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Topics - Goaticus

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General Discussion / Amash Amendment Roll Call
« on: July 24, 2013, 09:29:59 PM »

Like the bill to end the indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA you will notice most Republicans voted against it while most Democrats voted for it. Another case of people deluding themselves when they claim Republicans are somehow more libertarian than Democrats.

Texas Representative Jodie Laubenberg for suggesting that rape kits not be performed because they "clean a woman out" somehow causing an abortion. Wrong on numerous levels.

But this stuff never happens.

CAMDEN – A former Camden police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with other Camden police officers to deprive others of their civil rights, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. Jason Stetser, 32, of Waterford Township, admitted before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler that from May 2007 to October, while on duty as a uniformed police officer with the Camden Police Department, he engaged in a conspiracy with at least four other Camden police officers to deprive individuals of their due process rights by charging them with planted evidence; threatening certain individuals with arrest using planted evidence if they did not cooperate with law enforcement; conducting illegal searches without a search warrant or consent; stealing money during illegal searches and arrests; paying for cooperation and information with illegal drugs; failing to report found drugs and stashing them to use as planted evidence; and preparing false police reports or testifying falsely in court to conceal his actions.
Stetser is the second to plead guilty to participating in this conspiracy while serving as a Camden police officer.  Kevin Parry entered a guilty plea before Judge Kugler on March 19 and awaits sentencing.  Three other officers who are referenced in court documents have not been identified by name.
“Jason Stetser betrayed those whose rights he violated, the public he was sworn to protect, and all of the honest police officers who risk everything to keep us safe,” Fishman said.
Stetser was teamed with four other officers in a patrol or special operations division identified as Platoon #4 when he joined the force in 2003, officials said.  According to Stetser, the conspiracy operated within this platoon.
Stetser admitted that he or other members of the conspiracy added drugs to the amount of drugs seized during an arrest in order to make the arrest appear more significant, planted drug evidence during arrests where no drugs were found, and paid cooperators and informants – who were often prostitutes – with drugs in exchange for information.  Stetser further admitted that he and the other officers falsified police reports in an endeavor to conceal their actions.
During his guilty plea, Stetser detailed specific examples of his illegal conduct in support of the conspiracy.  On one occasion in August 2008, he and the four other officers conducted an illegal search of a Camden residence, where a person identified in court documents as A.C. was located.  Drugs found during this illegal search were used to charge A.C., and Stetser and Parry kept money they found rather than turning it in as evidence.  Stetser then falsified a police report to conceal the unlawful search, the subsequent arrest and the theft of money.
On another occasion, in September 2008, Stetser and three other officers arrested two persons identified as T.R. and A.F. for suspicion of drug distribution.  Stetser and his co-conspirators added additional drugs to those found during the arrests that were not directly attributable to those individuals or the events surrounding their arrests.
In January 2009, a person identified as R.M. was charged after Stetser and three other officers illegally searched a house.  The police report falsely stated that R.M. fled the scene and discarded drugs during his escape from police when no such events occurred.
Stetser pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive persons in New Jersey of the free exercise and enjoyment of rights, privileges and immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Judge Kugler scheduled sentencing for Oct. 7.           


The Kern County Coroner – who reports to the Kern County Sheriff - determined that Kern County deputies did not cause the death of a 33-year-old man whom numerous witnesses said was beaten viciously with batons and kicked to the head before he was hogtied and slammed to the ground twice.

So that should put to rest to any speculation that deputies did anything wrong on the night David Silva died.



Sheriff Donny Youngblood said his deputies were trying their best to help him but Silva when they roused him from a slumber after he had passed out in front of a house, but the father of four was able to fight off seven deputies, two California Highway Patrol officers and one dog before he finally succumbed to heart disease.

Hypertensive heart disease, to be exact.

The autopsy also determined that Silva had methamphetamine in his system as well as a blood alcohol content of .095, just slightly over the legal limit to drive in most states.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

    During a news conference Thursday, Youngblood said only three deputies delivered blows to Silva, and none to the head or neck.

    Youngblood said the first deputy to arrive found Silva lying on the ground and gave him a knuckle rub on the chest to try to wake him up.

    According to the sheriff: Silva got up on his knees and then fell over on his face. When the deputy tried to help him up, Silva “took a rigid stance.” The deputy warned Silva he would release a police dog on him if he did not cooperate. When Silva continued to resist, the deputy remotely released the dog from his cruiser. The dog bit Silva several times and bit the handler deputy as well, Youngblood said. Silva grabbed the dog by the throat.

    More deputies arrived, and the struggle continued, the sheriff said.

    Youngblood had strong words about coverage of the case: “I think the media caused a lot of this hysteria that occurred in this community,” he said.]

The truth is, there has not been enough hysteria about this case. Six people, none who knew Silva beforehand, said they witnessed deputies beating him to death.

