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Human Rights News

August 14, 2012
 

A Giant Hospital Chain Is Blazing a Profit Trail

During the Great Recession, when many hospitals across the country were nearly brought to their knees by growing numbers of uninsured patients, one hospital system not only survived — it thrived.

In fact, profits at the health care industry giant HCA, which controls 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, have soared, far outpacing those of most of its competitors.

The big winners have been three private equity firms — including Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate — that bought HCA in late 2006.

HCA’s robust profit growth has raised the value of the firms’ holdings to nearly three and a half times their initial investment in the $33 billion deal.

The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall.

HCA’s emergence as a powerful leader in the hospital industry is all the more remarkable because only a decade ago the company was badly shaken by a wide-ranging Medicare fraud investigation that it eventually settled for more than $1.7 billion.

Among the secrets to HCA’s success: It figured out how to get more revenue from private insurance companies, patients and Medicare by billing much more aggressively for its services than ever before; it found ways to reduce emergency room overcrowding and expenses; and it experimented with new ways to reduce the cost of its medical staff, a move that sometimes led to conflicts with doctors and nurses over concerns about patient care.

In late 2008, for instance, HCA changed the billing codes it assigned to sick and injured patients who came into the emergency rooms. Almost overnight, the numbers of patients who HCA said needed more care, which would be paid for at significantly higher levels by Medicare, surged.

HCA, which had lagged the industry for those high-paying categories, jumped ahead of its competitors and was reimbursed accordingly. The change, which HCA’s executives said better reflected the service being provided, increased operating earnings by nearly $100 million in the first quarter of 2009.

To some, HCA successfully pushed the envelope in its interpretation of existing Medicare rules. “If HCA can do it, why can’t we?” asked a hospital consulting firm, the Advisory Board Company, in a presentation to its clients.

In one instance, HCA executives said a private insurer, which it declined to name, questioned the new billing system, forcing it to return some of the money it had collected.

The hospital giant also adopted a policy meant to address an issue that bedevils hospitals nationwide — reducing costs and overcrowding in its emergency rooms. For years, the hospital emergency room has been used by the uninsured as a de facto doctor’s office — a place for even the most minor of ailments. But emergency care is expensive and has become increasingly burdensome to hospitals in the last decade because of the rising number of uninsured patients.

HCA decided not to treat patients who came in with nonurgent conditions, like a cold or the flu or even a sprained wrist, unless those patients paid in advance. In a recent statement, HCA said that of the six million patients treated in its emergency rooms last year, 80,000, or about 1.3 percent, “ chose to seek alternative care options.”

“Many E.R.’s in America, particularly in densely populated urban areas where most HCA-affiliated facilities are located, have adopted a variety of systems to determine whether a patient in fact needs emergency care,” the statement said. “About half our hospitals have done so. Typically, our affiliated hospitals have two caregivers — usually a triage nurse and a physician — make that determination. It should be noted that other non-HCA affiliated hospitals are using similar processes to address E.R. issues.”

As HCA’s profits and influence grew, strains arose with doctors and nurses over whether the chain’s pursuit of profit may have, at times, come at the expense of patient care.

HCA had put in place a flexible staffing system that allowed it to estimate the number of patients it would have each day in its hospitals and alter the number of nurses it needed accordingly.

Several nurses interviewed said they were concerned that the system sometimes had led to inadequate staffing in important areas like critical care. In one measure of adequate staffing — the prevalence of bedsores in patients bedridden for long periods of time — HCA clearly struggled. Some of its hospitals fended off lawsuits over the problem in recent years, and were admonished by regulators over staffing issues more than once.

‘Through the Roof’

Many doctors interviewed at various HCA facilities said they had felt increased pressure to focus on profits under the private equity ownership. “Their profits are going through the roof, but, unfortunately, it’s occurring at the expense of patients,” said Dr. Abraham Awwad, a kidney specialist in St. Petersburg, Fla., whose complaints over the safety of the dialysis programs at two HCA-owned hospitals prompted state investigations.

One facility was fined $8,000 in 2008 and $14,000 last year for delaying the start of dialysis in patients, not administering physician-prescribed drugs and not documenting whether ordered tests had been performed.

Claiming he provided poor care, the other hospital did not renew Dr. Awwad’s privileges. Dr. Awwad is suing to have them reinstated. HCA declined to comment. HCA says it stands by its procedures, billing practices and level of care.

HCA says that more than 80 percent of its hospitals ranked among the top 10 percent in the country for federal quality measures, compared with 13 percent in 2006 when it went private. Last year, the company provided a $2.68 billion provision for charity care. And under the control of its private equity owners, HCA has invested around $8 billion in its hospitals in the last five years, according to Securities and Exchange Commission findings.

“You must know that we firmly believe that there is no sustainable business model as a health care delivery system that does not have at its core the provision of high-quality patient care and services,” HCA’s chief executive, Richard M. Bracken, wrote in an e-mail to The New York Times last year. Achieving a balance between profit and care is harder for investor-owned hospitals like HCA than for others, some experts say. “If you were a for-profit hospital with investors and shareholders,” said Paul Levy, a former nonprofit hospital executive in Boston unaffiliated with HCA, “there would be a natural tendency to be more aggressive and to seek more revenues.” Executives at profit-making hospitals are “judged in greater measure by profitability” than the administrators of nonprofit hospitals, he said.

Profit-making systems like HCA are often in a better position to invest in improving their hospitals and taking advantage of the latest in new technology. Their sheer size often allows them to negotiate lower prices for everything from X-ray machines to pharmaceuticals, which can, in theory at least, be passed onto consumers.

But some of HCA’s tactics are now under scrutiny by the Justice Department. Last week, HCA disclosed that the United States attorney’s office in Miami has requested information about cardiac procedures at 10 of its hospitals in Florida and elsewhere.

HCA’s cardiac business is extremely lucrative, and the Justice Department has requested reviews that HCA conducted that indicate some of the heart procedures at some of its hospitals might not have been necessary and resulted in unjustified reimbursements from Medicare and other insurers.

To analyze HCA’s business model, The Times examined federal and state hospital records, lawsuits and regulatory investigations, and interviewed dozens of current and former doctors, nurses and administrators. It also carried out an extensive data analysis based on statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the American Hospital Directory, a private company that processes and resells federal health care data.

The story of HCA’s growth offers a window on the changing world of health care. Small and nonprofit hospitals are closing or being gobbled up by medical conglomerates, many of which operate for a profit and therefore try to increase revenue and reduce costs even as they improve patient care. The trend toward consolidation is likely to accelerate under the Obama administration’s health care law as hospitals grapple with what are expected to be lower reimbursements from the federal and state governments and private insurers.

HCA has a dynamic history and powerful political ties. It was co-founded in 1968 by members of the Tennessee family of Dr. Thomas Frist Sr., the father of the former Republican senator, William Frist, also a doctor.

Its boom years were in the mid-1990s when the hospital system, then called HCA-Hospital Corporation of America, merged with the Columbia Healthcare Corporation, a hospital group led by Rick Scott, now governor of Florida.

Columbia/HCA became the target of a widespread fraud investigation in the late 1990s, which led to one of the largest Medicare settlements ever. Mr. Scott was removed as chief executive by the board, but was never accused by regulators of wrongdoing.

After years of rebuilding, HCA’s earnings began to weaken in early 2006 as admissions for operations at its hospitals tumbled, according to documents filed with the S.E.C. The weaker earnings in turn drove down the stock of the publicly traded company.

That spring, a group of investment bankers from Merrill Lynch approached top HCA executives to discuss a buyout by private equity firms.

The Merrill bankers found a receptive audience. Thomas F. Frist Jr., a board member, co-founder and brother of Senator Frist, had been a longtime investor in Bain Capital’s buyout funds and contacted the firm to gauge its interest in acquiring HCA through a leveraged buyout and taking it private again, according to S.E.C. documents. A leveraged buyout is an acquisition of a company that is done with large amounts of borrowed money.

Other executives contacted Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, and the Merrill bankers brought the firm’s own private equity team to invest in the deal, according to S.E.C. documents.

That July, HCA said it was being acquired in a deal valued at $33 billion.

The buyout came with risks. The new owners, who now occupied the majority of seats on HCA’s board, contributed only about $1.2 billion apiece in equity outlay from funds they oversaw, borrowing around $16 billion and assuming $11.7 billion of HCA’s outstanding debt. The deal essentially doubled the amount of debt held by HCA hospitals to $26 billion by borrowing from banks and selling bonds.

The Frist family also invested, as did other Wall Street banks. Among the new owners were top managers, including Jack O. Bovender Jr., then HCA’s chief, and its president, Mr. Bracken, who became chief executive in January 2009.

In 2010, buoyed by robust growth in profit, HCA was able to issue billions of dollars in debt that was used to pay funds overseen by the three buyout firms nearly $1 billion in dividends — each. In the spring of 2011, in one of the most closely watched public offerings since the financial crisis, HCA became a public company once again. Its three buyout owners each sold another $500 million worth of stock, allowing them to recoup all their initial investment.

Last fall, HCA agreed to buy back the stake held by Bank of America, which had purchased Merrill Lynch in 2009, for $1.5 billion, giving the bank a return of two and a half times its initial investment. And earlier this year, HCA paid out $900 million in dividends, of which $360 million went to K.K.R. and Bain.

The 40 percent stake in HCA still held by K.K.R. and Bain is worth about $4.8 billion at current levels, giving them a potential profit, with the dividends they have received, of three and a half times their initial investment of $1.2 billion each.

Those returns caught the attention of other buyout firms. In 2010, Steward Health Care System, controlled by Cerberus Capital Management and based in Boston, bought the second-largest hospital group in Massachusetts, converting it to a profit-making system. That same year, Vanguard Health Systems, which is run for profit and still has Blackstone Group as its largest shareholder after going public in 2011, bought eight hospitals in Detroit.

HCA itself continues to grow, buying up hospitals and doctor groups across the country. Large hospitals “will be best positioned to deal with forthcoming changes. Size and scale definitely provides an advantage in terms of lowering our cost structure and sharing best practices,” said HCA’s chief executive, Mr. Bracken. All of which, he added, were “essential ingredients for success.”

Redefining Emergency Care

Several years ago, digital billboards began popping up along highways throughout Florida, featuring the image of a painter falling from a ladder and the message, “Accidents happen fast. Emergency care should too.” Like highway signs that list the travel times to various destinations, the billboards flashed in real time the emergency room wait times — 17 minutes, for example, or 45 minutes — at nearby HCA hospitals.

HCA wanted to attract more patients to its emergency rooms, and it did. Annual visits climbed 20 percent from 2007 to 2011.

But while emergency departments are often a critical source of patient admissions, they are frequently money-losers because many patients do not have insurance. HCA found a solution: it figured out how to be paid more for the patients it was seeing.

All hospitals use a system of codes to bill services to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. The codes, which require some subjective evaluation, are supposed to reflect how much care is being delivered. Hospitals can differ over which treatments require which codes. A patient who walks into the emergency room with a simple case of indigestion would be classified by the hospital as using very little of its resources. The hospital would be reimbursed just $50 by Medicare for its evaluation.

A patient who might be suffering a heart attack might require oxygen, be placed on a cardiac monitor and transported for a CT scan. The hospital would classify those services at the highest level, earning it a $323 reimbursement from Medicare.

At HCA in 2006, slightly more than a quarter of the payments it received from Medicare were for patients classified in the two highest-paying categories, far behind the 58 percent reported at other hospitals, according to an analysis of Medicare payments by The Times, using data provided by the American Hospital Directory.

During that time, HCA was still operating under a corporate integrity agreement resulting from its Medicare fraud settlement, and an independent reviewer was scrutinizing its billing.

By late 2008, however, just as the agreement with federal regulators was ending, HCA introduced a new coding system for its emergency rooms. HCA said the system, based on a method developed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, was less complicated and better captured the time and resources used by the hospital.

Nearly overnight, HCA’s patients appeared to be much, much sicker. By 2010, HCA had surpassed other hospitals, with 76 percent of its payments coming from the two most expensive classifications, versus 74 percent for other hospitals.

For individual HCA hospitals, the change made a big difference. At Riverside Community Hospital in California, Medicare reimbursements for the highest classifications surged to $949,000 in 2010, from $48,000 in 2006. Likewise, at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, Medicare payments jumped to $1.5 million from $69,000. In a conference call in early 2009 with Wall Street analysts, HCA’s executives said that the change in the billing system had increased the company’s adjusted earnings by about 7 percent, or $75 million to $100 million, in a single quarter.

Behind the scenes, however, HCA executives said they realized the new system was causing too many of its patients to land in the highest-paying categories. HCA’s head of ethics and compliance, Alan R. Yuspeh, said in a telephone interview last year that the company had identified the problem shortly after introducing the system and changed it to bring the company in line with the national average.

Still, HCA reported similar results in the next quarter.

Medicare has not provided hospitals with clear guidance about what kind of coding system they should use, and Mr. Yuspeh said HCA had alerted the agency to its use of the new system. No one has accused HCA of up-coding, or billing for more expensive services that were not needed — one of the complaints made against it a decade ago.

Vicki Bryan at the research firm GimmeCredit began warning HCA’s bondholders who subscribe to her reports in the spring of 2009 that HCA’s model was bolstering short-term returns, but that the system could have potentially negative long-term consequences if Medicare balked and demanded reimbursements.

So far there is no indication Medicare has done so, and a spokeswoman declined to comment. The acting head of Medicare is Marilyn B. Tavenner, a former HCA executive who left there in 2005 to become the secretary of Health and Human Resources in Virginia.

Turning Away Patients

Changing billing codes wasn’t the only avenue HCA pursued in search of higher profits.

Like many hospitals, HCA said its emergency rooms were overcrowded with patients who had minor illnesses like the flu rather than emergencies that it was obligated under federal law to treat. The company was among the first hospital systems to impose a protocol to reduce the number of patients it treated who did not seem to have a true medical emergency and were either unwilling or unable to pay.

Patients whose ailments were not deemed urgent were told to go somewhere else, like a free clinic, or that they could be treated if they paid the co-payment for their insurance or around $150 in cash.

Several former emergency department doctors at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Fla., said they frequently had felt compelled to override the screening system in order to treat patients.

One doctor, who asked not to be identified because he still works as an emergency physician, recalled one episode in which he was told to turn away a young boy with a deep cut in his arm because it was not bleeding profusely and he therefore did not meet the criteria.

“Physicians had a really, really hard time with it,” said Dr. J. Patrick Pearsall, who worked for an emergency physician group based in Houston that worked in HCA hospitals. When the doctors failed to meet the hospital’s goals for how many patients should be considered emergencies, “they really started putting pressure on.”

One emergency room doctor who worked at an HCA Florida hospital said doctors had been told they had targets to hit. The doctors’ concerns about the screening policy were acknowledged in an e-mail reviewed by The Times that was sent to the doctors at the hospital in early 2008 by an outside company that worked in the emergency room.

The doctors were told HCA’s regional executives were “quite intent on pursuing this program at least for the time being and fully expects us to comply. Their expectations are that approximately 15 percent of all patients are to be screened and of those screened no more than 35 percent overridden.”

Regulators in several states have taken HCA hospitals to task over screening out patients too aggressively, including situations where the screening missed serious conditions.

In early 2010, an uninsured patient who entered HCA’s TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, complaining of “pain when breathing,” was sent away. An hour and a half later, at another hospital, the same patient was found to have pneumonia, according to the results of a Medicare investigation. Regulators cited Skyline for having “failed to ensure that an appropriate medical screening examination was conducted.”

This year, the Office of Inspector General fined HCA’s Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., $38,000 for sending home a feverish patient with an artificial heart valve. Two days later, the patient reappeared with the flu and severe respiratory problems. The following day, he died.

HCA officials say they instituted the screening system to reduce overcrowding in emergency rooms. The company said its hospitals were providing quality care to patients and attended to any patients with medical emergencies, fulfilling their obligations under federal law. “Our E.R.’s are designed to offer access to everyone who needs emergency care,” the company said in a statement this year. And HCA says it never instituted quotas.

Still, some executives at other hospitals say HCA’s screening process is troubling. “From a business perspective, if you’re in Nashville, you’re high-fiving each other,” said John Couris, chief executive of Jupiter Medical, a rival Florida hospital. “But from a public policy perspective, it’s the wrong thing to do.”

Bedsores are ugly, painful wounds that can easily become infected and lead to dangerous complications for patients in hospitals.

Bedsores are also fairly easy to prevent. If nurses check patients regularly and turn them or, in certain cases, put patients on air mattresses that redistribute pressure, many bedsores can be prevented or treated early.

A Matter of Staff Levels

Experts say there is often a direct correlation between bedsores and the quality of hospital staff levels. “Staffing is critical,” said Courtney H. Lyder, the dean at the UCLA School of Nursing and an expert on wound care. “When you see high levels of wounds, you usually see a high level of dysfunctional staff,” he said.

HCA owned eight of the 15 worst hospitals for bedsores among 545 profit-making hospitals nationwide, each with more than 1,000 patient discharges, tracked by the Sunlight Foundation using Medicare data from October 2008 to June 2010. HCA’s West Houston Medical Center and CJW Medical Center in Richmond, Va., landed near the top of the list.

HCA says it has increased its nursing staff at its hospitals each year over the last five years. But an examination of lawsuits shows bedsore problems have been persistent at several HCA facilities. In Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire, a 60-year-old woman died in 2009 after her bedsores went untreated for three days and became infected, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed in the spring of 2011 in federal court against the hospital. HCA denied the claims in court documents.

And bedsores were partly responsible for forever altering the life of George Clay Chandler, a lieutenant in the Clay County sheriff’s office in north Florida. Five years ago, Mr. Chandler decided to undergo weight-loss surgery. A mountain of a man at 6-foot-1 and 375 pounds, Mr. Chandler entered Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville for what seemed like a relatively simple operation.

But when Mr. Chandler emerged two months later, he was a changed man. He was unable to speak. His eyes were badly damaged, his limbs contorted, and he suffered from a large, painful bedsore on his buttock.

While some of Mr. Chandler’s injuries occurred at the hands of an inexperienced surgeon, according to a lawsuit in a county court, many more developed while he lay, virtually unattended, in the hospital’s critical care unit. One nurse, who quit Memorial after repeatedly warning executives about what she saw as a shortage of qualified nurses on staff, testified that Mr. Chandler’s bedsores could have been easily prevented.

Memorial was the focus of six civil lawsuits by former patients who claimed, among other things, that they had received poor care and suffered bedsores. Five of those lawsuits were settled for undisclosed sums.

The hospital was cited twice by Florida regulators, in 2008 and 2010, for having inadequate numbers of nurses on its staff to oversee wound care for patients. During the 2010 examination, regulators noted that Memorial had less than the equivalent of two full-time nurses who specialized in wound care to treat the 132 patients who required aid.

“The system of treatment for wound care places patients at risk for additional medical complications,” the examiners said.

The hospital said it had taken corrective measures in response to the shortfalls cited by Florida regulators.

HCA says its hospitals have improved and, citing its own internal analysis, says its rate of bedsores is now below the national average. “We recognize some hospitals within our company are achieving better results than others, and this provides opportunities to learn from our top performers and apply those lessons broadly,” the company said in a statement last year.

Earlier this year, a jury awarded Mr. Chandler and his family $178 million in damages. This month, Memorial and HCA, which had appealed the jury’s verdict, reached a confidential settlement with Mr. Chandler’s family.

Griff Palmer contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 14, 2012

An earlier version of this article imprecisely referred to the state of Mitt Romney’s candidacy. He is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee; he is not yet the nominee.

 

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/15/business/hca-giant-hospital-chain-creates-a-windfall-for-private-equity.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

Wisconsin Embraces Fascism
 Aspiring, Sticky-Sweet Authoritarian Dictator Remains Firmly in Power

June 6, 2012
Dr. Glen Barry, personal essay
Source:
http://drglenbarry.tumblr.com/

Wisconsin is a less free and decent place this morning. The human right to freely and openly associate and organize with colleagues to negotiate the best price for your labor just barely exists, and people that form unions to do so are villainous thugs. Women are less equal. Gays and blacks are sub-human. Teachers, intellectuals, progressives, atheists, and other knowledgeable, free thinking peoples have less rights and prestige. A sticky-sweet taint lingers in the air.

Largely uneducated yet belligerent rural rednecks, out-of-state billionaires, and white suburban Milwaukee ghetto usurers are firmly in control. They are taking names, coming for what you have, and preparing to force their worldview upon anyone who has not yet drunk the corporatist kool-aid. The air, water, soil and vegetation Wisconsin's citizens depend upon for life now lie virtually unprotected. Corporations - which we are told are people - are firmly in control. God is in the government and regulates our bodies and bedrooms.

Right-wing, teabagger, nutjob politicians no longer have to campaign on the issues upon which they will actually govern, or even mention the policies they will pursue once in office. Money is speech and anything can be said, or even made up, and stated over and over again, until glassy eyed we fall into line behind the great leader. Our Governor's boorish past conduct and patterns of election fraud since youth have never mattered, never will, and will be erased along with fascist and illegal union busting tactics from our history.

Neighbors begrudge neighbors their modest health insurance, education and pension - rather than organizing and educating themselves to have them too.  People of all sorts that better themselves by banding together into unions and/or becoming educated are unworthy of deferred compensation they freely negotiated, earned and are owed. Teachers, firefighters, cops, government workers, and their unions caused 911 and the ongoing financial collapse; and they will be punished now and long into the future, until they repent of their socialist ways.

Being smart¸ and training your mind through a process called education, is dumb and no longer valued in Wisconsin. Funds for our formerly world-class schools and Universities have been returned to our state's elite absentee billionaire slumlords, where because of their great benevolent virtue, they rightly belong. Those who are educated are less than fully American, and their views, especially if fact, data, knowledge, or wisdom based; are not to be trusted. There are no experts on anything, just opinion. Truth comes from a tightened fist.

There will be no salvation from homegrown Wisconsin fascism. The national tea party is bent upon dumbing us down and enslaving us for god and greed. The great black hope and assassin in chief busies himself with nominating alleged terrorists - including American citizens - for the drone kill list in sovereign nations. Our economy was plundered by the elites, who are now the power behind the throne in Wisconsin, and also our commander-in-chief's top advisors and funders. No one has gone to jail.

Both Wisconsin's state and national leaders routinely permanently rollback civil liberties and ignore ecological collapse at great peril. Wisconsin's progressive leadership is overly focused upon preening, posing, celebrity journalist activists - who lead the protests, report upon them, and are followed by their own video crews. Whenever the party of Roosevelt rules it meekly fails to stand for much of anything but re-election. The party of Reagan - led now by a bullying uber-corporatist - overreaches and continually cheapens America's great democratic traditions.

Rarely are political, universal truths of justice, liberty, fairness, peace, equity, ecology, and human rights spoken courageously any longer - much less enacted. Sensibly caring for the well-being of others, sharing when you have enough, nurturing children and the land are thought to be quaint relicts of an over-taxed era. Others would consider this the price of democracy and civilization, such as it is.

Wisconsinites - like the rest of the nation - are left in the coming Presidential election with picking the lesser of two fascists. Freedom from fascist and corporatist rule - and the scapegoating, sexism, nationalism, militarism, propaganda lies; and gutting of unions, education, environmental protection and civil liberties this implies - is a precondition to living justly, fairly and well; and to sustaining global ecology and social well-being long-term.

The American dream of hyper-consumption for some is over because it couldn't be sustained ecologically or socially. America can't expect to reap the ill-gotten benefits - all too often seized at the point of a gun - of 4% of Earth's people consuming 25% of key global resources any longer. The 2.5 billion people globally living on $2 a day understandably want their fair share too. The natural and painful consequences of downsizing America's extreme lifestyles and unwinding horrific disparities is sadly leading to demagoguery, a decline in truth telling, and yes, the rise of fascism in the American heartland.

America has lost its way. Our ecosystems and economic system are collapsing, fascism rising, and conflict growing - do we want societal and ecological collapse to come as we are at each other's throats? Things are heading that way. We are becoming the terrorists we abhor. And all the reasons are evident in microcosm in Wisconsin. Decent, thoughtful folks in Wisconsin tried valiantly but ultimately failed for now to combat the John Birch, KKK, Tea Party inspired rise of hateful and destructive fascism.  But the battle to retake our great state and country from the fascists has just begun.

I hate fascism, and urge you to join together with others and myself to resist a corporate takeover and enslavement of America. Going forward, all thinking reasonable lovers of truth-based liberty, freedom, and the decent essence of America, must come together to form an Anti-Fascist League. Failure means an overtly fascist America, of the sort now destroying Wisconsin.


** In addition to Dr. Glen Barry's long-running Earth Meanders environmental essays, he will now be writing more frequently on other progressive issues, as a public intellectual in his personal capacity. If you don't want to receive these personal essays, but still want to receive the more ecological based materials, just let us know. This as of yet unnamed personal essay series is being posted for now at:
http://drglenbarry.tumblr.com/

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/28/us-science-cancer-idUSBRE82R12P20120328

Another woman sues west St. Louis County treatment center for alleged brainwashing

BY BLYTHE BERNHARD • bbernhard@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8129 | Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 11:29 am

ST. LOUIS COUNTY • A second woman is suing Castlewood Treatment Center in west St. Louis County, where she says she was brainwashed into believing she was in a cult and possessed by the devil.

Leslie Thompson of Minnesota spent two and a half years as a patient at Castlewood and other facilities associated with psychologist Mark Schwartz, who is also named in the suit filed Wednesday in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Castlewood and Schwartz were sued in November by Lisa Nasseff, also of Minnesota, who made similar claims of brainwashing when she stayed at the residential facility for 15 months between 2007 and 2009.

Both women are represented by attorney Kenneth Vuylsteke of Webster Groves.

The lawsuits say the women were treated for eating disorders at Castlewood and were implanted with false memories of sexual abuse and satanic cult activity.

Under the care of Schwartz, Thompson falsely believed she belonged to a cult, was involved in the sacrifice of a baby and had 10 multiple personalities including one named "Freddie" that represented the devil, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Schwartz told Thompson she would die if she left Castlewood, as if she had walked away "in the middle of surgery."

Thompson's medical bills at Castlewood reached $600,000, according to the lawsuit.

Source: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/another-woman-sues-west-st-louis-county-treatment-center-for/article_7aec8dae-58c6-11e1-a0ed-0019bb30f31a.html?print=1

Does Forest Labs Case Signal New Era of White Collar Prosecution?  (Webmaster Note:  We can only hope so...) 

April 26th, 2011 (Received by HEAL on August 14th, 2011)

All you white-collar defense lawyers should sit up and take notice of this story, by the WSJ’s Alicia Mundy, out in Tuesday’s paper.

The reason: because it hints at an interesting trend that just might be on the rise.

For now, a bit of background: Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services startle a lot of people when the agency said it would start invoking a little-used administrative policy under the Social Security Act against pharmaceutical executives.

The policy allows officials to bar corporate leaders from health-industry companies doing business with the government, if a drug company is guilty of criminal misconduct.

Well, HHS is keeping good on its promise. Earlier this month, the department notified Howard Solomon of Forest Laboratories that it, yes, intends to keep him from doing business with the federal government.

The “action against the CEO of Forest Labs is a game changer,” said Richard Westling, a corporate defense attorney in Nashville who has represented executives in different industries against the government.

The Forest case has its origins in an investigation into the company’s marketing of its big-selling antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro. Last September, Forest made a plea agreement with the government, under which it is paying $313 million in criminal and civil penalties over sales-related misconduct.

A federal court made the deal final in March. Forest Labs representatives said they were shocked when the intent-to-ban notice was received a few weeks later, because Solomon wasn’t accused by the government of misconduct.

Forest is sticking by its chief. “No one has ever alleged that Mr. Solomon did anything wrong, and excluding him [from the industry] is unjustified,” said general counsel Herschel Weinstein.

The move against Forest’s Solomon brings the campaign to a new level. Lawyers not involved in the Forest case said the attempt to punish an executive who isn’t accused of misconduct could tie up the industry’s day-to-day work in legal knots.

According to Westling, the campaign should not be seen “solely a health-care industry issue. The use of sanctions such as exclusion and debarment to punish individuals where the government is unable to prove a direct legal or regulatory violation could have wide-ranging impact.” An exclusion penalty could be more costly than a Justice Department prosecution.

He said that the Defense Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, have debarment powers similar to the HHS exclusion authority.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/04/26/does-forest-labs-case-signal-new-era-in-white-collar-prosecution/

US violates prisoner rights it wants other nations to observe
Deborah Dupre, Human Rights Examiner
July 13, 2011

 United States human rights actions must match its human rights talk

In yet another major United States human rights abuse issue raised this month, government's insistence on "monitoring" prisoner conversations about treatment in confinement with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has resulted in his making a public statement Tuesday about United States violating prisoner rights and breaking UN's unfettered access to prisoners rule while the US is insisting other nations observe human rights.

The UN expert needs to determine whether or not the US treatment of its prisoners, including Prt Bradley Manning, constitutes "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," an impossible investigation when prisoners' rights to privacy are violated during meetings with the torture expert.

"When a leading advocate for human rights like the United States bends the rules from time to time, it undermines the whole human rights apparatus," Mark Goldberg with the UN Dispatch stated Wednesday.

The high profile case of Pte Manning, 23 as he awaits trial in military prison is demonstrating US breach of human rights, international law, and UN obligations according to Goldberg.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture questions whether Obama and his military, refusing to allow unfettered access to Pte Manning might also be applied to other prisoners.

“The United States, as a world leader, is a strong supporter of the international human rights system," said Juan Méndez, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture.

"Therefore, its actions must seek to set the pace in good practices that enhance the role of human rights mechanisms, ensuring and maintaining unfettered access to detainees during enquiries."

“I am assured by the US Government that Mr. Manning’s prison regime and confinement is markedly better than it was when he was in Quantico,” said  Méndez,

“However, in addition to obtaining first hand information on my own about his new conditions of confinement, I need to ascertain whether the conditions he was subjected to for several months in Quantico amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Mendez said the U.S. military's insistence on monitoring conversations with Bradley Manning "violates long-standing rules" the U.N. follows for visits to inmates.

Mr. Méndez has formally asked the US Government several times for permission to visit Guantanamo Bay but government has not responded according to the United Nations.

After confined alone in a cell 23 hours per day in in Quantico detention facility in Virginia, Pte Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas in April where US officials say his treatment is better. Manning has been detained by the U.S. military for most of the past year in a case pitting US government against national human rights advocates. He is accused of being the source of sensitive documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars provided to Wikileaks.

"The United States should be leading by example," states Goldberg.

"Instead, the Obama administration seems to want it both ways: unfettered access for human rights monitors abroad while placing restrictions on them at home."

Continue reading on Examiner.com US violates prisoner rights it wants other nations to observe - National Human Rights | Examiner.com
http://www.examiner.com/human-rights-in-national/us-violates-prisoner-rights-but-wants-other-countries-to-adhere-to-rights#ixzz1S3wss0YE
Alliance for Human Research Protection
A Catalyst for Debate

www.ahrp.org

In our era, psychiatry as a profession has suffered a significant loss of
credibility: the most influential  leaders and academics in psychiatry have
been shown to be agents for the drug industry, disregarding psychotropic
drugs' documented, severe, debilitating harmful effects for patients. The
American Psychiatric Association itself acknowledged -- under pressure from
Senator Charles Grassley's requests for its funding sources-- that over one
third of its funding came from the drug industry.

Dr. Allen Frances, MD, the subject of an illuminating interview and article
by Gary Greenberg in WIRED, chaired the American Psychiatric Association's
(APA) DSM-IV Task Force in the early 1990s but has recently become a
formidable critic of APA's revision process toward the DSM-5. His publicly
expressed criticism of psychiatry's grandiose ambition--demonstrated by its
ever expanding list of unvalidated disease designations and reliance on
demonstrably harm-producing chemical interventions--essentially validates
the criticism expressed by the Alliance for Human Research Protection for
more than a dozen years.

The DSM-5 revision process mirrors the disconnect between psychiatry's
grandiose ambition and the absence of scientific legitimacy to support its
diagnostic or clinical practices.

Dr. Frances confesses that the diagnostic concepts in the DSM "are virtually
impossible to define precisely.." Even Carol Bernstein, the current
president of the APA, acknowledges in this month's Psychiatry News the
absence of any validated diagnostic tools in psychiatry--they were invented
because of "the need to match patients with newly emerging pharmacologic
treatments:"

"It became necessary in the 1970s to facilitate diagnostic agreement among
clinicians, scientists, and regulatory authorities given the need to match
patients with newly emerging pharmacologic treatments and the associated
need to conduct replicable clinical trials so that additional treatments
could be approved."
"Indeed, even today objective tests and biomarkers for mental disorders
remain research goals rather than clinical tools."
http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/5/7.full

Read more...
http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/783/9/

Petraeus orders investigation after Rolling Stone reports on alleged use of psychological operations--February 24th, 2011 (Source: voices.washingtonpost.com)

 

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, plans to investigate allegations in a Rolling Stone article that psychological operations were used by the army on members of Congress, a statement from his office said.

Sen. Reed, told MSNBC's Chris Jansing that the accusations were "very serious and disturbing" and that the Pentagon should investigate.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. said in a statement that, "For years, I have strongly and repeatedly advocated for building up Afghan military capability because I believe only the Afghans can truly secure their nation's future. I have never needed any convincing on this point."

A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army told Rolling Stone that he was asked to manipulate members of Congress visiting Afghanistan into providing more troops and funding for the war, a new article in the music magazine reports.  For complete story, click here.

 

For Some Troops, Powerful Drug Cocktails Have Deadly Results--February 12th, 2011 (Source: nytimes.com)

In his last months alive, Senior Airman Anthony Mena rarely left home 
without a backpack filled with medications.

He returned from his second deployment to Iraq complaining of back 
pain, insomnia, anxiety and nightmares. Doctors diagnosed post-
traumatic stress disorder and prescribed powerful cocktails of 
psychiatric drugs and narcotics.

Yet his pain only deepened, as did his depression. "I have almost 
given up hope," he told a doctor in 2008, medical records show. "I 
should have died in Iraq."

Airman Mena died instead in his Albuquerque apartment, on July 21, 
2009, five months after leaving the Air Force on a medical discharge. 
A toxicologist found eight prescription medications in his blood, 
including three antidepressants, a sedative, a sleeping pill and two 
potent painkillers.

Yet his death was no suicide, the medical examiner concluded. What 
killed Airman Mena was not an overdose of any one drug, but the 
interaction of many. He was 23.

After a decade of treating thousands of wounded troops, the military's 
medical system is awash in prescription drugs -- and the results have 
sometimes been deadly.

By some estimates, well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or 
Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression, traumatic brain injury or some 
combination of those. The Pentagon has looked to pharmacology to treat 
those complex problems, following the lead of civilian medicine. As a 
result, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the 
military than in any previous war.

But those medications, along with narcotic painkillers, are being 
increasingly linked to a rising tide of other problems, among them 
drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents -- sometimes from the 
interaction of the drugs themselves. An Army report on suicide 
released last year documented the problem, saying one-third of the 
force was on at least one prescription medication.  For complete story,
click here.

Electroshock Treatment Status with FDA by VERACARE  (Statement Below from E-mail Received--

Click Title Link for More Information)

A divided FDA panel recommendeds that Electroshock machines should remain in
Class III--FDA's highest risk category for medical devices--and recommended
that ECT machines should undergo rigorous safety tests.

An eyewitness report about the hearing in the Washington Post, and the
comments by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin on The Huffington Post, are
posted on the AHRP website.
http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/763/9/

Panel Chairman Thomas G. Brott, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, said he
was amazed that essentially no research had been done on ECT's effects using
functional MRI imaging, repeated brain wave (EEG) studies, or autopsy
examinations of patients.

    "I tried to look and saw very little. I concluded that the evidence is
not there to decide either way," he said.

Dr. Brott's question is worth probing in light of the contentious battle
about ECT safety, between consumers who suffer the consequences, and ECT
stakeholders.

The failure to conduct--or perhaps, more accurately, the failure to
report--results from imaging studies and autopsy examinations, studies that
would provide replicable, hard evidence of ECT effects on the brian,
demonstrates, we believe, that ECT promoters have evaded such studies for
fear they would provide irrefutable documentation about ECT's brain damaging
effects.

 
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
veracare@ahrp.org
212-595-8974

Victims Of Human Rights Violations Denied Access To Justice In U.S., Says New ACLU Report--December 10th, 2010  (Source: aclu.org)

December 10, 2010
On International Human Rights Day, Report Calls For Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666;
media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – Access to justice for victims of civil and human rights violations has been severely curbed over the last decade, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report shows how indigent defendants on death row, prisoners suffering abuses in prison, immigrants in unfair removal proceedings, torture victims, domestic violence survivors and victims of racial discrimination, among others, are consistently denied access to the courts and effective remedies as a result of recent laws and court decisions.

