she says that would include everything from sex toys left in her desk drawer to a scolding for getting pregnant that came with the advice to “keep your ... legs closed” the next time she considered the idea.

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Ontario jail closures will send costs soaring: critics

Plans by Ontario’s cash-strapped Liberal government to close three jails to save money will spark major court delays, send transportation costs soaring and devastate rural communities, critics charge.

Jails in Owen Sound and Walkerton will close Sunday, while a third in Sarnia is slated for the chopping block in 2013.

But it’s not too late for the Liberals to reverse a decision that will actually end up costing taxpayers more in the end, critics say.

The government insists the closures, spelled out in last spring’s budget, will save $8 million a year by moving the inmates to newer and larger facilities in Windsor and Penetanguishene, north of Barrie.

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Police sting technique questioned by panel

A legal but controversial police sting technique known as Mr. Big runs the risk of subverting justice in serious criminal cases, a panel of four familiar with the method told a University of Guelph audience Thursday.

“It increases the odds of (the target individual) making a false confession,” said York University doctoral candidate Karina Gagnier. Her thesis is on Mr. Big, in which undercover cops posing as crime figures tell their targets they must confess to crimes to be accepted into the crime underworld. They’re then arrested and charged with those offenses, up to and including first degree murder.

Asked if Guelph Police Service is involved in such stings, spokesperson Sgt. Doug Pflug said by email, “we will not comment on covert police operations in the interest of officer and public safety.”

The Ring Café crowd heard by telephone from Patrick Fischer, a British Columbia inmate convicted of murder in 2001 after confessing in a Mr. Big RCMP sting.

“I’d never heard of anything like this before,” Fischer said, urging the crowd to join other Canadians in making clear to politicians “there’s strong opposition” to such stings.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

U.S. Says Americans Are MILITARY Targets in the War on Terror … And that the Prez Alone Can Decide Who Is a Target

As everyone realizes by now, Congress' push for indefinite detention includes American citizens on American soil. As Huffington post notes:

The debate also has left many Americans scratching their heads as to whether Congress is actually attempting to authorize the indefinite detention of Americans by the military without charges. But proponents -- led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- say that is exactly what the war on terror requires. They argued that the bill simply codifies precedents set by the Supreme Court and removes uncertainty, which they said would better protect the country.

Here is John McCain justifying sending Americans to Guantanamo:

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twenty Examples of the Obama Administration Assault on Domestic Civil Liberties

The Obama administration has affirmed, continued and expanded almost all of the draconian domestic civil liberties intrusions pioneered under the Bush administration. Here are twenty examples of serious assaults on the domestic rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience that have occurred since the Obama administration has assumed power. Consider these and then decide if there is any fundamental difference between the Bush presidency and the Obama presidency in the area of domestic civil liberties.

Patriot Act

On May 27, 2011, President Obama, over widespread bipartisan objections, approved a Congressional four year extension of controversial parts of the Patriot Act that were set to expire. In March of 2010, Obama signed a similar extension of the Patriot Act for one year. These provisions allow the government, with permission from a special secret court, to seize records without the owner’s knowledge, conduct secret surveillance of suspicious people who have no known ties to terrorist groups and to obtain secret roving wiretaps on people.

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Obama is a big disappointment. Tom

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Border deal fuels concerns in Canada

Armed U.S. police officers will for the first time be allowed to operate in Canada along with the RCMP as part of far-reaching changes in Canadian-American border operations to be unveiled next week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama.

The joint action plan to be announced at the White House will also break new ground by introducing exit-entry records that will track the movements of everyone who leaves the United States or Canada, with the information available to authorities in both countries.

In the months and years ahead, the deal between Ottawa and Washington will reshape security, travel and commercial arrangements at the border in a variety of profound ways — some of which have already raised alarms among Canadians.

The agreement, which has been the subject of confidential negotiations since last winter, is intended to reverse the economically damaging border tie-ups that have been growing since Sept. 11, 2001, while upgrading anti-crime and anti-terrorist security for both countries.

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This is not a good idea. Tom

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Occupy Montreal protesters "branded" by police with numbers "in" their skin

This is weird and possibly illegal. The police attitude continues to be "whatever it takes to support the 1%." Salon:

“They wrote on my hand with a permanent marker and then after I felt something pointy and metallic scraping across my skin,” wrote protester Nina Haigh on Facebook, continuing:

I immediately asked “What are you doing” and they simply said we wrote on you with a pen and showed me a bunch of various pens in her hand.

I didn’t argue about it and I was unable to look at my hands as they were tied behind my back with zipties. As soon as I was released I looked at my hands and there was no ink on them from a pen. …

This morning we tested my hands under a black light and sure enough there was a number 2! The freaky thing is this is IN my skin, washing my hands and scrubbing with abrasives will not get this off…. perhaps in several months of my skin cells renewing themselves if will eventually fade.

Read on....

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