Two of them recorded video, which police bullied into handing over. One of those videos was apparently deleted by either Kern County sheriff’s deputies or Bakersfield police.

And the FBI is claiming they are unable to retrieve it, according to an attorney for the witnesses.

The FBI, however, is still investigating and have not made any public statements. Call them at their Los Angeles field office at (310) 477-6565 or email them at to let them know we’re paying attention.

The other video, which was recorded after Silva was already hogtied, which was when they stopped beating him with batons, captured the blood curdling cries of a man being tortured.

A third video from a home security camera shows the swinging of batons but it’s dark and grainy. Those videos are below along with the calls to dispatch describing the scene.

Also, video from CHP dash cams have not been released nor have the audio recordings from the devices they were wearing on their uniform.

Below are witness statements from earlier Los Angeles Times articles:

    At about midnight, Ruben Ceballos, 19,was awakened by screams and loud banging noises outside his home. He said he ran to the left side of his house to find out who was causing the ruckus.

    “When I got outside I saw two officers beating a man with batons and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head,” Ceballos said.

    Silva was on the ground screaming for help, but officers continued to beat him, Ceballos said.

    After several minutes, Ceballos said, Silva stopped screaming and was no longer responsive.


    Echoing the account of two other people interviewed, Vasquez said the first two deputies at the scene woke Silva, who was sleeping in front of a house, and ordered him not to move. When Silva sat up, looking confused or scared, a deputy hit him in the head, Vasquez said.

    “He fell back and then the other officer got out and swung toward his head,” she said. “Mr. Silva was reaching for his head and the officers said ‘stop moving’ and ‘stop resisting.’ He wasn’t resisting. … He rolled on his back and they kept hitting.”

    More deputies and two California Highway Patrol officers arrived at the location. Vasquez said the deputies hogtied Silva, lifted him off the ground and dropped him twice, and delivered more baton blows and kicks to his head and body until he went limp.

    “He was screaming for help. He was laying on his chest. The cops were still on top of him, still hitting him. My family and I screamed at them to stop hitting him.… The blood was all over Mr. Silva’s face. We couldn’t even tell if he had eyes or a mouth.”

    Vasquez said her girlfriend yelled, ” ‘Somebody call the cops,’ and everybody looked at her and said, ‘They ARE the cops.’ “

So it is essential that Silva’s family demands another autopsy from an independent pathologist.

After all, it’s not like medical examiners have never lied before to protect the interest of their cohorts..

Take the case of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old boy who was tortured to death by guards in a Florida boot camp in 2006.

    The death became a cause célèbre and received national attention. The local Medical Examiner, Dr. Charles Siebert, performed an autopsy and ruled that the teen died of “complications from sickle cell trait”. He said, “It was a natural death.”[4] This caused further public outcry. The Governor ordered a second autopsy; the second pathologist, Dr. Vern Adams, ruled Martin Anderson’s death was “caused by suffocation due to actions of the guards at the boot camp. The suffocation was caused by manual occlusion of the mouth, in concert with forced inhalation of ammonia fumes that caused spasm of the vocal cords resulting in internal blockage of the upper airway.”[5]

General Discussion / The Tragedy of Ignoring Supply and Demand
« on: May 17, 2013, 01:05:40 AM »

Yet we need the Government to give us health care.

Since Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro took office last month, the country’s already decimated economy has not only floundered but also continued its neglect in providing people with the most basic goods: Milk, butter, coffee, cornmeal and even toothpaste have all been in short supply. And now toilet paper is the latest staple to become scarce.

Early this morning, Venezuela’s commerce minister Alejandro Fleming told the country to relax; the government plans to import 50 million rolls of toilet paper to make up for the 40 million-roll shortfall.

Yet the lack of detail regarding when and how the 50 million rolls of toilet paper will be purchased and distributed allows Maduro to pledge support, without actually promising anything concrete. Super market shelves have already been stripped of toilet paper for weeks. But while matters of personal hygiene have taken center stage, Venezuela’s economic health is most worrisome.

In an attempt to quell inflationary pressures, which have pushed consumer prices up more in April than they have in several years, the Venezuelan government has put price controls on countless goods in the country. The problem is that forcing prices lower brings demand up, and Venezuela’s current inability to supply a needy market is being exposed.


Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins, expressed an equally dismissive response in AP to Venezuela’s current habit of price manipulation. “State-controlled prices that are set below market-clearing price always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” he says.

Last year, William Neuman explained the phenomenon in his piece for the New York Times:

    Many economists call it a classic case of a government causing a problem rather than solving it. Prices are set so low, they say, that companies and producers cannot make a profit. So farmers grow less food, manufacturers cut back production and retailers stock less inventory. Moreover, some of the shortages are in industries, like dairy and coffee, where the government has seized private companies and is now running them, saying it is in the national interest.