"Unfortunately, because of recent laws and court decisions, victims of human rights violations here in the U.S. are continually denied their day in court while those responsible for the abuses are protected," said Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher with the ACLU and author of the report. "Equal justice for all is a core American value and everyone deserves access to the courts to right wrongs done against them. The U.S. should amend restrictive laws and swiftly enact policies to restore access to justice for the most vulnerable among us."

According to the report, "Slamming the Courthouse Doors," the "[a]ctions of the executive, federal legislative, and judicial branches of the United States have seriously restricted access to justice for victims of civil liberties and human rights violations, and have limited the availability of effective (or, in some cases, any) remedies for these violations. Weakened judicial oversight and recent attempts to limit access to justice…are denying victims of human rights violations their day in court and protecting responsible officials and corporations from litigation."

The report details the many ways in which victims of human rights abuses are denied access to justice, including:

• individuals convicted of capital crimes who seek to present newly found evidence of their innocence or claims of serious constitutional violations being denied recourse in the courts because of federal legislation and recent court decisions;
• victims of rape, assault, religious rights violations and other serious abuses in prison having their claims thrown out of court because of a restrictive federal law;
• immigrants who may have legitimate claims to remain in the United States unknowingly waiving their opportunity to pursue these claims and being swiftly deported because of unfair procedures;
• torture victims, including survivors of the CIA "extraordinary rendition" program, being denied their day in court because the government has misused the "state secrets" privilege to shield their torturers from liability;
• victims of domestic violence being denied the opportunity to seek civil remedy under the Violence Against Women Act because of recent court decisions; and
• victims of racial or national origin discrimination, including victims of racial profiling, being shut out of court because their claims must be accompanied by proof of intentional discrimination, not just the disparate impact – however egregious – of certain laws and policies.

The report includes detailed recommendations and measures for the U.S. government to take in order to live up to the promise of equal justice for all and comply with international human rights obligations and commitments to guarantee access to justice and effective remedies. An annex to the report includes information on curtailing access to justice in over a dozen states.  For complete story,
click here.

Psychologist in Terror War Is Subject of Complaint--November 14th, 2010 (Source: nytimes.com)

The decision about whether an architect of Bush-era interrogation tactics will keep his license as a psychologist is in the hands of a Texas government agency.

A complaint against Dr. James E. Mitchell is now before the Texas State Board of Psychologists, alleging that he violated the profession’s rules of practice in helping the C.I.A. develop “enhanced interrogation techniques” for use in its so-called black prison sites during the Bush administration’s war on terror. Along with Dr. Bruce Jessen, a fellow military psychologist, Dr. Mitchell was a primary developer of post-Sept. 11 C.I.A. interrogation methods that are currently under a criminal torture investigation by the Department of Justice.

Dr. Mitchell, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article, parlayed his experience in training American soldiers to survive as prisoners of war into a lucrative consulting business with the C.I.A. He orchestrated — and, according to the complaint, participated in — the harsh interrogation of terror suspects using sexual humiliation and the drowning technique called waterboarding.

Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor, and Dicky Grigg, an Austin lawyer, worked with a Texas psychologist, Jim L. H. Cox, to bring the complaint, which documents in lurid detail Dr. Mitchell’s role in the questioning of prisoners.

The complaint, which was brought in June, alleges that the doctor misrepresented his qualifications to the C.I.A., placing “his own career and financial aspirations above the safety of others” while designing a “torture regime” with a “complete lack of scientific basis.”

Mr. Margulies said he was pursuing the possibility of a similar action against Dr. Jessen, who is licensed in Idaho.

Mr. Margulies said Dr. Mitchell had never practiced psychology in Texas although through the years, he had maintained his license here and renewed it.

The severity of the accusations led the American Psychological Association to take the rare step of submitting a public comment to the Texas licensing board. The group’s letter said that if Dr. Mitchell were a member of the professional association — he is not — and if the accusations were true, he would be expelled.

The association’s ethics guidelines prohibit inhumane or abusive treatment of anyone, and there “are no circumstances in which that isn’t the case,” including wartime or threat of terrorism said Rhea Farberman, a spokeswoman.

A spokeswoman for the Texas board said she could not comment on the complaint, saying only that the board had yet to take disciplinary action against Dr. Mitchell, a process that typically takes about six months.

Mr. Margulies emphasized the board members’ importance in the process , calling them the “only gatekeepers” of the profession.  For complete story,
click here.

Misguided Thinking--"Take your medication!" is probably the most common refrain in today's mental health field. After all, medication has been the cornerstone of psychiatric treatment for decades, so much so that it is considered 
unethical to treat many conditions without it. Yet a new book by award- winning journalist Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic,  effectively shows just how misguided this thinking is.

For most of the 30 years I have worked in mental health, I have been  alarmed by my observations that most psychiatric treatments seem to  produce more harm than good. I started off as a psychiatric orderly  and assisted with electro-convulsive therapy, otherwise known as shock  treatment. Most of the patients were middle-aged women from the  surrounding St. Louis suburbs but no one was immune. A 16-year-old boy  was shocked because he was considered "pre-schizophrenic." An 85-year- old woman had a heart attack during the shock procedure and died hours 
later. Shock treatment reduced all to a vegetative state from which  most recovered and some even improved. Tragically though, some never  recovered and I developed an enduring skepticism of psychiatric  treatment.  For complete story,
click here. (August 12th, 2010)

New Jersey Is Sued Over the Forced Medication of Patients at Psychiatric Hospitals--August 3rd, 2010--

Patient advocates filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday charging that New Jersey psychiatric hospitals routinely medicate patients against their will without a review by an outside arbiter, a practice that is banned in most other states.

Twenty-nine states require a judge’s ruling for involuntary medication, according to the suit, including New York, Connecticut and other large states, like California, Florida and Texas. Five other states leave the decision to an individual or panel outside the hospital. Some states also provide an advocate to represent a patient in a hearing on forced medication.

But in New Jersey, state rules allow a patient in a state hospital to appeal medication decisions only to people in the hospital. The lawsuit contends that the internal appeal process is routinely ignored and that psychiatric patients in private hospitals lack any opportunity to appeal medication regimens at all.

The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Trenton by the group Disability Rights New Jersey, seeks a court order requiring the state to provide judicial review of involuntary medication. It notes that a prison inmate has more power to contest treatment decisions than a psychiatric patient. For complete story, click here.

Media release April 27, 2010
Mental patient challenges abuse

“The case of mental health patient Saeed Dezfouli shows an appalling abuse of power masked as health care," said JA Coordinator Brett Collins. "This degrades us all. I am proud to stand beside another vulnerable citizen subjected to government misbehaviour, even more embarrassing to the community than the Ferguson case.  I am now Saeed's Primary Carer and supporting his Supreme Court challenge.”
 
“Saeed presents no threat to the community. He needs support. When police ignored his distress for five months, he lit a fire in his workplace to draw attention – as he said he would. The fire escape was locked and a woman died of smoke inhalation. This would never have happened with proper health and police intervention” said Mr Collins.
 
“Despite being a non-violent patient, he has been held in the highest security cell for eight years. He is forcibly injected every fortnight, is refused a choice of psychiatrist, education and exercise, and is not permitted visitors who haven’t previously physically touched him. Compassion, the Mental Health Act s.68 rights and international treaties are ignored” said Mr Collins.
 
“The expenditure of $200,000 a year for his treatment and $1million a cell at the new Long Bay Forensic Hospital amounts to corruption. The lack of complaint from those around shows how widespread is the abuse and how compromised are those participating in the health system” said Mr Collins.
 
“We have a job and home for Saeed, and will continue the JA Mentoring relationship which is funded by Breakout DesignPrintWeb. We call on the Attorney General to support Saeed’s Supreme Court challenge on May 3” said Mr Collins.
 
Comments: Brett Collins 0438 705003.

More info
http://tinyurl.com/ydplj5h  For original alert, click here.
Is practicing psychiatry a disorder in need of treatment?--February 21st, 2010--Psychiatrists are currently debating whether "sex addiction" should be added to the catalogue of psychological disorders that can be reliably diagnosed
and treated.

On the one hand, some are saying that sexual addiction, in the true sense of
a diagnosis, is a real disorder and anyone who works with sex addicts know
that they have a long array of behaviours. Others, however, believe the term
is simply used to excuse bad behaviour.

Next in line will be the Tiger Woods syndrome, along with catastrophic views
on the environment, an addiction to Starbucks, liking Barry Manilow and
singing the praises of Rush Limbaugh. Soon all of our lives will be illness
states, with some of us coping better than others in managing our daily
diagnostics and treating ourselves through counselling, psychiatry and
self-medication.

Everything is problematic

The quest to add sex addiction to the catalogue of recognized illness states
is just a part of the desire of psychiatrists to identify everything as
problematic. The handbook for diagnosis, known as the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), now in its 4th edition, is the
bible of mental illness.  A new edition, the fifth, is due in 2013.

The DSM itself is problematic. Diagnoses like "homosexuality", once
classified as an illness, come and go depending on societal pressures. By no
stretch of the imagination is it a scientific, evidence-based document. This
is not surprising. Freud was not a scientist who used evidence and data for
his treatment. Now Freud's ideas have been largely discounted and his
diagnostic category of "neurosis" is no longer used. Indeed, several forms
of therapy once popular have, on the basis of evidence, been sidelined. What
hasn't been revised is the approach to the definition of mental illness.  For complete story,
click here.

Daylight Saving Time May Throw Off Internal Clocks--March 13th, 2010--

(March 13, 2010) -- On Sunday, thanks to daylight saving time, we are all due to lose precious time as we set our clocks forward an hour. Of course this is annoying on a number of levels -- who wants a shorter weekend? -- but there is also emerging scientific evidence that the change disrupts our natural rhythms.

 
Researchers have been trying to catalog the effects of daylight saving time for years, with conflicting results. 

 
A 1996 study in the New England Journal of Medicine claimed an 8 percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday after the switch, but a follow-up report two years later suggested that figure was lower. In 2000, a group of Swedish researchers concluded that the change did not have any significant effects on the number of crashes in that country. Jump forward to 2009, though, and Michigan State University psychologists Christopher Barnes and David Wagner report that there are more workplace injuries on the Mondays following that lost hour.  For complete story, click here.
Supreme Court scales back 'Miranda,' eases rules for questioning suspects 25 Feb 2010 The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that investigators may resume questioning a suspect who invoked his Miranda right to a lawyer after the suspect has been out of police custody for 14 days. The 7-2 decision scales back a 1981 high-court decision intended to protest suspects from repeated police badgering to talk and to safeguard the rights established in the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling.  For complete story, click here.
Monsanto 'faked' data for approvals claims its ex-chief 09 Feb 2010 Former managing director of Monsanto India, Tiruvadi Jagadisan, is the latest to join the critics of Bt brinjal, perhaps the first industry insider to do so. Jagadisan, who worked with Monsanto for nearly two decades, including eight years as the managing director of India operations, spoke against the new variety during the public consultation held in Bangalore on Saturday. On Monday, he elaborated by saying the company "used to fake scientific data" submitted to government regulatory agencies to get commercial approvals for its products in India.  For complete story, click here.
US waves white flag in disastrous 'war on drugs'--After 40 years, Washington is quietly giving up on a futile battle that has spread corruption and destroyed thousands of lives--January 17th, 2010-- After 40 years of defeat and failure, America's "war on drugs" is  being buried in the same fashion as it was born – amid bloodshed,  confusion, corruption and scandal. US agents are being pulled from  South America; Washington is putting its narcotics policy under  review, and a newly confident region is no longer prepared to swallow  its fatal Prohibition error. Indeed, after the expenditure of  billions of dollars and the violent deaths of tens of thousands of  people, a suitable epitaph for America's longest "war" may well be  the plan, in Bolivia, for every family to be given the right to grow 
coca in its own backyard.

The "war", declared unilaterally throughout the world by Richard  Nixon in 1969, is expiring as its strategists start discarding plans  that have proved futile over four decades: they are preparing to  withdraw their agents from narcotics battlefields from Colombia to  Afghanistan and beginning to coach them in the art of trumpeting  victory and melting away into anonymous defeat. Not surprisingly, the  new strategy is being gingerly aired in the media of the US 
establishment, from The Wall Street Journal to the Miami Herald.  For complete story,
click here.
Supreme Court drops key case on limits of immunity for prosecutors--January 4th, 2010--The US Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a case over whether prosecutors who knowingly procure false testimony that leads to a 
wrongful conviction can later be sued for damages.

Lawyers announced that the parties in the underlying lawsuit had agreed to end the case in a $12 million settlement.
The two innocent men, Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee, had spent  nearly 26 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit. After the  truth was discovered and they were released, they sued the  prosecutors in Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

An investigation revealed that the prosecutors helped assemble and  present false testimony that led to their convictions. Messrs.  Harrington and McGhee had been sentenced to life in prison at hard  labor with no possibility of parole.  For complete story,
click here.
Drug giant General Electric uses libel law to gag doctor 20 Dec 2009 General Electric, one of the world’s biggest corporations, is using the London libel courts to gag a senior radiologist after he raised the alarm over the potentially fatal risks of one of its drugs. The multinational [GE Healthcare, a British subsidiary of General Electric] is suing Henrik Thomsen, a Danish academic, after he described his experiences of one of the company’s drugs as a medical "nightmare". He said some kidney patients at his hospital contracted a potentially deadly condition after being administered the drug Omniscan.  For complete story, click here.

Black leaders urge census to change how it counts inmates--December 17th, 2009--A coalition of African American leaders concerned about minorities being undercounted in the 2010 Census called Wednesday for inmates at
federal and state prisons to be tallied in their home communities instead of the towns where they are incarcerated.

Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League and chairman of a census advisory committee, said the practice now shortchanges communities in money and democratic representation. Census statistics are used to calculate the allocation of more than $478 billion in federal funds and to draw political boundaries.

Noting that about 1.2 million of the nation's 40 million African Americans are in prison, Morial said, "What we have in the prison population issue is a built-in undercount."

Morial and about a dozen other black leaders brought up the prison count during a meeting with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to discuss how to make the census more accurate, a perennial problem. In 2000, about 1.3 million people were overcounted, mostly because of duplicate counts of whites with multiple homes. In contrast, about 4.5 million people, mostly black and Hispanic, were not counted.  For complete story,
click here.

Yahoo, Verizon: Our Spy Capabilities Would 'Shock', 'Confuse' Consumers By Kim Zetter 01 Dec 2009 Want to know how much phone companies and internet service providers charge to funnel your private communications or records to U.S. law enforcement and spy agencies? That’s the question muckraker and Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian asked all agencies within the Department of Justice, under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed a few months ago. But before the agencies could provide the data, Verizon and Yahoo intervened and filed an objection on grounds that, among other things, they would be ridiculed and publicly shamed were their surveillance price sheets made public. Yahoo writes in its 12-page objection letter, that if its pricing information were disclosed to Soghoian, he would use it "to 'shame' Yahoo! and other companies -- and to 'shock' their customers." For complete story, click here.

Pfizer Broke the Law by Promoting Drugs for Unapproved Uses--November 9th, 2009--

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Prosecutor Michael Loucks remembers clearly when lawyers for Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drug company, looked across the table and promised it wouldn’t break the law again.

It was January 2004, and the attorneys were negotiating in a conference room on the ninth floor of the federal courthouse in Boston, where Loucks was head of the health-care fraud unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. One of Pfizer’s units had been pushing doctors to prescribe an epilepsy drug called Neurontin for uses the Food and Drug Administration had never approved.

In the agreement the lawyers eventually hammered out, the Pfizer unit, Warner-Lambert, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of marketing a drug for unapproved uses.  For complete story, click here.

New US vaccine production techniques: Genetically modified insect cells, E. coli, caterpillar ovaries 24 Nov 2009 Spurred by $487 million in federal funding, a sprawling new vaccine factory is opening in North Carolina Tuesday that will produce shots using dog cells instead of chicken eggs. A Connecticut biotech company has also applied to sell a vaccine employing a radically different approach involving a genetically engineered virus infecting insect cells... Baxter International won approval last month to sell an H1N1 vaccine in Europe that uses a decades-old line of African green monkey kidney cells, and it is working on a vaccine for the United States. Protein Sciences of Meriden, Conn., has applied to the FDA for approval to sell a vaccine made by genetically engineering flu genes into a worm virus, which then infects cells from caterpillar ovaries to produce the necessary proteins to make vaccine. VaxInnate of Cranbury, N.J., for example, produced an experimental H1N1 vaccine using genetically engineered E.coli bacteria, and Vical of San Diego just won a $1.25 million contract from the Navy to develop an H1N1 vaccine that involves injecting DNA sequences from the virus directly into people.  For complete story, click here.

Students who question murder convictions under investigation--November 6th, 2009--

(CNN) -- It was two-and-a-half days before Illinois Gov. George Ryan was to leave office in 2003. I sat in a crowded auditorium in Northwestern University's Law School in Chicago, where Ryan was expected to make a major announcement on capital punishment.

"Half, if you will, of the nearly 300 capital cases in Illinois have been reversed for a new trial or for some re-sentencing." he said, his voice tired but clear.

Wrongful convictions had been all over the papers around that time -- the Anthony Porter case, the Ford Heights Four, Rolando Cruz.

"How in God's name does that happen? In America, how does it happen?" Ryan continued. "How many more cases of wrongful conviction have to occur before we can all agree that this system in Illinois is broken?"

On that day, the governor commuted the sentences of all death row inmates in the state and credited an unlikely source for helping him make his decision: Professor David Protess' undergraduate Investigative Journalism class at Northwestern University's Medill School.

In the previous decade, Medill students had uncovered some of the most high-profile wrongful convictions in the city. The class had worked to secure the release of 11 innocent prisoners, five of whom were scheduled to be executed.

As a wide-eyed journalism student at Northwestern, I remember feeling proud of my classmates, proud of my school and proud of the profession I was entering.

Today, six years later, Protess' class is far from the center of the same praise. Presented with evidence in a new case, the state attorney's office is questioning the motivations of the messenger -- the class itself. For complete story, click here.

Can Prosecutors Be Sued By People They Framed?--November 4th, 2009--Do prosecutors have total immunity from lawsuits for anything they do, including framing someone for murder? That is the question the justices of the Supreme Court face Wednesday.

On one side of the case being argued are Iowa prosecutors who contend "there is no freestanding right not to be framed." They are backed by the Obama administration, 28 states and every major prosecutors organization in the country.

On the other side are two black men — Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee — men who served 25 years in prison before evidence long hidden in police files resulted in them being freed.  For complete story, click here.

9yr-old boy tortured, says former Guantanamo detainee --'I was interrogated hundreds of times by the FBI, CIA and even MI5, beaten, and subjected to continuous torture, sexual degradation, forced drugging and religious persecution.' 30 Oct 2009 A British Muslim detained for three years at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison manned by the United States, revealed that the youngest detainee he knew of was a nine-year-old boy who was also tortured like the rest. Ruhal Ahmed’s story was among more accounts of atrocities committed against the detainees at Guantanamo, told before an open commission hearing which began Friday on the sidelines of an international conference to criminalise war. The testimonies before the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission Hearings will be submitted to a tribunal in conjunction with the Criminalise War Conference and War Crimes Tribunal 2009 spearheaded by former Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Dr Mahathir said that the tribunal’s decision would be forwarded to the United Nations for further action. For complete story, click here.
California gives the poor a new legal right--October 17th, 2009--California is embarking on an unprecedented civil court experiment to pay for attorneys to represent poor litigants who find themselves battling powerful adversaries in vital matters affecting their livelihoods and families.

The program is the first in the nation to recognize a right to representation in key civil cases and provide it for people fighting eviction, loss of child custody, domestic abuse or neglect of the elderly or disabled.

Advocates for the poor say the law, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed this week, levels the legal playing field and gives underprivileged litigants a better shot at attaining justice against unscrupulous landlords, abusive spouses, predatory lenders and other foes.

Although some analysts worry that it could swell state court dockets or eat up resources better spent on other needs of the poor, the pilot project that won bipartisan endorsement in the state Assembly will be financed by a $10 increase in court fees for prevailing parties.

Anybody confronted with criminal charges has a constitutional right to an attorney, as set out in the landmark Supreme Court decision in Gideon vs. Wainwright in 1963. But such a right does not apply in civil court, and the majority of citizens fighting what can be life- altering civil actions now attempt to handle their cases without professional guidance.

An estimated 4 million people seek to represent themselves in California in civil matters each year, the state Judicial Council estimates, not because they want to but because they can't afford to hire a lawyer.  For complete story,
click here.

Mystery 'Police' Force Has Small Montana City on Edge--October 8th, 2009--When two brand new, shiny black Mercedes SUVs bearing a "Hardin Police Department" logo drove through the main thoroughfare of Hardin, Mont., last week, people took notice.

“How many police forces have Mercedes?” said Charlene Warren, a local business owner who has lived in Hardin for more than half a century. “That threw up a red flag.”

And speaking of flags, it did not go unnoticed that the emblem on the sides of the SUVs bore a strong resemblance to the Serbian national flag.

Furthermore, those "police department" cars were rolling through Hardin, a small southeastern Montana town of 3,600 that just happens not to have a police department.

Click here for a video.

The luxury vehicles that rolled through town belonged to the American Police Force (APF), a California-based security firm that is drafting a contract that will give it control over a $27 million medium-security prison that was built in Hardin more than two years ago, but has never held any prisoners.

But that contract is now on hold as the Montana State Attorney General’s Office investigates APF and the Big Horn County Sheriff's Department enters preliminary talks about incorporating a real police department in Hardin so a similar episode doesn’t occur in the future.  For complete story, click here.

Schoolgirl dies after GlaxoSmithKline HPV vaccination --HPV vaccine batch quarantined as 'precautionary measure' --Vaccination part of [insane] national immunisation programme 29 Sep 2009 An urgent investigation has been launched after a 14-year-old girl died shortly after receiving a cervical cancer vaccination at her school. Natalie Morton was a pupil at the Blue Coat Church of England School in Coventry, where she was given the human papilloma virus (HPV) jab yesterday. She was taken to Coventry University hospital, where she died at lunchtime. Three other girls from the school are reported to have experienced possible side effects of dizziness and nausea after receiving the Cervarix jab, which was given to female pupils as part of a national immunisation programme against HPV.  For complete story, click here.
American Police Force Corporation Takes Over Small Town Police Force and Prisoner-Less Jail 29 Sep 2009 (MT) This is the strange story of how American Police Force, a little known company which claims to specialize in training military and security forces overseas, has seemingly taken control of a $27 million, never-used jail, and a rural Montana town's nonexistent police force. After arriving in this tiny city with three Mercedes SUVs marked with the logo of a police department that has never existed, representatives of the obscure California security company said preparations were under way to take over Hardin's jail, which has no prisoners.  For complete story, click here.

Lawyers, judges find Web can entangle--September 13th, 2009--

Sean Conway was steamed at a Fort Lauderdale judge, so he did what millions of angry people do these days: he blogged about her, saying she was an “Evil, Unfair Witch.”
Scott Dalton for The New York Times

Judge Susan Criss said a Facebook page said a lawyer was drinking, not grieving, after a funeral.

 

“When you become an officer of the court, you lose the full ability to criticize the court,” said Michael Downey, who teaches legal ethics at the Washington University law   For complete story, click here.

White House Backs Controversial Domestic Surveillance Provisions 16 Sep 2009 The Obama administration is urging lawmakers to extend three provisions of the controversial domestic surveillance law known as the USA Patriot Act. The U.S. Justice Department issued a letter Tuesday asking Congress to renew provisions of the law that allow authorities to conduct roving electronic eavesdropping, or wiretaps, access business records and track so-called "lone wolf" suspects with no known links to foreign powers or terrorist groups. The roving wiretaps would let agents track the communications of suspects who change their cell phones or other devices. The provisions are due to expire on December 31.  For complete story, click here.
"Capitalism is evil," says new Michael Moore film Capitalism is evil. 06 Sep 2009 That is the conclusion U.S. documentary maker Michael Moore comes to in his latest movie "Capitalism: A Love Story," which premieres at the Venice film festival Sunday. Blending his trademark humor with tragic individual stories, archive footage and publicity stunts, Moore launches an all out attack on the capitalist system, arguing that it benefits the rich and condemns millions to poverty.  For complete story, click here.

Pfizer to pay record $2.3B penalty for drug promos--September 2nd, 2009--WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors hit Pfizer Inc. with a record-breaking $2.3 billion in fines Wednesday and called the world's largest drugmaker a repeating corporate cheat for illegal drug promotions that plied doctors with free golf, massages, and resort junkets.

Announcing the penalty as a warning to all drug manufacturers, Justice Department officials said the overall settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company for alleged violations of federal drug rules, and the $1.2 billion criminal fine is the largest ever in any U.S. criminal case. The total includes $1 billion in civil penalties and a $100 million criminal forfeiture.

Authorities called Pfizer a repeat offender, noting it is the company's fourth such settlement of government charges in the last decade. The allegations surround the marketing of 13 different drugs, including big sellers such as Viagra, Zoloft, and Lipitor.

As part of its illegal marketing, Pfizer invited doctors to consultant meetings at resort locations, paying their expenses and providing perks, prosecutors said.  For complete story, click here.

Proposed bill would allow state authorities to forcefully quarantine people during pandemic 04 Sep 2009 (MA) A new proposed bill designed to combat the threat of the H1N1 virus would allow the state to forcefully quarantine people in the event of a pandemic. Anyone who refuses to comply with the quarantine order could face jail time or a $1000 per day fine. The "Pandemic Response Bill" would also force health providers to vaccinate people, authorize forcible entry into private homes, and impose fines or prison sentences on anyone not complying with isolation or quarantine orders.  For complete story, click here.
Aiding Torture: Health Professionals' Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated in the May 2004 CIA Inspector General's Report (PHR) 31 Aug 2009 This 6-page white paper, published August 31, 2009, after the new release of the May 2004 CIA Inspector General's report, shows that the extent to which American doctors and psychologists violated human rights and betrayed the ethical standards of their professions by designing, implementing, and legitimizing a worldwide torture program is worse than previously known. A team of PHR doctors authored the white paper, which details how the CIA relied on medical expertise to rationalize and carry out abusive and unlawful interrogations. It also refers to aggregate collection of data on detainees’ reaction to interrogation methods. Physicians for Human Rights is concerned that this data collection and analysis may amount to human experimentation and calls for more investigation on this point. If confirmed, the development of a research protocol to assess and refine the use of the waterboard or other techniques would likely constitute a new, previously unknown category of ethical violations committed by CIA physicians and psychologists.  For complete story, click here.
CIA in human experimentation row --Watchdog says US interrogation doctors may have committed unlawful experimentation 02 Sep 2009 Doctors and psychologists the CIA employed to monitor its "enhanced interrogation" of terror suspects came close to, and may even have committed, unlawful human experimentation, a medical ethics watchdog has alleged. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a not-for-profit group that has investigated the role of medical personnel in alleged incidents of torture at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and other US detention sites, accuses doctors of being far more involved than hitherto understood. PHR says health professionals participated at every stage in the development, implementation and legal justification of what it calls the CIA's secret "torture programme".  For complete story, click here.
Doctors' role in CIA abuse 'approaches unlawful human experimentation' - rights group --Doctors had 'central role' in CIA abuse 31 Aug 2009 A US-based medical rights advocacy group on Monday blasted health experts for playing a "central role" in advising and implementing the CIA's abusive interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) issued its six-page white paper after shocking details about the range of techniques used by interrogators, including waterboarding, came to light one week ago with release of a 2004 CIA inspector general's report. "Health professionals played a central role in developing, implementing and providing justification for torture," PHR said in its report... PHR warned that such spy agency techniques -- and monitoring by doctors to gauge their effectiveness -- "approaches unlawful experimentation" on human subjects. The report's lead author, PHR medical advisor Scott Allen, said in a statement on the organization's website, "medical doctors and psychologists colluded with the CIA to keep observational records about waterboarding, which approaches unethical and unlawful human experimentation."  For complete story, click here.
The Secret History of Hurricane Katrina By James Ridgeway 28 Aug 2009 The Blackwater operators described their mission in New Orleans as "securing neighborhoods," as if they were talking about Sadr City. When National Guard troops descended on the city, the Army Times described their role as fighting "the insurgency in the city." Brigadier Gen. Gary Jones, who commanded the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force, told the paper, "This place is going to look like Little Somalia. We're going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control." ...And while the government couldn't seem to keep people from dying on rooftops or abandoned highways, it wasted no time building a temporary jail in New Orleans.  For complete story, click here.
Health-care workers steer clear of swine flu vaccine --Many health-care workers have made it obvious that they are unwilling to be vaccinated. 26 Aug 2009 A new study finds that the majority of health-care workers refuse to take the swine flu vaccine due to its possible side effects. According to a study published in British Medical Journal, more than half of health-care workers around the world are worried about the side effects of the new vaccine. Doubts about the effectiveness of the vaccine are also reported as another main reason for them declining the vaccine.  For complete story, click here.
Exposed: The Swine Flu Hoax By Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D. 24 Aug 2009 If the current H1N1 swine flu virus does become abnormally lethal, there would be three leading explanations: first, that the virus was accidentally released, or escaped, from a laboratory; second, that a disgruntled lab employee unleashed the virus (as happened, according to the official version of events, with the 2001 anthrax attack); or third, that a group, corporation or government agency intentionally released the virus in the interests of profit and power. Each of the three scenarios represents a plausible explanation should the swine virus become lethal. The 1918 flu virus was dead and buried -- until, that is, scientists unearthed a lead coffin to obtain a biopsy of the corpse it contained. For complete story, click here.
Rendition of Terror Suspects Will Continue Under Obama 25 Aug 2009 The Obama administration will continue the Bush regime’s practice of sending terror suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but will monitor their treatment to insure they are not tortured, administration officials said on Monday. The administration officials, who announced the changes on condition that they not be identified, said that unlike the Bush administration, they would give the State Department a larger role in assuring that transferred detainees prisoners would not be abused. [See: Barack Obama: Change We Can Deceive In --A critique from the Left By Lori Price 19 Aug 2009.]  For complete story, click here.
Common Sense 2009 By Larry Flynt 20 Aug 2009 The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate. It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government. This was never more obvious than with the Wall Street bailout, whereby the very corporations that caused the collapse of our economy were rewarded with taxpayer dollars.  For complete story, click here.
'The guard called a Homeland Security Officer who asked Thomas what he was filming.' Homeland Security cop arrests man for filming FBI building in NYC By Carlos Miller 20 Aug 2009 A 43-year-old man was jailed for six hours – and had his camera and memory card confiscated by a judge - after filming an FBI building from across the street in New York City Monday. Randall Thomas, a professional photographer, said he was standing on the corner of Duane Street and Broadway in downtown Manhattan when he used his video camera to pan up and down on the 42-story building at 26 Federal Plaza. He was immediately accosted by a security guard in a brown uniform who told him he was not allowed to film the building. For complete story, click here.
Police Taser use 'up nearly a third' 17 Aug 2009 Police use of Taser stun guns has increased by nearly a third, figures revealed today. Officers fired the electro-shock weapons 226 times in the first three months of this year - up from 174 in the last three months of 2008. For complete story, click here.
Second 9/11 Investigation Petition Moves Toward NYC November Ballot By Barbara G. Ellis for Portland 9/11 Legislative Alliance 20 Aug 2009 A second 9/11 investigation about the destruction of the World Trade Center and attack on the Pentagon--this one independent of the U.S. government--may start late this year if legal debris is cleared away for approval as a referendum issue on November 3 in New York City.   For complete story, click here.
Government's Tamiflu advice is wrong, says WHO 22 Aug 2009 Only seriously ill and vulnerable patients should be prescribed antiviral drugs to help them to get over swine flu, the World Health Organisation said yesterday, in advice which conflicts with the decision taken by the British Government to prescribe Tamiflu to everyone with swine flu. Most people will recover from swine flu within a week, just as they would from seasonal forms of influenza, the WHO said.  For complete story, click here.

Caregiver who raped disabled woman gets 8 years in prison--August 15th, 2009--A Kent man who raped a severely disabled woman in his care last year was sentenced Friday to 8 ½ years to life in prison for second-degree rape.

Joseph Thurura, 32, was arrested in June 2008 and charged with the rape of a 44-year-old patient at Integrated Living Services, where he was a caregiver.

The woman was impregnated but had a miscarriage.  For complete story, click here.

Mexico Legalizes Drug Possession--August 21st, 2009--MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico enacted a controversial law on Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging government-financed treatment for drug dependency free of charge.  The law sets out maximum “personal use” amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution; the law goes into effect on Friday.  For complete story, click here.
Swine flu jab link to killer nerve disease: Leaked letter reveals concern of neurologists over 25 deaths in America 15 Aug 2009 A warning that the new swine flu jab is linked to a deadly nerve disease has been sent by the Government to senior neurologists in a confidential letter. The letter from the Health Protection Agency, the official body that oversees public health, has been leaked to The Mail on Sunday, leading to demands to know why the information has not been given to the public before the vaccination of millions of people, including children, begins. It tells the neurologists that they must be alert for an increase in a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which could be triggered by the vaccine. The letter, sent to about 600 neurologists on July 29, is the first sign that there is concern at the highest levels that the vaccine itself could cause serious complications.  For complete story, click here.
Sheriff's Office defies judge on order for system password--August 15th, 2009--A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Friday ordered that the Sheriff's Office divulge the password it forcefully installed on a county computer system linked to sensitive state and federal criminal- justice data.

But Chief Deputy David Hendershott later said he will refuse to share the password - even if it means he goes to jail.

During the Friday hearing, Judge Joseph Heilman said that if the Sheriff's Office doesn't divulge the password by Wednesday, he will "hold someone in contempt of court."

"I assume it's going to be someone seated at this table," he added, referring to Hendershott.

Hendershott said he could not reveal the password under federal law. And if he goes to jail: "I bet I get a pretty decent place. Something with a view of the dump."

Heilman would not comment on the remark.  (Webmaster Note:  Hiding something, are we?)  For complete story,
click here.

Antidepressant use doubles in U.S., study finds--August 3rd, 2009--WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Use of antidepressant drugs in the United States doubled between 1996 and 2005, probably because of a mix of factors, researchers reported on Monday.

About 6 percent of people were prescribed an antidepressant in 1996 -- 13 million people. This rose to more than 10 percent or 27 million people by 2005, the researchers found.

"Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups examined, except African Americans," Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University in New York and Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.  For complete story, click here.  (Webmaster Note:  Drugs are not the answer!)

Gulags we can believe in: AP sources: Military-civilian terror prison eyed --The facility would operate as a hybrid prison system jointly operated by the Justice Department, the military and the Department of Homeland Security. 02 Aug 2009 The Obama administration is looking at creating a courtroom-within-a-prison complex in the U.S. to house suspected terrorists, combining military and civilian detention facilities at a single maximum-security prison. Several senior U.S. officials said the administration is eyeing a soon-to-be-shuttered state maximum security prison in Michigan and the 134-year-old military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as possible locations for a heavily guarded site to hold the 229 prisoners now jailed at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. The administration's plan, according to three government officials, calls for: long-term holding cells for undetermined number of prisoners who will never face trial; building detention cells for prisoners ordered released by courts but still held behind bars.  For complete story, click here.

New Rule: Not Everything in America Has to Make a Profit--July 24th, 2009--by Bill Maher--

How about this for a New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn't do for money. The United States always defined capitalism, but it didn't used to define us. But now it's becoming all that we are.

 

Did you know, for example, that there was a time when being called a "war profiteer" was a bad thing? But now our war zones are dominated by private contractors and mercenaries who work for corporations. There are more private contractors in Iraq than American troops, and we pay them generous salaries to do jobs the troops used to do for themselves ­-- like laundry. War is not supposed to turn a profit, but our wars have become boondoggles for weapons manufacturers and connected civilian contractors.

Prisons used to be a non-profit business, too. And for good reason --­ who the hell wants to own a prison? By definition you're going to have trouble with the tenants. But now prisons are big business. A company called the Corrections Corporation of America is on the New York Stock Exchange, which is convenient since that's where all the real crime is happening anyway. The CCA and similar corporations actually lobby Congress for stiffer sentencing laws so they can lock more people up and make more money. That's why America has the world;s largest prison population ­-- because actually rehabilitating people would have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Television news is another area that used to be roped off from the profit motive. When Walter Cronkite died last week, it was odd to see news anchor after news anchor talking about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkite's day. I thought, "Gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it."

But maybe they aren't. Because unlike in Cronkite's day, today's news has to make a profit like all the other divisions in a media conglomerate. That's why it wasn't surprising to see the CBS Evening News broadcast live from the Staples Center for two nights this month, just in case Michael Jackson came back to life and sold Iran nuclear weapons. In Uncle Walter's time, the news division was a loss leader. Making money was the job of The Beverly Hillbillies. And now that we have reporters moving to Alaska to hang out with the Palin family, the news is The Beverly Hillbillies.

And finally, there's health care. It wasn't that long ago that when a kid broke his leg playing stickball, his parents took him to the local Catholic hospital, the nun put a thermometer in his mouth, the doctor slapped some plaster on his ankle and you were done. The bill was $1.50, plus you got to keep the thermometer.

But like everything else that's good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they're run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They're not hospitals anymore; they're Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America's largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it's not a right, it's a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they're always pushing the Jell-O.

Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like "recision," where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you've been paying into your plan for years. For complete story, click here.

Whistleblower tells of America's hidden nightmare for its sick poor --When an insurance firm boss saw a field hospital for the poor in Virginia, he knew he had to speak out. By Paul Harris 26 Jul 2009 Wendell Potter can remember exactly when he took the first steps on his journey to becoming a whistleblower and turning against one of the most powerful industries in America. It was July 2007 and Potter, a senior executive at giant US healthcare firm Cigna, was visiting relatives in the poverty-ridden mountain districts of northeast Tennessee. He saw an advert in a local paper for a touring free medical clinic at a fairground just across the state border in Wise County, Virginia. Potter, who had worked at Cigna for 15 years, decided to check it out. What he saw appalled him. Hundreds of desperate people, most without any medical insurance, descended on the clinic from out of the hills... Potter took pictures of patients lying on trolleys on rain-soaked pavements. For complete story, click here.

Jimmy Carter Leaves Church Over Treatment of Women--July 20th, 2009--After more than 60 years together, Jimmy Carter has announced himself at odds with the Southern Baptist Church -- and he's decided it's time they go their separate ways. Via Feministing, the former president called the decision "unavoidable" after church leaders prohibited women from being ordained and insisted women be "subservient to their husbands." Said Carter in an essay in The Age:

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
 

For complete story, click here.

More bodies go unclaimed as families can't afford funeral costs 21 Jul 2009 The poor economy is taking a toll even on the dead, with an increasing number of bodies in Los Angeles County going unclaimed by families who cannot afford to bury or cremate their loved ones. At the county coroner's office -- which handles homicides and other suspicious deaths -- 36% more cremations were done at taxpayers' expense in the last fiscal year over the previous year, from 525 to 712.  For complete story, click here.
Executives, other highly compensated employees receive more than one-third of all pay in U.S. 21 Jul 2009 The nation's wealth gap is widening amid an uproar about lofty pay packages in the financial world. Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Social Security Administration data -- without counting billions of dollars more in pay that remains off federal radar screens that measure wages and salaries. Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007, the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don't include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted stock units and certain benefits.  For complete story, click here.
CIA Supervisor Claimed He Used Fire Ants On Detainee By Aram Roston 16 Jul 2009 A recently released legal memo describing interrogation techniques showed that Bush Administration lawyers had approved the use of "insects" in interrogations. "You would like to place [Abu] Zubaydeh in a cramped confinement box with an insect," Jay Bybee, then a Justice Department lawyer and now a federal judge, wrote in 2002... A CIA supervisor involved in the "enhanced interrogation" program bragged to other CIA employees about using fire ants while during questioning of a top terror suspect, according to several sources formerly with the Agency. The official claimed to other Agency employees, the sources say, to have put the stinging ants on a detainee's head to help break him. The CIA insists, however, that no matter what the man said, it never took place.  For complete story, click here.
317 cars burned ahead of Bastille Day --Disaffected youths frustrated with high unemployment rates and their view of France's failure to integrate ethnic minorities 14 Jul 2009 French youths burned 317 cars and wounded 13 police officers overnight on the eve of the Bastille Day national holiday, police said Tuesday. By 6:00 am (0400 GMT), police headquarters in Paris had recorded 317 burnt out cars -- up 6.7 percent on 2008 -- and 240 arrests, almost double the total for the same period last year. These numbers were expected to increase as fresh reports came in.  For details, click here.
Some Guantanamo Bay Prisoners May Be Held Indefinitely --DoD lawyer: Any detainee, even if acquitted, could be held indefinitely 10 Jul 2009 An Obama administration official told Senators Tuesday that some detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility will most likely be held indefinitely if they pose a threat. The official spoke at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing... At a Senate hearing, Defense Department lawyer Jeh Johnson described one group of prisoners that will remain behind bars. "There will be at the end of the review a category of people that we in the administration believe must be retained for reasons of public safety and national security, and they're not necessarily people that we'll prosecute," Johnson said. Johnson also said any detainee, even if acquitted, could be held indefinitely. "And we've gone through our review period and we've made through the assessment the person is a security threat....I think it's our view that we would have the ability to detain that person," Johnson said.  For complete story, click here.

Swearing Makes Pain More Tolerable--July 12th, 2009--

That muttered curse word that reflexively comes out when you stub your toe could actually make it easier to bear the throbbing pain, a new study suggests.

Swearing is a common response to pain, but no previous research has connected the uttering of an expletive to the actual physical experience of pain.

"Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon," said Richard Stephens of Keele University in England and one of the authors of the new study. "It taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain."

Stephens and his fellow Keele researchers John Atkins and Andrew Kingston sought to test how swearing would affect an individual's tolerance to pain. Because swearing often has an exaggerating effect that can overstate the severity of pain, the team thought that swearing would lessen a person's tolerance.

As it turned out, the opposite seems to be true.

The researchers enlisted 64 undergraduate volunteers and had them submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice. The experiment was then repeated with the volunteer repeating a more common word that they would use to describe a table.

Contrary to what the researcher expected, the volunteers kept their hands submerged longer while repeating the swear word. For complete story, click here.  (Webmaster note:  Swearing is good for you.)

The Truth about the Flu Shot By Infowars 10 Jul 2009 If the government mandates a series of flu shots this fall -- so far they are only "recommending” the shots -- you can expect to get a dose of thimerosal (mercury), formaldehyde, detergent, MF-59 (an oil-based adjuvant), and other toxins. Incidentally, if you believe the government will not kidnap you at gunpoint and lock you in a concentration camp and possibly force you to take these toxins, check out Executive Order 13295 of April 4, 2003. It states that the government has the authority to establish "regulations providing for the apprehension, detention, or conditional release of individuals to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of suspected communicable diseases," including diseases at that time "not yet isolated or named." Of course, the government will decide if you have a deadly disease or not.  For complete story, click here.

Philadelphia opens Mental Health Court--July 8th, 2009--

When Philadelphia police shot and killed a homeless man brandishing a utility knife Friday in the concourse near City Hall, it had special meaning for state Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery.

Twenty years ago, McCaffery told an audience of Philadelphia court and municipal officials, he was a police sergeant with the subway unit.

"I know what those officers are going through down there dealing with the homeless," McCaffery said. "That's the kind of tragedy that we don't want to happen. These are human beings that we as a society need to step up to the plate and help."

Yesterday McCaffery got that chance, joining Philadelphia court officials to announce the creation of the city's first Mental Health Court.

The court, which begins today with a pilot group of 15 individuals, is to take a group of nonviolent inmates about to complete their jail terms and make sure they have the necessary therapy and supervision lined up to successfully live in the community.  For complete story, click here.  (Webmaster Note:  The "therapy" utilized to modify behavior in and out of prison is not based on science and actually causes severe psychological distress and trauma.  Let's not jump from the frying pan (current prison/sentencing system) into the fire (pseudo-science and cult-like brainwashing of "offenders" aka our fellow citizens.)

Abu Ghraib Crucifixion Death Demonstrates Need for Independent Criminal Investigation into U.S. Torture Program--June 29th, 2009--Washington, DC -- A report published in the June 22nd issue of The New Yorker magazine that a prisoner had been crucified by the CIA at the Abu Ghraib prison highlighted the need to apply the rule of law to the U.S. torture program. This issue will be discussed at a press conference at 9:30 on Monday morning at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Lawsuit accuses Xe contractors of murder, kidnapping, child prostitution 02 Jul 2009 A just-amended lawsuit alleges six additional instances of unprovoked attacks on Iraqi civilians by Blackwater mercenaries. Three people, including a 9-year-old boy, are said to have died. Also added to the suit is a racketeering count accusing Blackwater founder Erik Prince of running an ongoing criminal enterprise involved in, among other things, kidnapping and child prostitution. The latest charges, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, bring to more than 60 the number of Iraqis allegedly killed or wounded since 2005 by armed Blackwater mercenaries guarding U.S. diplomatic personnel in Iraq. The Moyock, N.C.-based security company, since renamed Xe, earned more than $1 billion under that contract before the State Department, under pressure from the Iraqi government, let it lapse in May. For complete story, click here.
Former Marine Claims Illness From Mystery Vaccine --Military Source Believes Experimental Shots May Have Been Given 08 May 2007 (Received July 2nd, 2009)  Clermont County, OH) Target 5 has discovered that an alarming number of U.S. troops are having severe reactions to some of the vaccines they receive in preparation for going overseas. "This is the worst cover-up in the history of the military," said an unidentified military health officer who fears for his job. A shot from a syringe is leaving some U.S. servicemen and women on the brink of death. "When the issue, I believe, of the use of the vaccine comes out, I believe it will make the Walter Reed scandal pale in comparison," said the health officer. For complete story, click here.
ACLU Says Government Used False Confessions 02 Jul 2009 The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday accused the Obama administration of using statements elicited through torture to justify the confinement of a detainee it represents at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The ACLU is asking a federal judge to throw out those statements and others made by Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan who may have been as young as 12 when he was captured. His attorney argued that Jawad was abused in U.S. custody, threatened and subjected to intense sleep deprivation. "The government's continued reliance on evidence gained by torture and other abuse violates centuries of U.S. law and suggests the current administration is not really serious about breaking with the past," said ACLU lawyer Jonathan Hafetz, who is representing Jawad in a lawsuit challenging his detention.  For complete story, click here.
White House Drafts Executive Order to Allow Indefinite Detention of Terror Suspects --Friday 26 Jun 2009 5:18 PM The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close Guantanamo, has drafted an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations. Such an order would embrace claims by former president [sic] George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Under one White House draft that was being discussed earlier this month, according to administration officials, detainees would be imprisoned at a military facility on U.S. soil but their ongoing detention would be subject to annual presidential review. U.S. citizens would not be held in the system.  For complete story, click here.
Agents say DEA is forcing them illegally to work in Afghanistan 21 Jun 2009 As the Obama administration ramps up the Drug Enforcement Administration's presence in Afghanistan, some special-agent pilots contend that they're being illegally forced to go to a combat zone, while others who've volunteered say they're not being properly equipped. In interviews with McClatchy, more than a dozen DEA agents describe a badly managed system in which some pilots have been sent to Afghanistan under duress or as punishment for bucking their superiors.  For complete story, click here.
Lilly Sold Drug for Dementia Knowing It Didn't Help, Files Show 12 Jun 2009 Eli Lilly & Co. urged doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for elderly patients with dementia, an unapproved use for the antipsychotic, even though the drugmaker had evidence the medicine didn’t work for such patients, according to unsealed internal company documents.  For complete story, click here.
Neo-Nazis are in the Army now --Why the U.S. military is ignoring its own regulations and permitting white supremacists to join its ranks. By Matt Kennard 14 Jun 2009 As the conflicts have dragged on, the military has loosened regulations, issuing "moral waivers" in many cases, allowing even those with criminal records to join up... The lax regulations have also opened the military's doors to neo-Nazis, white supremacists and gang members -- with drastic consequences. Some neo-Nazis have been charged with crimes inside the military, and others have been linked to recruitment efforts for the white right... Many white supremacists join the Army to secure training for, as they see it, a future domestic race war. Others claim to be shooting Iraqis not to pursue the military's strategic goals but because killing "hajjis" is their duty as white militants... Tom Metzger is the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and current leader of the White Aryan Resistance. He tells me the military has never been more tolerant of racial extremists. "Now they are letting everybody in," he says.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.)
Shooting Highlights Growth of [Rightwing] Hate Groups --Suspect James Von Brunn Railed Against Blacks, Jews, Found Allies On White Supremacist Web Sites 10 Jun 2009 Federal investigators in Washington, D.C. are scouring the troubled history of 88 year-old shooting suspect James Von Brunn - an anti-Semite with a lifelong grievance against the government who found allies on white supremacist Web sites. The Holocaust Museum shootings came 11 days after another hate crime, the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller. The suspect in that shooting, Scott Roeder, is described as an anti-abortion rights radical terrorist.  For complete story, click here.
Readying Americans for Dangerous, Mandatory Vaccinations --Around $6 billion or more will be spent to develop, produce, and stockpile vaccines and other drugs to counteract claimed bioterror agents. By Stephen Lendman 10 Jun 2009 At least three US federal laws should concern all Americans and suggest what may be coming - mandatory vaccinations for hyped, non-existent threats, like H1N1 (Swine Flu). Vaccines and drugs like Tamiflu endanger human health but are hugely profitable to drug company manufacturers. The Project BioShield Act of 2004 (S. 15) became law on July 21, 2004...The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act slipped under the radar when George Bush signed it into law as part of the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act (HR 2863). It lets the HHS Secretary declare any disease an epidemic or national emergency requiring mandatory vaccinations. [See: DoD to carry out 'military missions' during pandemic, WMD attack and DoD to 'augment civilian law' during pandemic or bioterror attack.]  For complete story, click here.
Ruling allowing Taser use to get DNA may be nation's first 04 Jun 2009 It is legally permissible for police to zap a suspect with a Taser to obtain a DNA sample, as long as it’s not done "maliciously, or to an excessive extent, or with resulting injury," a county judge has ruled in the first case of its kind in New York State, and possibly the nation. Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza decided that the DNA sample obtained Sept. 29 from Ryan S. Smith of Niagara Falls is legally valid and can be used at his trial.  For complete story, click here.
Marines Train "Civilians" to Accept Coming Martial Law (Infowars) 01 Jun 2009 On May 23, the Staten Island Real-Time News reported on "mock raids at the public park to give civilians a feel for how soldiers operate in battle." Or maybe that should be "mock raids" to give civilians a taste of things to come and, of course, get them acclimated to the presence of uniformed and armed soldiers in their midst. It is interesting the Marines characterized Flushing Meadows Park as "enemy territory." In fact, according to our rulers and their military functionaries, the entire United States is "enemy territory" in need of martial law.  For complete story, click here.
Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape' --Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged. 28 May 2009 At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee. Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube... Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. [See: 'I saw ___ fucking a kid...' Source: The "Taguba Report" On Treatment Of Abu Ghraib Prisoners In Iraq, statement by Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, Detainee #151108, 1300/18 Jan 2004.]  For complete story, click here.

Court: Suspects Can Be Interrogated Without Lawyer--May 26th, 2009--WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a long-standing ruling that stopped police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer was present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present. The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agreed to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.   For complete story, click here.
Obama Is Said to Consider Preventive Detention For Suspects Deemed 'National Security Threat' --'The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning.' 21 May 2009 President Bush Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a "preventive detention" system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said. One participant said Mr. Obama did not seem to be thinking about preventive detention for terrorism suspects now held at Guantánamo Bay, but rather for those captured in the future, in settings other than a legitimate [?] battlefield like Afghanistan.  For complete story, click here.
"Minnesota mental  health patient Ray Sandford forced into electro-shock therapy"--May 20th, 2009--Ray Sandford doesn't want to do this.  On a sunny yet cool mid-April morning, the pear-shaped 54-year-old  emerges from the front door of his ranch-style group home in Columbia  Heights. Wearing a black windbreaker and gray sweatpants, he grips the  handle of his four-pronged cane and plods begrudgingly toward the 
street. One of Sandford's caretakers, a large woman wearing all  purple, follows perfunctorily behind to see him to his destination.  He's told them repeatedly he doesn't want to do this.  He ambles forward. There's nothing he can do now. No sense in fighting  it. Not now.  A 20-passenger Anoka transit bus idles along the curb awaiting his  arrival. A short, swarthy driver assists Sandford. The bus slowly  pulls away and embarks on the 12-mile ride to Mercy Medical Clinic in  Coon Rapids.  Upon arrival, Sandford walks through the automatic sliding doors and  assumes his position in a wheelchair. He's whisked to a room on the  fifth floor where nurses poke an IV through his fleshy forearm. He's  given a muscle relaxant and general anesthesia. Within 30 seconds, the  room dissolves. He's out cold.  Assistants lay him out on his back. A doctor places electrodes on  either side of Sandford's cranium. Cords extend from the electrodes,  connecting to what appears to be an antiquated stereo set. A couple of  dials protrude from the machine's display. A physician flips an  unassuming switch.  A three-second burst of 140 volts blasts through Sandford's brain.  While he's totally unconscious, Sandford's torso jerks up and down.  His arms and legs writhe only slightly, steadied by muscle relaxants  coursing through his veins. Sandford's toes curl downward, as if his  feet were trying ball up into fists. He's experiencing a grand mal  seizure.  Two minutes later, it's over. Sandford will feel a bit woozy the rest  of the day, but there'll be no lasting pain. His short-term memory is  the only thing that will suffer.  But he'll still remember quite clearly that he never wanted to do this.  "They can literally tie me up, put me in ambulance, and bring me in to  get shock treatments," he says. "I don't fight it, because there's  nothing I can do by that time. You want to know how I feel? I don't  like it at all."  For complete story,
click here.
KBR, Halliburton Accused in Investor Suit of 'Reign of Terror' 15 Mar 2009 KBR Inc. and Halliburton Co., two of the largest contractors to the U.S. military, were accused by a pension-fund shareholder of paying bribes, making false claims and operating as criminal enterprises. Executives of both companies engaged in a "reign of terror" that involved paying bribes in Nigeria, overcharging the U.S. government for services, accepting kickbacks, engaging in human trafficking and concealing a rape of an employee, according to the complaint filed yesterday by a pension fund. [Let us not forget what US troops had to endure from Cheney's KBR terrorists: Poisonings, electrocutions, spoiled food and pathogen-laden water.]  For complete story, click here.

 

Wisconsin court upholds GPS tracking by police 07 May 2009 Wisconsin police can attach GPS to cars to secretly track anybody's movements without obtaining search warrants, an appeals court ruled Thursday. However, the District 4 Court of Appeals said it was "more than a little troubled" by that conclusion and asked Wisconsin lawmakers to regulate GPS use to protect against abuse by police and private individuals.  For complete story, click here.
'A prisoner who started to drift off to sleep would tilt over and be caught by his chains. At one point, the agency was allowed to keep prisoners awake for as long as 11 days.' Memos shed light on CIA use of sleep deprivation --Though widely perceived as more effective and less objectionable than other torture methods, memos show it's harsher and more controversial than most realize. And it could be brought back. 10 May 2009 From the beginning, sleep deprivation had been one of the most important elements in the CIA's interrogation torture program, used to help break dozens of suspected terrorists, far more than the most violent approaches. And it is among the methods the agency fought hardest to keep. The technique is now prohibited by President Obama's ban in January on torture methods, although a task force is reviewing its use along with other interrogation methods the agency might employ in the future. For complete story, click here.

G20 police 'used undercover men to incite crowds'--May 10th, 2009--

An MP who was involved in last month's G20 protests in London is to call for an investigation into whether the police used agents provocateurs to incite the crowds.

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake says he saw what he believed to be two plain-clothes police officers go through a police cordon after presenting their ID cards.

Brake, who along with hundreds of others was corralled behind police lines near Bank tube station in the City of London on the day of the protests, says he was informed by people in the crowd that the men had been seen to throw bottles at the police and had encouraged others to do the same shortly before they passed through the cordon.

Brake, a member of the influential home affairs select committee, will raise the allegations when he gives evidence before parliament's joint committee on human rights on Tuesday.

"When I was in the middle of the crowd, two people came over to me and said, 'There are people over there who we believe are policemen and who have been encouraging the crowd to throw things at the police,'" Brake said. But when the crowd became suspicious of the men and accused them of being police officers, the pair approached the police line and passed through after showing some form of identification.

Brake has produced a draft report of his experiences for the human rights committee, having received written statements from people in the crowd. These include Tony Amos, a photographer who was standing with protesters in the Royal Exchange between 5pm and 6pm. "He [one of the alleged officers] was egging protesters on. It was very noticeable," Amos said. "Then suddenly a protester seemed to identify him as a policeman and turned on him. He ­legged it towards the police line, flashed some ID and they just let him through, no questions asked."

Amos added: "He was pretty much inciting the crowd. He could not be called an observer. I don't believe in conspiracy theories but this really struck me. Hopefully, a review of video evidence will clear this up."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has received 256 complaints relating to the G20 protests. Of these, 121 have been made about the use of force by police officers, while 75 relate to police tactics. The IPCC said it had no record of complaints involving the use of police agents provocateurs. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We would never deploy officers in this way or condone such behaviour."

The use of plain-clothes officers in crowd situations is considered a vital tactic for gathering evidence. It has been used effectively to combat football hooliganism in the UK and was employed during the May Day protests in 2001.

Brake said he intends to raise the allegations with the Met's commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, when he next appears before the home affairs select committee. "There is a logic having plain-clothes officers in the crowd, but no logic if the officers are actively encouraging violence, which would be a source of great concern," Brake said.

The MP said that given only a few people were allowed out of the corralled crowd for the five hours he was held inside it, there should be no problem in investigating the allegation by examining video footage.  For complete story, click here.

Dole sued over links to Colombian death squads 07 May 2009 Dole Food Company is being sued by the families of 57 people allegedly murdered by paramilitaries hired by the US firm at its banana plantations in Colombia. A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles alleges that Dole hired the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) despite the fact that the group had been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department.  For complete story, click here.
Prison Awaiting Hostile Bloggers --The methods of communication where hostile speech is banned include e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text messages. --15 lawmakers signed on to H.R. 1966. By David Kravets 05 May 2009 Proposed congressional legislation would demand up to two years in prison for those whose electronic speech is meant to "coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person." Instead of prison, perhaps we should say gulag. The proposal by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Los Angeles, would never pass First Amendment muster, unless the U.S. Constitution was altered without us knowing. Sanchez’s bill goes way beyond cyberbullying and comes close to making it a federal offense to log onto the internet or use the telephone. [We are so screwed that the *light* from screwed is going to take ten billion years to reach the earth.]  For complete story, click here.
Obama administration spearheads wage cuts for American workers --Chrysler, GM set the pace By Patrick Martin 05 May 2009 The wage cuts imposed on auto workers at Chrysler and General Motors at the insistence of the Obama administration demonstrate the class strategy that American big business as a whole is carrying out: to impose a reduction in the living standards of American workers on a scale unprecedented since the Great Depression. The White House has given the green light for nationwide wage-cutting with its demands on Chrysler and GM workers, who have seen wages for new-hires slashed by 50 percent, along with the abolition of cost-of-living raises and cuts in vacation pay.  For complete story, click here.
Thought police muscle up in Britain Hal G. P. Colebatch 21 April 2009 Britain appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely. There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent... In the past 10 years I have collected reports of many instances of draconian punishments, including the arrest and criminal prosecution of children, for thought-crimes and offences against political correctness.  For complete story, click here.
Report: Two Psychologists Responsible for Devising CIA Torture Methods --Former military officers were paid by the CIA to oversee the waterboarding techniques used against high-profile prisoners 30 Apr 2009 Two psychologists are responsible for designing the CIA's program of waterboarding suspected terrorists and for assuring the government the program was safe, according to an ABC News report. Former military officers Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell had an "important role in developing what became the CIA's torture program," Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the ACLU, told ABC News... Associates say Jessen and Mitchell were paid up to $1,000 a day by the CIA to oversee the techniques used against high-profile prisoners to extract information in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.  For complete story, click here.
Involuntary quarantine an option if swine flu explodes into epidemic 28 Apr 2009 Quarantine may seem the stuff of mediocre melodramas, but if the swine flu explodes into an epidemic, involuntary isolation could become a reality for more than a few unlucky Americans... The federal government can declare a state of emergency. But the power to isolate or quarantine citizens, rests in the hands of the states, or in some cases, local governments. In a health emergency, people can be forced into isolation or quarantine without the government getting a court order first. [See CLG items: DoD to carry out 'military missions' during pandemic, WMD attack 08 Mar 2009 and DoD to 'augment civilian law' during pandemic or bioterror attack 11 May 2007.]  Click here for full story.

'Israel treated its soldiers as guinea pigs' --Experiments carried out in light of what was defined as 'strategic threat of a surprise biological attack facing Israel' 25 Mar 2009 Israel has admitted to developing an anthrax vaccine through a secret research project involving tests on unaware army soldiers. The Israeli Defense Ministry revealed on Wednesday that the vaccine was tested on 716 soldiers while they had not been fully informed about the study, Ynet reported.  For complete story, click here.
Pentagon exploring robot killers that can fire on their own --DoD financing studies of self-governing, armed robots that could find and destroy targets on their own 25 Mar 2009 The unmanned bombers that frequently cause unintended civilian casualties in Pakistan are a step toward an even more lethal generation of robotic hunters-killers that operate with limited, if any, human control. The Defense Department is financing studies of autonomous, or self-governing, armed robots that could find and destroy targets on their own. On-board computer programs, not flesh-and-blood people, would decide whether to fire their weapons. [Yeah, but one good hack and they could be re-programmed to fire upon themselves.]  For complete story, click here.
Ex-Bush admin official: Many at Gitmo are innocent 19 Mar 2009 Many prisoners locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush regime official said Thursday. "There are still innocent people there," Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. "Some have been there six or seven years." Wilkerson told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo prisoners were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a "mosaic" of intelligence.  For complete story, click here.
Obama quietly gave Blackwater (Xe) $70M in February: Blackwater still works for U.S. in Iraq 17 Mar 2009 The U.S. State Department re-signed the security mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater despite Iraq saying it didn't want the company there, records show. The State Department said $22.2 million deal signed with Blackwater, since renamed Xe, in February was a contract modification concerning aviation work, The Washington Times first reported. The contract expires in September, months after its contract for work in Baghdad was to have run out.  For complete story, click here.

Ten Wasted Years: UN Drug Strategy A Failure, Reveals Damning Report--March 11th, 2009--The UN strategy on drugs over the past decade has been a failure, a European commission report claimed yesterday on the eve of the international conference in Vienna that will set future policy for the next 10 years.

The report came amid growing dissent among delegates arriving at the meeting to finalise a UN declaration of intent.

Referring to the UN's existing strategy, the authors declared that they had found "no evidence that the global drug problem was reduced". They wrote: "Broadly speaking, the situation has improved a little in some of the richer countries while for others it worsened, and for some it worsened sharply and substantially, among them a few large developing or transitional countries."

The policy had merely shifted the problem geographically, they said. "Production and trafficking controls only redistributed activities. Enforcement against local markets failed in most countries."  For complete story, click here.

CORRUPT JUDGES SERIES
Some wounded soldiers 'punished for injuries' --Authorities hold sick, disabled troops to same standards as the able-bodied 10 Mar 2009 About 10,000 soldiers have been assigned to the Army's Warrior Transition units, created for troops recovering from injuries. Instead of gingerly nursing them back to health, however, commanders at Fort Bragg's transition unit readily acknowledge holding them to the same standards as able-bodied soldiers in combat units, often assigning chores as punishment for minor infractions.  For complete story, click here.

This Revolting Trade In Human Lives Is An Incentive To Lock People Up--March 3rd, 2009--

It's a staggering case; more staggering still that it has scarcely been mentioned on this side of the ocean. Last week two judges in Pennsylvania were convicted of jailing some 2,000 children in exchange for bribes from private prison companies.

Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan sent children to jail for offences so trivial that some of them weren't even crimes. A 15-year-old called Hillary Transue got three months for creating a spoof web page ridiculing her school's assistant principal. Ciavarella sent Shane Bly, then 13, to boot camp for trespassing in a vacant building. He gave a 14-year-old, Jamie Quinn, 11 months in prison for slapping a friend during an argument, after the friend slapped her. The judges were paid $2.6m by companies belonging to the Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp for helping to fill its jails. This is what happens when public services are run for profit.

It's an extreme example, but it hints at the wider consequences of the trade in human lives created by private prisons. In the US and the UK they have a powerful incentive to ensure that the number of prisoners keeps rising.  For complete story, click here.

'Theory of presidential dictatorship' Bush administration memos on presidential powers stun legal experts --Congress had prohibited the use of torture by U.S. agents, and said "no citizen shall be imprisoned" in this country without legal charges. The memos said neither law could stand in the way of the president's power as commander in chief. 03 Mar 2009 Legal experts said Tuesday that they were taken aback by the claim in the latest batch of secret Bush-era memos that the president alone had the power to set the rules during the war on of terrorism. Yale law professor Jack Balkin called this a "theory of presidential dictatorship. They say the battlefield is everywhere. And the president can do anything he wants, so long as it involves the military and the enemy."  For complete story, click here.
FDA ignored debris in syringes --Complaints of filth came in 2005; plant's microbiologist was a teenage dropout 25 Feb 2009 (NC) Months before an Angier company shipped deadly bacteria-tainted drugs, the federal Food and Drug Administration received numerous complaints about sediment and debris in the medicine. The FDA received reports about AM2PAT as early as 2005, but not until December 2007 did the agency issue recall notices to pull the drugs off the market. AM2PAT, which is now the subject of a criminal investigation, sold tainted syringes of heparin and saline that have been linked to five deaths.  For complete story, click here.
Lawyer says Guantanamo abuse worse since Obama 25 Feb 2009 Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards "get their kicks in" before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents prisoners. Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.  For complete story, click here.
AP: Army charity hoards millions 22 Feb 2009 The biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been hoarding tens of millions of dollars meant to help put fighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan back on their feet. An Associated Press investigation shows that between 2003 and 2007, the Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid.  For complete story, click here.
NYU Students Revoke the Property Destruction Clause By FluxRostrum 19 Feb 2009 Last night at 10 pm, NYU students barricaded themselves into a cafeteria in the student center and refused to leave until the administration met their demands. The students are seeking much more transparency, stabilized tuition and socially responsible investment among other things (details at takebacknyu.com). Although NYPD took up positions inside and outside the building, the NYU administration up until now declined to force the students to leave.  For complete story, click here.
Contractors, guardsmen say KBR knew of chemical exposure in Iraq 18 Feb 2009 Ten contractors hired by Houston-based KBR to make repairs at an Iraqi water plant in early 2003 say the company knowingly allowed them and dozens of National Guardsmen to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. The allegations from the workers, six of whom live in or near Houston, are documented in a federal arbitration complaint pending in Houston and a related federal lawsuit filed in December by the guardsmen in Indiana, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.  For complete story, click here.
Contractor Under Criminal Probe for Negligent Electrocution Deaths of U.S. Troops Should Be Denied Future Pentagon Contracts --McCollum (D) Urges DoD to Rescind Contract to KBR 18 Feb 2009 Amid reports that the Department of Defense has recently awarded a multimillion dollar contract to a company under investigation for the electrocution deaths of soldiers, Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) today joined Congressional colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary Robert Gates requesting an explanation for the latest award to Kellogg Brown and Root, Inc (KBR), in light of the existing criminal probes against them for the fatality of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq due to faulty electrical work.  For complete story, click here.
Judges: Torture, Abuses Undermine Values in U.S., U.K. 17 Feb 2009 An international group of judges and lawyers is warning that systemic torture and other abuses in the global "war on terror" have "undermined cherished values" of civil rights in the United States, Britain and other nations. "We have been shocked by the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counterterrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world," said Arthur Chaskalson, a member of the International Commission of Jurists, in a statement announcing results of a three-year study of counterterrorism measures since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.  For complete story, click here.
Kan. suspends income tax refunds, may miss payroll 16 Feb 2009 Kansas has suspended income tax refunds and may not be able to pay employees on time, the state's budget director said Monday. The state doesn't have enough money in its main bank account to pay its bills, prompting Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to suggest transferring $225 million from other accounts throughout state government. But the move required approval from legislative leaders, and the GOP [sociopaths] refused Monday.  For complete story, click here.
Obama administration seeks to block lawsuit over illegal wiretapping By John Burton and Marge Holland 16 Feb 2009 For the second time in less than a week, lawyers from the Justice Department headed by Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder have embraced the Bush administration's pseudo-legal argument that the "state secrets" doctrine bars civil lawsuits challenging the methods used in its so-called "war on terror..." The most recent intervention also occurred in San Francisco, with the filing of papers February 11 to block an order by United States District Judge Vaughn R. Walker reinstating the claim of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation that it was the target of government wiretapping.  For complete story, click here.
Report: U.S. "war on terror" seriously damages human rights --Report illustrated consequences of notorious counter-terrorism practices such as torture, disappearances, arbitrary and secret detention as well as unfair trials. 17 Feb 2009 The so-called "war on terror" launched by the United States following the 9/11 terror attacks has resulted in serious damage to the world's respect for human rights, according to a report released on Monday. The United States "has adopted measures to counter terrorism that are inconsistent with established principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law," said the report, which was released by an independent panel of eminent jurists. It warned that excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures adopted by the United States were having influence on other countries and causing them to follow suit.  for complete story, click here.
A fraud bigger than Madoff --Senior US soldiers investigated over missing Iraq 'reconstruction' billions 16 Feb 2009 In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (£88bn) in a US -directed effort to 'reconstruct' Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme. In one case, auditors working for SIGIR discovered that $57.8m was sent in "pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills" to the US comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr, who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money.  Unable to locate at time of archiving.  Source: www.independent.co.uk  
VA clinic warns of possible contaminant exposure 13 Feb 2009 Thousands of patients at a Veterans Administration clinic [Alvin C. York VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro] in Tennessee may have been exposed to the infectious body fluids of other patients when they had colonoscopies in recent years, and now VA medical facilities all over the U.S. are reviewing their own procedures.  For complete story, click here.
Blackwater Changes Its Name to Xe 14 Feb 2009 Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning the brand name that has been tarnished by its work terrorism in Iraq, settling on Xe (pronounced zee) as the new name for its family of two dozen businesses. Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, the subsidiary that conducts much of the company’s overseas operations and domestic training, has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., the company said Friday. The company’s rebranding effort grew more urgent after Blackwater guards in Baghdad were involved in a shooting episode in September 2007 that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.  For complete story, click here.
Missing civil liberties: Top Obama Aides Embrace Bush's War on Terror Rhetoric and Enemy Combatant Policy By Jonathan Turley 11 Feb 2009 This has been a uniquely bad week for civil libertarians. The Obama Administration appears to be rushing to dispel any notions that Obama will fight for civil liberties or war crimes investigations. After Eric Holder allegedly assured a senator that there would be no war crimes investigation and seemed to defend Bush policies, Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, Obama’s Solicitor General nominee, reportedly told a Republican senator that the Administration agreed with Bush that we are "at war" and therefore can hold enemy combatants indefinitely. In the meantime, Obama himself seemed to tie himself in knots when asked about investigating war crimes and leading democrats are again pushing for a symbolic "truth commission."  For complete story, click here.
Fraud 'Directly Related' to Financial Crisis Probed --FBI Agents Could be Reassigned from National Security Due to Booming Caseload 11 Feb 2009 The FBI has opened investigations into more than 500 cases of alleged corporate fraud, including 38 that involve major firms and are "directly related" to the national economic crisis, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole told Congress today. The surge in white-collar investigations is putting such a strain on the FBI that Pistole said the bureau is considering reassigning agents from national security, which has been the bureau's priority since the [Bush] 9/11 attacks.  For complete story, click here.
Oops! Another (Fox) GOPedophile bites the dust. Fox Newser In Kiddie Porn Bust 10 Feb 2009 A Fox News producer who covered Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign for the cable network is facing child porn charges after federal agents discovered photos and videos on his computer depicting "children under the age of ten being sexually abused by adult men and women." Aaron Bruns, 29, was apparently nabbed after a Pennsylvania state police investigator conducting "pro-active undercover investigations" on an unnamed peer-to-peer network determined that Bruns's computer contained illicit images.  For complete story, click here.
Judge deals blow to families suing Blackwater 10 Feb 2009 The survivors of four Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries killed in a grisly ambush in Iraq five years ago have suffered yet another setback in their legal battle with the company. A federal administrative law judge ruled last week the children of one of the slain contractors should receive compensation through a government insurance program known as the Defense Base Act. It prohibits those eligible for benefits from filing lawsuits against companies covered by the insurance.  For complete story, click here.
"I believe that the probability that there are additional vials of BSAT [biological select agents and toxins] not captured in our … database is high." Fort Detrick Freezes Research on Dangerous Pathogens As Lab Can't Account For Them 07 Feb 2009 The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) has suspended research activities involving biological select agents and toxins. Army officials took the step on Friday after discovering apparent problems with the system of accounting for high-risk microbes and biomaterials at the Fort Detrick, Maryland, facility. The decision was announced by institute commander Col. John Skvorak in a 4 February memo to employees. The memo, which ScienceInsider has obtained, says the standard of accountability that USAMRIID had been applying to its select agents and toxins was not in line with the standard required by the Army and the Department of Defense. For complete story, click here.
Plague-Infested Mice Missing From New Jersey Research Lab 07 Feb 2009 The frozen remains of two mice infected with the bubonic plague are missing from a New Jersey bioterror research facility, and the facility waited seven weeks to report the incident to federal and state authorities. This is the same facility [University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark] where three live plague-inflected mice went missing in September 2005.  For complete story, click here.
KBR Gets Huge Contract Despite Electrocutions --KBR Inc., linked to soldiers' electrocutions, wins $35 million defense contract from Pentagon 07 Feb 2009 Defense contractor KBR Inc., which is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq, has been awarded a $35 million contract by the Pentagon to build an electrical distribution center and other projects there.  For complete story, click here.
A Hero Protects America's Children from Psychiatric Abuse--February 5th, 2009--Alaska attorney Jim Gottstein has taken the bull by the horns. It's a bull of many terrifying shapes and forms. First and foremost, it is the raging bull of the Psychopharmaceutical Complex that is goring America's children. It's also the rampaging state government bull that everywhere runs roughshod over the children in its custody and care. And then it's the "bull" handed out by drug companies and organized psychiatry to justify using drugs to suppress the behavior of children.  For complete story, click here.