Indeed, the Venezuelan government is currently causing more problems than it’s solving. Immediately after announcing that the government was working to address Venezuela’s toilet paper shortage, Maduro deflected all the blame. He turned to his opposition for causing panic amongst the Venezuelan people, and then to the media for sensationalizing it to a point of chaos. Because, what does the welfare of his people matter when his reputation is on the line?

General Discussion / Separating Capitalism from Cronyism
« on: April 21, 2013, 04:23:41 PM »

A debate is raging among free market advocates regarding the proper posture to take with respect to Too Big to Fail (TBTF) banks. This has become an increasingly important issue as the financial sector has grown to take up an unprecedented share of our economy. While cleaving to tried-and-true libertarian defenses of finance as vital to the economy, some of us fear that the machinations of the crony capitalists running the TBTF banks—in cahoots with their allies in the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve—will result in not only another global financial collapse, but a populist anti-capitalist backlash that could destroy what’s left of our free enterprise system.

But before we can tackle this problem, we must figure out what is really going on. In all public policy debates, perceptions matter, and public perceptions are often driven by the leading narratives that gain cultural acceptance. Let’s look at what these are.
How To Protect Your Retirement Assets From The Coming Crash Bill Frezza Bill Frezza Contributor
After The Sequester, Bring On The Blame Game Bill Frezza Bill Frezza Contributor
Regulation Vs. Jobs: Assessing The Employment Impact Of Rules and Regulations Wayne Crews Wayne Crews Contributor
Chronicling The Decline And Fall Of Entitlement Democracy Bill Frezza Bill Frezza Contributor

The prevailing narrative on the left is that we are locked in a two-sided conflict pitting greedy capitalists against the working man. Within this narrative noble legislators and wise regulators must accumulate power unto themselves in order to: 1) rein in the capitalists’ depredations; 2) balance the playing field to offset “market failures;” and 3) “invest in the future” to compensate for the shortsightedness of profit-seeking investors. Success requires waging a permanent campaign against corrupt political opponents doing the dirty work of the wicked 1 percent—who if left to their own devices would accumulate all the wealth leaving the 99 percent destitute.

The prevailing narrative on the right is that we are locked in a two-sided conflict pitting American business against ham-handed legislators and clueless regulators whose well-intentioned but misguided laws, regulations, taxes, and mandates threaten to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Within this narrative, free market advocates must fight every attempt by tree-hugging Luddites and their socialist fellow travelers to interfere in the free flow of information, goods, and services that are responsible for driving innovation and creating all the wealth the left is trying to redistribute. Failure will leave the working man unemployed, American businesses crippled, and the global economy in perpetual recession.

Both of these narratives are oversimplifications, and both contain elements of truth. How can that be? Because they both miss the key point that the battle we are in is actually a three-sided struggle. Why is this important to realize? Because attempts to defend capitalism strictly within the bounds of a two-sided dialectic can only accelerate the emergence of a populist regime that fuses the centralized economic controls of fascism with the income redistribution of socialism. We are already more than halfway there with today’s “mixed economy”—a pale shadow of the laissez faire system that serves as the libertarian ideal.

So, who are the three constituencies battling over America’s economic soul?

In one corner we have the traditional market capitalists, the bedrock of American exceptionalism and the source of our prosperity. These businesses, both large and small, pursue profits by trying to do a better job than their competitors at pleasing customers. Often referred to by the press as “Main Street,” most market capitalists seek neither special privileges from government nor regulatory shackles for their competitors.

In an adjacent corner, claiming a common heritage, are the crony capitalists. These are generally large companies with substantial lobbying operations. Contrary to popular belief, crony capitalists love regulations—especially when they get to write them. Nothing chokes off up-and-coming competitors better than a thicket of incomprehensible and expensive new rules. Crony capitalist enterprises have a well-oiled revolving door that allows their key people to seamlessly enter “government service” (sometimes taking huge severance bonuses with them), while welcoming former bureaucrats, congressional staffers, and elected officials seeking to cash in on their connections. And while crony capitalists have been with us since the friends of Alexander Hamilton cornered the Revolutionary War bond market, never before has their raiding of the public till so focused the public’s attention.

This brings us to the third member of the triad—the federal Leviathan. Bloated beyond recognition, the beast in Washington has reached the point where it can only be kept alive using borrowed and printed dollars. Contrary to some Republicans’ small-government rhetoric, both parties have contributed to its growth over the last half century. And neither is doing anything substantive to restore fiscal sanity, as they engage in cosmetic battles that do nothing more than tinker around the edges. Even worse, while Congress claims to maintain oversight, it is no match for the crony capitalists and career bureaucrats who run the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, particularly when they join their corporate brethren to shout “crisis” and demand more of the bailouts that have allowed firms to socialize losses and privatize gains.