HUMAN RIGHTS, IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS, RACIAL JUSTICE--February 5th, 2009--Sheriff Joe’s one-man circus has made headlines again in Arizona’s Maricopa County.

His latest taxpayer-financed media stunt involved the "forced march" of undocumented inmates who are serving out their criminal sentences. Sheriff Arpaio closed down the city streets so that everyone could witness their public humiliation as they walked in chain gangs from a "hard" jail to the infamous Tent City, where they will be forced to endure unsafe conditions including summer months with temperatures of upwards of 120 degrees.

Not only was this inhumane, but violated international human rights principles — not to mention American values — that require us to treat people who are incarcerated with dignity and respect. But Sheriff Arpaio has absolute contempt for the dignity of the people in his custody and demonstrates this by treating people like circus animals.

Though he claims otherwise, Arpaio wasn’t motivated by budgetary or security concerns to march shackled immigrants to the Tent City; he was motivated by the opportunity of self-aggrandizement and the promotion his anti-immigrant agenda. For those reasons, and for those reasons alone, he chose to re-route traffic and waste dwindling law enforcement resources.

Almost all of the people in the forced march were Latino and their humiliation struck one more blow to fairness and human decency in our community. And although the sheriff blatantly continues with his racial profiling practices in so-called "crime suppression sweeps" in Latino neighborhoods, the absence of significant protest from white officials in Arizona and from any federal agency allows the racial targeting to continue unabated.  For complete story, click here.

Proposed legislation in Congress would set up camps for US citizens By mcarl 31 Jan 2009 A bill proposed by Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings would set up a series of emergency centres on U. S. military installations. House Resolution 645 provides that no fewer than six such centres will be built and would give emergency aid, housing and relief services for citizens during a time of disaster or national emergency... Writing on this legislation, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says that the bill would supplement other 'emergency powers' granted to the federal government since 9/11 and be the mechanism for imposing martial law.  For complete story, click here.
Obama lets CIA keep controversial renditions tool 31 Jan 2009 Under executive orders issued by President Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S. The rendition kidnapping program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured. For complete story, click here.
Buckling Europe fears protests may spark a new revolution 29 Jan 2009 The French are revolting. Teachers, television employees, postal workers, students and masses of other public-sector workers will today be united in a hugely popular strike with car workers, supermarket staff, journalists and thousands of others in the private sector. One poll said that 75 per cent of the public supported the action, which has the backing of the large union groups and opposition socialists. It will be a big test for President Nicolas Sarkozy but, more importantly, the strike will mark the biggest protest so far in one of the world's largest economies against the grief and distress being caused by the catastrophic global downturn. A depression triggered in America is being played out in Europe with increasing violence, and other forms of social unrest are spreading.  For complete story, click here.
US Special Forces Unconventional Warfare Operations: overthrowing governments, sabotage, subversion, intelligence and abduction, FM 3-05.201, Apr 2003 (Wikileaks) 27 Jan 2009 FM 3-05.201: Special Forces Unconventional Warfare Operations is current US military doctrine (policy) on the use of indigenous or surrogate forces to overthrow a foreign government and the use of sabotage, subversion, intelligence, extra-territorial abductions and similar activities, the most well known example of which is the US involvement in Nicaragua. There is also a section on legalities, including abductions ("The United States reserves the right to engage in nonconsensual abductions for three specific reasons..."). The 296-page manual was made doctrine in April 2003 by Army Headquarters, Washington DC. For complete story, click here.
NATO High Commander Issues Illegitimate Order to Kill 28 Jan 2009 A dispute has emerged among NATO High Command in Afghanistan regarding the conditions under which alliance troops can use deadly violence against those identified as insurgents. In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO's top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops. The directive was sent on Jan. 5 to Egon Ramms, the German leader at NATO Command in Brunssum, Netherlands, which is currently in charge of the NATO ISAF mission, as well as David McKiernan, the commander of the ISAF peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. Neither want to follow it. Both consider the order to be illegitimate and believe it violates both ISAF rules of engagement and international law, the "Law of Armed Conflict."  For complete story, click here.

Lax and corrupt – Indian Dr assesses clinical trials--January 21, 2009--An Indian doctor has slammed the nation’s clinical trials, claiming they use the vulnerable, the system is corrupt and that the country lacks high quality scientists.

The criticisms were made by Dr Amar Jesani in a short-film produced by Dutch non-governmental organisation Wemos. Jesani is a founding member of journals and research centres focused on medical ethics in India and has contributed in government committees on health.

India’s clinical trials came under increasing pressure last year following reports of infant deaths and Jesani’s comments show that some are still deeply uneasy about the current system.

The view held by Jesani, which echoes many who spoke out last year about the infant deaths, is that some drug companies are “compromising science and ethics in the pursuit of profit” and that flaws in the Indian system allow this.

Jesani said: “Unfortunately in my country there are laws but they are not very well implemented so the regulation over the trials, the oversight mechanism, the functioning of the ethics committee and the Drug Controller General of India all of them are so lax that it makes India a big destination for clinical trials.

 

They don’t have good scientists; they don’t have enough inspectors to go all over the county. The worst thing in every developing country is corruption. There is too much corruption.”

One consequence of this is that clinical trials use the “desperate” and “most vulnerable” members if Indian society, according to Jesani. This alleged exploitation of India’s poor is what Jesani cites as bothering him most about the current system.

Jesani is a founder member of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME), the Centre for Studies in Ethics and Rights (CSER) and the Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT).

The short-film can be viewed here. For complete story, click here.

KBR Awarded Convoy Support Center Contract by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 28 Jan 2009 KBR today announced it has been awarded a $35.4 million contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Transatlantic Programs Center, Winchester, Va., for the Phase II design and construction of a convoy support center at Camp Adder in Iraq. The KBR team will design and construct a power plant, electrical distribution center, water purification and distribution system, waste water collection system, and associated information systems, along with paved roads at this site. Work on the project is expected to begin in February 2009. [OMG! After KBR just electrocuted a bunch of US soldiers? See: KBR must be accountable for Iraq deaths-US senators 27 Jan 2009 U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday raised concerns about the U.S. military's increased use of private contractors mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, and said KBR and other companies should be held accountable for the electrocution deaths of U.S. soldiers and other mistakes crimes. Investigator: Soldier's electrocution 'negligent homicide' 22 Jan 2009. Halliburton Will Settle KBR Suit for $559 Million 27 Jan 2009 Halliburton, the huge oil services company in Houston, said yesterday that it has agreed to pay $559 million to settle corruption charges with the U.S. government linked to its former subsidiary KBR.]  For complete story, click here.
CIA chief in Algeria accused of drugging and raping Muslim women 28 Jan 2009 The CIA station chief in Algiers is under investigation after claims that he drugged and raped two Algerian women at his official residence, according to a report. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that the 41-year-old officer had been sent home in October. He could face charges as early as next month. Investigators from the Justice Department allegedly found more than a dozen secretly recorded videotapes of the officer performing sex acts with other women. An official said one woman appeared to be in a "semi-conscious state".   For complete story, click here.
Bill Will Establish 'National Emergency Centers' On Military Installations --FEMA Camps Mandated in H.R. 645 22 Jan 2009 A Bill to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers on military installations. SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the 'National Emergency Centers Establishment Act'. SECTION 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY CENTERS. (a) In General - In accordance with the requirements of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations... (b) Purpose of National Emergency Centers... (3) to provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts of government, private, and not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations; and (4) to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. For complete story, click here.
Halliburton Will Settle KBR Suit for $559 Million 27 Jan 2009 Halliburton, the huge oil services company in Houston, said yesterday that it has agreed to pay $559 million to settle corruption charges with the U.S. government linked to its former subsidiary KBR. Halliburton said it will pay $382 million on behalf of KBR over the next two years to the Department of Justice and will pay another $177 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission. For complete story, click here.
A Loophole In the Rules --In a national-security crisis, Obama could deviate from his own rules. 24 Jan 2009 A day before President Obama signed executive orders closing Guantánamo Bay and banning torture, the White House's top lawyer privately indicated to Congress that the new president reserved the right to ignore his own (and any other president's) executive orders. In a closed-door appearance before the Senate intelligence committee, White House counsel Gregory Craig was asked whether the president was required by law to follow executive orders. According to people familiar with his remarks, who asked for anonymity when discussing a private meeting, Craig answered that the administration did not believe he was.  For complete story, click here.
Obama CIA choice won't call waterboarding torture 22 Jan 2009 President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA declined on Thursday to call waterboarding "torture," only days after his attorney general nominee condemned the interrogation practice as precisely that. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair replied cautiously when pressed on the waterboarding question at a hearing on his nomination to be director of national intelligence. Torture is banned by U.S. and international laws. "There will be no waterboarding on my watch. There will be no torture on my watch," Blair said, refusing to go further. For complete story, click here.
Whistleblower: NSA Targeted Journalists, Snooped on All U.S. Communications --NSA analyzed metadata to determine which communications would be collected 22 Jan 2009 Just one day after George W. Bush left office, an NSA whistleblower has revealed that the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program targeted U.S. journalists, and vacuumed in all domestic communications of Americans, including, faxes, phone calls and network traffic. Russell Tice, a former NSA analyst, spoke on Wednesday to MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. "The National Security Agency had access to all Americans' communications," he said. "Faxes, phone calls and their computer communications. ...They monitored all communications." For complete story, click here.
Plague kills 40 al-Qaeda operatives --Security source: "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease." 19 Jan 2009 'Anti'-terror bosses last night hailed their latest ally in the war on of terror -- the Black Death. At least 40 al-Qaeda members died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages. The killer bug, also known as the plague, swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. [Let's see... who has the technology to develop and disseminate plague as a bioweapon? See: Three genes can turn normal flu into a killer, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers find 30 Dec 2008 and Killer flu recreated in the lab 07 Oct 2004, etc.]  For complete story, click here.
'In some places, Washington will look like an occupied city.' High-tech security bubble wraps Washington --The military, supporting civilian authorities, is using sophisticated new surveillance systems developed for Iraq and Afghanistan wars 18 Jan 2009 As the multitudes arrive for the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, the most high-tech security bubble ever created is in place to protect the incoming president from any foreseeable act of God, nature or man [or Bush]. At least 150 multi-agency "intel teams" will deploy throughout the region so that undercover FBI agents and other behavior-analysis specialists can look for trouble. In some places, Washington will look like an occupied city. Sharpshooters will be on virtually every building. Law-enforcement and intelligence nerve centers and mobile command posts are sprouting. The FBI is deploying an armored assault vehicle and a weapons-of-mass-destruction response truck. The military, supporting civilian authorities, is using sophisticated new surveillance systems developed for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to monitor the mall...  For complete story, click here.
Democratic chairman to reintroduce military draft measure 14 Jan 2009 Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) likely will introduce his controversial legislation to reinstate the draft again this year, but he will wait until after the economic stimulus package is passed. Asked if he plans to introduce the legislation again in 2009, Rangel last week said, "Probably … yes. I don’t want to do anything this early to distract from the issue of the economic stimulus."  For complete story, click here.
Supreme Court loosens law on illegal searches--January 15, 2009--Reporting from Washington -- The Supreme Court pulled back on the "exclusionary rule" Wednesday and ruled that evidence from an illegal search can be used if a police officer made an innocent mistake.

The 5-4 opinion signals that the court is ready to rethink this key rule in criminal law and restrict its reach. It will also give prosecutors and judges nationwide more leeway to make use of evidence that may have been seen as questionable before.  For complete story,
click here.
'His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case for prosecution.' Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official 14 Jan 2009 The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay prisoners to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition." "We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.  For complete story, click here.

A Record Year for the Pharmaceutical Lobby in '07--June 24, 2008 (Received January 11th, 2009)--Washington, June 24, 2008 – Washington's largest lobby, the pharmaceutical industry, racked up another banner year on Capitol Hill in 2007, backed by a record $168 million lobbying effort, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal lobbying data. Among the industry's successes: getting two controversial laws extended and thwarting congressional efforts to restrict media ads for prescription drugs.

 

The spending represents a 32 percent jump over 2006. Driven in part by a busy legislative calendar dominated by issues critical to the industry, the effort raised the amount spent by drug interests on federal lobbying in the past decade to more than $1 billion. Pharmaceutical, medical device, and other health product manufacturers, together, spent more than $189 million on lobbying last year, another record and nearly three times the $67 million they spent in 1998, the first full year for which complete records and totals are available.

More than 90 percent of the total was spent by 40 companies and three trade groups: the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and the Advanced Medical Technology Association.  For complete story, click here.

Israel May Face Charges for War Crimes 07 Jan 2009 Israel has committed war crimes and should be prosecuted in an international court, says Raji Sourani, head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza. "The repeated bombing of clearly marked civilian buildings, where civilians were sheltering, crosses several red lines in regard to international law," Sourani told IPS. Palestinian Authority (PA) delegate to Britain Professor Manuel Hassassian has said the PA will launch legal proceedings against Israeli leaders it says are responsible for war crimes in Gaza, according to a Palestinian news report.  For complete story, click here.
US, Japanese Researchers Mix Samples of 1918 Flu Pandemic to Recreate Deadly Code --Compiled by Lori Price 30 Dec 2008 Why? And, why is no one *asking* why? The genetic code that made the 1918 killer flu so deadly has finally been cracked, claim US and Japanese researchers. The discovery, published in Tuesday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could also point to mutations that might turn ordinary flu into a dangerous pandemic strain. For complete story, click here.

RNC chairman candidate defends 'Barack the Magic Negro' song--December 26, 2008--CNN) -- A candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship said Friday the CD he sent committee members for Christmas -- which included a song titled "Barack the Magic Negro" -- was clearly intended as a joke.

"I think most people recognize political satire when they see it," Tennessee Republican Chip Saltsman told CNN. "I think RNC members understand that."

The song, set to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon," was first played on conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh's radio show in 2007.

Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column that suggested President-elect Barack Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation's history of mistreatment of African-Americans. Saltsman said the song, penned by his longtime friend Paul Shanklin, should be easily recognized as satire directed at the Times.

The CD sent to RNC members, first reported by The Hill on Friday, is titled "We Hate the USA" and also includes songs referencing former presidential candidate John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets. (Webmater Note:  Racists like Chip Saltsman do Hate the USA.)  For complete story, click here.

State pharmacist convicted of conflict of interest--December 24, 2008--A judge has convicted a former state pharmacist on felony conflict of interest charges for taking payments from drug companies and pocketing money for supervising pharmacy interns from Duquesne University.

Steven Fiorello, 61, of Palmyra could face up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines for each of two felony convictions. Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis, who ruled in a nonjury trial, scheduled sentencing for Jan. 21.  For complete story, click here.

If Obama Is Pro-Science and Honest, He'll Put the Kibosh on the Drug War--December 23, 2008--One of the many things that made Barack Obama such a refreshing candidate was his frank and unapologetic admission of drug use. True, Anderson Cooper extracted curt "yeses" from some 2004 Democratic candidates when he asked them point-blank if they had ever smoked pot. But Obama has written openly and without prompting about his experiences, not only with marijuana, but cocaine, a "hard" drug. On the campaign trail he even joked about inhaling deeply -- "that was the point," he said more than once. Unlike George W. Bush, Obama didn't hide behind evasive murmurs about "irresponsible behavior," or turn his drug experiences into a setup for some maudlin born-again conversion story.  For complete story, click here.
Recently subpoenaed Bush/Rove IT expert, is Wellstoned: Pilot killed as plane crashes in Lake Twp. --Witness: 'It blew up and shook the ground a little bit.' 19 Dec 2008 (OH) A single-prop, private airplane crashed next to a vacant house on Charolais Street Northwest Friday evening, exploding into flames and killing the pilot. Michael Connell, 45, of Bath Township, was alone in the plane, according to State Highway Patrol Lt. Eric Sheppard. Connell was a prominent Republican political consultant. He founded New Media Communications in Richfield, which developed campaign Web sites for Republican presidential candidate John McCain and President [sic] George W. Bush.  For complete story, click here.
Ohio Attorneys Seek Protection for Mike Connell and his Family against Alleged Threats from Karl Rove 24 Jul 2008 Sources close to the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act/RICO claim sent us a copy of a letter that asks Attorney General Mukasey for protection for Michael Connell and his family who have been allegedly threatened by Karl Rove. Rove is believed to be the strategic mastermind behind the Bush 2004 re-[s]-election campaign and the possible Ohio election improprieties. The alleged threats appear to be the result of the re-opening, through the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act/RICO claim, of the stalled investigation into the 2004 Ohio Elections. For complete story, click here.
Stark Co. plane crash: Who was Michael Connell? 20 Dec 2008 Michael Connell was killed when the Piper Supercub he was piloting crashed three miles short of an Akron-Canton Airport runway. He leaves behind a wife and four children. Connell, of Bath Township, is considered to be one of the Republican Party's top computer experts. He led the companies that designed websites for the GOP and a virtual who's-who list of republican political leaders including President [sic] George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, as well as national organizations. Connell developed a host of federal government software and data management systems. Connell is also said to be a close confidant of the Bush family. Earlier this year, Connell was subpoenaed to testify in an Ohio federal court regarding voter fraud just days before the November presidential election. His alleged intimate knowledge of White House and Capitol Hill email systems has been a hot topic of conversation for Washington insiders regarding the Karl Rove/White House email scandal.  For complete story, click here.

Zimbabwe: Cholera brought by West--December 14, 2008--HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe on Saturday accused the West of waging biological warfare to deliberately start a cholera epidemic that has killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands.

The spread of the disease has focused the world's attention on the collapse of the southern African nation, which often blames its troubles on the West.

The claims by state media came the same day the government issued an official announcement detailing the constitutional amendment creating the post of a prime minister and setting out other changes necessary to go forward with a power-sharing agreement that has been stalled since September.

Saturday's unilateral step by President Robert Mugabe's government could raise political tensions in the battered southern African country.

The state-run Herald newspaper said comments by the U.S. ambassador that the U.S. had been preparing for the cholera outbreak raised suspicions that it was responsible.  For complete story, click here.

Yesterday's New Deal is today's Raw Deal. Things Are Not as They Seem --The Rec Report By Michael Rectenwald 18 Dec 2008 Liberalism will now do the workers a favor by offering concessions in their name. Thanks. Thanks for keeping afloat the system that oppresses us. Thanks for bailing out a system, using our tax money, our public funds, our wages, to screw us over further in the future. Thanks for "saving" a system that will serve to cut our wages, destroy whatever savings we may have by chance accrued, gut our retirement packages, and decimate our health care systems. Thanks. Yesterday's New Deal is today's Raw Deal.  For complete story, click here.

India's poor often test drugs bound for U.S. markets--December 11, 2008--Reporting a story on drug studies in India recently, I had plenty of interviews with people at the top. Doctors, government officials, entrepreneurs who make their living running clinical trials leaned over polished conference tables in modern, air-conditioned offices in some of India's biggest cities. They assured me that India is capable of running world-class studies on new medicines destined for the U.S. market. No problem.

But finding the people at the bottom rung, those testing the drugs or the experimental procedures, was more difficult. They are all around you, yet they are invisible. They are often poor and illiterate. If something goes wrong in a trial, they don't hire a lawyer, they just go home. They disappear into a haze of patient confidentiality.

Under international guidelines for clinical trials of new drugs and treatments, there are rules to protect these patients. Consent forms, oversight committees, ethics reviews. The people at the top in India reassured me those protections were rock-solid. But the people at the bottom, when I finally found them, said otherwise.  For complete story, click here.

The latest industry being outsourced to India: clinical drug trials--December 14, 2008--Two hours after opening, the pediatric waiting room at All India Institute of Medical Sciences is like the anteroom to hell. Families, anxious, restless, sweaty in the soupy air, cram into plastic chairs, crouch in corners, crowd doorways, clog up aisles. Cries jangle off the ceiling. Feces litter the floor. Signs in the corridor attempt to impose order on the chaos:

Don't spit.

Don't feed the monkeys.

Don't pay bribes.

This overstretched government hospital and medical college treats about 4-million people a year. It's also one of a growing number of Indian hospitals that use their patients to gather data on experimental drugs destined for Western markets. It recently was revealed that 49 children have died during clinical trials at the institute. Though the hospital blamed the deaths on underlying illnesses, the news triggered unease about a drug-testing phenomenon, propelled by mountains of money, that has swept India with little publicity. As the world flattens, India is not just answering our tech calls. Global drug companies are tapping its population of nearly 1.2-billion to test the safety and effectiveness of compounds that, if approved, will end up in medicine cabinets in the United States. The upshot: the distance has been compressed between a patient trying a new diabetes drug in New Delhi and the retiree who will buy that prescription in St. Petersburg.

"All the ingredients are there for a huge problem,'' said Dr. David Ross, a former FDA medical officer.

"First of all the data must be applicable to the U.S., where the population may differ in clinically significant ways," he said. "And the FDA has to have the capacity to go over and inspect the data. If not, you're asking for trouble."

In the past three years, the FDA has inspected just eight of the thousands of trial sites in India.

Poor oversight invites problems in an overseas drug pipeline, as Americans learned after deaths from Chinese-made blood thinners this year. In a rare proactive move, the FDA slammed the door on 30 generic drugs from one of India's biggest drug makers in September after finding problems at its factories.

Mary K. Pendergast, a former FDA deputy commissioner, said identifying a dangerous product is difficult enough. It's considerably trickier to find fraudulent clinical trial data, which could lead to the approval of dangerous drugs years later.

"It's much more time-consuming and extraordinarily tedious,'' said Pendergast, who plowed through such data when she was prosecuting doctors doing drug studies in the United States. "It's especially hard if the trial is taking place in a different country."

Particularly when that country has a reputation for cutting corners. In India, cops execute suspected criminals in so-called "encounters." Laws against selectively aborting female fetuses are ignored. And those "No bribes" signs in public hospitals? Bhupali Magare, whose uncle was recently hospitalized in Mumbai, just shrugged.

"Everybody pays bribes," she said.

In the burgeoning clinical trial business, says Amar Jesani, a doctor and medical ethicist in Mumbai, every layer of oversight is compromised by cash, and independent monitoring is nonexistent. He has resigned from supposedly independent ethics committees that rubber-stamp drug companies' proposals and overrule any objections.

Said Jesani: "We're sitting on a time bomb that may explode at any time."  For complete story, click here.

Bush shoe-thrower in hospital after beating: brother 16 Dec 2008 The Iraqi journalist who hurled shoes at US President [sic] George W. Bush is in hospital after being beaten up by security guards, his brother charged on Tuesday, as judicial authorities launched a probe into the incident. "He has been taken to Ibn Sina hospital because he has a broken arm and ribs and is also suffering injuries to his eye and leg," Durgham al-Zaidi said of his brother Muntazer.  For complete story, click here.
Rights group says filed 200 lawsuits against Rumsfeld, US security firms for torture --Group head: Around 30 lawsuits have been accepted; others still under consideration 16 Dec 2008 A Jordan-based Iraqi rights group said on Monday it has filed 200 lawsuits against US former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and American security firms for their alleged role in torturing Iraqis. Ali Qeisi, head of the group the "Society of Victims of the US Occupation in Iraq," said the cases, relating to torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners, have been recently filed in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Maryland. "The torture was systemic, and those responsible for it should be punished and the victims should be compensated," he said. Qeisi said he himself was tortured by US troops in Iraq during a six-month detention, though he refused to elaborate.  For complete story, click here.
200 lawyers offer to defend Bush shoe attacker --Detained journalist's employer calls for his 'immediate release' 16 Dec 2008 Saddam Hussein’s former lawyer said on Monday he was forming a team to defend the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President [sic] George W Bush during his farewell visit to Baghdad. "So far around 200 Iraqi and other lawyers, including Americans, have expressed willingness to defend the journalist for free," the Amman-based Khalil al-Dulaimi told AFP. "I took the decision on Sunday night to defend the man after the incident. I am currently contacting Arab bar associations to form a defence committee."  For complete story, click here.

Musicians want U.S. to stop using their songs to torment prisoners--December 9, 2008--GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Blaring from a speaker behind a metal grate in his tiny cell in Iraq, the blistering rock from Nine Inch Nails hit Prisoner No. 200343 like a sonic bludgeon.

"Stains like the blood on your teeth," Trent Reznor snarled over distorted guitars. "Bite. Chew."

The auditory assault went on for days, then weeks, then months at the U.S. military detention center in Iraq. Twenty hours a day. AC/DC. Queen. Pantera. The prisoner, military contractor Donald Vance of Chicago, told The Associated Press he was soon suicidal.

The tactic has been common in the U.S. war on terror, with forces systematically using loud music on hundreds of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the U.S. military commander in Iraq, authorized it on Sept. 14, 2003, "to create fear, disorient ... and prolong capture shock."

Now the detainees aren't the only ones complaining. Musicians are banding together to demand the U.S. military stop using their songs as weapons.  For complete story, click here.

U.S. Senate report ties Rumsfeld to Abu Ghraib abuse 11 Dec 2008 Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to portions of a report released on Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The report's executive summary, made public by the committee's Democratic chairman Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and its top Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said Rumsfeld contributed to the abuse by authorizing aggressive interrogation techniques torture at Guantanamo Bay on Dec. 2, 2002.  For complete story, click here.

KBDI refuses to delay airing of Guantanamo torture documentary--Even as Barack Obama has vowed one of the first acts of his presidency will be to shut down Guantánamo, and even as the topic has been raging in Congress, many Americans will have to wait until the day after George W. Bush leaves office to watch a documentary detailing the horrific policies of his regime.

Though PBS stations across the country have shied from airing “Torturing Democracy”, Colorado’s KBDI Channel 12 wants viewers to know it isn’t hesitating to share the provocative documentary with its viewers.

“The documentary is phenomenal; this is just pure journalism,” says Marcia Simmons, director of marketing and communications for Denver-based KBDI Channel 12. Simmons says she’s been floored by reports that other PBS stations haven’t found time to schedule it until the day after Obama is sworn in.

“We aired it the night before the election and we got good feedback and we got bad feedback — people either love it or they don’t love it, but this was a really good program,” Simmons says.

The station, which broadcasts all over Colorado, aired “Torturing Democracy” twice before the election and plans to show it again on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 9 p.m .  For complete story, click here.

Halliburton accused of supplying rotten food to U.S. forces --Halliburton and KBR--the companies that were controlled by Dick Cheney until he became vice president [sic]--are facing a mountain of lawsuits over their past and present activities in Iraq and elsewhere. 08 Dec 2008 U.S military contractor KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, is facing a number of lawsuits over its activities in Iraq, and elsewhere. KBR is the largest contractor for the United States Army and a top-ten contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense. In one class-action suit Joshua Eller, a civilian who worked for the U.S. Air Force in 2006 at the Balad air force base northeast of Baghdad, alleges KBR 'knowingly and intentionally supplied to U.S. forces and other individuals food that was expired, spoiled, rotten, or that may have been contaminated with shrapnel, or other materials'.  For complete story, click here.
Blackwater charges: 14 counts of manslaughter 08 Dec 2008 U.S. prosecutors say Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries used machine guns and grenade launchers in an attack on unarmed Iraqi civilians, some of whom had their hands up. Prosecutors unsealed a 35-count indictment against the five guards Monday for a 2007 shooting in Baghdad. The mercenaries surrendered in Utah, where they will argue the case should be tried. The Justice Department charged the men with manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using a machine gun in a crime of violence. A sixth guard admitted in a plea deal to killing at least one Iraqi in the shooting.  For complete story, click here.
Slavery, American Style, Must Go!--December 5th, 2008--Who says there are no slaves in America? The greatest domestic issue facing President-elect Obama is not the bailout of the bankers and insurers but the task of lifting tens of millions of hard-working American wage-slaves out of dire poverty. These are the folks who hold one- and sometimes two or even three low-paying jobs, work their tails off 60 hours or more a week, and are still stuck in poverty on payday with no hope of climbing out.

Indeed, if enough workers were getting paid a living wage Wall Street and Detroit would not find themselves begging Washington for billions. Homeowners would have enough money to pay their mortgages and buy new cars. Today's crisis is the bitter payback for decades of corporate greed. As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has written, "Most of what's been earned in America" in the past 35 years "has gone to the richest 5 percent." Result: 37 million Americans are said officially to live in poverty but Catholic Charities of Saint Paul-Minneapolis notes a more realistic accounting puts the poor at 50 million.

During the Bush regime, five million more Americans slid into poverty, and the unemployment figure, charitably put at 6.5% (but actually much higher counting discouraged workers,) hit a 14-year high in October. And at least five million people are working part-time because they can't find full-time jobs. What's more, those fully employed have seen their overtime pay disappear and their working hours shrink as demand tanks for their goods and services. Each day, thousands of pink slips are being handed out.

Poverty is so virulent, there are 18,000 children sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City every night and 1.7-million New Yorkers are eligible for food stamps. "Twenty-five percent of all families with children in New York City---that's 1.5 million New Yorkers---are trying to make it on incomes that are below the poverty threshold established by the federal government," writes Bob Herbert of The New York Times. In Albuquerque, N.M., the Democratic Party is asking for 2,500 coats for public school children sleeping in cars or under bridges. Nationally, 21 percent of U.S. Hispanics and 24 per cent of African-Americans subsist in poverty.

The great slide into poverty and ruin has long been underway. "The underlying problem has been building for decades," Reich says. "America's median hourly wage is barely higher than it was 35 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago."

Indeed, USA employs millions of wage slaves, whether illegal immigrants in the vegetable fields of Florida or native-born serfs in the needle trades of Los Angeles (currently reviving as their substandard wages are now comparable to what coolies earn in Chinese factories.) Few alien toilers, who are blatantly exploited and work under the sword of deportation, dare to protest their plight to Labor Department authorities that, under the Bush regime, are deliberately understaffed and commonly indifferent to workers' complaints.

As the New York Times editorialized, the Labor Department "has tilted toward employers and failed to properly enforce labor laws." The Government Accounting Office found Labor's Wage and Hour Division "failed to adequately investigate complaints that workers were not paid the minimum wage, were denied mandatory overtime or were not paid their last paychecks," the editorial said. Labor unions today can claim only 10 million members, a tiny fraction of the work force, and multitudes of workers have swallowed corporate propaganda that unions are bad for them even though union workers typically get paid 30 percent more!

Ever more Americans--- as mounting credit card debt figures reveal --- are unable to make ends meet at their minimum-wage jobs, and are, in fact, wage slaves drowning in a rising sea of red ink, with no prospect of good union jobs to rescue them. Organized labor has been trampled nearly to death on a rigged playing field that denies unions a fair chance to organize. The quickest way to get fired is to ask one of your co-workers to vote in a union. Tens of thousands have enlisted for the military sign-up bonus and job training because it's the only job and training package they can find. Military recruiters know of their plight and unashamedly concentrate their activities on the children of the poor.

Far from evincing a drop of "compassion," the AFL-CIO said the Bush 2008 fiscal budget "cuts more than one billion ($)in job training and employment programs," this "just a week after he (Bush) talked about the need for better training and assistance to help America's workers compete in a global economy." It noted, too, the Bush budget "eliminates current job training for unemployed adults and at-risk youths."

This has had particularly tragic consequences for African-American youth, pushing their jobless rate up in some cities up to about 50 percent. And let's not kid ourselves: a disproportionate number of the 2.3 million souls' in America's expanding prisons are African-American precisely because when people can't earn income they'll steal. As Barbara Ehrenreich wrote in The Progressive magazine, "We are fast reaching the point, if we have not passed it already, where the largest public housing program in America will be our penitentiary system." Over two thousand years ago Aristotle said "Poverty is the parent of crime and revolution" and that's still true today.

In 1962, the National Urban League's Whitney Young called for a "Domestic Marshall Plan." It was a very good idea then but needs to be expanded to meet today's national emergency. Last January, economist Joseph Stiglitz said the downturn could be stopped in part by strengthening the unemployment insurance system, and that surely needs to be done. The focus must not be on bailing out the fat cats at the top but on making jobs and providing income for those whom FDR called the forgotten men and women at the base of the economic pyramid. And a good place to begin is to slash Pentagon spending for its morbid weapons system development and its endless wars. Imagine what might have been achieved here at home with the trillion bucks lavished on the illegal war in Iraq! (And the total bill may yet be $3 trillion!)

Urgently needed is a public-private sector partnership to refurbish our infrastructure, expand our moderate- and low-income housing supply, (renewing our inner cities, old-line suburbs and failing small towns,) to reinvigorate our mass transit, to retrain the unskilled, to tutor the unlettered, and to make college or vocational training available to every citizen. Let's put an end to wage slavery once and for all! If the Obama administration will only concentrate on nurturing the grass roots, every aspect of American life might one day bloom as a garden.  For complete story,
click here.
U.S. military contractor in Iraq holds foreign workers in warehouses 02 Dec 2008 About 1,000 Asian men who were hired by a Kuwaiti subcontractor to the U.S. military have been confined for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work. Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor to KBR, an engineering, construction and services company, hired the men who are from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. On Tuesday, they staged a march outside their compound to protest their living conditions.  For complete story, click here.

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death--November 29th, 2008--The throng of Wal-Mart shoppers had been building all night, filling sidewalks and stretching across a vast parking lot at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y. At 3:30 a.m., the Nassau County police had to be called in for crowd control, and an officer with a bullhorn pleaded for order. 

Tension grew as the 5 a.m. opening neared. Someone taped up a crude poster: “Blitz Line Starts Here.”

By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

Some workers who saw what was happening fought their way through the surge to get to Mr. Damour, but he had been fatally injured, the police said. Emergency workers tried to revive Mr. Damour, a temporary worker hired for the holiday season, at the scene, but he was pronounced dead an hour later at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream.

Four other people, including a 28-year-old woman who was described as eight months pregnant, were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, who is in charge of the investigation for the Nassau police, said the store lacked adequate security. He called the scene “utter chaos” and said the “crowd was out of control.” As for those who had run over the victim, criminal charges were possible, the lieutenant said. “I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it is not,” he said. “Certainly it was a foreseeable act.”

But even with videos from the store’s surveillance cameras and the accounts of witnesses, Lieutenant Fleming and other officials acknowledged that it would be difficult to identify those responsible, let alone to prove culpability.

Some shoppers who had seen the stampede said they were shocked. One of them, Kimberly Cribbs of Queens, said the crowd had acted like “savages.” Shoppers behaved badly even as the store was being cleared, she recalled.

“When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since yesterday morning,’ ” Ms. Cribbs told The Associated Press. “They kept shopping.”  For complete story, click here.

Press and "Psy Ops" to merge at NATO Afghan HQ: sources --Psy Ops includes so-called "black operations," or outright deception. 29 Nov 2008 The U.S. general commanding NATO forces in Afghanistan has ordered a merger of the office that releases news with "Psy Ops," which deals with propaganda, a move that goes against the alliance's policy, three officials said. The move has worried Washington's European NATO allies -- Germany has already threatened to pull out of media operations in Afghanistan -- and the officials said it could undermine the credibility of information released to the public. U.S. General David McKiernan, the commander of 50,000 troops in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), ordered the combination of the Public Affairs Office (PAO), Information Operations and Psy Ops (Psychological Operations) from December 1, said a NATO official with detailed knowledge of the move. "This will totally undermine the credibility of the information released to the press and the public," said the official, who declined to be named. For complete story, click here.

Hearing on Cheney indictment turns chaotic--November 21st, 2008--RAYMONDVILLE, Texas: A county prosecutor who brought indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others asked on Friday for the judge to remove himself from the case.

 

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra pounded his fist and shouted at the judge, alleging he was giving special treatment to high-profile defendants. It sent the routine hearing into chaos.

Guerra, who is accusing the public officials of culpability in the alleged abuse of prisoners in a federal detention center, asked Presiding Judge Manuel Banales to recuse himself. Guerra has complained about Banales' handling of the case.

Attorneys for the vice president and other defendants leapt to their feet in objection as Guerra pounded the table and accused Banales of giving the defendants special treatment in allowing motions to quash the indictments to be heard before the defendants were arraigned.

Banales called a recess to contact the chief justice of the state Supreme Court for suggestions on how to proceed. He also ordered Guerra, who had slipped out once before in the hearing, to remain in the courthouse.  For complete story, click here.

New Blackwater Iraq Scandal: Guns, Silencers and Dog Food --Ex-employees Tell ABC News the Firm Used Dog Food Sacks to Smuggle Unauthorized Weapons to Iraq 14 Nov 2008 A federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food, ABCNews.com has learned. "The only reason you need a silencer is if you want to assassinate someone," said former CIA intelligence officer John Kiriakou, an ABC News consultant.  For complete story, click here.
More groups ask California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8 --Anti-discrimination groups and bar associations send letters to the court contending that the initiative, which bans gay marriage, is a sweeping revision of the state Constitution, not an amendment. 12 Nov 2008 Anti-discrimination groups and bar associations have joined 44 state legislators in calling on the California Supreme Court to overturn the anti-gay marriage initiative voters passed last week. In letters to the court, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups sided with lawsuits that said Proposition 8, which reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage, amounted to a sweeping revision of the state Constitution instead of a more limited amendment.  For complete story, click here.
Prescription Drugs Kill 300 Percent More Americans than Illegal Drugs 10 Nov 2008 A report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission has concluded that prescription drugs have outstripped illegal drugs as a cause of death. An analysis of 168,900 autopsies conducted in Florida in 2007 found that three times as many people were killed by legal drugs as by cocaine, heroin and all methamphetamines put together.  For complete story, click here.
High Court May Consider Legality of Detention --Can the military indefinitely detain, without charge, a U.S. citizen or legal resident seized on U.S. soil? 09 Nov 2008 Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri was whisked to a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., where he has spent more than five years. His case raises a question with vast implications for presidential power and civil liberties: Can the military indefinitely detain, without charge, a U.S. citizen or legal resident seized on U.S. soil? The Supreme Court is now being asked to consider the legality of Marri's detention, which is one of the broadest and most controversial assertions of executive authority since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Marri, said his client's detention "is the broadest and most radical assertion of detention power since September 11. That the president can order the military to seize someone from their home, their business, from the streets and lock them up in jail potentially forever, without trial, goes against 230 years of American precedent and the basic idea that this country was founded on."  For complete story, click here.
ACLU wants probe into police-staged DNC protest 07 Nov 2008 When a Jefferson County deputy unleashed pepper spray at unruly protesters on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, he did not know that his targets were undercover Denver police officers. Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado is questioning whether that staged confrontation by police pretending to be violent inflamed other protesters or officers during the most intense night of the four-day event.  For complete story, click here.
HHS Declares 'Health Emergencies' to Limit Legal Liability for Anti-terrorism Vaccines, Drugs --U.S. Declarations of 'Public Health Emergency' Extend Through 2015 By Lori Price 19 Oct 2008 October Surprises: The U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Michael Leavitt, has declared a series of 'public health emergencies' -- due to risk of a bioterrorism attack -- that continue through 2015. The moves provide the manufacturers, distributors, and others of 'anti-terrorism' drugs and vaccines immunity from lawsuits, should injuries or deaths occur due to the drugs or vaccines.  For complete story, click here.

Bush Aides Say Religious Hiring Doesn’t Bar Aid--October 17th, 2008--

WASHINGTON — In a newly disclosed legal memorandum, the Bush administration says it can bypass laws that forbid giving taxpayer money to religious groups that hire only staff members who share their faith.

The administration, which has sought to lower barriers between church and state through its religion-based initiative offices, made the claim in a 2007 Justice Department memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel. It was quietly posted on the department’s Web site this week.

The statutes for some grant programs do not impose antidiscrimination conditions on their financing, and the administration had previously allowed such programs to give taxpayer money to groups that hire only people of a particular religion.

But the memorandum goes further, drawing a sweeping conclusion that even federal programs subject to antidiscrimination laws can give money to groups that discriminate.

The document signed off on a $1.5 million grant to World Vision, a group that hires only Christians, for salaries of staff members running a program that helps “at-risk youth” avoid gangs. The grant was from a Justice Department program created by a statute that forbids discriminatory hiring for the positions it is financing.  For complete story, click here.

Thousands Erroneously Tagged Ineligible to Vote --In New Databases, Many Are Wrongly Flagged as Ineligible 18 Oct 2008 Thousands of voters across the country must reestablish their eligibility in the next three weeks in order for their votes to count on Nov. 4, a result of new state registration systems that are incorrectly rejecting them. In Alabama, scores of voters are being labeled as convicted felons on the basis of incorrect lists. Michigan must restore thousands of names it illegally removed from voter rolls over residency questions, a judge ruled this week. Tens of thousands of voters could be affected in Wisconsin. Officials there admit that their database is wrong one out of five times when it flags voters, sometimes for data discrepancies as small as a middle initial or a typo in a birth date.  For complete story, click here.
Obama Demands Special Prosecutor Investigate GOP Voter Fraud Activities 17 Oct 2008 Charging that the FBI probe of ACORN represents an "unholy alliance" between Republican operatives and potentially illegal conduct by law enforcement targeting voter fraud, the Obama campaign demanded Friday that the U.S. special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorneys scandal investigate the matter. General counsel Bob Bauer sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey charging that coordinated "misconduct" by McCain campaign representatives and GOP officials were relevant to the special prosecutor’s work, because the activities may relate to the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys in late 2006.  For complete story, click here.

Freedom of speech or pizza? Lesson gives students a choice--October 15th, 2008--

Free pizza won out over free speech Tuesday afternoon, but lunch in the Republic of Parkland included lessons in the loss of freedoms.

A portion of the Pacific Lutheran University campus called Red Square was taped off for the second annual First Amendment Free Food Festival sponsored by the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Anyone who wanted a free lunch of pizza and soda could get a passport to visit the Republic of Parkland and eat their fill.

The one catch was that students had to sign away their First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, petition and religion. They had to carry a stamped passport and show it any time they were asked.

Around 170 students opted for lunch and quickly found out that sitting with more than one other person at a time was not allowed. That is illegal assembly, they were told.

“They yelled at me for having a camera,” said Jillian Buchanan, 17, one of a handful of Washington High School journalism students who came to the festival. “I almost got kicked out.”

Brown- and black-shirted enforcers for the Republic of Parkland circulated among the lunch crowd to make sure no one exercised any First Amendment rights. Those who did were warned and then escorted out or thrown out of the Republic.  For complete story, click here.

Ohio Files Appeal to Supreme Court on Voter Registration Data 16 Oct 2008 Ohio's attorney general filed an emergency appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court late Wednesday night seeking to block a lower court decision that could cost many thousands of Ohio voters a chance to cast a regular ballot Nov. 4. About 660,000 new voters have registered since January with an edge to Democrats. The filing on behalf of Ohio's Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner contends that upholding a Tuesday decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit would create havoc on Election Day and cause many voters to cast "provisional" ballots that may or may not ultimately be tallied depending on judgments by local elections boards.  For complete story, click here.
Republicans challenge Ohio voters 16 Oct 2008 More than 200,000 registered voters in Ohio may be challenged over their right to vote in the presidential election. An appeal court has backed a complaint brought by the Ohio Republican Party, which argued the voters' details did not match federal records. Their concern is over registered voters backing Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama for president. A key Democratic official says she is concerned the move is a veiled bid to disenfranchise voters. For complete story, click here.
"This is," the report said, "a gross abuse of the public trust." White House Helped GOP Congressional Races 16 Oct 2008 When Karl Rove's office requested special help for beleaguered Republican congressional candidates in the months before the 2006 elections, the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy jumped to the task... Director John Walters's visits to Utah, Missouri and Nevada were among at least 303 out-of-town trips by senior Bush appointees meant to lend prestige or bring federal grants to 99 politically endangered Republicans that year, in a White House campaign that House Democratic investigators yesterday called unprecedented in scope and scale.  For complete story, click here.
Guantanamo Bay prosecutor quits over ethical issues 26 Sep 2008 A US military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay has resigned over ethical disputes with his superiors, claiming they suppressed evidence that could help clear a young Afghan prisoner of alleged war crimes. The prosecutor, Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, described the disagreements in a statement supporting a defence plea to dismiss the charges against Mohammed Jawad. "Potentially exculpatory evidence has not been provided," Lieutenant Colonel Vandeveld wrote, citing failure by the "prosecutors and officers of the court". The disclosure triggered new attacks on the integrity of the US military tribunal system, which has faced accusations from other insiders of ethical breaches and political interference.  For complete story, click here.
Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1 for deployment during 'civil unrest,' 'horrific scenarios' [The 'horrific scenario' of the 2nd American Revolution after a third stolen 'election?'] 08 Sep 2008 The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle. Now they’re training for the same mission -- with a twist -- at home. Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manBushmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks. This new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom. They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.  For complete story, click here.
DNA Testing Expands to Lesser Crimes Sept. 7th, 2008--While unusual, here is a crime as alleged by Montgomery County police that joins the list of things harder to get away with in the era of DNA evidence:

Man walks into a Starbucks, says he wants to apply for a job. He's given an application and a complimentary cup of coffee. Minutes later, he walks around the counter and threatens a barista with a ballpoint pen. He flees with $204 from the cash register and keys to another barista's 1993 Nissan Maxima, leaving behind the partially consumed cup of coffee.

Dominic J. Wilson is scheduled to stand trial today in the Starbucks case.

"Saliva," said Ray Wickenheiser, director of Montgomery's crime lab, "is a good source of DNA."

DNA testing in the county is expanding from killings and rapes to less violent robberies, burglaries and drug deals. Prosecutors say this will lead to quicker convictions because defendants will cave and plead guilty. Defense lawyers worry that as more DNA samples are pushed through the county's crime lab, it will boost the odds of false matches.

"It runs the risk of turning the gold standard of evidence into fool's gold," said Stephen Mercer, a Montgomery lawyer who has taken on so many of these cases lately that one of this clients calls him "the DNA Dude."  For complete story,
click here.
Cheney colleague admits bribery in Halliburton oil deals 04 Sep 2008  A former colleague of the US Vice-President [sic], Dick Cheney, has pleaded guilty to funnelling millions of dollars in bribes to win lucrative contracts in Nigeria for Halliburton, during the period in the Nineties when Mr Cheney ran the giant oil and gas services company. Albert Stanley, who was appointed by Mr Cheney as chief executive of Halliburton's subsidiary KBR, admitted using a north London lawyer to channel payments to Nigerian officials as part of a bribery scheme that landed some $6bn of work in the country over a decade.  For complete story, click here.
Breaking: RNC 8 Charged with "Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism" 03 Sep 2008 In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Those charged face up to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty. [The *actual* RNC 8 who should be charged in the "Furtherance of Terrorism:" John (Insane) McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt (I have $250 million dollars in Bank of America, but I detest Northeast elitists) Romney, Rudy (unindicted 9/11 co-conspirator) Giuliani, Joe LieberBush (R-Israel), Fred Thomspon, George (live from satellite) Bush and Dick (hiding in bunker) Cheney. --LRP]  For complete story, click here.
Police Using G.P.S. Units as Evidence in Crimes--August 31st, 2008--Like millions of motorists, Eric Hanson used a Global Positioning System device in his Chevrolet TrailBlazer to find his way around.  He probably did not expect that prosecutors would use it, too -- to help convict him of killing four family members.

Prosecutors in suburban Chicago analyzed data from the Garmin G.P.S. device to pinpoint where Mr. Hanson had been on the morning after his parents were fatally shot and his sister and brother-in-law bludgeoned to death in 2005. He was convicted of the killings this year and sentenced to death.

Mr. Hanson's trial was among recent criminal cases in which the authorities used such navigation devices to help establish a defendant's whereabouts. Experts say such evidence will almost certainly become more common in court as the systems become more affordable and show up in more vehicles.

"There's no real doubt," said Alan Brill, a computer forensics expert in Minnesota who has worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service. "This follows every other technology that turns out to have information of forensic value. I think what we're seeing is evolutionary."  Using technology to track a person's location is nothing new, but the popularity of the Global Positioning System -- in cars, cellphones and other handheld devices -- gives the authorities a powerful tool to track suspects.

In September, a man in Butte, Mont., pleaded guilty to rape after a judge ruled that evidence from the global positioning unit in his car could be used against him at trial. Prosecutors planned to use it to show that the man, Brian D. Adolf, "prowled" in the town looking for a victim.

In New Brighton, Pa., a trucker's system led the police to charge him with setting his own home on fire. The system's records showed his rig was parked about 100 yards from his house at the time of the fire.

Critics, however, say the police should be allowed to acquire global positioning data only by getting a warrant. Renée Hutchins, a University of Maryland law professor, wrote an article recently suggesting Global Positioning System data was protected under the Fourth Amendment. 
(Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.nytimes.com  Date: August 31, 2008)
Amy Goodman Arrested at RNC--Sept. 1st, 2008--ST. PAUL, MN -- Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time.  Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfuly detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.  For complete story, click here.

Dozens Detained Ahead of Convention.--August 30th, 2008--ST. PAUL, Minn. — On the weekend before the Republican National Convention, law enforcement agencies detained dozens of people and issued a series of search warrants aimed at groups believed to be organizing demonstrations while delegates and Republican officials are in town.

 

On Friday night the Ramsey County sheriff's department, accompanied by the St. Paul police, detained people inside a building here that was being used as a headquarters to plan protests.

“They handcuffed all of us,” said Sonia Silbert, 28, from Washington. “They searched everyone.”

People who had been in the building said that officers entered shortly after 8:30 p.m. with a warrant and instructed them to lie on the ground, adding that they had been questioned and photographed before being released.

Jordan Kushner, a member of the National Lawyers Guild, said the two-story brick building had been rented by a nonprofit organization and was being used by several groups planning protests.

People who had been inside said teach-ins and legal training had been conducted there, and that the space was also a repository for such items as computers and bicycles.

The R.N.C. Welcoming Committee, a group that has said it wants to block roads during the convention, issued a statement Friday night that was read aloud outside the meeting place by a woman who identified herself as Sarah Coffey.

Ms. Coffey said that the officers, citing fire violations as the reason for their visit, “detained over 50 people in an attempt to pre-empt planned protests.”

The sheriff's department continued the sweeps on Saturday morning, executing warrants for three houses in Minneapolis and two in St. Paul, detaining more than 50 people and arresting 4.

A copy of a warrant at one house said the police were authorized to look for a laundry list of items, including fire bombs, Molotov cocktails, brake fluid, photographs and maps of St. Paul, paint, computers and camera equipment, and documents and other communications.

Residents of the houses where the warrants were served denied having any unlawful or dangerous materials.

Attorneys for the National Lawyers Guild said the people who were detained and photographed included local residents as well as visitors in town to demonstrate at the convention.

Bruce Nestor, a lawyer at one house, said three people there were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit a riot.

“In my mind it's a classic preventive detention charge,” Mr. Nestor said.

He said the authorities were permitted to hold those they arrested without charging them for up to 36 hours -- excluding weekends or holidays -- in essence detaining them for the length of the convention.

On Saturday morning the father of one woman who was arrested said he was outraged.

“There is no cause for this,” said Dave Bilking, whose daughter, Monica Bilking, a 23-year-old student, had been removed in handcuffs.

The sheriff's department did not respond to a phone message requesting comment.  For complete story, click here.

'They already have a bracelet with a barcode.' --Evacuees wore special identification armbands, which were scanned and collected into a database to help keep track of their destination. 30 Aug 2008 (TX) Tyler will be a hub for several thousand Hurricane Gustav evacuees as city officials enact its emergency response plan, and so far, it seems as though early relief efforts have been fluid. Mayor Barbara Bass Saturday signed an official declaration of disaster/emergency condition during the second of two press conferences. Bass said preparations are specifically geared towards the evacuations of special needs evacuees from Beaumont. "They already have a bracelet with a barcode," Captain Akin said. "They will walk through the scanner and it automatically loads into the computers. We have a list of where they need to go." [Um, the last time a Bush-style regime tried this, people ended up . . . not so good. And so, when Bush or Blackwater henchmen instruct you to wear a 'special identification armband' so that a computer can 'tell you where to go' . . . tell (or show) them where to go. --LRP]  For complete story, click here.
Blackwater Issues Mercenary Call For Hurricane Gustav --Blackwater Worldwide: Security for Hurricane Gustav 29 Aug 2008 Blackwater is compiling a list of qualified security personnel for possible deployment into areas affected by Hurricane Gustav. Applicants must meet all items listed under the respective Officer posting and be US citizens. Contract length is TBD. [Email from Blackwater Worldwide disseminated 29 Aug 2008]  For complete story, click here.
Denver: Preparing for Democratic Convention or Martial Law? --In the local newspapers, Denver officials have outlined several worst-case scenarios. 24 Aug 2008 To the uninformed visitor, it has become difficult to tell whether Denver is preparing for a Democratic National Convention or the institution of martial law. Helicopters filled with armed commandos swooped over downtown in a training exercise earlier this summer. A warehouse was converted into a temporary jail with chain-link fences and signs threatening the use of electric stun devices. Downtown office buildings have hired extra security and rehearsed evacuation plans. The Secret Service established 18 working groups in Denver, with assignments to coordinate air security, crisis management and more.  For complete story, click here.
New Guidelines Would Give F.B.I. Broader Powers --New guidelines would allow the F.B.I. to open an investigation of an American, conduct surveillance, pry into private records and take other investigative steps 'without any basis for suspicion.' 20 Aug 2008 A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday. Little is known about its precise language, but civil liberties advocates say they fear it could give the government even broader license to open terrorism investigations. Congressional staff members got a glimpse of some of the details in closed briefings this month, and four Democratic senators told Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey in a letter on Wednesday that they were troubled by what they heard.  For complete story, click here.
Pentagon can't find $2.3 trillion, wasting trillions on 'national defense' --'America's Outrageous War Economy!' By Paul B. Farrell 18 Aug 2008 We've lost our moral compass: The contrast between today's leaders and the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 shocks our conscience. Today war greed trumps morals. During the Revolutionary War our leaders risked their lives and fortunes; many lost both. Today it's the opposite: Too often our leaders' main goal is not public service but a ticket to building a personal fortune in the new "America's Outrageous War Economy," often by simply becoming a high-priced lobbyist.  For complete story, click here.
N.C. Patient Dies While Staff Plays Cards--August 19th, 2008--RALEIGH, N.C. (CBS News) ― Investigators say a North Carolina mental patient died after nurses at a state mental hospital left him in a chair for 22 hours and failed to feed him or help him to the bathroom, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Security video showed Steven H. Sabock, 50, as he died in April after he choked on medication at Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro and a nurse stood nearby without helping, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

The newspaper said the death was one reason federal officials said they might cut off funds for the facility. Hospital officials have about two weeks to develop an improvement plan and try to persuade federal officials to continue providing funds.

Video showed hospital staff watching television and playing cards while Sabock was in the same room. One technician hugged and kissed another staff member and appeared to be dancing.

Investigators said in a report released Monday that Sabock, who had lived in Roanoke Rapids, sat in a busy day room during four work shifts.

When technicians couldn't get him to walk to his bed, the video showed that they stood him and slid a chair under him before sliding him down the hall to his room. A few minutes later, the video showed a cart of emergency equipment being pushed down the hall.

Sabock, who used to live in Roanoke Rapids in northeastern North Carolina, ate nothing the day he died, and very little during the three days prior, according to The News & Observer in North Carolina.

Investigators found no evidence that "the nursing staff had evaluated the patient's nutrition. The review revealed no nutritional consult was requested and revealed no evidence the physician was notified about the inadequate nutritional intake," according to the investigators' report.

Sabock's father told the newspaper he wasn't allowed to see his son after he was admitted to Cherry Hospital.  For complete story,
click here.
U.S. May Ease Police Spy Rules --Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. 16 Aug 2008 The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years... Under the Justice Department proposal for state and local police, law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target groups as well as individuals, and to launch a criminal intelligence investigation based on the suspicion that a target is engaged in terrorism or providing material support to terrorists. They also could share results with a constellation of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and others in many cases.  For complete story, click here.
USDA website 'help wanted' notice: US to fund Georgia scientists to research, clone deadly viruses for 'outbreak response' --Posed 01 Jun 2008, updated 15 Aug 2008 African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) has been identified by USDA and DHS as an emerging agricultural pathogen due to the 2007, outbreaks in Eurasia and is now a high priority for biological countermeasure research. Objectives: Identify and recruit a qualified scientist from the Republic of Georgia to come to ARS, PIADC for the purpose of acquiring knowledge of ASF, and development of molecular biology skill sets... [and] necessary for the successful ASF knowledge transfer in the future to other Republic of Georgia scientists. This scientist will be supported through USDA-DOE interagency agreement administered through ORISE. The identified Republic of Georgia scientist will be trained by ARS, PIADC in foreign animal disease molecular biology skills through on-going ARS Classical Swine Fever research. This training includes: vaccine discovery, inclusive of cell culture, virus titration, virus cloning, viral analysis, sequencing, tissue collection and necropsy. DHS, PIADC will coordinate ASFV related activities between ARS, PIADC and the Republic of Georgia, including access to viral samples and genomic sequencing support. The identified Republic of Georgia scientist, with assistance from ARS, PIADC and DHS, PIADC collaborators, will prepare and submit an ASF basic research and vaccine discovery proposal targeting the Eurasian outbreak response.  For complete story, click here.
'Gitmo On the Platte' Set As Holding Cell For DNC 13 Aug 2008 CBS4 News has learned if mass arrests happen at the Democratic Convention, those taken into custody will be jailed in a warehouse owned by the City of Denver. Investigator Rick Sallinger discovered the location and managed to get inside for a look. The newly created lockup is on the northeast side of Denver. Protesters have already given this place a name: "Gitmo on the Platte." Inside are dozens are metal cages. They are made out of chain link fence material and topped by rolls of barbed wire. Each of the fenced areas is about 5 yards by 5 yards and there is a lock on the door. A sign on the wall reads "Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility."  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://cbs4denver.com  Date: August 13, 2008)
Protesters: Holding pens unfit for voting machines --Dozen or so pens are made of chain link fencing with coiled concertina wire along the top 15 Aug 2008 Convention protesters said this afternoon that the "secret jail" the city has set up for people arrested during the upcoming Democratic National Convention used to house the city's voting machines until the building was declared unfit for the machines. At a press conference in front of the holding pens the city has built inside a dilapidated warehouse at 38th Avenue and Steele Street, protester Glenn Spagnuolo said the city stored its voting machines there until officials said the building was too hot for the machines and was without a fire sprinkler system. "The city pulled its voting machines from here because the building gets too hot. Yet now they'll put people in there who use those machines to vote," he told a small gathering of reporters. "There are no toilets there. There's no water, no fire suppression. The city should be ashamed. It needs to stop criminalizing protests."  For complete story, click here.
Lawsuit Filed Against Gonzales, DOJ Officials --Lawsuit: DOJ Officials Should be Held Accountable for Politicizing Hiring Practices 15 Aug 2008 Six attorneys rejected from civil service positions at the Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and three other top officials for allegedly violating their rights by taking politics into consideration in the hiring process. The suit is an attempt to hold top officials accountable for the hiring scandal that ultimately led to Gonzales' resignation last year, said Daniel Metcalfe, the attorney for the plaintiffs who is also executive director of its Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University's Washington College of Law.  For complete story, click here.
Future (current) wars could see opponents attacking each other's minds, according to a report for the US military--August 14th, 2008--Landmines releasing brain-altering chemicals, scanners reading soldiers'
minds and devices boosting eyesight and hearing could all one figure in arsenals, suggests the study.

Sophisticated drugs, designed for dementia patients but also allowing troops to stay awake and alert for several days are expected to be developed, according to the report. It is thought that some US soldiers are already taking drugs prescribed for narcolepsy in an attempt to combat fatigue.

As well as those physically and mentally boosting one's own troops, substances could also be developed to deplete an opponents' forces, it says.

"How can we disrupt the enemy's motivation to fight?" It asks. "Is there a way to make the enemy obey our commands?" Research shows that "drugs can be utilized to achieve abnormal, diseased, or disordered psychology" among one's enemy, it concludes.

Research is particularly encouraging in the area of functional neuroimaging, or understanding the relationships between brain activity and actions, the report says, raising hopes that scanners able to read the intentions or memories of soldiers could soon be developed.

Some military chiefs and law enforcement officials hope that a new generation of polygraphs, or lie detectors, which spot lie-telling by observing changes in brain activity, can be built.

"Pharmacological landmines," which release drugs to incapacitate soldiers upon their contact with them, could also be developed, according to the report's authors.

The report, which was commissioned by the Defense Intelligence Agency, contained the work of scientists asked to examine how better understanding of how the human mind works was likely to affect the development of
technology.

It finds that "great progress has been made" in neuroscience over the last decade, and that continuing advances offered the prospect of a dramatic impact on military equipment and the way in which wars are fought.  For complete story,
click here.
Most companies in US avoid federal income taxes 12 Aug 2008 Unlike the rest of us, most U.S. corporations and foreign companies doing business in the United States pay no federal income tax, according to a new report from Congress. The study by the Government Accountability Office, expected to be released Tuesday, said two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, and about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://money.aol.com  Date: August 12, 2008)
NYPD's 'Operation Sentinel' to Track EVERYTHING --Radiation Sensors, Surveillance Cameras Used to Screen & Follow Every Vehicle Entering Lower Manhattan --Plan Aims to Provide Security Blanket 'Against' Terrorist Attack 12 Aug 2008 The NYPD is working on a high-tech, anti-terror plan to track every vehicle that enters Manhattan. It's called "Operation Sentinel," and it's already sparking a debate about the right to privacy. Every time a car, bus or truck drives into Manhattan on either a bridge or thru a tunnel its license plate would be screened and photographed. All part of the new multi-million dollar security plan proposed by the NYPD. "Operation Sentinel" also includes heavy security implementation at the new World Trade Center site.  For complete story, click here.
Bush Veterans Affairs Department bans voter registration drives at veterans facilities By Faiz 11 Aug 2008 This past May, the Veterans Affairs Department, led by Secretary James Peake, issued a directive prohibiting nonpartisan voter registration drives "at federally financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans." In today’s New York Times, Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz writes, "What is the secretary of Veterans Affairs thinking?"  For complete story, click here.
Bush: Why don't you shut up? (Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey) 12 Aug 2008 Taking the words of the illustrious King of Spain, in his imbecillic retort to President Hugo Chavez, we use them not as a response to a diatribe but rather, a just retort to an imbecile. President [sic] George W. Bush, why don’t you shut up? President Bush, Why don’t you shut up? In your statement on Monday regarding the legitimate actions of the Russian Federation in Georgia, you failed to mention once the war crimes perpetrated by Georgian military forces, which American advisors support, against Russian and Ossetian civilians. Kinda embarrassing, eh? President Bush, Why don’t you shut up? Your faithful ally, Mikhail Saakashvili, was announcing a ceasefire deal while his troops, with your advisors, were massing on Ossetia’s border, which they crossed under cover of night and destroyed Tskhinvali, targeting civilian structures just like your forces did in Iraq. Kinda humanitarian, eh?  For complete story, click here.
FBI to newspapers: Sorry about your phone records 09 Aug 2008 FBI Director Robert Mueller has apologized to the editors of The Washington Post and The New York Times for improperly obtaining phone records of the newspapers' reporters while investigating terrorism four years ago. Mueller called Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on Friday to express regret that agents did not follow proper procedures in 2004 when they obtained the phone records of a Post reporter and a researcher and two Times reporters.  For complete story, click here.
U.S. Attorney Scandal Probe Enters White House Circle By Murray Waas 07 Aug 2008 The Justice Department investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys has been extended to encompass allegations that senior White House officials played a role in providing false and misleading information to Congress, according to numerous sources involved in the inquiry. The widened scope raises the possibility that investigators will pursue criminal charges against some administration officials, and recommend appointment of a special prosecutor if there is evidence of criminal misconduct.  For complete story, click here.
Book Claims White House Forged War Intel --"The Way of the World" Alleges U.S. Faked Letter That Linked Iraq With 9/11 05 Aug 2008 A new book published Tuesday accuses the White House of trying to manipulate intelligence to support the war in Iraq, reports CBS News. The book, by author Ron Suskind, charges that the Bush White House faked a letter from Saddam Hussein's intelligence chief connecting Iraq with 9/11 and an ongoing nuclear program - neither of which was true. This letter, in the handwriting of Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, is dated July, 2001. It says that Iraqis hosted Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 'hijackers...' The letter goes on to suggest that Iraq was importing uranium from Niger for a nuclear program. The book alleges that Habbush, Saddam's intelligence chief, was in CIA protective custody after the 2003 invasion, that the White House ordered CIA officials to have Habbush write and backdate the letter, and paid him $5 million. The author quotes two former CIA officials who claim to have seen a draft of the letter on White House stationery. Suskind writes: "The idea was to take the letter to Habbush and have him transcribe it in his own neat handwriting on a piece of Iraqi government stationery to make it look legitimate. CIA would then take the finished product to Baghdad and have someone release it to the media [lapdogs]."  For complete story, click here.
"What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" Justice Officials Repeatedly Broke Law on Hiring, Report Says 28 Jul 2008 Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general's report released today. Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said. Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs, "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" the report said.  For complete story, click here.
DOJ: Former Gonzales aide broke law --Politics influenced hiring of career prosecutors, report says 28 Jul 2008 A new Justice Department report concludes that politics illegally influenced the hiring of career prosecutors and immigration judges, and largely lays the blame on top aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Monday's report singles out the department's former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, for violating federal law and Justice Department policy by discriminating against job applicants who were not Republican or conservative loyalists.  For complete story, click here.

The New Reefer Madness: Arresting People In Pain--July 23rd, 2008--The police raid on Martin Martinez, a Seattle man who uses marijuana to dull the chronic pain from a motorcycle accident, made the page-one headline last Thursday: "Was Pot Raid Justified?" Martinez's lawyer, Douglas Hiatt, insists vehemently that it was not.

 
In Seattle, the topic of medical marijuana and the law leads quickly to Hiatt. A native Chicagoan, 49, this blue-jeaned barrister is vehement often, his deep voice rising quickly to indignant italics.

 
His cellphone rings. "I gotta take this," he says. "Hello? Yes ... No ... No, we're not going to do that! Look, this is my client ... Yes, I'll be there." Click.

 
Originally a public defender, Hiatt is now exclusively a medical-marijuana lawyer. It is not a lucrative practice. His clients are often broke, and typically they are merely trying to be left alone. Hiatt says he has been paid in salmon, and once in an organic pig.

 
His first client was an AIDS patient stuck in the King County Jail. Hiatt went to Dan Satterberg, then deputy prosecutor, for help — and it was Satterberg who smoothed things over after last week's raid on Martinez.

 
To Hiatt, King County's Republican prosecutor is "Good King Dan," who follows the law that 59 percent of Washington voters approved in 1998. Most prosecutors around the state don't, Hiatt says.

 
"It makes me crazy," he says.

 
For healthy folk who think of marijuana as getting stoned, "medical marijuana" may sound like a doper's deception. Hiatt shakes his head. His clients are in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Typically, they are on disability. Many have cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease or Crohn's disease.

 
AIDS patients are using marijuana to control nausea, so they don't vomit up the 40-odd pills they have to take every day. In 2000, when a judge forbade writer and AIDS patient Peter McWilliams from using marijuana, he threw up his "AIDS cocktail," choked on his vomit and died.

 
The word "cocktail," makes Hiatt bristle. "It's not a damned cocktail. This is chemotherapy for life."

 
McWilliams had been ordered to use Marinol, a drug with one of marijuana's active ingredients. Hiatt says he has a client right now ordered by a judge to use Marinol.

 
"It makes my client really stoned, and he doesn't want that," Hiatt says. "It's expensive. It costs $10 to $20 a pill. Why use it when you can grow a house plant?"  For complete story,  click here.
'On that show ['24'], torture always worked. It saved America on a weekly basis.' Madness and Shame By Bob Herbert 22 Jul 2008 Very few voters are aware of Mr. [David] Addington’s existence, much less what he stands for. But he was the legal linchpin of the administration’s Marquis de Sade approach to battling terrorism. In the view of Mr. Addington and his acolytes, anything and everything that the president authorized in the fight against terror -- regardless of what the Constitution or Congress or the Geneva Conventions might say -- was all right. That included torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, the suspension of habeas corpus, you name it. This is the mind-set that gave us Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and the C.I.A.’s secret prisons, known as "black sites..." When the constraints of the law are unlocked by the men and women in suits at the pinnacle of power, terrible things happen in the real world. You end up with detainees being physically and psychologically tormented day after day, month after month, until they beg to be allowed to commit suicide. You have prisoners beaten until they are on the verge of death, or hooked to overhead manacles like something out of the Inquisition, or forced to defecate on themselves, or sexually humiliated, or driven crazy by days on end of sleep deprivation and blinding lights and blaring noises, or water-boarded.  For complete story, click here.
U.S. Rushes to Change Workplace Toxin Rules 23 Jul 2008 Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush regime a rule making it tougher to regulate workers' on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins. The agency did not disclose the proposal, as required, in public notices of regulatory plans that it filed in December and May. Instead, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao's intention to push for the rule first surfaced on July 7, when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its Web site that it was reviewing the proposal, identified only by its nine-word title.  For complete story, click here.
CDC: Offline generators caused germ lab outage 19 Jul 2008 A critical germ lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lost power last week because the agency had taken two backup generators out of service for upgrades, CDC officials said Friday... The backup power failure -- the second in 13 months -- is the type predicted years ago by some CDC engineers. And it has heightened concerns in Congress about lab safety at the Atlanta agency, which experiments on smallpox, Ebola, anthrax and other deadly germs. Last week's incident began when a bird shorted out a Georgia Power transformer about 5:40 p.m., cutting off power to... Building 17. Building 17 houses infectious disease labs, where scientists work with the H5N1 avian flu virus and other dangerous germs. Without power, the labs can't run negative airflow systems that help contain germs in Biosafety Level 3 labs, such as those in Building 17.  For complete story, click here.
Holding Accused Without Trial Is Upheld --Terrorism Suspect May Petition Civilian Court 16 Jul 2008 A federal appellate court issued a new setback to the Bush regime on the treatment of terrorism suspects yesterday, declaring that the only accused "enemy combatant" apprehended and held on U.S. soil can petition a civilian court to review the evidence against him. At the same time, the divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed the president's wartime power to hold accused combatants apprehended in the United States without trial, reversing a previous ruling by a panel of its own judges. Jonathan Hafetz, who represents Kahlah al-Marri, said that in ordering a new hearing on the basis for Marri's detention, the court's majority had significantly rejected the "president's most sweeping claims of unchecked and unreviewable executive detention power." But he said that victory was tempered by a ruling that "effectively allows the president to seize any person in the United States, a citizen or noncitizen, and detain them indefinitely without trial."  For complete story, click here.
Canadian teenager cries in Guantanamo interrogation video --"Help me, help me, help me," Khadr says in the video, weeping, holding his head in his hands. 16 Jul 2008 A sobbing Canadian teenager begs for help as he is interrogated at the US "war on terror" camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the very first video glimpse of any such questioning showed on Tuesday. The video was released by attorneys for terror suspect Omar Khadr, who is shown being questioned at the prison by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents in February, 2003. Khadr has been held at the US facility naval since his arrest in 2002, when he was 15 years old, and faces an upcoming US military tribunal on terrorism charges.  For complete story, click here.
''Suspicious characters' are trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape.' Terrorist Watch List Hits One Million Names --ACLU launches online watch list complaint form --A September 2007 report by the inspector general of the Justice Department reported that it was growing by 20,000 names per month. 14 Jul 2008 The nation's terrorist watch list has hit one million names, according to a tally maintained by the American Civil Liberties Union based upon the government's own reported numbers for the size of the list. "Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other 'suspicious characters,' with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress needs to fix it, the Terrorist Screening Center needs to fix it, or the next president needs to fix it, but it has to be done soon." For complete story, click here.
Plot to murder Morris Dees revealed in new book--A new book by an FBI agent and his informant details a previously undisclosed plot to assassinate Morris Dees. The would-be assassin, a member of the Aryan Nations, wrote, "White supremacist groups throughout the country hated Dees, and privately, many expressed the view that the assassination of Dees would be the greatest achievement any white supremacist could accomplish." Among the suspected plotters was Imperial Klans of America leader Ron Edwards, who is the target of a current SPLC lawsuit. For complete story, click here.
Detainee's Lawyers: Prisoner Deprived of Sleep for 50 Days 15 Jul 2008 Defense lawyers claimed on Monday that an accused prisoner might have been subjected to a program of systematic sleep deprivation that they said would constitute torture. The lawyers for the prisoner facing trial, Salim Hamdan, said that on Saturday prosecutors for the first time gave them information indicating Mr. Hamdan "entered Operation Sandman" on June 11, 2003, and remained in the program for 50 days. Operation Sandman has been described as an interrogation plan devised with military psychiatrists for systematically interrupting a prisoner’s sleep. "Sleep deprivation of that nature for 50 days would constitute torture," said one of Mr. Hamdan’s lawyers, Joseph M. McMillan.  For complete story, click here.
Torture: MPs call for inquiry into MI5 role --New torture claims spark inquiry call --New allegations that abuse of Britons was outsourced to Pakistani agencies 15 Jul 2008 MPs are calling for an investigation into allegations that British intelligence has "outsourced" the torture of British citizens to Pakistani security agencies after hearing accounts of people being abducted and subjected to mistreatment and, in some cases, released without charge. John McDonnell, the Labour member for Hayes and Harlington, and Andrew Tyrie, Conservative member for Chichester, say the allegations should be examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Westminster body that oversees the Security Service, MI5, and the Intelligence Service, MI6. McDonnell says he wants to know whether British officials colluded in the abuse of one of his constituents.  For complete story, click here.
ARE OUR LEADING PEDIATRICIANS DRUG INDUSTRY SHILLS?--July 13th, 2008--Most parents have never heard of him, but Joseph Biederman of Harvard may be the United States' most influential doctor when it comes to determining whether their children are normal or mentally ill.