The Leviathan’s business model is simple: 1) Collect tribute in the form of taxes from market capitalists and redistribute it to favored constituents in return for votes; and 2) collect campaign donations from crony capitalists so that incumbent politicians can remain in office and expand their power. In return for said contributions, those politicians regale their crony capitalist supporters with special favors, including subsidies, tax loopholes, and regulations designed to cripple their competitors.

And so the question arises: What are free marketers to do? There is no question that market capitalists deserve our support. But even crony capitalists deserve to be defended against regulatory depredations when these are clearly counterproductive and being used by demagogues like Elizabeth Warren as convenient tools to expand their power base. While coming to their aid can be the right thing to do, it risks doing tremendous damage to the free-market brand. So how do we counteract that?

Quite simply, we should not shy away from tarring and feathering any supposed “capitalist” who goes to Washington hat in hand, looking for favors to “save” America’s financial sector, auto industry, “green” energy economy, or what have you. Whether it’s Goldman Sachs, General Motors, or General Electric, we need to shout to anybody who will listen that any one firm imploding will not blow up the economy. Being pro-business is not the same as being pro-market. There is no reason why defending the right of money changers to operate free from onerous regulations should translate into letting the counterfeiters run amok and the temple priests loot the public treasury.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the oversimplification of our political landscape into a false right/left dichotomy presents us with an opportunity to better inform members of the general public who are seriously looking for answers, because it partly explains why a record number of our fellow Americans are disengaging from both the Democratic and Republican parties. They are baffled, frightened, and lurching right and left depending on the calamity du jour. Desperate for practical guidance, they are met with demagoguery. Free market advocates have the information and insight they seek, as well as practical solutions that can help guide our nation out of the statist morass it is in. But to do so we must not be afraid to name and shame false practitioners of capitalism whose behavior threatens the entire economy. Are we ready to take up that challenge?

General Discussion / Police Fail Again
« on: February 18, 2013, 03:28:50 PM »

Autopsy finds that Md. man with Down syndrome died of asphyxia while in police custody

    Smaller Text Larger Text Text Size

By Associated Press, Published: February 15

FREDERICK, Md. — The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office says the death of a mentally disabled man in police custody has been ruled a homicide.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said Friday that the state medical examiner determined that 26-year-old Robert Saylor of New Market died of asphyxia Jan. 12.

Personal Post

Saylor had Down syndrome.

Bailey says he died after resisting arrest by three deputies at a Frederick movie theater. An employee had called police because Saylor wouldn’t leave his seat after a movie.

Bailey says Saylor cursed at the deputies. She says he became medically distressed while they were escorting him in handcuffs from the theater.

Bailey says the evidence will be given to the state’s attorney’s office for review after the investigation is complete.

Meanwhile, all three deputies remain on regular duty.

General Discussion / Why You Should Never Call 911.
« on: February 08, 2013, 01:45:20 PM »

Officer Charged With Threatening Man Who Called 911

(Memphis)  An off-duty Memphis police officer, accused of threatening a man by getting the victim’s phone number from the 911 call center, is now under arrest.

Officer Darrell Malone will be prosecuted for harassment.

This comes more than three months after the incident was first reported.

The victim says he’s relieved the DA’s office is taking action.

“I’m tickled pink,” said Michael Montgomery, who thought the county forgot about his case.

“I had some real concerns that it was just being dropped.”

But it looks like someone believed he had one against Officer Malone.

He’s been arrested for harassment. Court documents show the officer turned himself in Monday after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

Montgomery first came forward demanding action back  in October.

“It’s a complete abuse of power,” said.  ”He stepped across a line that shouldn`t be stepped across.”

Montgomery says Malone flashed a gun at him on Germantown Parkway and threatened him.

When Montgomery called 911 for help, the off-duty officer was able to get Montgomery’s personal cell phone number from 911 Dispatcher Jenny Rice,.

Montgomery told us, “I got a phone call from a blocked cell phone number. It was the off-duty police officer again who had gotten my information from dispatch. He was making more threats to me.”

Since then, Montgomery has wanted Officer Malone charged with a crime, but MPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau decided Malone didn’t commit one and put him back on the job November 27th.

Now, the police department says he’s relieved of duty, again,  but won’t say when that happened or why.

Montgomery’s just glad to know the system works, even if it takes a while.

“If you fight the system, it will work for you,” said Montgomery.  ”You just have to knuckle down and bear with it.  It may not be what you want immediately but in the end you are going to get your results.”

Officer Malone’s first court hearing has been set for April 5th. Montgomery says prosecutors tell him he has a right to attend all of Malone’s hearings but doubts he’ll go to them."

Also Montgomery's last quote in this article probably belongs in fail quotes. Being a victim doesn't excuse you from being clueless.