In 1996, for example, Biederman suggested that drugs like Ritalin might serve 10 percent of American kids for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. By 2004, one in nine 11-year-old boys was taking the drug.  Biederman and his team also are more responsible than anyone for a child bipolar epidemic sweeping America (and no other country) that has 2-year-olds on three or four psychiatric drugs.

The science of children's psychiatric medications is so primitive and Biederman's influence so great that when he merely mentions a drug during a presentation, tens of thousands of children within a year or two will end up
taking that drug, or combination of drugs. This happens in the absence of a drug trial of any kind - instead, the decision is based upon word of mouth among the 7,000 child psychiatrists in America.

That's why Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley's recent revelation that Biederman did not declare $1.6 million in drug company consulting fees is so important, scary and tragic. If true, this scandal is yet one more stake in the heart of American academic medicine's credibility with frontline doctors like me - and more importantly, with the parents of the patients I deal with every day.

American medicine, with psychiatry the most culpable, has fallen back to a time more than 100 years ago when doctor credibility was tantamount to the promotion of patent medicine. Subsequent reforms severed ties between medical school doctors and the drug industry - and for decades there was a much more ethical balance between the industry and physicians.

Now once again, drug company money is corrupting medical practice and the maintenance of our country's health. In a market economy, both doctors and the companies are motivated by profit. However, doctors' Hippocratic oath
and their personal/professional relationships with their patients attenuate the most crass aspects of a fee-for-service system.

In contrast, drug companies owe primary responsibility to their shareholders. Of course these companies must operate within legal business and Food and Drug Administration restraints, but the drive to push  such rules to the limit is implicit in any business. Such a strategy isn't always beneficial when our children's health is affected.

The Fortune 500 drug companies, by their sheer economic clout, have become the single most dominant influence in our health care system. The ambiguities of children's mental health and illness make child psychiatry the most vulnerable branch of medicine open to such influence.

In this climate, drug company research money, professional medical education and direct advertisements to parents tilt families and doctors to biologically brain-based solutions, rather than nondrug (e.g., parenting and education) approaches.

That's why we're seeing famous (or infamous) Newsweek cover boys like Max, a 10-year-old who has taken 38 psychiatric medications in his short, unhappy life.

Research funding must be directed to the needs of patients and their doctors - not to the bottom line of stockholders. Drug companies can still make money, but it's ethically immoral when stockholder profits trump children's
health needs (as in the cover-up of negative studies of antidepressants in children).  For complete story,
click here.
12 Babies die during vaccine trials in Argentina--July 10th, 2008--Buenos Aires, Jul 10, 2008 (EFE via COMTEX) --  At least 12 babies who were part of a clinical study to test the effectiveness of a vaccine against pneumonia have died over the past year in Argentina, the local press reported Thursday.  The study was sponsored by global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and uses children from poor families, who are "pressured and forced into signing consent forms," the Argentine Federation of Health Professionals, or Fesprosa, said.  "This occurs without any type of state control" and "does not comply with minimum ethical requirements," Fesprosa said.  For complete story, click here.
'No one expected the British to be worse than Saddam Hussein.' [Oh, yes we did.] British soldiers accused of sickening sex assault on Iraqi boy, 14 --Just days after the MoD has to pay out millions to the father of a man UK soldiers beat to death, fresh claims of abuse rape emerge 13 Jul 2008 British soldiers forced a boy of 14 to carry out an act of oral sex on a fellow male prisoner in Iraq, according to shocking new allegations made about the behaviour of British troops. The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that the Royal Military Police (RMP) have launched an investigation. The victim, now 19, whom The Independent on Sunday has agreed to identify only as Hassan, says he was rounded up with a friend while trying to steal milk cartons from a food distribution centre. He was whipped, beaten and forced to strip naked. "They made us sit on each other's laps," he said. "They were enjoying humiliating and abusing us, I wished I was dead at this moment. Then they made me sit with Tariq... where I was forced to put Tariq's penis in my mouth. The other two were made to do the same."  For complete story, click here.
We've come to this ignoble moment.' --'We have become like Serbia.' 12 Jul 2008 'I never thought I would say this, but I think it might, in fact, be time for the United States to be held internationally to a tribunal. I never thought in my lifetime I would say that, that we have become like Serbia, where an international tribunal has to come to force us to apply the rule of law... So we've come to this ignoble moment, where we could be forced into a tribunal and forced to face the rule of law that we've refused to apply to ourselves.' --Constitutional Law expert Jonathan Turley, on MSNBC's Friday 'Countdown,' discussing accountability behind US war crimes at Guantanamo.  Video:

 

Law School Dean Calls Conference to Plan Bush War Crimes Prosecution 17 Jun 2008 The dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is planning a September conference to map out war crimes prosecutions, and the targets are President [sic] Bush and other administration officials. The dean, Lawrence Velvel, says in a statement that "plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth." Other possible defendants, he said, include federal judges and John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who wrote one of the so-called torture memos. "We must insist on appropriate punishments," he continued, "including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war criminals in the 1940s."  For complete story, click here.
Review board orders AP journalist held --The arrest of Raziak was the latest in a series of arrests of journalists by U.S. forces in Iraq in recent years. 08 Jul 2008 An Associated Press television cameraman who was detained by U.S. and Iraqi forces in early June was ordered held for at least six more months Tuesday for "imperative reasons of security," [!] the U.S. military said. The decision came as a surprise to the AP, which had earlier been led to believe that the cameraman, Ahmed Nouri Raziak, was likely to be released because of lack of any evidence against him. Raziak, 38, who has worked for AP Television News since 2003, was detained by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers at his home in Tikrit on June 4. He was transferred last month to the U.S. military's detention facility at Camp Cropper near Baghdad International Airport. "We are shocked that another AP journalist is to be held for at least six months without charges, and are awaiting information that could shed light on this strange decision," said John Daniszewski, AP Managing Editor for International News. [Why hasn't anyone raided the detention facility and freed him?]  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.onenewsnow.com  Date: July 8, 2008)
Reuters seeks U.S. army video of staff killed in Iraq 11 Jul 2008 The U.S. military said on Friday it was still 'processing' a request by Reuters for video footage from U.S. helicopters and other materials relating to the killing of two Iraqi staff in Baghdad a year ago. Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed in a U.S. helicopter air strike in eastern Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Reuters wants all the materials to be able to study what happened. For comlete story, click here.

Iraqis tortured by UK military settle case for $6M 10 Jul 2008 A major case involving the abuse and torture of 10 Iraqi civilians at the hands of the British military was settled Thursday, with lawyers for the victims saying the Ministry of Defense agreed to pay them just under $6 million. The settlement involves the family of slain hotel clerk Baha Mousa and nine others who suffered injuries while in the custody of British forces in southern Iraq, said the law firm Leigh Day & Co.  For complete story, click here.

'I am angered that the department (of defense) appears to lack the urgency and outrage that all of us in this room share today.' Former KBR electricians criticize contractors' work 11 Jul 2008 KBR Inc. used employees with little electrical expertise to supervise subcontractors in Iraq and hired foreigners who couldn't speak English, former KBR electricians told a Senate panel investigating electrocutions of 13 Americans. Experienced electricians who raised concerns about shoddy work and its possible hazards were often dismissed and told, "This is a war zone," the electricians said Friday. "Time and again we heard, 'This is not the states, OSHA doesn't apply here. If you don't like it you can go home,'" said Debbie Crawford, a journeyman electrician with 30 years experience.  For complete story, click here.
Secret Red Cross Report of C.I.A. Torture of Captives: Book --'The abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.' 11 Jul 2008 Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level 'Qaeda' prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes, according to a new book on counterterrorism efforts since 2001. The book says that the International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were "categorically" torture, which is illegal under both American and international law.  For complete story, click here.
U.S. military to patrol Internet 30 Jun 2008 The U.S. military is looking for a contractor to patrol cyberspace, watching for warning signs of forthcoming terrorist attacks or other hostile activity on the Web. In a solicitation posted on the Web last week, the U.S. Army's Fifth Signal Command said it was looking for a contractor to provide "Internet awareness services" to support "force protection" -- the term of art for the security of U.S. military installations and personnel. "The purpose of the services will be to identify and assess stated and implied threat, antipathy, unrest and other contextual data relating to selected Internet domains," says the solicitation. The solicitation says the successful contractor will "analyze various Web pages, chat rooms, blogs and other Internet domains to aggregate and assess data of interest."  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.upi.com  Date: June 30, 2008)
Breaking: Senate Approves Telecom Immunity and New Eavesdropping Rules 09 Jul 2008 The Senate has approved a bill overhauling the rules on secret government eavesdropping and granting immunity to telecom companies that helped listen in on Americans after Sept. 11. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday, 69-28. It turned back three amendments that would have watered down, delayed or stripped away the immunity provision demanded by President [sic] Bush. (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.nytimes.com  Date: July 9, 2008)
Want some torture with your peanuts? By Jeffrey Denning 01 Jul 2008 A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers. This bracelet would take the place of an airline boarding pass; contain personal information about the traveler; be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage and shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes. The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it's referred to as, would be worn by every traveler "until they disembark the flight at their destination." According to a letter from DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, to the inventor whom he had previously met with, he wrote, "To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in…the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal." Not only could it be used as a physical restraining device, but also as a method of interrogation, according to the same aforementioned letter from Mr. Ruwaldt.  For complete story, click here.
Prototype Remote-Activated Wrist Stun-Device Shocks You For Aeroplane Security 08 Jul 2008 An official in the Department of Homeland Security has "expressed great interest" in a wrist bracelet that can be remotely activated to stun the wearer. It works by taking the place of a boarding pass, which you then wear on your wrist so the flight attendants can know who you are, where you are, and even shock you if you're misbehaving.  For complete story, click here.
Files show US military planned nerve gas testing in Australia 06 Jul 2008 There are revelations the United States military was planning to test deadly nerve gas in north eastern Australia in far north Queensland rainforest in the 1960s. Australian Defence Department files obtained by Australian television station Channel Nine, show the US was planning to test Sarin and VX nerve gas on up to 200 Australian combat troops by aerial bombing areas around Lockhart River. The plan never went ahead, but American survey teams inspected the proposed testing site.  For complete story, click here.
'Germ warfare' fear over African monkeys taken to Iran 06 Jul 2008 Hundreds of endangered monkeys are being taken from the African bush and sent to a “secretive” laboratory in Iran for scientific experiments. An undercover inquiry by The Sunday Times has revealed that wild monkeys, which are banned from experiments in Britain, are being freely supplied in large numbers to laboratories in other parts of the world [such as the US and the UK]. Monkeys are commonly used to test vaccines for 'biological weapon' diseases such as anthrax and plague. Experimenting on monkeys caught in the wild was effectively banned in Britain in 1997. Only monkeys bred in captivity are now used for research -- America, Russia, China and Iran are among the countries still using wild monkeys. [Oh, so torturing animals in the US, UK, Russia and China is OK - because the  animals are wild instead of bred for a lab?] For complete story, click here.
'While the FBI was busy collecting fingerprints, the military was setting up its own biometrics database, adding in iris and facial data as well.' U.S. fingerprints insurgents, prisoners and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq 06 Jul 2008 In the six-and-a-half years that the U.S. government has been fingerprinting 'insurgents,' prisoners and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, hundreds have turned out to share an unexpected background, FBI and military officials said. They have criminal arrest records in the United States... If Iraq and Afghanistan were a proving ground of sorts for biometric watch-listing, the U.S. government is moving quickly to try to build a domestic version. Since September 2006, Homeland Security and the FBI have been operating a pilot program in which police officers in Boston, Dallas and Houston run prints of arrestees against Homeland Security and State Department databases.  For complete story, click here.
Iraqi torture victims slam UK 'contempt' --Father of Baha Musa says MoD views lives as cheap, as he flies in for talks over his son's death 06 Jul 2008 Iraqi civilians who were tortured by British soldiers say the government is treating them with 'contempt' ahead of a potential multi-million-pound payout for the abuse they suffered. The eight Iraqis arrived in London yesterday for this week's long-awaited mediation into how much compensation the government is willing to pay to civilians who were tortured while held in British custody. The eight accused the Ministry of Defence last night of trying to block them from attending the high-profile meeting... Musa, 26, had suffered 93 identifiable injuries at the hands of British soldiers in Basra in September 2003. He had died after being subjected to 36 hours of beatings and abusive treatment, including being double-hooded with hessian sacks in stifling conditions.  For complete story, click here.
Indonesia seeks to shut Navy lab researching avian flu --Health Minister: Viruses shared with U.S. could be turned into biological weapons. Politicians say the U.S. facility doesn't benefit Indonesia and could be a cover for spying. 05 Jul 2008 Indonesia suspended negotiations with the United States over the fate of a U.S. Navy medical research lab here [Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2] last month after senior politicians said it didn't benefit Indonesia and could be a cover for spying. The biomedical research lab opened in Jakarta in 1970 and is used to 'study' tropical diseases, including malaria, dengue fever and avian flu, according to an embassy fact sheet... After announcing a ban on virus-sharing in January 2007, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari published a book in which she warned that any viruses shared with other countries could be turned into biological weapons. She also recounted a meeting in Geneva with John E. Lange, the U.S. special representative for pandemic flu, in which she told him, "It is not impossible that there will be a group of people in developed countries insane enough to reengineer the viruses to create an outbreak in the Third World." [See: Killer flu recreated in the lab 07 Oct 2004; Congress Set to Pass Law Eliminating Liability For Vaccine Injuries 19 Oct 2005; Rumsfeld's growing stake in Tamiflu 31 Oct 2005; DoD to 'augment civilian law' during pandemic or bioterror attack 11 May 2007.]  For complete story, click here.
AP: Race profiling, travel history eyed for FBI terror probes 02 Jul 2008 The 'Justice' Department is considering letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead on a terrorist profile that could single out Muslims, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups. The new rules would allow the FBI to consider those factors among a number of traits that could trigger a national security investigation. Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons -- like evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated -- to investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents. The new policy, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press, would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious. Among the factors that could make someone subject of an investigation is travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, access to weapons or military training, along with the person's race or ethnicity. [Gee, shouldn't such profiling also be known as 'the last straw?']  For complete story, click here.
'Communist torture' used at Guantanamo Bay 03 Jul 2008 A chart outlining "coercive management techniques" for US interrogators at Guantanamo Bay was copied verbatim from a 1957 US Air Force study of Chinese communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions - many of them false - from US prisoners. The New York Times reported the chart listed techniques for use on prisoners including "sleep deprivation", "prolonged constraint" and "exposure". Reporting the origins of the chart, the paper said it was the latest and most vivid evidence of the way communist interrogation methods the US has long condemned as torture became the basis for interrogations by the military at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA is still authorised by US President [sic] George W. Bush to use a range of secret "alternative" interrogation methods. In 2002, the training program, known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, became a source of interrogation methods for the CIA and the US military. In what critics describe as a remarkable case of historical amnesia, the officials who drew on the SERE program appear to have been unaware it was created as a result of concerns about false confessions by US prisoners.  For complete story, click here.
Homeless people die after bird flu vaccine trial in Poland 02 Jul 2008 Three Polish doctors and six nurses are facing criminal prosecution after a number of homeless people died following medical trials for a vaccine to the H5N1 bird-flu virus. The medical staff, from the northern town of Grudziadz, are being investigated over medical trials on as many as 350 homeless and poor people last year, which prosecutors say involved an untried vaccine to the highly-contagious virus. Authorities claim that the alleged victims received £1-2 to be tested with what they thought was a conventional flu vaccine but, according to investigators, was actually an anti bird-flu drug.  For complete story, click here.
'On five occasions he was ordered to either falsify his reporting on WMD in the Near East, or not to file his reports at all.' Ex-Agent Says CIA Ignored Iran Facts 01 Jul 2008 A former CIA operative who says he tried to warn the agency about faulty intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs now contends that CIA officials also ignored evidence that Iran had suspended work on a nuclear bomb. The onetime undercover agent, who has been barred by the CIA from using his real name, filed a motion in federal court late Friday asking the government to declassify legal documents describing what he says was a deliberate suppression of findings on Iran that were contrary to agency views at the time.  For complete story, click here.
US to carry on military trials at Guantanamo despite ruling 24 Jun 2008 Hearings for terrorism suspects before US military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay are going ahead despite a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the prisoners have a right to challenge their detention in a civilian court. Legal experts had described the high court's decision as the death knell of the special tribunals created by President [sic] George W Bush and his Republican allies in Congress to try "war on terror" suspects. But Justice Department chief Michael Mukasey said the controversial tribunals at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would continue their work and last week, two preliminary hearings were held as scheduled.  For complete story, click here.
Ex-Pentagon Lawyer Says He Researched 'Real Manchurian Candidate Stuff' 17 Jun 2008 A former Pentagon lawyer scheduled to testify today before the Senate Armed Forces Committee told the New York Times he researched psychological studies about the effects of interrogation after his superiors expressed frustration about Guantanamo detainees withholding information. The lawyer, Richard Schiffrin, said the information he obtained included studies of North Koreans’ [and CIA] attempted mind-control experiments on American prisoners during the Korean War. "It was real Manchurian Candidate stuff," he told the Times. The revelation comes amid disclosures that Pentagon lawyers played a more active and earlier role than previously disclosed in developing aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo, the story says.  For complete story, click here.
Pentagon blasts KBR's 'illegal' post-Katrina operation --Contract 'illegal,' Navy overcharged millions, work poor 19 Jun 2008 Pentagon investigative report alleges the firm KBR Inc. held an illegal contract, overcharged millions to the Navy and produced shoddy workmanship on its South Mississippi jobs after Katrina. A report released by the Department of Defense's Office of the Inspector General says KBR worked on Navy facilities in Gulfport, Pascagoula, at Stennis Space Center and in Pensacola, among other Gulf Coast sites after hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. The group holds a $500 million disaster-recovery contract with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic based in Norfolk, Va., which was struck in 2004. [Cui bono? KBR had 500 million reasons for Bush to blow the levies.]  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.sunherald.com  Date: June 19, 2008)
US asks to rewrite official evidence against detainees: AP 20 Jun 2008 The Bush regime wants to rewrite the official evidence against Guantanamo Bay prisoners, allowing it to shore up its cases before they come under scrutiny by civilian judges for the first time. The government has stood behind the evidence for years. Now that federal judges are about to review the evidence, however, the government says it needs to make changes. At Guantanamo Bay, the traditional rules of evidence do not apply in 'trials' run by the military. In a Washington federal courtroom, they would. "It's a totally fishy maneuver that suggests that the government wants, at the 11th hour, to get its ducks in a row," said Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney representing several detainees. For complete story, click here.
Breaking: DemocRATs surrender (not really 'breaking news,' but:) House Approves Spy Bill Protecting Phone Firms 20 Jun 2008 House passes surveillance bill --The 'Compromise' allows for expansion of government powers -- wiretapping with out warrants in 'emergency' situations' -- and for telecom immunity for 'past and future' cooperation with the US government.  For complete story, click here.
Breaking: 'The lawsuits will be dismissed.' Deal reached in Congress: Expand govt powers on wiretapping, grant immunity to telecoms 20 Jun 2008 Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress struck a deal on Thursday to overhaul the rules on the government’s wiretapping powers and provide what amounts to legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in President [sic] Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program after the Sept. 11 attacks. The deal, expanding the government's powers in some key respects, would allow intelligence officials to use broad warrants to eavesdrop on foreign targets and conduct emergency wiretaps without court orders on American targets for a week if it is determined important national security information would be lost otherwise... Senator Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who pushed unsuccessfully for more civil liberties safeguards in the plan, called the deal "a capitulation" by his fellow DemocRATs.  For complete story, click here.
Ex-judge, family indicted on human trafficking charges--June 18th, 2008--A former Fulton County magistrate judge, along with his son, a Forsyth County deputy, and his son's wife, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on human trafficking charges involving a nanny from India.  William Garrett Jr., 72, an Alpharetta lawyer; deputy sheriff Russell Garrett, 43; and Malika Garrett, 42, were charged in a nine-count indictment.  For complete story, click here.
General Accuses White House of War Crimes 18 Jun 2008 The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability. In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees." He called the abuse "systemic and illegal." Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation. The new report, he writes, "tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual's lives on their bodies and minds... In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. . . . After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account." [See: 'I saw ___ fucking a kid...' (Graphic) Source: The "Taguba Report" On Treatment Of Abu Ghraib Prisoners In Iraq, statement by Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, Detainee #151108, 1300/18 Jan 2004, as published by The Washington Post.]  For complete story, click here.
VA testing drugs on war veterans--June 17th, 2008--The government is testing drugs with severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior on hundreds of military veterans, using small cash payments to attract patients into medical experiments that often target distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, a Washington Times/ABC News investigation has found.  In one such experiment involving the controversial anti-smoking drug Chantix, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took three months to alert its patients about severe mental side effects. The warning did not arrive until after one of the veterans taking the drug had suffered a psychotic episode that ended in a near lethal confrontation with police.  Veteran James Elliott arrives at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington for his scheduled substance-abuse class in April. Mr. Elliott, a chain smoker, served 15 months in Iraq as an Army sharpshooter and suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.  Iraq war veteran James Elliott opted for a government clinical trial for a smoking-cessation drug for $30 a month, starting in November. Two weeks later, the FDA informed the VA of serious side effects.  Iraq war veteran James Elliott smokes on his porch in Silver Spring as he talks about his experiences in war and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Mr. Elliott suffered a psychotic episode while taking the anti-smoking drug Chantix.  James Elliott, a decorated Army sharpshooter who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving 15 months in Iraq, was confused and psychotic when he was Tasered by police in February as he reached for a concealed handgun when officers responded to a 911 call at his Maryland home.  For complete story, click here.
Report: Exams reveal US electric shock torture of detainees --Report reveals medical evidence of torture, including beatings and electric shock --Study calls on U.S. government to issue a formal apology to tortured detainees 18 Jun 2008 Former terrorist suspects detained by the United States were tortured, according to medical examinations detailed in a report released Wednesday by a human rights group. The Massachusetts-based Physicians for Human Rights reached that conclusion after two-day clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees, who had been held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan. The prisoners were never charged with crimes. In a 121-page report, the doctors' group said that it uncovered medical evidence of torture, including beatings, electric shock, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, sodomy and scores of other abuses.  For complete story, click here.
U.S. Torture of Detainees Caused Severe Pain, Long-Term Suffering 17 Jun 2008 A team of doctors and psychologists convened by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to conduct intensive clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees held in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay has found that these men suffered torture and ill-treatment by U.S. personnel, which resulted in severe pain and long-term disability. The men were ultimately released from U.S. custody without charge or explanation. For complete story, click here.
Government "Strike Teams" Invade Homes, Harass Flood Victims --Cops break down doors, threaten residents who question them as part of martial law conditioning, authorities prevent people from re-entering their homes By Paul Joseph Watson 18 Jun 2008 Shocking footage out of Cedar Rapids Iowa shows cops and government employee "strike teams" breaking into houses of flood victims and threatening anyone who questions their actions in complete violation of the 4th amendment right that protects against unlawful search and seizure.  For complete story, click here.
Protesters clash with police in attempt to storm Whitehall 16 Jun 2008 Police wielding batons clashed with protesters last night when a demonstration against George Bush's farewell visit to Britain turned violent a few hundred metres from where the US President [sic] was dining with Gordon Brown. Within the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, officers dressed in riot gear skirmished with several hundred demonstrators who had been attending a rally organised by the Stop the War Coalition... Police drew batons and truncheons in an attempt to push back a crowd which at 6.20pm moved from the rally on Parliament Square to try to gain entry to Whitehall. A squad of riot officers and horses were later sent to reinforce the barricade as protesters chanting "George Bush, terrorist" and "Bush go home" repeatedly tried to break through the reinforced crowd barriers and concrete blocks. For complete story, click here.
Kristol: McCain and Graham Plan to Introduce Legislation Undermining Supreme Court Decision On Guantanamo --Post by Amanda 15 Jun 2008 Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo Bay detainees have the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wasted no time in publicly blasting the decision, saying they were "disappointed" in "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country..." Today on Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol revealed that "very soon" -- likely as early as next week -- McCain and Graham will be introducing legislation to undermine the Supreme Court decision by setting up a "national security court."  For complete story, click here.
Army Reserve teams with D.C. Police to boost employment 13 Jun 2008 The Army Reserve recruited the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department in its new initiative to partner with public and private sector employers to jointly recruit, train and employ individuals. Either side can recruit an individual for the program, to let employees get Army training and enhance Army operations. D.C.'s police department, which hires 300 police officers per year, could be handed a solider who's graduated from military police school with security clearances... By this fall, they hope to have 400 to 500 companies signed up.  For complete story, click here.
Video: Alex Jones on The Death Of The Internet--June 12th, 2008--Alex explains why websites like Prison Planet, (HEAL) and Infowars will cease to exist if big corporations achieve their agenda of shifting the Internet over to a regulated, restricted pay-per-view format similar to a cable TV subscription.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.thealexjonesshow.com  Date: June 12, 2008)
Breaking: Blow to Bush: Guantanamo Prisoners Have Rights in Court --Supreme Court Says Foreigners at Guantanamo Have Constitutional Right to Challenge Detention 12 Jun 2008 The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. The justices handed the Bush regime its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The vote was 5-4, with the court's liberal justices in the majority.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://abcnews.go.com Date: June 12, 2008)
Bush pushes biometrics for national security --Agencies are required by the directive to make available for sharing with other agencies... all biometric and associated biographical information for individuals about whom authorities have an "articulable and reasonable suspicion that they pose a threat to national security." 06 Jun 2008 The Bush administration has required agencies to increase their capability to share among themselves biometric information on people believed to pose a threat to national security. A presidential directive issued June 5 requires the increased compatibility of methods agencies use to collect, store and share fingerprints, face and iris recognition data and behavioral characteristics to identify and screen "known and suspected terrorists." The directive also applies to other categories of individuals the directive said would be identified soon who may also pose a threat to national security.  For complete story, click here.
U.K. rights group: U.S. has photographic evidence of torture 11 Jun 2008 The U.S. government has photographic evidence that a Guantanamo Bay inmate was tortured with a knife after being taken to Morocco by U.S. forces, a British human rights group said Tuesday. Reprieve said their client, Binyam Mohamed, had his genitals slashed repeatedly with a doctor's scalpel while in custody in Morocco after he was flown there from Pakistan by American officials in 2002. It also said his U.S. captors later took pictures of the torture to show authorities that his wounds were healing.  For complete story, click here.
'It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history.' BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions --A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations. 10 Jun 2008 A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. For the first time, the extent to which some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding has been researched by the BBC's Panorama using US and Iraqi government sources. A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations. The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies... In the run-up to the invasion one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth seven billion that was given to Halliburton.  For complete story, click here.
'Now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation.' Iraqi lawmakers say U.S. demanding 58 military bases 09 Jun 2008 Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed "status of forces" agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely. Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal along with another U.S. demand that would effectively hand over the power to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq. Lawmakers said they fear this power would drag Iraq into a war between the United States and Iran. "The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation," said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. "We were occupied by order of the Security Council," he said, referring to the 2004 Resolution mandating a U.S. military occupation in Iraq at the head of an international coalition. "But now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far." For complete story, click here.
GOVERNMENT MANIPULATING DATA ON WORKERS INJURIES AT SLAUGHTERHOUSES--For over two decades, the meatpacking industry has held the undesirable position as America's most dangerous industry. The rate of injury among workers began escalating during the union-busting days of the 1980s. For example, the repetitive-motion-disorder incidence rate is 30 times higher for meatpacking workers than the average for all private industries. Disregarding worker's rights, government officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, appointed by President Bush, have dramatically altered laws that were originally designed to require industry to report worker injuries. As a result of the new law, government statistics now inaccurately indicate that worker's injuries have magically dropped by 50%, thereby taking the heat off the meatpacking industry to improve working environments. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_12659.cfm  For complete story, click here.
'Baghdad-style' checkpoints in US capital --Police in Washington DC have set up vehicle checkpoints in the American capital in a controversial measure 09 Jun 2008 In a move that critics have compared to the security clampdown in Baghdad, police are stopping motorists travelling through the main thoroughfare of Trinidad, a neighbourhood near the National Arboretum in the city's northeast section. Drivers' identification are checked and those who didn't have a "legitimate purpose" in the area are turned away.  For complete story, click here.
Hidden Drug Payments at Harvard--June 10th, 2008--Three prominent psychiatrists at the Harvard Medical School and its affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital have been caught vastly underreporting their income from drug companies whose fortunes could be affected by their studies and their promotional efforts on behalf of aggressive drug treatments. Their failure to divulge their conflicts is striking proof that today's requirements for reporting payments from industry - essentially an honor system in which researchers are supposed to reveal their outside income to their institutions - needs to be strengthened.

What makes this case particularly troublesome is that the Harvard group's research has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat children, as was described in The Times on Sunday by Gardiner Harris and Benedict Carey. Although supporters praise the most prominent of the trio, Dr. Joseph Biederman, as a visionary who has saved many lives, critics complain that the Harvard studies have been too small and loosely designed to provide conclusive results. Critics say they also were subject to biased interpretation through use of a subjective rating scale.

The previously unknown payments to the researchers were pried loose by Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, whose staff reviewed what the researchers disclosed on
conflict-of-interest forms at their institutions and prodded the university to verify the data as accurate. Under pressure, two of the researchers acknowledged receiving $1.6 million apiece in consulting fees from drug companies between 2000 and 2007 and the third reported earning more than $1 million. That was far more than the researchers had originally reported, a number that Mr. Grassley pegged at a couple hundred thousand dollars apiece.  Even the updated numbers left out other payments that drug companies reported separately that they had made to the trio.

At this point, it is not clear whether the researchers inadvertently failed to comply with reporting rules or consciously sought to hide their sizable incomes from drug companies. But it is clear that relying on researchers to report their outside incomes and on universities and hospitals to police the disclosures won't suffice. Senator Grassley and Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, have introduced a bill that would require drug and device makers to report annually any payments to doctors that exceed $500 a year.  That is the best way to ensure that conflicts of interest are transparent to all.  For complete story,
click here.
Breaking:  'President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.' Kucinich introduces Bush impeachment resolution 09 Jun 2008 Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich took to the House of Representatives floor on Monday evening to introduce a 35-count resolution to impeach President [sic] George W. Bush. Kucinich claimed Bush "fraudulently" justified the war on Iraq and misled "the American people and members of Congress to believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction so as to manufacture a false case for war." "President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office," Kucinich said.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  http://blog.cleveland.com  Date: June 9, 2008) Video:

Jailers at Guantanamo urged to destroy interrogation notes: lawyer --US interrogators may have "routinely destroyed evidence" that might have been used to defend prisoners 08 Jun 2008 US interrogators of "war on terror" prisoners were instructed to destroy handwritten notes that might have exposed harsh or even illegal questioning methods at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a lawyer for one of the prisoners said Sunday. Navy Lieutenant Commander Bill Kuebler said in a statement sent to reporters he considers the notes crucial to the defense of his client, Canadian Omar Khadr, during his upcoming 'trial' by a special military tribunal at the US naval base. Kuebler said the instructions were handed down to interrogators from the US Department of Defense as part of a standard operating procedure or "SOP" directive that he obtained from prosecutors last week.  For complete story, click here.
D.C. Police to Set Up Military-Style Checkpoint --Other checkpoints possible if requested by patrol commanders and approved by police chief --Hundreds of patrol officers to be armed with semiautomatic rifles, starting this summer 05 Jun 2008 D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced a military-style checkpoint yesterday to stop cars this weekend in a Northeast Washington neighborhood inundated by gun violence, saying it will help keep criminals out of the area. Starting on Saturday, officers will check drivers' identification and ask whether they have a "legitimate purpose" to be in the Trinidad area. If not, the drivers will be turned away. "In certain areas, we need to go beyond the normal methods of policing," Fenty (D) said at a news conference announcing the action... "My reaction is, welcome to Baghdad, D.C.," said Arthur Spitzer, legal director for the ACLU's Washington office. [Yeah, we also need an 'insurgency' to fight the Bush occupation. --LRP]  For complete story, click here.
Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control --Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors 05 Jun 2008 A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November. The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.  For complete story, click here.

New agreement lets US strike any country from inside Iraq --Sources: US army is completing the building of military facilities and runways for permanent bases 03 Jun 2008 A proposed Iraqi-American security agreement will include permanent American bases in the country, and the right for the United States to strike, from within Iraqi territory, any country it considers a threat to its national security, Gulf News has learned. Senior Iraqi military sources have told Gulf News that the long-term controversial agreement is likely to include three major items:

  • Iraqi security institutions such as Defence, Interior and National Security ministries, as well as armament contracts, will be under US supervision for ten years
  • Agreement is also likely to give US forces permanent military bases in Iraq
  • US is granted the right to move against any country considered to be a threat against world stability or acting against Iraqi or American interests  For complete story, click here.
Howard accused of war crimes over Iraq troop deployment 02 Jun 2008 A legal brief has been sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging former prime minister John Howard committed a war crime by sending troops to Iraq. A loose alliance of peace activists, lawyers, academics and politicians is behind the brief, organised by the ICC Action group in Melbourne. Organiser Glen Floyd says Mr Howard should be held accountable for sending troops to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations. "We have produced a 52-page brief of evidence which states to the chief prosecutor of the criminal court that we allege John Howard's actions are war crimes under article 8 of the Rome Statute," he said.  For complete story, click here.

Bugliosi Would Seek Death Penalty for Bush--May 31st, 2008--If Vincent Bugliosi were prosecuting George W. Bush for the murder of the more than 4,000 American soldiers who have died in Iraq, he would seek the death penalty.”If I were the prosecutor, there is no question I would seek the death penalty,” Bugliosi told Corporate Crime Reporter in a wide-ranging interview.

Bugliosi is the author of the just published book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (Vanguard Press, 2008).

“I’m urging here that an American jury try George Bush for first degree murder. I want to see him on trial for murder before an American jury. And if they convict him, it will be up to the jury to decide what his punishment is. One of the options would be the imposition of the death penalty. If I were prosecuting him, absolutely I would seek the death penalty. As Governor of Texas, George Bush signed death warrants - 152 out of 152 - most of them for people who only committed one murder.”

Bugliosi said he is sending a copy of his book to all fifty state Attorneys General, offering his assistance in prosecuting Bush for homicide.

“I’m herein enclosing a copy of my book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder,” Bugliosi writes in the letter to the Attorneys General. “I hope you will find the time to read it and that you will agree with its essential conclusion - that George W. Bush is guilty of murder for the deaths of over 4,000 American soldiers who have died fighting his war in Iraq.”

Bugliosi said he’s also meeting with a high profile California District Attorney to urge him to bring the case.  For complete story, click here.

Prison ships, torture claims, and missing detainees --America may have held terror suspects in British territory, despite UK denials 02 Jun 2008 The controversy over prison ships was first highlighted in June 2005 when the UN's special rapporteur on terrorism spoke of "very, very serious" allegations that the US was secretly detaining terrorism suspects in various locations around the world, notably on vessels in the Indian Ocean. The US authorities have not denied that ships have been used to incarcerate detainees... According to a US Congress report, up to 14,000 people may have been victims of rendition and secret detention since 2001. Some reports estimate there have been twice as many. The US admits to have captured more than 80,000 prisoners in its "war on terror".  For complete story, click here.
Blackwater buys Brazilian-made fighter plane: Report 01 Jun 2008 A subsidiary of U.S. military security contractor [Bush's Waffen-SS] Blackwater Worldwide has purchased a fighter plane from the Brazilian aviation company Embraer, a Brazilian newspaper reported Sunday. The 314-B1 Super Tucano propeller-driven fighter -- the same used by the Brazilian military -- was bought for $4.5 million and delivered to EP Aviation at the end of February, according to the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper. The report included the plane's registration number with the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency, and the FAA website confirmed it is registered by EP Aviation.  For complete story, click here.
US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships --Report says 17 boats used --MPs seek details of UK role 02 Jun 2008 The United States is operating "floating prisons" to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of prisoners. The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President [sic] George Bush declared that the practice had stopped. According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as "floating prisons" since 2001. Prisoners are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.   For complete story, click here.
Judge critical of Guantanamo war crimes case is dismissed --Army Col. Peter Brownback III had threatened to suspend proceedings unless prosecutors handed over key records to the defense. 31 May 2008 A judge hearing a war crimes case at Guantanamo Bay who publicly expressed frustration with military prosecutors' refusal to give evidence to the defense has been dismissed, tribunal officials confirmed Friday. Army Col. Peter Brownback III was presiding over the case of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr. Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, in his role as chief judge at Guantanamo, ordered the dismissal without explanation and announced Brownback's replacement in an e-mail this week to lawyers in Khadr's case.  For complete story, click here.
Air Force Unit's Nuclear Weapons Security Is 'Unacceptable' 31 May 2008 The same Air Force unit at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota that was responsible for mishandling six nuclear cruise missiles last August failed key parts of a nuclear safety inspection this past weekend, according to a Defense Department report. The 5th Bomb Wing was given an "unacceptable" grade in security of nuclear weapons, according to the review by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. In another category, management and administration, it received a grade of "marginal..." Those are two areas where failures last summer allowed a B-52 at Minot to be loaded with six air-launched cruise missiles and flown to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana without the pilots, air or ground crews knowing they contained nuclear warheads. [See: Minot AFB Clandestine Nukes 'Oddities' 17 Sep 2007.]  For complete story, click here.
'The occupier is planting seeds of strife between the Muslims and Christians.' Iraqis claim Marines are pushing Christianity in Fallujah 28 May 2008  "They are trying to convert us to Christianity," said Muamar Anad, a Sunni Muslim like most residents of this city in Anbar province. Residents of Fallujah are abuzz that some Americans whom they consider occupiers are also acting as Christian missionaries. Residents said some Marines at the western entrance to their city have been passing out coins [with a Bible verse] for two days in what they call a "humiliating" attempt to convert them to Christianity.  For complete story, click here.
Morris Dees Discusses Upcoming Klan Trial--We go to court in November against the Imperial Klans of America for the vicious beating of a 16-year-old boy at a county fair in Kentucky. We hope to put this hate group out of business, and our team is hard at work preparing for the trial. Watch the video.  For complete story, click here.
US residents in military prisons? Govt says it's war 24 May 2008 Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri is a U.S. resident being held in a South Carolina military brig; he is the only enemy combatant held on U.S. soil. Al-Marri was captured six years ago. To justify holding him, the government claimed a broad interpretation of the president's wartime powers, one that goes beyond warrantless wiretapping or monitoring banking transactions. Government lawyers told federal judges that the president can send the military into any U.S. neighborhood, capture a citizen and hold him in prison without charge, indefinitely. Courts have gone back and forth on al-Marri's case as it worked its way through the system. If enemy combatants can be detained in the U.S., how long can they be held without charge? Without lawyers? Without access to the outside world? Forever? One judge questioned why there was such anxiety over the policy. After all, there have been no mass roundups of citizens [yet] and no indications the White House is coming for innocent Americans next. [See: KBR awarded $385M Homeland Security contract for U.S. detention centers 24 Jan 2006. See: DoD to 'augment civilian law' during pandemic or bioterror attack 11 May 2007.]  For complete story, click here.
Iran mosque blast plotters admit Israeli, US links: report 23 May 2008 Iran's chief prosecutor said bombers who caused a deadly blast at a mosque in Shiraz had confessed of links to Israel and the United States, the ISNA student news agency reported on Friday. They also admitted carrying out "one or two minor operations," the agency said. Earlier Friday, senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami said people had also plotted attacks in the holy city of Qom, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Tehran, and at a book fair held in the capital.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://news.yahoo.com  Date: May 23, 2008)

Autopsy report suggests teen wasn't taking meds properly--May 16th, 2008--Coroner officials released an autopsy report Friday suggesting that a slain Roosevelt High School sophomore who attacked a campus police officer was not taking proper dosages of drugs prescribed to control his mental illness.

Dr. David Hadden, Fresno County coroner, said it's clear that Jesus "Jesse" Carrizales, 17, had a high dose of the antidepressant Lexapro in his blood that could have caused him to be paranoid.

But the teen's blood also revealed he was not taking antipsychotic drugs.

Carrizales' family has said he was taking Lexapro and Geodon, an antipsychotic medication, for depression.

Hadden said it's far too early to draw conclusions about Carrizales' use of prescription drugs. People react differently to drugs and have different tolerances to them.

"This picture is not complete," Hadden said.

On a night when family and friends held a vigil at Roosevelt High, the findings of his autopsy reveal new information about the special education student who was classified as emotionally disturbed.

At the Friday night vigil, family members said they still were waiting to see what the final police report on the incident says. They also said they had submitted a list of questions to Fresno Unified and had yet to receive answers.

"It hurts very much every day, and it doesn't get any easier," said Elisa Ortega, Carrizales' sister.

Said his uncle, Gilbert Abarca: "Something has to change."

Gloria Hernandez, a mental health patient advocate who came to the vigil in support of the family, said the Police Department needs to provide training to officers in how to deal with the mentally ill.

"They need to learn how to de-escalate the situation," she said.

Ben Benavidez, of the Mexican-American Political Association, said the group is seeking an inquiry from the FBI and the state Attorney General's Office.

Police say Carrizales was killed April 16 after he attacked Fresno police officer Junus Perry with a sawed-off bat. Police say Carrizales was standing over Perry, ready to strike again, when the officer fired in self-defense.

The autopsy report confirmed an earlier account that Perry's bullet entered Carrizales' right shoulder in a slightly downward angle and hit an artery, causing him to bleed to death in a few minutes.

Hadden said it is clear that Perry fired his weapon in self-defense, but he said his staff still needs to talk to witnesses and police detectives to explain the bullet's path.

"Everything happened very rapidly," Hadden said, noting that the coroner's staff doesn't have a clear picture of whether Perry was on the ground or about to get up when he shot Carrizales.

The autopsy report essentially states what Police Chief Jerry Dyer has said of the incident:

Perry was struck on the head with a sawed-off bat as soon as he left his campus office. When Perry fell to the ground, Carrizales raised the bat again, causing the officer to pull out his duty weapon. When the bullet magazine fell out of the gun, Perry grabbed another gun -- a 40-caliber Glock semiautomatic -- from his ankle holster. He then shot Carrizales once.

The bullet hit the clavicle -- or collarbone -- and then damaged an artery and the spinal cord before lodging in the spine, the autopsy report states.

The autopsy showed Carrizales' blood had a "lethal level" of Lexapro. His blood and urine were tested for Quetiapine and Risperidone -- two antipsychotic drugs used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Neither drug was found in Carrizales' system, the report states.

In general, "lethal level" means that in some people, that amount would kill them, Hadden said. A toxic level of Lexapro also could cause paranoia in some people, but not everyone. The drug's effect would depend on whether Carrizales had built up a tolerance to the antidepressant, Hadden said.

The autopsy report shows that Carrizales' blood was not tested for Geodon. Hadden said his staff was told Carrizales was taking Quetiapine and Risperidone. But Carrizales' family said Friday night at the vigil that no one asked them what drugs Carrizales was taking.

Hadden said if it is confirmed that Carrizales was taking Geodon, another test will be requested.

The case is difficult, Hadden said, because neither he nor his staff are experts in prescription drugs. "We know a lot about heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs, but we know very little about therapeutic drugs," he said.

The staff plans to consult a psychiatrist to help them understand Carrizales' medication.

Police spokesman Jeff Cardinale said the findings in the autopsy report were "not unanticipated."

Police knew Carrizales was supposed to be on medication, but detectives have focused their attention on Carrizales' actions, as well as the actions of Perry, Cardinale said.

"Everything in the report we knew already," Cardinale said.

The report said Carrizales was shot at 11:53 a.m. April 16. Carrizales was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:07 p.m. The autopsy was performed from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. the following day.

These times can help determine when Carrizales last took his medication.

Fresno pharmacist Nancy Asai, who is not associated with the case, said Lexapro can stay in a person's blood much longer that the antipsychotic drugs Quetiapine and Risperidone.

Dr. Barry Chaitin, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine, said in general, Lexapro is "pretty safe" even at high doses. The lack of antipsychotic medicine in Carrizales' system, however, is troubling -- those drugs are typically prescribed to help people cope with aggression, psychosis, hostility and hallucinations, he said.

Carrizales' behavior is difficult to explain, said Chaitin. On one hand, Carrizales' family has said that the medication helped him become more sociable. But police say Carrizales sneaked up on Perry from behind and attacked the officer without provocation.

"His conduct appears way out of the ordinary because the attack sounds premeditated," Chaitin said. "He must have had a misperception that the officer was a threat to him."  (Unable to locate story a time of archiving.  Source: www.fresnobee.com  Date:  May 16, 2008)

US says detains 500 juveniles in Iraq, 10 in Afghanistan --Civil liberties groups denounce detentions as abhorrent, and a violation of U.S. treaty obligations. 19 May 2008 The U.S. military is holding about 500 juveniles suspected of being "unlawful enemy combatants" in detention centers in Iraq and has about 10 detained at the U.S. base at Bagram, Afghanistan, the United States has told the United Nations. A total of 2,500 youths under the age of 18 have been imprisoned, almost all in Iraq, for periods up to a year or more in President [sic] George W. Bush's anti-terrorism campaign since 2002, the United States reported last week to the U.N.'s Committee on the Rights of the Child.  For complete story, click here.
US attack on Baghdad media hotel no accident: rights group 19 May 2008 A media rights group called for a full probe into a 2003 US shelling that killed two foreign journalists at a Baghdad hotel, claiming that new evidence showed the incident was not an accident. The International Federation of Journalists said the United States should "tell the whole truth" about the incident at the Palestine Hotel on April 8, 2003, just a day before Baghdad fell to US invading forces.  For complete story, click here.
Iran busts CIA terror network 18 May 2008 The Intelligence Ministry on Saturday released details of the detection and dismantling of a terrorist network affiliated to the United States. In a coordinated operation on May 7, Iranian intelligence agents arrested the terrorist network’s members, who were identified in Fars, Khuzestan, Gilan, West Azerbaijan, and Tehran provinces, the Intelligence Ministry announcement said. The group’s plans were devised in the U.S., according to the announcement, which added that they had planned to carry out a number of acts such as bombing scientific, educational, and religious centers, shooting people, and making public places in various cities insecure. For complete story, click here.
U.S. Planning Big New Prison in Afghanistan --Pentagon planning to use $60 million in emergency construction funds to build detention center to hold 600 prisoners - or as many as 1,100 in a surge 17 May 2008 The Pentagon is moving forward with plans to build a new, 40-acre [KBR?] detention complex on the main American military base in Afghanistan, officials said, in a stark acknowledgment that the United States is likely to continue to hold prisoners overseas for years to come. The proposed detention center would replace the cavernous, makeshift American prison on the Bagram military base north of Kabul, which is now typically packed with about 630 prisoners, compared with the 270 held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  For complete story, click here.
U.S.-trained forces reportedly helping Mexican cartels --U.S.-trained Mexican security personnel have 'became assassins and recruiters for the Mexican drug cartels.' 14 May 2008 As many as 200 U.S.-trained Mexican security personnel have defected to drug cartels to carry out killings on both sides of the border and as far north as Dallas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, told Congress on Wednesday. The renegade members of Mexico's elite 'counter'-narcotics teams trained at Fort Benning, Ga., have switched sides, contributing to a wave of violence that has claimed some 6,000 victims over the past 30 months, including prominent law enforcement leaders, the Houston-area Republican told the House Foreign Affairs Committee... George Bush's blueprint calls for $1.4 billion in training, equipment and 'law enforcement' assistance to Mexico and Central America over three years. Bush also is seeking $500 million in emergency assistance for Mexico this year as part of the supplemental war spending measure.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source:  www.chron.com  Date: May 14, 2008)

Medical marijuana user who was denied liver transplant dies--May 2nd, 2008--A man who was denied a liver transplant largely because he used marijuana with medical approval to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C has died. 

Timothy Garon, 56, died Thursday at Bailey-Boushay House, an intensive care nursing center, said his lawyer, Douglas Hiatt, and Alisha Mark, a spokeswoman for Virginia Mason Medical Center, which operates Bailey-Boushay.

His death came a week after a doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list. The team had previously told him it would not consider placing him on the list until he completed a 60-day drug-treatment class.

The case highlights an ethical consideration for those allocating organs for transplant: whether using dope with a doctor's blessing should be held against a dying patient in need of a transplant.

The Virginia-based United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation's transplant system, leaves it to individual hospitals to develop criteria for transplant candidates.

At some, people who use "illicit substances" — including medical marijuana, even in the dozen states that allow it — are automatically rejected. At others, patients are given a chance to reapply if they stay clean for six months. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Dr. Brad Roter, who authorized Garon to smoke pot to alleviate nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Garon were to need a transplant.  For complete story, click here.

Air Force Aims for 'Full Control' of 'Any and All' Computers By Noah Shachtman 13 May 2008 The Air Force wants a suite of hacker tools, to give it "access" to -- and "full control" of -- any kind of computer there is. And once the info warriors are in, the Air Force wants them to keep tabs on their "adversaries' information infrastructure completely undetected." The government is growing increasingly interested in waging war online. The Air Force recently put together a "Cyberspace Command," with a charter to rule networks the way its fighter jets rule the skies. The Department of Homeland Security, Darpa, and other agencies are teaming up for a five-year, $30 billion "national cybersecurity initiative."  For complete story, click here.
Bush: Democratic presidency could lead to another terror attack on U.S. 13 May 2008 President [sic] Bush said on Tuesday he was disappointed in "flawed intelligence" before the Iraq war and was concerned that if a Democrat wins the presidency in November and withdrew troops prematurely it could "eventually lead to another attack on the United States." He acknowledged concerns about leaving the unfinished [lost] Iraq war to a Democratic successor. Bush said his "doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States."  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.chron.com  Date: May 13, 2008)
'I have determined that you pose a security threat.' Blunt Federal Letters Tell Students They're Security Threats 13 May 2008 A German graduate student in oceanography at M.I.T. applied to the Transportation Security Administration for a new ID card allowing him to work around ships and docks. What the student, Wilken-Jon von Appen, received in return was a letter that not only turned him down but added an ominous warning from John M. Busch, a security administration official: "I have determined that you pose a security threat." Similar letters have gone to 5,000 applicants across the country who have at least initially been turned down for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential, an ID card meant to guard against acts of terrorism, agency officials said Monday.  For complete story, click here.
FDA Scraps Helsinki Declaration on Protecting Human Subjects--In the mid-1990s, the National Institutes of Health ran a clinical trial in Africa testing whether a new antiretroviral drug to combat AIDS worked to prevent mother-child transmission. The trial created an ethical uproar because the control group received a placebo instead of an older anti-AIDS drug called AZT, which had already been proven successful in reducing the number of babies who contracted HIV from their mothers.

To critics, failure to provide a proven therapy to participants in this and similar trials was a basic violation of standards outlined in the Helsinki Declaration on protecting human subjects in research, originally adopted by the World Medical Association in 1964. But to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the drug industry, to which it had grown increasingly close over the course of the 1990s, it contradicted its longstanding policy of only requiring trials showing that a new drug was "better than nothing," i.e., better than placebo, to win regulatory approval. If the drug industry
were to closely adhere to the Helsinki Declaration, it would always have to run comparison trials if an effective drug were already available.

Rather than accede to international norms, the FDA and the U.S. government in the succeeding years lobbied hard to get the WMA to amend its rules. And it has, several times. For instance, it now allows use of placebo-controlled
trials for less serious illnesses. But the basic guidelines protecting human trial subjects' access to best available therapies remained intact.

Why is any of this relevant today? Last week, the FDA formally declared that it will no longer require that clinical trials submitted to the agency to get regulatory approval for a new drug adhere to the Helsinki Declaration.  The new rule, which goes into effect next October, was supported by the drug industry but opposed by numerous public interest, patient advocacy, and consumer groups. The new rule requires only that trials conducted abroad by drug manufacturers follow good clinical practices (GCP) and include a review and approval by an independent ethics committee. There's nothing in GCP guidelines that requires patients in the control arm of a trial get access to already proven therapies. They only need receive the standard of care in that country.

What will this mean for the concept of "informed consent" in a poor country?  Imagine for a moment that you live on $2 a day in, say, Zimbabwe, and have high blood pressure. Since the disease isn't life-threatening, you skip buying the available anti-hypertensives being sold in the village pharmacy because you can't afford them and none are on the national formulary. Hence, there is no local standard of care.

Now say you learn while visiting the village clinic that an international pharmaceutical company is recruiting patients for a clinical trial testing a new anti-hypertensive drug. If you join the trial, you may only get the placebo. But there's a 50-50 chance you will get the new drug, which hasn't been proven yet, but might work.

Are there risks associated with taking this new drug? Well, so far, none that the doctors think are serious enough to cancel the trial. But it says right on the form that something may turn up in the clinical trial in which you are being asked to participate. You sign up. After all, a 50-50 chance of getting a drug that has a good chance of working (the drug industry wouldn't be here testing it if it didn't, right?) is better than no drug at all. And how much risk could there be, anyway?

Is that really non-coerced, informed consent?

It's getting tougher and tougher to recruit patients in the U.S. to participate in clinical trials. It's also getting a lot more expensive for drug companies to run them here. The result is that 35 percent of all trials submitted to the FDA in new drug applications now take place abroad. This new rule will only make that number grow.

Moreover, many of those trials conducted abroad (or about 15 percent of all trials) aren't even be registered with the FDA. Unlike trials conducted in the U.S., companies do not have to submit an investigative new drug application (IND) to the FDA before beginning research in foreign countries.  The FDA estimates about 575 of the foreign trials submitted to the agency each year as part of new drug applications do not go through the IND process. In other words, the FDA has no record that they even exist.

The FDA is required by law to monitor clinical trials conducted under INDs to protect their human subjects. But an Inspector General's report released last September found that the FDA had no registry of trials (which was rectified by passage of the FDA reform law last October); no registry of the Institutional Review Boards that were supposed to be monitoring trials conducted under its auspices; and independently monitored fewer than one percent of the trials it knew about.

And now it has passed a rule that increases the likelihood that more trials will go abroad and that more of them will not even be registered with the FDA, which makes them all but impossible to monitor.

In the final rule published in the Federal Register, the FDA rejected the notion that adopting the self-regulating GCP standard and eliminating references to the Helsinki Declaration "will hurt subjects in developing countries or result in less protection for subjects in foreign studies." The agency noted that GCP requires trial sponsors closely monitor trial behavior and report adverse events. If I were a headline writer at the New York Daily News, the headline on that story would have been: FDA to Global Poor: Drop Dead.  For complete story,
click here.
Up to 700 arrests estimated in Postville raid 12 May 2008 (IA) Four Homeland Security buses with U.S. Immigration and Customs tags on them have entered the Agriprocessors Inc. complex. The buses, along with a trail of SUVs and vans with Minnesota license plates, arrived at about 11:45 a.m. Tim Counts, a Midwest ICE spokesman, declined to confirm where people who are arrested will be detained. Federal officials have leased the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo, but they declined to explain last week whether the property was being prepared for use as a detention center.  For complete story, click here.
DHS activity at Waterloo fairgrounds raises questions --ICE declines to say if whole area will be used as detention center --National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo, Iowa, is prepared for a 'federal project.' 06 May 2008 Federal officials have imposed a news blackout at the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo, where they have leased almost the entire property through May 25. The Waterloo Courier on Sunday reported that contractors have installed generators adjacent to many buildings at the fairgrounds. In addition, windows on many buildings have been covered up, blocking views inside. A number of mobile-home-size trailers have been transported to the privately owned grounds. Doug Miller, general manager of the Cattle Congress, declined Monday to release a copy of his group's rental contract with U.S. General Services Administration. He also indicated he was in the dark about what's happening inside the fairgrounds.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.desmoinesregister.com  Date: May 6, 2008)
'Some KBR managers groped Iraqi staff regularly, paid or otherwise rewarded them for sex and dismissed those who refused or spoke out.' Iraqis allege sex abuse at the British Embassy 08 May 2008 An Iraqi cleaner and two cooks claim that a culture of sexual harassment, abuse and bullying exists at the British Embassy in Baghdad. The middle-aged cleaner told The Times that a British contractor with KBR, the company hired to maintain the embassy’s premises, offered to double her daily pay if she would stay the night with him. When she refused, she said, her pay was cut and she was later dismissed. The Iraqis accuse the embassy of leaving the abuse unchallenged and failing adequately to respond to complaints against several British managers for KBR. The company was allowed to conduct its own inquiry, an arrangement criticised as a very serious conflict of interest. [See: KBR's Rape Problem By Karen Houppert 17 Apr 2008; KBR's Flawed Wiring Still Kills G.I.'s, Despite Alert 04 May 2008 Memo: Halliburton failed to purify GIs' water 16 Mar 2006; KBR awarded $385M Homeland Security contract for U.S. detention centers 24 Jan 2006; Contractor served troops dirty food in dirty kitchens 14 Dec 2003. Gee, it all kinda makes you want to stand up and cheer for Muqtada al-Sadr, doesn't it?]  For complete story, click here.
Breaking: House panel subpoenas top Cheney aide in torture probe 06 May 2008 The House Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to compel a top aide to Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney to testify to the committee about the Bush regime's interrogation practices. David Addington, Cheney's chief of staff, refused to testify without a subpoena. No date has been set for his appearance before Congress.  For complete story, click here.
'Torture memo' author, former attorney general, to testify 06 May 2008 A former Justice Department lawyer [John Yoo] who wrote a now-repudiated memo allowing harsh interrogations torture of military prisoners has agreed to testify to Congress about those practices, say House Judiciary Committee officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the panel has not yet made the announcement.  For complete story, click here.
Military, DHS document lists who should live and die in pandemic --Nazi-style hospital blueprint lists those who will be left to die - elderly, sick, weakest 05 May 2008 An influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients who would be allowed to die during a [US-engendered] flu pandemic or other disaster. The suggested list was compiled by the military, Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, government agencies, prestigious universities, and medical groups. To prepare, hospitals should designate a triage team with the Godlike task of deciding who will and who won't get lifesaving care, the task force wrote.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://news.yahoo.com  Date: May 5, 2008)
Taser International Wins Lawsuit In Cause-of-Death Decision 02 May 2008 Taser International has fired a warning shot at medical examiners across the country. The Scottsdale-based stun gun manufacturer increasingly is targeting state and county medical examiners with lawsuits and lobbying efforts to reverse and prevent medical rulings that Tasers contributed to someone's death. That effort on Friday helped lead an Ohio judge's order to remove Taser's name from three Summit County Medical Examiner autopsies that had ruled the stun gun contributed to three men's deaths. "It is dangerously close to intimidation," says Jeff Jentzen, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. "At this point, we adamantly reject the fact that people can be sued for medical opinions that they make."  For complete story, click here.
KBR's Flawed Wiring Still Kills G.I.'s, Despite Alert 04 May 2008 In October 2004, the United States Army issued an urgent bulletin to commanders across Iraq, warning them of a deadly new threat to American soldiers. Because of flawed electrical work by contractors [KBR], the bulletin stated, soldiers at American bases in Iraq had received severe electrical shocks, and some had even been electrocuted. American electricians who worked for KBR, the Houston-based defense contractor that is responsible for maintaining American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, said they repeatedly warned company managers and military officials about unsafe electrical work... A third electrician provided e-mail messages and other documents showing that he had complained to KBR and the government that logs were created to make it appear that nonexistent electrical safety systems were properly functioning. KBR itself told the Pentagon in early 2007 about unsafe electrical wiring at a base near the Baghdad airport, but no repairs were made. Less than a year later, a soldier was electrocuted in a shower there. [See: KBR first-quarter profit soars, shares climb 02 May 2008. See: KBR's first quarter exceeds expectations 02 May 2008.]  For complete story, click here.
D.C. Seeks Consent To Search for Guns--March 12th, 2008--D.C. police are so eager to get guns out of the city that they're offering amnesty to people who allow officers to come into their homes and get the weapons.  Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced yesterday the Safe Homes Initiative, aimed at parents and guardians who know or suspect that their children or other relatives have guns. Under the deal, police target areas hit by violence and seek adults who let them search their homes for guns, with no risk of arrest. The offer also applies to drugs that turn up during the searches, police said. The program is scheduled to start March 24 in the Washington Highlands area of Southeast Washington. Officers will go door-to-door seeking permission to search homes for weapons. Police later plan to visit other areas, including sections of Columbia Heights in Northwest and Eckington in Northeast.  "If we come across illegal contraband, we will confiscate it," Lanier said. "But amnesty means amnesty. We're trying to get guns and drugs off the street."  For complete story, click here.
Cheney lawyer claims Congress has no authority over vice-president --Cheney's conduct 'not within congressional committee's power of inquiry' 29 Apr 2008 The lawyer for US vice-president [sic] Dick Cheney claimed today that the Congress lacks any authority to examine his behaviour on the job. The exception claimed by Cheney's counsel came in response to requests from congressional Democrats that David Addington, the vice-president's chief of staff, testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay. Ruling out voluntary cooperation by Addington, Cheney lawyer Kathryn Wheelbarger said Cheney's conduct is "not within the [congressional] committee's power of inquiry".  For complete story, click here.
Ex-Prosecutor Told By Pentagon 'There Could Be No Acquittals' of Detainees --Pentagon official insisted prosecutors use evidence derived from torture 29 Apr 2008 (Guantánamo Bay, Cuba) The former chief prosecutor here took the witness stand on Monday on behalf of a detainee and testified that top Pentagon officials had pressured him in deciding which cases to prosecute and what evidence to use. The prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis of the Air Force, testified that Pentagon officials had interfered with his work for political reasons and told him that charges against well-known prisoners "could have real strategic political value" and that there could be no acquittals. Testifying about his assertions for the first time, Colonel Davis said a senior Pentagon official who oversaw the military commissions, Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann of the Air Force Reserve, reversed a decision he had made and insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence derived through waterboarding of prisoners and other aggressive interrogation methods that critics call torture.  For complete story, click here.
Mahathir calls for war crimes tribunal for US, UK leaders 27 Apr 2008 Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad called on Friday for an international tribunal to try Western leaders for war crimes over the war in Iraq, a spokesman for the organizers said. In a speech at Imperial College, Mahathir called for a tribunal to try US President [sic] George W. Bush and former prime ministers Tony Blair of Britain and John Howard of Australia for their part in the conflict, said a spokesman for the Muslim group the Ramadhan Foundation, which organized the event. [Yeah! And, feel free to 'proceed with evidence derived through waterboarding of prisoners and other aggressive interrogation methods that critics call torture.' --LRP]  For complete story, click here.
CIA can bend torture rules to stop terrorists 28 Apr 2008 The US Justice Department has told Congress that American intelligence operatives attempting to thwart terrorist attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law. The legal interpretation, outlined in recent letters, sheds light on the still-secret rules for interrogations by the CIA.  For complete story, click here.
Letters Give C.I.A. Tactics a Legal Rationale 27 Apr 2008 The Justice Department has told Congress that American intelligence operatives attempting to thwart terrorist attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law. The latest Justice Department letters show that Bush administration lawyers are citing the sometimes vague language of the Geneva Conventions to support the idea that interrogators should not be bound by ironclad rules.  For complete story, click here.
CIA Acknowledges it Has More Than 7000 Documents Relating to Secret Detention Program, Rendition, and Torture 23 Apr 2008 The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must stop stonewalling congressional oversight committees and release vital documents related to the program of secret detentions, renditions, and torture, three prominent human rights groups said today. Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law (NYU IHRC) reiterated their call for information, following the CIA's filing of a summary judgment motion this week to end a lawsuit and avoid turning over more than 7000 documents related to its secret "ghost" detention and extraordinary rendition program.  For complete story, click here.
House GOP Candidate Spoke At Hitler Event 23 Apr 2008 A congressional candidate is defending his speech to Nazis celebrating the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth, saying he appeared simply because he was asked. Tony Zirkle, who is seeking the Republican nomination in northern Indiana's 2nd District, stood in front of a painting of Hitler, next to people wearing swastika armbands and with a swastika flag in the background for the speech to the American National Socialist Workers Party in Chicago on Sunday.  For complete story, click here.
Prisoners allege forced drugging during US interrogations 22 Apr 2008 At least two dozen former and current detainees have alleged that they were either forcibly administered drugs or witnessed the forceful administration of drugs on other prisoners while in US custody, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The detainees, held at Guantanamo Bay and other sites, said in interviews and court documents that they did not know what drugs they were given, but that they believed they were intended to make prisoners more pliant during interrogation.  For complete story, click here.
Double number of ex-cons join the US army --Sex offenders, child abusers, arsonists, terrorists and thieves serving in US army 22 Apr 2008 The US army doubled its use of "moral waivers" for enlisted soldiers last year to cope with the demands of the Iraq war, allowing sex offenders, people convicted of making terrorist threats, and child abusers into the military, new records released yesterday showed. The army gave out 511 moral waivers to soldiers with felony convictions last year. Criminals got 249 army waivers in 2006, a sign that the demand for US forces in Iraq has forced a sharp increase in the number of criminals allowed on the battlefield [not to mention the criminal allowed in the White House, the Commander in Thief]. The felons accepted into the army and marines included 87 soldiers convicted of assault or maiming, 130 convicted of non-cannabis-related drug offences, seven convicted of making terrorist threats, and two convicted of indecent behaviour with a child. Waivers were also granted to 500 burglars and thieves, 19 arsonists and nine sex offenders.  For complete story, click here.
'There was a snafu and all was lost.' Torture victim's records lost at Guantánamo, admits camp general --No evidence of al-Qaida suspect's interrogation --CCTV automatically recorded over tapes 21 Apr 2008 The former head of interrogations at Guantánamo Bay found that records of an 'al-Qaida' suspect tortured at the prison camp were mysteriously lost by the US military, according to a new book by one of Britain's top human rights lawyers. Retired general Michael Dunlavey, who supervised Guantánamo for eight months in 2002, tried to locate records on Mohammed al-Qahtani, accused by the US of plotting the 9/11 attacks, but found they had disappeared. The records on al-Qahtani, who was interrogated for 48 days - "were backed up ... after I left, there was a snafu and all was lost", Dunlavey told Philippe Sands QC, who reports the conversation in his book Torture Team, previewed last week by the Guardian. Snafu stands for Situation Normal: All Fucked Up. Saudi-born al-Qahtani was sexually taunted, forced to perform dog tricks and given enemas at Guantánamo.  For complete story, click here.
'The mere transmission of information and ideas could be considered a criminal act.' European Officials Agree on Framework for Outlawing Online Terror Recruiting 19 Apr 2008 European Union justice ministers agreed Friday to toughen laws across their 27-nation bloc to punish those who promote violence and recruit people for terrorist attacks. The new rules... underscore a growing consensus that in the campaign against terrorism, the mere transmission of information and ideas could be considered a criminal act. The agreement is intended to help the police find and arrest suspects in cross-border investigations, but also to prevent radicalization. It could make it easier for authorities to shut down Web sites disseminating terrorist propaganda 9/11 truth, revelations of Bush war crimes and 'bomb-making instructions,' and to identify and pursue proselytizers and recruiters. It could also help courts and administrative authorities demand that Internet service providers remove information considered dangerous.  For complete story, click here.
EU to Criminalize Internet-Based Incitement to Terrorism 19 Apr 2008 European Union justice ministers have agreed that using the Internet to publish bomb recipes or call for acts of terrorism to be committed should count as a criminal offence. The 27 member states agreed on Friday, April 18, to introduce as new offences "public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment, and training for terrorism" which would be punishable "also when committed through the Internet." The commission's proposal would also allow EU law-enforcement agencies to demand cooperation from Internet providers in order to identify the people making such calls and to ensure that the offending material is taken off-line.  For complete story, click here.
Top Bush aides pushed for Guantánamo torture --Senior officials bypassed army chief to introduce interrogation methods 19 Apr 2008 America's most senior general was "hoodwinked" by top Bush administration officials determined to push through aggressive interrogation techniques of terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, leading to the US military abandoning its age-old ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, the Guardian reveals today. General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantánamo and other prisons were protected by the Geneva conventions and from abuse tantamount to torture. The way he was duped by senior officials in Washington, who believed the Geneva conventions and other traditional safeguards were out of date, is disclosed in a devastating account of their role, extracts of which appear in today's Guardian. For complete story, click here.
Stress hooding noise nudity dogs --It was the young officials at Guantánamo who dreamed up a list of new aggressive interrogation techniques, inspired by Jack Bauer from the TV series, 24. But it was the politicians and lawyers in Washington who set the ball rolling. Philippe Sands follows the torture trail right to the top 19 Apr 2008 On Tuesday, December 2 2002, Donald Rumsfeld signed a piece of paper that changed the course of history. That same day, President [sic] Bush signed a bill to put the Pentagon in funds for the next year... Elsewhere in the Pentagon, an event took place for which there was no comment, no fanfare. With a signature and a few scrawled words, Rumsfeld reneged on the tradition of valour to which Bush had referred. Principles for the conduct of interrogation, dating back more than a century to President Lincoln's famous instruction of 1863 that "military necessity does not admit of cruelty", were discarded. He approved new and aggressive interrogation techniques that would produce devastating consequences.  For complete story, click here.
Guantanamo eight to sue MI5 and MI6 over 'illegal abduction and interrogation' --Allegation: Eight were put on CIA "torture flights" to prison camp in U.S.-occupied Cuba 19 Apr 2008 Eight men freed from Guantanamo Bay are suing the British Secret Services for millions, the Daily Mail can reveal today. They have issued writs against MI5 and MI6 in a claim for damages that would fall on the taxpayer. One of the men said they will argue that Britain was complicit in their illegal abduction, treatment and interrogation.  For complete story, click here.
Three States Subjected To "Martial Law Sweeps"--April 18th, 2008--Federal law enforcement agencies co-opted sheriffs offices as well state and local police forces in three states last weekend for a vast round up operation that one sheriff's deputy has described as "martial law training".  Law-enforcement agencies in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas took part in what was described by local media as "an anti-crime and anti-terrorism initiative" involving officers from more than 50 federal, state and local agencies.  Given the military style name "Operation Sudden Impact", the initiative saw officers from six counties rounding up fugitives, conducting traffic checkpoints, climbing on boats on the Mississippi River and doing other "crime-abatement" programs all under the label of "anti-terrorism".  WREG Memphis news channel 3 reported that the Sheriff's Department arrested 332 people, 142 of whom were fugitives, or "terrorists" as they now seem to be known.  Hundreds of dollars were seized and drugs recovered, and 1,292 traffic violations were handed out to speeding terrorists and illegally parked terrorists.  The authorities even raided businesses and store owners, confiscating computers and paperwork in an effort to "track down possible terrorists before something big happens".  The Sheriff's Department is determining if and when they plan another round-up.  The operation, which involved police, deputies, the FBI, drug agents, gang units and even the coast guard, is just one example of how law enforcement at the state and local levels is being co-opted and centralized by the Department of Homeland Security via massive federal grants.  It also highlights how the distinction between crime and terrorism is becoming irrelevant.  For complete story, click here.
Drug Makers Push Easing Off-Label Rules--April 18th, 2008--WASHINGTON -- Drug-industry representatives are descending on the capital to protect their freedom to advertise their wares directly to consumers and to push for looser government restrictions on their ability to promote off-label uses of their medicines.  The industry has become worried about a potential regulatory backlash following recent scandals over the marketing of Vioxx and Vytorin, as well as voter concern about increasing drug prices. All three presidential candidates have been criticizing drug makers about pricing. Meanwhile, three congressional committees are pursuing investigations of drug-industry marketing practices.  "We have to be concerned that Congress will act too quickly in this atmosphere, without considering the problems they can cause the public by limiting the information flow to consumers," said Bob Hogan, chief executive of Cognito Communications, a Connecticut health-care marketing-strategy firm.  Ten major drug companies, including Pfizer Inc.; Bayer Corp., the U.S. unit of Bayer AG; AstraZeneca PLC; and Johnson & Johnson have formed a coalition to push for looser restrictions on off-label marketing. They will submit their arguments Friday to the Food and Drug Administration, which has been soliciting comments on its proposed off-label promotion guidelines. They are represented by former FDA Chief Counsel Daniel Troy, who is working with public-relations giant APCO Worldwide Inc.  Mr. Troy's group includes patient-advocacy organizations the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Organization for Rare Disorders.  The group supports the ability of companies to disseminate articles from peer-reviewed medical journals to physicians and hospitals to inform them of new conditions for which drugs already on the market could be used but which the FDA hasn't formally approved.  The FDA said it isn't loosening the rules for industry, but clarifying them.  Randall Lutter, the agency's deputy commissioner for policy, said the guidelines mandate full disclosure of any conflict of interest by journal authors in articles used in off-label promotion.  The push for off-label changes came just as the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested in two reports that Merck & Co. played down the potential risk to Alzheimer's patients of heart attack from its now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, and said the company had ghostwritten many academic articles favorable to that drug.  Drug-industry worries about new rules and a chilly climate in Washington were reflected at a conference here Thursday. More than 60% of participants polled during the annual conference sponsored by drug-marketing magazine DTC Perspectives said they think Congress may move to place limits on television advertising by pharmaceutical companies. Drug makers spend about $5.4  billion annually on TV ads, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.  One idea the drug marketers don't like: A proposal that ads contain a phone number that consumers can call to make complaints to the Food and Drug Administration.  Separately, the promotion of Vytorin, a cholesterol drug marketed jointly by Merck and Schering-Plough Corp., is under scrutiny by congressional investigators who have alleged the companies delayed release of a study that raised doubts about Vytorin's effectiveness. The companies have denied any strategy to withhold information, and said the delay in publishing the study was the result of efforts to resolve problems with certain data.  Drug manufacturers are concerned that marketing strategies could be trimmed after the 2008 elections if Democrats strengthen their control in Congress or take the White House. But there are indications that some politicians won't wait that long.  The chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Michigan Democrat John Dingell, plans to announce a hearing on direct-to-consumer advertising, to take place in a few weeks. Mr. Dingell's panel will look at Vioxx, Vytorin and an ad blitz for Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor that used medical inventor Robert Jarvik.  "Drug companies should know that they will be held accountable for inappropriate behavior and inaccurate representations made in their ads," Mr. Dingell said in a statement.  For more on this story, click here.
Top US general 'hoodwinked' over aggressive interrogation 18 Apr 2008 The US's most senior general was "hoodwinked" by top Bush administration officials determined to push through aggressive interrogation techniques torture for terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, the Guardian can reveal. The development led to the US military abandoning its age-old ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. General Richard Myers, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantánamo and other prisons were protected by the Geneva conventions and from abuse tantamount to torture. The way he was duped by senior officials in Washington - who believed the Geneva conventions and other traditional safeguards were out of date - is disclosed in a devastating account of their role, extracts from which will be published in tomorrow's Guardian.  For complete story, click here.
Breaking: Feds to collect DNA from every person they arrest 16 Apr 2008 The government plans to begin collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested by a federal law enforcement agency. Using authority granted by Congress, the government also plans to collect DNA samples from foreigners who are detained, whether they have been charged or not. The DNA would be collected through a cheek swab, Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said Wednesday. That would be a departure from current practice, which limits DNA collection to convicted felons.  For complete story, click here.
Polygamist sect gets millions from U.S. government 12 Apr 2008 U.S. taxpayers have unwittingly helped finance a polygamist sect that is now the focus of a massive child abuse investigation in West Texas, with a business tied to the group receiving a nearly $1 million loan from the federal government and $1.2 million in military contracts. The ability of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, to operate and grow is largely dependent on huge contributions from its members and revenue from the businesses they control, according to a former accountant for the church, and government officials in Utah and Arizona, where the sect is primarily based. One of those businesses, NewEra Manufacturing in Las Vegas, has been awarded more than $1.2 million in federal government contracts, with most of the money coming in recent years from the Defense Department for wheel and brake components for military aircraft. A large portion of the awards were preferential no-bid or "sole source" contracts because of the company's classification as a small business, according to online databases that track federal government appropriations.  For complete story, click here.
Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S. --DHS has not stated what federal laws govern new National Applications Office, whose funding and size are classified. 12 Apr 2008 The Bush regime said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority. The administration in May 2007 gave DHS authority to coordinate requests for satellite imagery, radar, electronic-signal information, chemical detection and other monitoring capabilities that have been used for decades within U.S. borders for mapping and disaster response. But Congress delayed launch of the new office last October. Critics cited its potential to expand the role of military assets in domestic law enforcement, to turn new or as-yet-undeveloped technologies against Americans without adequate public debate, and to divert the existing civilian and scientific focus of some satellite work to security uses.  For complete story, click here.
Top Bush aides oversaw torture sessions 11 Apr 2008 According to an ABC report, top Bush aides, including Condi Rice, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement. Discussions on torture were so detailed, that some interrogation sessions were virtually choreographed by a White House advisory group, The torture advisory group included then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then-secretary of state Colin Powell, then-CIA director George Tenet and then-attorney general John Ashcroft and Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney ABC's sources said.  For complete story, click here.
Cheney OK'd CIA Torture Tactics 11 Apr 2008 US Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney and his cohorts approved using harsh interrogation techniques against prisoners after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, the report said. The officials also took care to insulate President [sic] Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved. An anonymous former senior US intelligence official familiar with the meetings described them to the AP to confirm details first reported by ABC News on Wednesday.  For complete story, click here.
Guantanamo defendant calls trial a 'sham' 10 Apr 2008 A Saudi prisoner Wednesday denounced the war crimes case against him as a politically motivated "sham" and had himself removed from the courtroom in symbolic protest. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza Al-Darbi, whose brother-in-law was among the Sept. 11 hijackers [What hijackers?], informed the military judge hearing his terrorism conspiracy case that he wanted neither legal representation nor to be present at his trial. [See: At Least 7 of the 9/11 Hijackers are Still Alive.]  For complete story, click here.
'The whole world had a headache from your hypocrisy that you are the land of justice.' Detainee evokes bin Laden at Guantanamo tribunal 10 Apr 2008 A suspect at a US military hearing at the Guantanamo Bay prison Thursday lauded Osama bin Laden saying the terror mastermind had exposed American "hypocrisy." "I think he has succeeded again enormously in exposing your hypocrisy ... that you are the land of justice and law," said Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud Al-Qosi, who is said to have been bin Laden's personal chauffeur. "The whole world had a headache from your hypocrisy that you are the land of justice," Qosi said. "Real justice and equality are great principles. Even children understand that." [Well said!]  For complete story, click here.
In US simulated 'Crimson Sky' disease outbreak, National Guard troops 'ran out of bullets.' Dangerous Animal Virus on US Mainland? 11 Apr 2008 The Bush administration is likely to move its research on one of the most contagious animal diseases from an isolated island laboratory to the U.S. mainland near herds of livestock, raising concerns about a catastrophic outbreak. Skeptical Democrats in Congress are demanding to see internal documents they believe highlight the risks and consequences of the decision. An epidemic of the disease, foot and mouth, which only affects animals, could devastate the livestock industry. A simulated outbreak of the disease -- part of an earlier U.S. government exercise called "Crimson Sky" -- ended with fictional riots in the streets after the simulation's National Guardsmen were ordered to kill tens of millions of farm animals [people], so many that troops ran out of bullets. In the exercise, the government said it would have been forced to dig a ditch in Kansas 25 miles long to bury carcasses. In the simulation, protests broke out in some cities amid food shortages.  For complete story, click here.
'Could the president, if he desired, have a prisoner's eyes poked out?' Use of Mind-altering Drugs On Captives, Maiming Weighed In '03 Memo --In the sober language of footnotes, case citations and judicial rulings, the memo explores a wide range of unsavory topics, including the use of mind-altering drugs on captives. 06 Apr 2008 Thirty pages into a memorandum discussing the legal boundaries of military interrogations in 2003, senior Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo asked: Could the president, if he desired, have a prisoner's eyes poked out? Or, for that matter, could he have "scalding water, corrosive acid or caustic substance" thrown on a prisoner? How about slitting an ear, nose or lip, or disabling a tongue or limb? What about biting? These assaults are all mentioned in a U.S. law prohibiting maiming, which Yoo parsed as he clarified the legal outer limits of what could be done to terrorism suspects as detained by U.S. authorities... But none of that matters in a time of war, Yoo also said, because federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes by military interrogators are trumped by the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief.  For complete story, click here.
Evidence Grows of US Drug Use on Terror Detainees --'The executive branch memos laid a comprehensive and reiterated policy foundation for the use of interrogational drugs.' --'03 Yoo memo advised top Bush officials that interrogators could employ mind-altering drugs on terror suspects 04 Apr 2008 There can be little doubt now that the government has used drugs on terrorist suspects that are designed to weaken their resistance to interrogation. All that’s missing is the syringes and videotapes. Another window opened on the practice last week with the declassification of John Yoo’s... 2003 memo [part one, part two] approving harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects. Yoo advised top Bush administration officials that interrogators could employ mind-altering drugs if they did not produce "an extreme effect" calculated to "cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality.  For complete story, click here.
U.S. Extends Blackwater Contract While Shooting Probe Continues 04 Apr 2008 Amid investigations into fatal shootings of civilians and allegations of tax violations, Blackwater USA's multimillion-dollar contract to protect diplomats in Baghdad has been renewed, the State Department said Friday. A final decision about whether the private security company will keep the job is pending, the department said. Moyock, N.C.-based Blackwater is one of the largest private military contractors, receiving nearly $1.25 billion in federal business since 2000, according to a House committee estimate.  For complete story, click here.
Army unsure if some body armor met safety standards --Contractors didn't 'perform most basic tests' 02 Apr 2008 The Army can't be sure some of its body armor met safety standards, partly because it didn't do proper paperwork on initial testing of the protective vests, a Defense Department audit said. Democratic Rep. Louise M. Slaughter of New York, who requested the department inspector general's report, on Wednesday demanded the firing of officials responsible. The inspector general reviewed $5.2 billion worth of Army and Marine Corps contracts for body armor from 2004 through 2006... "This report indicates that nearly half of the Army's contractors did not perform the most basic test on the body armor before it was sent to our troops fighting overseas," Slaughter said.  For complete story, click here.
'The Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause does not apply... Accordingly, the Eighth Amendment has no application here.' Torture Memo Gave White House Broad Powers 02 Apr 2008 The Justice Department's newly declassified torture memo outlined the broad legal authority its lawyers gave to the Bush White House on matters of torture and presidential authority during times of war. The March 14, 2003 memorandum, released Tuesday, determined that amendments to the U.S. Constitution do not apply equally to enemy combatants. "The Fifth Amendment due process clause does not apply to the president's conduct of a war," the memo noted. It also asserted, "The detention of enemy combatants can in no sense be deemed 'punishment' for purposes of the Eighth Amendment," which prohibits "cruel and unusual" forms of punishment... "Accordingly the Eighth Amendment has no application here."  For complete story, click here.
Intelligence Centers Tap Into Personal Databases --State Groups, Dozens of 'Fusion Centers,' Were Formed After 9/11 02 Apr 2008 Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post. One center also has access to top-secret data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it's not clear what information those systems contain. From 2004 to 2007, state and local governments received $254 million from the Department of Homeland Security in support of the centers, which are also supported by employees of the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. In some cases, they work with the U.S. Northern Command, the Pentagon operation involved in homeland security.  For complete story, click here.
Laws, treaties and U.S. Constitution do not apply to U.S. interrogations: '03 memo --Document Granted Nearly Unfettered Presidential Power --Since rescinded, memo asserted numerous laws and treaties that forbid torture or cruel treatment 'would not apply' 01 Apr 2008 Federal laws prohibiting assault and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned 'al-Qaeda' captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander-in-chief overrode such statutes, according to a newly declassified March 14, 2003 Justice Department memo released today. The memo, rescinded nine months after it was issued, provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war, contending that numerous laws and treaties that forbid torture or cruel treatment should not apply to the interrogations of enemy combatants overseas. The memo asserts that domestic and international laws and treaties, as well as the U.S. Constitution, would not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president's inherent wartime powers.  For complete story, click here.
Awareness of Drug-Induced Eye Toxicity Crucial for Patients, Physicians, Says Public Citizen--April 1st, 2008--WASHINGTON, D.C. – Physicians and patients should be aware of the slew of drugs that can cause eye disease and be diligent in identifying potential adverse effects, Public Citizen writes in a new March posting on its WorstPills.org Web site.  A recent paper published in Drug Safety identifies 62 drugs that can cause adverse reactions to the eye. Public Citizen summarizes the paper’s findings, highlights these reactions and describes how they relate to structures in the eye and certain eye conditions.  The eye is composed of a plethora of different types of cells, and drugs can affect each type. The 62 drugs can cause a host of different eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma, eye surgery complications, eyelid and conjunctival diseases, optic nerve diseases and retinal abnormalities. Loss of color vision, blurred and impaired vision, decreased night vision, skin lesions and blindness are just some of the symptoms people who develop these diseases can experience.  While people are aware of the undesirable effects drugs can have on organs in the body, they often don’t consider the potential risks to their eyes.  “The eye is a crucial organ, and it is important that physicians and patients understand the risks associated with certain drugs,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen.  For complete story, click here.
CDC bosses ignored warnings--April 1st, 2008--WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal scientist said Tuesday his bosses ignored pleas to alert Gulf Coast hurricane victims about formaldehyde dangers in government-issued trailers and told him last year not to write e-mails about his warnings of potentially widespread health problems.  Christopher De Rosa, a top scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's toxic substances agency, said his bosses told him that his warnings of a "pending public health catastrophe" could be misinterpreted if publicly released.  De Rosa's comments came Tuesday at a House Science and Technology subcommittee hearing on how the CDC and other agencies handled complaints about potentially high levels of formaldehyde in trailers issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Committee Democrats have accused FEMA of manipulating scientific research to play down the dangers of high levels of formaldehyde found in the trailers.  They say the CDC and its Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry went along with misleading residents.  In mid-2006, FEMA enlisted the CDC's help in analyzing the results of air-quality tests on unoccupied trailers. But the CDC didn't start testing the air quality in occupied FEMA trailers - or study the possible health effects of long-term formaldehyde exposure - until late last year.  The CDC said in February that tests on hundreds of occupied FEMA trailers and mobile homes found formaldehyde levels that were, on average, about five times higher than what people are exposed to in most modern homes. The results prompted FEMA to step up efforts to move roughly 35,000 families still living in the trailers after the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Formaldehyde can cause respiratory problems and has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  FEMA officials say the number of occupied trailers on the Gulf Coast, which peaked at more than 143,000 after the hurricanes, has dropped to about 34,000 as FEMA rushes to move people into safer housing.  For complete story, click here.
South Carolina Troopers Caught Bowling for Brothers 24 Mar 2008 The feds are investigating videotapes of highway patrolmen running over Black men. Dashboard cameras in police cruisers, designed to back up police accounts of traffic stops, have exposed a shockingly ugly practice by some South Carolina troopers – using cars to mow down black men. Federal investigators said late last week that they are reviewing videos showing South Carolina Highway Patrol officers ramming their vehicles into fleeing suspects. "You better run nigger," then-Lance Cpl. Daniel C. Campbell is heard saying as he pursues a perp. "I'm fixin' to kill you!" For that episode of displaced anger, Campbell was given a two-day suspension and told to undergo anger-management and diversity training!  For complete story, click here.