Tasered Blind Man Claims Damages From Police
Colin Farmer says he was assaulted, falsely imprisoned and that his human rights were breached after he was mistakenly tasered.
1:50pm UK, Thursday 10 January 2013
Colin Farmer

Colin Farmer collapsed to the ground when he was tasered
cropped image of x62 taser for touchable still

The Taser gun delivers a 50,000-volt shock


A blind man who was hit with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun after a police officer mistook his white stick for a samurai sword is seeking compensation.

Colin Farmer, who has suffered two strokes and walks at a "snail's pace", was on his way to a pub in Chorley, Lancashire, in October last year when he was tasered in the back.

Police had been responding to reports of a man walking through the town centre with a martial arts weapon.

Mr Farmer collapsed to the ground when he was hit and said he was handcuffed "so tightly" he was in "great pain".

The 63-year-old has now sent a letter to Lancashire Constabulary claiming damages for assault, false imprisonment and a breach of his human rights.

He is also seeking a declaration from the High Court that the use of the Taser was a breach of Britain's obligations under the Human Rights Act.

Lancashire Constabulary were unable to comment on Mr Farmer's compensation claim.

However, speaking in October, Chief Superintendent Stuart Williams said: "Lancashire Constabulary deeply regrets what has happened.

"We have clearly put this man through a traumatic experience and we are extremely sorry."

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is ongoing.

I'm on pins and needles wondering how that investigation is going to turn out.


     SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - A city cop used Utah's prescription drug database to visit a couple's home for so-called "pill checks" and steal their pain drugs, hoping "they would be too dumb to notice the pills were missing," the couple claim in court.
     Candy Holmes and Russell Smithe, a married couple, sued Utah, Vernal City, and Vernal City police Officer Ben Murray, in Federal Court.
     They claim Murray entered and searched their home based on information he got from "a computer database that records and tracks the prescription drug history of all Utah citizens."
     "From January 2011 through August 2011 in at least 30 separate incidents, Vernal City Police Officer Ben Murray, in his capacity as police officer and under color and authority of law, used the prescription drug database to gain personal information about each plaintiff," the complaint states.
     Murray called each visit a "pill check" and forced the plaintiffs to show and dump their medications, they say.
     "Officer Murray appeared at the plaintiffs home in his police car, attire, armed with his service weapon and displaying his badge. Officer Murray obtained unlawful access to the plaintiffs' home. Officer Murray told the plaintiffs that he had come to their home 'on police business' in order to conduct a 'pill check' i.e. an official police inventory of the plaintiffs' prescription pain medication. While in their home he discussed their specific medications and conditions with them thereby demonstrating that he was in fact privy to this private information and therefore authorized by the 'government' to know their personal business.
     "Once in the plaintiffs' home, Officer Murray illegally detained the plaintiffs via his overt show of police force, including display of his badge, weapon, and his clear statement of official police business in conjunction with the threat of arrest for non-compliance.
     "While unlawfully detaining the plaintiffs, Officer Murray interviewed the plaintiffs regarding their prescriptions and other personal business. Officer Murray required that the plaintiffs produce all of the prescription pain medication in their home, knowing exactly what they had, how much they had and when they got it via the state database. He told the plaintiffs that he knew they had recently filled a prescription and that he knew how many pills they should have. Officer Murray forced the plaintiffs to dump their pill bottles out and then he counted their pills. While he counted the pills, he distracted the plaintiffs with interrogation and surreptitiously stole part of their medication by slipping pills into his pockets."
     The complaint continues: "Officer Murray personally knew the plaintiffs. He knew they are part of a vulnerable segment of the community. He knew that the plaintiffs are disadvantaged, have a criminal history, mental health issues, poverty, lack of education and lack of status. Officer Murray knew that the plaintiffs' life situations, mental capacities, and weaknesses would make them especially vulnerable targets to an officer of the law. He assessed the plaintiffs and knew that they would be unlikely to question him or to figure out that his actions against him were unlawful. He hoped that they would be too dumb to notice the pills were missing. He counted on the fact that they would be too scared to stop him from coming into their home and stealing their medication because of his status in law enforcement."
     The plaintiffs call the whole fiasco "egregious misconduct," and say the database should be protected against unnecessary viewing.
     "Beyond agency access, the state of Utah does not safeguard personal prescription information from unlawful access or dissemination by the database users it knows about. This allows law enforcement officers and other government agencies, inter alia, free and open access to learn the names, addresses, types of drugs, dates drugs reach the hands of individuals, corresponding treatments, and underlying conditions of the public at large."
     The state and local government thereby enables corrupt officers "to plan, conspire, to steal/convert these drugs to their own use, under color of law," the complaint states.
     "This database ought to be protected against unnecessary viewing for the protection of the citizens of the state of Utah."
     Vernal, pop. 9,100, is near the Utah-Colorado border, 175 miles east of Salt Lake City.
     Murray was arrested in August on suspicion of two counts of burglary, and fired, according to ABC 4 News in Salt Lake City.
     ABC reported that the plaintiffs in this case "set up their own sting operation with a $2 camera they purchased at a thrift store," and used to photograph Murray in their home.
     The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for illegal search, seizure and detention, and failure to supervise or train.
     They are represented by Tyler Ayres, of Sandy.

By Jonny Bonner

General Discussion / For Those Who Watch Too Many Cop Shows.
« on: December 05, 2012, 08:06:47 PM »

A lot of people told about abuses by Police seem to think that they are bound by all those regulations and laws that seem to only protect criminals on Law and Order.



Talk to someone who has never dealt with the cops about police behaving badly, and he or she will inevitably say, “But they can't do that! Can they?” The question of what the cops can or can't do is natural enough for someone who never deals with cops, especially if their inexperience is due to class and/or race privilege. But a public defender would describe that question as naïve. In short, the cops can do almost anything they want, and often the most maddening tactics are actually completely legal.

There are many reasons for this, but three historical developments stand out: the war on drugs provided the template for social control based on race; 9/11 gave federal and local officials the opportunity to ensnare Muslims (and activists) in the ever-increasing surveillance and incarceration state; and a lack of concern from the public at large means these tactics can be applied, often controversy-free, to anyone who resists them.

What follows are 10 of the innumerable tactics the police can use against a population often incapable of constraining their behavior.

1. Infiltration, informants and monitoring.  The NYPD's Demographics Unit has engaged in a massive surveillance program directed at Muslims throughout the entire Northeast region, ignoring any jurisdictional limitations and acting as a secret police and intelligence gathering agency – a regional FBI of sorts. The AP's award-winning  reports on the Demographics Unit helped bring some information about the program to light, including the revelation that its efforts have resulted in exactly zero  terrorism leads.

Although a lawsuit from 1971, the  Handschu case, "resulted in federal guidelines that prohibit the NYPD from collecting information about political speech unless it is related to potential terrorism,” legal experts worry that privacy rights have been so diminished that Muslims who are spied on may not be able to seek recourse. The AP  quoted Donna Lieberman in November 2011, who said, "It's really not clear that people can do anything if they've been subjected to unlawful surveillance anymore."

Muslims are not the only group that has been targeted. The AP  reported that the NYPD has also infiltrated liberal groups and protest organizers. Other cases of entrapment of activists, such as the  NATO 5  and the Cleveland 5, are also troubling.

2. Warrantless home surveillance.  Just in case you still think there must be some limit on how the authorities can surveil you, there's this -- a federal agency, not the police, but the larger point stands. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that it is legal for a law enforcement agent  to enter your house and videotape you without your consent. The case,  United States v. Wahchumwah , revolved around a U.S. Fish and Wildlife undercover agent who recorded Wahchumwah without a warrant. The Ninth Circuit found the search to be “voluntary,” which led the EFF to write on its Web site: "The sad truth is that as technology continues to advance, surveillance becomes 'voluntary' only by virtue of the fact we live in a modern society where technology is becoming cheaper, easier and more invasive.”

The Ninth Circuit isn't the only one who thinks warrantless video  surveillance is perfectly OK.

    “CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge  William Griesbach  ruled that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission -- and without a warrant -- to install multiple 'covert digital surveillance cameras' in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana plants were being grown.”

During the Bush years, Congress had to grant retroactive immunity to giant telecoms that engaged in warrantless wiretapping. It seems, the judicial branch wants to save Congress the trouble.

Long article, rest on link.

Reason number 4,537 I am glad I voted Johnson in 2012. Not surprising one of the prime movers is Paul Ryan against people that thought his budgets took way too long to theoretically balance the budget.

GOP Steering Committee Shuffles Conservatives

    By Jonathan Strong
    Roll Call Staff
    Dec. 3, 2012, 4:02 p.m.

Speaker John A. Boehner initiated today a small purge of rebellious Republicans — mostly conservatives — from prominent committees; it’s the latest instance of the Ohio Republican’s clamping down on his fractious conference.

The decisions were made by the GOP Steering Committee at a Monday meeting, which reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership, three sources said.

Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina were booted from the Financial Services Committee. Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas were removed from the Budget Committee.

According to a source, Schweikert was told that he was ousted in part because his “votes were not in lockstep with leadership.”

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said, “The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors.”

One GOP leadership aide said, “Changes are made for a variety of reasons, most often at the request of committee chairs.”

Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, an outspoken conservative, was placed on the Financial Services Committee, something that a second leadership aide noted to demonstrate that voting record was not the only reason behind the changes.

All of the lawmakers other than Jones were rebellious right-wingers. Huelskamp and Amash, for instance, both voted against the budget proposed by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin in committee and on the floor, because it did not cut spending fast enough. They also voted against the current continuing resolution that is funding the government through the end of March.

The moves sparked a quick backlash, with Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham calling Schweikert’s ouster “unthinkable.”

Schweikert defeated Rep. Ben Quayle in a contentious GOP primary and was not regarded as leadership’s first choice in that race. Schweikert’s tactics in the rough-and-tumble primary, according to several sources, rubbed leaders the wrong way.

A GOP lobbyist emailed about the Schweikert situation, “Wow. Don’t F w Jeb.” The reference was apparently to incoming Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the departing GOP Conference chairman.

The decisions came as a major surprise to Republican members. When first contacted about the changes, several of the lawmakers’ offices said they had not yet been notified.

The shuffling is the latest sign that Boehner is flexing his muscle with the right flank of his conference as he seeks a united front during tense fiscal cliff negotiations with President Barack Obama.

A GOP strategist said, “This is a move that the whip team has been advocating for some time. They are using all of the tools at their disposal.”


The way the two major parties control the presidential debates is a perfect microcosm of how political debates are restricted in general. Though typically shrouded in secrecy, several facts about this process have recently come to light and they are quite instructive.

I was on Democracy Now this morning along with George Farah discussing the ways these debates, designed to cast the appearance of fostering vibrant exchanges, are actually intended to constrict the range of debated views as much as possible. My segment (and the transcript to it) can be seen here, but it was the commentary of Farah - who is a genuine expert in the history of presidential debates - that I found revealing.

He described how the two political parties in the 1990s joined forces to wrest control over the presidential debates away from the independent League of Women Voters, which had long resisted the parties' efforts to shield their presidential candidates from genuine surprise or challenge. Now run by the party-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates, these rituals are designed to do little more than " eliminate spontaneity" and "exclude all viable third-party voices". Citing a just-leaked 21-page "memorandum of understanding" secretly negotiated by the two campaigns to govern the rules of the debates, Farah recounted:

    "We have a private corporation that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties called the Commission on Presidential Debates. It seized control of the presidential debates precisely because the League was independent, precisely because this women's organization had the guts to stand up to the candidates that the major-party candidates had nominated. And instead of making public these contracts and resisting the major-party candidates' manipulations, the commission allows the candidates to negotiate these 21-page contracts that dictate all the fundamental terms of the debates."

Gawker's John Cook has an excellent breakdown of the 21-page memo. In his piece, entitled "Leaked Debate Agreement Shows Both Obama and Romney are Sniveling Cowards", Cook details how the rules imposed on these debates demonstrate that, above all else, "both campaigns are terrified at anything even remotely spontaneous happening."

Under this elaborate regime, the candidates "aren't permitted to ask each other questions, propose pledges to each other, or walk outside a 'predesignated area.'" Worse, "the audience members posing questions aren't allowed to ask follow-ups (their mics will be cut off as soon as they get their questions out). Nor will moderator Candy Crowley." The rules even "forbid television coverage from showing reaction shots of the candidates".

All of this means, as Farah put it:

    "The town hall debate we're going to see tonight is the most constrained and regulated town hall debate in presidential debate history. The first town hall debate was introduced in 1992, and no one knew what anyone was going to ask, none of the audience members were going to ask. The moderator could ask any follow-up questions. It was exciting, and it was real.

    "Well, President George H.W. Bush stumbled in response to an oddly worded question about the federal deficit, and the candidates - the campaigns have panicked and have attempted to avoid that kind of situation from happening again. In 1996, they abolished follow-up questions from the audience.

    "In 2004, they began requiring that every single question asked by the audience be submitted in advance on an index card to the moderator, who can then throw out the ones he or she does not like. And that's why the audience has essentially been reduced, in some ways, to props, because the moderator is still ultimately asking the questions.

    "And this election cycle is the first time that the moderator herself is prohibited from asking follow-up questions, questions seeking clarification. She's essentially reduced to keeping time and being a lady with a microphone."

Making matters worse still, the Commission is run by lobbyists and funded by large corporations. As Zaid Jilani writes today, the two Commission co-chairmen are former GOP Chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and former Clinton spokesman Michael D. McCurry. Fahrenkopf is one of the nation's leading lobbyists for the gaming industry, while McCurry advises a long list of corporate clients including the telecom industry.

The debates are paid for by large corporate sponsors, including Anheuser-Busch Companies. As Jilani writes, "in the past, the tobacco industry, AT&T, and others have all been sponsors." And as Farah describes, with all that sponsorship comes the standard benefits:

    "FARAH: 'First, the just nice advertising, of course. They get to - you know, Philip Morris sponsored one of the presidential debates, paid $250,000 and got to hang its banner in the post-debate spin room that was seen throughout the country. But more importantly, they get access, and they get to show support for both major parties.'

    "AMY GOODMAN: 'The major parties on their podiums have Bud Light on the podium?'

    "FARAH: 'Not yet. We're getting there. We're getting there, Amy. But they get to show support for both major parties. How often can corporations find a way to make a single donation that strengthens both the Republican and Democratic parties and get a tax deduction for that kind of donation? So it's a rare contribution. And it also gives them access. They get to go to the actual debate themselves and rub shoulders at private receptions with the campaigns and their staff.'"

Meanwhile, the moderators were selected to ensure that nothing unexpected is asked and that only the most staid and establishment views are heard. As journalism professor Jay Rosen put it when the names of the moderators were unveiled, using terms to describe those views that are acceptable in Washington media circles and those which are "fringe":

    "In order to be considered as a candidate for moderator you have to be soaked in the sphere of consensus, likely to stay within the predictable inner rings of the sphere of legitimate controversy, and unlikely in the extreme to select any questions from the sphere of deviance."

Here then, within this one process of structuring the presidential debates, we have every active ingredient that typically defines, and degrades, US democracy. The two parties collude in secret. The have the same interests and goals. Everything is done to ensure that the political process is completely scripted and devoid of any spontaneity or reality.

All views that reside outside the narrow confines of the two parties are rigidly excluded. Anyone who might challenge or subvert the two-party duopoly is rendered invisible.

Lobbyists who enrich themselves by peddling their influence run everything behind the scenes. Corporations pay for the process, which they exploit and is then run to bolster rather than threaten their interests. The media's role is to keep the discourse as restrictive and unthreatening as possible while peddling the delusion that it's all vibrant and free and independent and unrestrained. And it all ends up distorting political realities far more than illuminating them while wildly exaggerating the choices available to citizens and concealing the similarities between the two parties.

To understand the US political process, one can just look to how these sham debates are organized and how they function. This is the same process that repeats itself endlessly in virtually every other political realm.

by Glenn Greenwald

General Discussion / More police failure.
« on: September 30, 2012, 04:45:59 PM »

QUINCY, ILL. -- A Quincy mother is upset over the way she said school officials treated her son who has autism during an incident Friday at Baldwin South Intermediate School.

Brandi Kirchner said that her 9-year-old son Roger Parker, Jr. had "a meltdown" during class. School officials sent him to a special area to calm down.

The boy climbed a dividing wall and the school called in a police officer to deal with him, the mother said. In the attempt to pull Roger off the wall, the officer pulled the boy by his arms and legs, causing him to hit his eye on the divider, Kirchner said.

The officer then tried to restrain the boy when Roger swung around and kicked the officer in his nose, Kirchner said.

Kirchner said the officer pulled her son to the floor. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station. She had to go to the station to get her son.

"I asked to see my son. Forty-five minutes later, after they told me he did not need a parent present because he was under arrest and not being interrogated,” she said. “He was fingerprinted, photographed and booked for aggravated battery to a police officer.”

Quincy Public School District interim superintendent Cal Lee said that the school is conducting an investigation. Details of that investigation or the actions taken will not be released to the public.

Kirchner said she is upset because she recently discussed a plan on how to handle her son if he has an outburst. She believes the plan wasn’t followed and she has concerns that police placed her son in handcuffs before she was ever contacted.

"You just can't handle them like they are a regular gen-ed student,” she said. “They require special attention. And if anybody is going to be in that aspect and dealing with them, they need to have the proper training to deal with them before stepping into the classroom.”

Kirchner removed her son from the Quincy Public School system and is investigating home schooling options.

Brandi said that she plans to request an investigation by the Quincy Police Department.

Tuesday, Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley revealed more details of the case.

Copley says it took several attempts before Officer Bill Calkins restrained Parker and handcuffed him. Copley says Parker's mother was called immediately after and told to come to the police department.

Parker was taken into custody, but Copley says he was not photographed or finger printed.

"It's a fine line whether you call it an arrest. He was a juvenile.He was not finger printed. He was not photographed with the mug shot camera. He was not taken into jail. He was taken into custody. He was brought to police headquarters where the appropriate paperwork was filled out so we could forward the reports to the probation department and then he was released to his mother," Copley said.

Many parents have questioned the actions of the officer against a child with special needs. Copley says Officer Calkins has gone through training to handle similar situations.

"We receive what's called CIT training, crisis intervention training, which deals with a whole host of behavioral disorders and situations with individuals," he said. "Certain officers receive more detailed CIT training than others. Our entire department is not trained as CIT officers, however, Officer Calkins, who is the officer we're talking about is a trained CIT officer."

The arresting officer remains in his normal duties at Baldwin.

KHQA also reached out to the Quincy School District. Superintendent Cal Lee said he's continuing to read through witness accounts.

Lee says the school has plans in place for students with special needs, and in many classrooms, teacher assistants called "Star Guides" are also on hand to help. He says there were star guides in the room during Friday's incident.

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