Cop faces Taser hearing--March 27th, 2008--A Cincinnati police officer faces a hearing that could lead to his firing after investigators found he violated policy by shooting a high school student with a Taser who he mistakenly thought was a robbery suspect.

Officers Andrew Mitchell and DeWayne McMenama have been under investigations since the Jan. 22 incident. The investigation report was made public Thursday.

The two officers were in the same cruiser in Westwood at about 7:30 p.m. that night when police received a holdup alarm at Jersey Mike’s, a restaurant at 5555 Glenway Ave.

Read the internal report

Mitchell, driving the cruiser, and McMenama responded to the Glen Crossing shopping mall parking lot where they saw a man walking from the restaurant, his head down and his hands in his pockets.

Both officers said they repeatedly yelled at the man – who later turned out to be Chris Bauer Jr., 19, a Western Hills High senior – who didn’t responded to their commands to stop.

Mitchell was sitting in his cruiser, which may have been moving, when he fired his Taser, shooting electric current into Bauer, knocking him to the ground.

The first time, Mitchell zapped Bauer for seven seconds. The Taser delivers a shock equal to 50,000 volts of electricity

Because Bauer’s hands were in his pockets when he was first shocked, he fell face-first, landing with his hands under his torso.

Mitchell zapped Bauer again for five seconds when he didn’t respond to the officers’ commands to show his hands.

The pair quickly handcuffed Bauer and got him to his feet. That’s when they should have realized, Bauer’s attorney said, that his client wasn’t ignoring their commands to stop.

Bauer didn’t hear the commands because he was listening to his iPod with ear buds and couldn’t hear them, attorney John Helbling said Thursday.

“It was pretty outrageous for this poor kid,” Helbling, said.

Helbling is perhaps best known as the attorney for the estate of Roger Owensby Jr., the man killed in police custody in 2000. In that case, he sued on behalf of the Owensby family and estate and settled with the city for $6.5 million.

Bauer was unaware of any police officers’ presence much less their commands, Helbling said.

Because of the fall caused by the Taser – Bauer was hit in the back of the neck and a hand – he suffered a chipped tooth and cuts on his face

That was particularly painful, Helbling said, because Bauer was recovering from a hernia surgery the week before.

“He has loss of memory and other problems,” Helbling said. “He has difficulty trying to do simple tasks.”

Bauer, who was neither charged nor arrested, works at a video store in the same shopping plaza and lives five minutes away.

Supervisors for police District 3 – which generally covers the west side of the city – began an investigation that night that included their district commander, the assistant chief in charge of the patrol officers as well as Chief Thomas Streicher.

Streicher showed up at the scene and apologized to Bauer’s father, Helbling said.


Police later learned the initial report of a holdup at the restaurant was a false alarm. 
(Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://news.enquirer.com  Date: March 27th, 2008)

In part the Connecticut Zyprexa suit charges Eli Lilly with criminal activities--March 11th, 2008--"Eli Lilly allegedly corrupted physicians, pharmacies and administrators at nursing homes and youth detention centers as part of a massive illegal marketing campaign to promote Zyprexa for unapproved off-label uses, including for the treatment of children."  "'The illegal marketing campaign exploited children and senior citizens -causing severe weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular problems,' Blumenthal said. 'This scheme involved payments to public officials, bogus educational events and ghostwritten promotional articles summarizing suspect studies. The drug was marketed for anxiety, depression and Attention Deficit Disorder in children when it was never approved for any use in children and caused serious side effects.  For complete story, click here.

One Drug, Many Tragedies: A doctor blows the whistle on a dangerous new drug that wrongfully received FDA approval --April 2008 Issue--The latest chilling report assessing FDA's performance, this one commissioned by the FDA's own advisory Science Board describes the FDA as an organization nearly out of control: "We were shocked at the appalling state of science at the FDA," says Garret FitzGerald, MD, chairman of the pharmacology department at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an advisor on the report. "The analogy is Katrina. But we have to fix this before the hurricane hits."  Even the department's champions are worried. "I don't think the FDA is at a collapse point yet, but it's getting close," says Hubbard, who retired in 2005 after 26 years at the agency. "In some places, regulation is so weak that there's nothing left."  It is clear that without Congressional action, the FDA is not likely to return to its mission of protecting the public health.  But Congress, no less than FDA officials, have become financially dependent on Big Pharma.  CNN reports (below) that Democratic senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the top recipients of donations from the pharmaceutical industry, according to The Center for Responsive Politics.  The size of Big Pharma's checks is determined by who's in driver's seat of power--not ideology: "Since the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, money [from the pharmaceutical industry] has shifted away from Republicans, to the Democrats who hold the keys to the kingdom."   The following important recommendations are provided by The Readers Digest:


Be wary of new drugs.  All medicines come with risks. When a doctor prescribes one, he's making a judgment call that its benefits outweigh its dangers. But with newly approved drugs, the risks are not always well understood at first. That's why Drummond Rennie, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, advises sticking to meds that have been on the market for at least four or five years: "I never, ever take a new drug.

I want to see reports on the toxic effects after many thousands of people have taken it." The exception: A patient with a life-threatening condition may be more willing to accept risks. Check your meds at medlineplus.gov.

Report your side effects. As a consumer, you can (and should) report adverse reactions to drugs and medical devices directly to the FDA. You can submit a form online at
www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 800-FDA-1088.  For complete story, click here.

What is the real death toll in Iraq? The Americans learned one lesson from Vietnam: don't count the civilian dead. As a result, no one knows how many Iraqis have been killed in the five years since the invasion. Estimates put the toll at between 100,000 and one million. 19 Mar 2008 The British polling firm Opinion Research Business (ORB) asked 1,720 Iraqi adults last summer if they had lost family members by violence since 2003; 16% had lost one, and 5% two. Using the 2005 census total of 4,050,597 households in Iraq, this suggests 1,220,580 deaths since the invasion.  For complete story, click here.
United States censors Guantanamo prisoner's sketch of force-feeding --Detainee is cameraman for Al-Jazeera 17 Mar 2008 The United States has censored a gruesome drawing by a Guantanamo Bay prisoner [Sami al-Haj] depicting him as a skeleton being force-fed at the military prison, the man's lawyers said Monday as they released a recreation of the sketch.  For complete story, click here.
Toxicity & Brain Damage--Take notice that also non SSRI anti-depressants (and even Ritalin) may interact (primary or secondary) with the serotonergic (or serotoninergic) system in the brain. SSRI/SSNRI-induced Toxicity & Brain Damage by disrupting the balance of Body & Brain Metabolism  SSRI's are "Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors." In contrast to the deceiving claim of the pharmaceutical companies that SSRI's or SSNRI's may correct some sort of "biochemical imbalance" of serotonin in the brain, all of these serotonergic agents actually cause major and dangerous imbalances in the brain and the body, evidenced by the many medical reports (below) of severe toxic neurological and physical side-effects. Neuronal re-uptake of neurotransmitters is metabolism. What serotonin re-uptake inhibitor actually means is that the SSRI-antidepressant interferes with ones ability to metabolise serotonin, so that can and will build up to toxic amounts after prolonged use. In other words, an SSRI-antidepressant impairs the ability of cells to metabolise serotonin, not only in the brain, but -since serotonin is widely distributed throughout the body- in the body as well! The greatest concentration of serotonin, around 90%, is not found in the brain, but is found in the gastrointestinal or digestive tract (human gut, intestines, bowels). Originally, the neurotransmitter serotonin -thought to be secreted by the Pineal Gland- is called a neurohormone, because of it's specific regulatory effect on the activity of the Endocrine Glands in the human body. (1),(2) Affecting serotonin thus means also affecting the Glandular Endocrine System. Next to it, serotonin affects the Cardiovascular System and the Respiratory System, under which, the lungs. Serotonin is also found in blood platelets and stimulates platelet aggregation (blood clotting). Furthermore, serotonin is known to affect contraction of smooth muscles (such as those of the gut) and blood vessel elasticity (vasoconstriction and expansion). More information:  Serotonin & the Pineal Gland A recent study (25 sept, 2004) shows us clearly that serotonin toxicity can even appear rapidly in a few hours after taking a single therapeutic dose of SSRI medication. In Bio-Psychiatry it is a common thought that SSRI's are believed to have their effect by inhibiting the re-uptake of serotonin (downregulation of transporters) and thereby gradually increasing serotonin outside the tissue cell wall (extracellular) in the synaptic gap between brain cells (neurons) in the brain. In this important study, Zoloft (Lustral, sertraline) was given to monkeys for 4 weeks to establish how long it would take before Zoloft would have it's effect on serotonergic neurons and thus elevation of serotonin. In contrast with the commonly accepted SSRI theory, it was observed that serotonin levels raised NOT gradually, but rapidly and dramatically and kept on raising during these 4 weeks, an effect that can NOT be ascribed solely to a "re-uptake inhibition" of serotonin!  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.antidepressantsfacts.com  Date: Unverified)

Antipsychotic drugs are doing harm--[It is essential to note at the outset that suddenly stopping or reducing psychiatric medications can be hazardous. Adjustments in medication are best done under the supervision of a medical professional.]  In the early 1990s, a new class of drugs promised to revolutionize the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Known as atypical antipsychotics, drugs such as Clozaril, Zyprexa and Risperdal largely replaced older medications such as Thorazine, Haldol and Prolixin. Research and advertising sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry led to the widespread belief that the newer medications were indisputably safer, more effective and well worth additional billions of dollars in taxpayer money. Pharmaceutical  profits soared.  Since then, the life expectancy of those treated in community mental health centers has plunged to an appalling 25 years less than average. Life expectancy may have fallen by as much as 15 years since 1986. Indications are that the death rate continues to accelerate in what must be ranked as one of the worst public health disasters in U.S. history.  The toxicity of antipsychotic medications, also known as neuroleptics, is thoroughly documented. Atypical antipsychotics initially seemed less hazardous because they produce fewer movement disorders. We now know that the newer drugs lead to more cardiovascular disease, which is by far the leading killer of those in the public mental health system.  People who need mental health services already suffer from high rates of cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, substance abuse, poor nutrition, homelessness and poor access to health care. Adding medications pours gasoline on a fire. This lethal combination is almost certainly driving the spiraling death rate.  Advances in brain imaging techniques show that antipsychotic medications cause brain damage. Animal and human studies link the drugs to shrinkage of the cerebral cortex, home to the higher functions. One study of monkeys given either older or newer neuroleptic medication in doses equivalent to those given humans showed an 11 percent to 15 percent shrinkage of the left parietal lobe. Drugs that cause brain damage almost invariably reduce life expectancy.  Marketing campaigns for atypical antipsychotic drugs target new groups of patients, including the elderly and

children. Public television recently reported that as many as 1 million children have  been newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and thus may receive neuroleptic medication. This does not include children treated with antipsychotics for other disorders.  The damage to developing brains cannot be overemphasized. Years ago, the Soviet Union was condemned for giving neuroleptic medication to political dissidents. We now are giving a more lethal form of this medication to our children. Where is the outcry?  Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere demonstrate that the newer drugs are no more effective than the older ones in reducing psychotic symptoms. Patients stop taking the new drugs at the same high rate as the old ones because they do not like the way the drugs affect their lives.  While medications are effective in relieving symptoms in the short run, research indicates that people suffering from psychosis recover more quickly and completely without medication. Incredibly, one study showed that those not taking medications had eight times the recovery rate of those who remained medicated. Research in Finland shows that immediate psychosocial interventions achieve far better results than those in this country. It simply makes sense that people recover better when not treated with medication that causes brain damage and shortens their lives.  Yet professionals and the public widely believe that it is unethical to treat serious mental disorders without antipsychotic medication.  The reasons for this are complex, but foremost is the enormous profitability of the pharmaceutical industry. In the early 1990s, the top 10 drug companies earned more profit than all the other Fortune 500 companies combined. The sheer volume of money corrupts medical research, and misinformation is fed to professionals, clients and the public.  The deplorable conditions at the Oregon State Hospital are, unfortunately, just one more indication of the failure of psychiatry as a whole. I know many of the psychiatric professionals in Lane County, and they are intelligent and compassionate people who want the best for their clients. There will always be a place for medication in the treatment of emotional disorders, yet there must be public acknowledgement that the long-term use of antipsychotic medication, particularly the atypicals, is a costly mistake. Silence truly equals death.  The Oregon Department of Addictions and Mental Health has the responsibility to confront the terrible inadequacies of the current system and to fund the development of alternatives. We owe this to the taxpayers, to society and especially to those who suffer from mental illness.  For complete story, click here.

Iraq: teachers told to rewrite history --MoD accused of sending propaganda to schools 14 Mar 2008 Britain's biggest teachers' union has accused the Ministry of Defence of breaking the law over a lesson plan drawn up to teach pupils about the Iraq war. Teachers will threaten to boycott military involvement in schools at the union's annual conference next weekend, claiming the lesson plan is a "propaganda" exercise and makes no mention of any civilian casualties as a result of the war.  For complete story, click here.
Homeland Security worker in sex bust 13 Mar 2008 A Homeland Security staffer was busted for promising to help an applicant get her immigration papers in exchange for sexual favors, prosecutors said Wednesday. Isaac Baichu of the Bronx allegedly forced a female applicant to perform oral sex on him in his car in Queens some time in December 2007, telling her, "Trust me, because I'm the one who can help you," prosecutors said. [Oops! MSNBC forgot to cover this one.]  For complete story, click here.
'We now know that... the government manufactured evidence to make it look like Omar was guilty.' U.S. falsely implicates Guantanamo prisoner: lawyer 13 Mar 2008 A U.S. military report on a battle in which a U.S. soldier died in Afghanistan was altered after the fact to falsely blame a young Canadian prisoner [15-year-old Omar Khadr], his lawyer said on Thursday.  For complete story, click here.
Iraqis bury 10 after blast U.S. says killed no one 12 Mar 2008 It was an incident that aptly summed up the fog of war in Iraq -- relatives burying nine women and a child they said were victims of a bomb attack on a bus in which the U.S. military said no one died. In Najaf, relatives gathered at a cemetery on Wednesday and accused U.S soldiers in the convoy of having shot at the bus, a charge U.S. military spokesman [prevaricator] Major-General Kevin Bergner denied at a news conference in Baghdad. [Yeah, this is where the GOP-owned media does the Pentagon's bidding and tacks on the obligatory 'despite a downturn in violence in recent months in Iraq.']  For complete story, click here.
National Dragnet Is a Click Away --Authorities to Gain Fast and Expansive Access to Records 06 Mar 2008 Several thousand law enforcement agencies are creating the foundation of a domestic intelligence system through computer networks that analyze vast amounts of police information to 'fight' crime and 'root out' terror plots... Those network efforts will begin expanding further this month, as some local and state agencies connect to a fledgling Justice Department system called the National Data Exchange, or N-DEx.  For complete story, click here.
FBI: Report to confirm privacy violations 05 Mar 2008 The FBI improperly used national security letters in 2006 to obtain personal data on Americans during terror and spy investigations, Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday. Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the privacy breach by FBI agents and lawyers occurred a year before the bureau enacted sweeping new reforms to prevent future lapses.  For complete story, click here.
FBI chief: Lack of legal shield won't halt telecom spy partnerships 05 Mar 2008 As Congress debates whether to wipe out lawsuits accusing telephone companies of allegedly illegal wiretaps, the Bush administration has argued such cooperation is key to keeping Americans safe from terrorists.  For complete story, click here.
Crimes by Homeland Security agents stir alert 05 Mar 2008 Bribery. Drug trafficking. Migrant smuggling. [GOPedophiles at Homeland Security arrested for molesting children.] U.S. Customs and Border Protection is supposed to stop these types of crimes. Instead, so many of its officers have been charged with committing those crimes themselves that their boss in Washington recently issued an alert about the ''disturbing events'' and the "increase in the number of employee arrests..." Other recent South Florida cases... have involved officers and agents accepting payoffs for migrant smuggling, drug trafficking, witness tampering, embezzlement and rape.  For complete story, click here.
Rule by fear or rule by law?--February 4th, 2008--"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist." - Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943  Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."  Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.  According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."  Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to taxpayer-gouging Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of "new programs" require the construction and refurbishment of detention facilities in nearly every state of the union with the capacity to house perhaps millions of people?  Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," gives the executive the power to invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is now authorized to use the military in response to "a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order."  The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies. The law calls for secret trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.  Also in 2007, the White House quietly issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), to ensure "continuity of government" in the event of what the document vaguely calls a "catastrophic emergency." Should the president determine that such an emergency has occurred, he and he alone is empowered to do whatever he deems necessary to ensure "continuity of government." This could include everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack. Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on NSPD-51.  U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County) has come up with a new way to expand the domestic "war on terror." Her Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR1955), which passed the House by the lopsided vote of 404-6, would set up a commission to "examine and report upon the facts and causes" of so-called violent radicalism and extremist ideology, then make legislative recommendations on combatting it. According to commentary in the Baltimore Sun, Rep. Harman and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle believe the country faces a  native brand of terrorism, and needs a commission with sweeping  investigative power to combat it.  A clue as to where Harman's commission might be aiming is the Animal  Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that labels those who "engage in sit-ins, civil disobedience, trespass, or any other crime in the name of animal rights" as terrorists. Other groups in the crosshairs could be anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, environmentalists, peace demonstrators, Second Amendment  rights supporters ... the list goes on and on. According to author  Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center holds the names of  roughly 775,000 "terror suspects" with the number increasing by  20,000 per month.  What could the government be contemplating that leads it to make  contingency plans to detain without recourse millions of its own citizens? The Constitution does not allow the executive to have unchecked power  under any circumstances. The people must not allow the president to  use the war on terrorism to rule by fear instead of by law.  For complete story, click here.

Civil rights cases at issue for FBI--March 5th, 2008--WASHINGTON - The FBI is investigating 26 unsolved civil rights era cases out of nearly 100 referred to the bureau over the last year, Director Robert Mueller says in calling the protection of civil liberties one of his top priorities.   Mueller was set to testify Wednesday at an FBI oversight hearing before the Senate. Lawmakers were expected to press him about whether his agents violated the civil rights of U.S. citizens whose personal information was obtained secretly in terror and spy investigations.  In a prepared statement sent Tuesday to the Senate, Mueller vows "to protect the security of our nation while upholding the civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution to every United States citizen."  "It is not enough to prevent foreign countries from stealing our secrets — we must prevent that from happening while still upholding the rule of law," Mueller says. "It is not enough to stop the terrorist — we must stop him while maintaining civil liberties. It is not enough to catch the criminal — we must catch him while respecting his civil rights.  "The rule of law, civil liberties and civil rights — these are not our burdens; they are what make us better," Mueller says in his written remarks, which were obtained by The Associated Press.  Mueller's remarks offer the first details about the FBI's efforts to reopen decades-old civil rights cases since the successful prosecution last summer of a reputed Ku Klux Klansman for his role in the 1964 abduction and killing of two black teenagers.  Early last year, more than 100 unsolved cases were referred to the FBI. Mueller said 95 of them were sent to investigators in 17 field offices around the country. Ultimately, 52 cases were opened and 26 of those were being reviewed by the Justice Department "to determine if additional investigation is necessary," he said.  "For those cases in which we can move forward, we will," he said.

 

Democrats who control the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, were expected to focus on whether FBI missteps over the last year — in civil rights and other areas — have been corrected.  Senate aides for several Democrats said Mueller will probably be asked about the FBI's use of national security letters, which are used under the USA Patriot Act to pursue suspected terrorists and spies.  An audit last year by the Justice Department's inspector general found that FBI agents and lawyers, from 2003 to 2005, demanded personal data on people from banks, telephone and Internet providers, credit bureaus and other businesses without official authorization and in non-emergency circumstances.  The inspector general is expected to issue a follow-up audit at any time that will focus on the FBI's use of national security letters in 2006. Several Justice Department and FBI officials familiar with the upcoming report say it will conclude that the letters were wrongly used at a similar rate as during the previous three years.  But the officials noted that the new audit only examines national security letters that were issued before the FBI was notified of the problems in March 2007 and changed its system. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the audit publicly.  Senate aides said Mueller also probably will be asked about the FBI's failure to pay phone bills on time, prompting telephone companies to cut off wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals. In at least one case, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation "was halted due to untimely payment," according to a January internal Justice audit.  FISA wiretaps are used in the government's most sensitive and secretive criminal and intelligence investigations, and allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies.  For complete story, click here.

Pentagon to Test Invisible Gases In Crystal City --Test dubbed 'Urban Shield: Crystal City Urban Transport Study' 01 Mar 2008 (VA) The Pentagon is scheduled to release odorless, invisible and 'harmless' gases into Crystal City Thursday to test how quickly they spread through buildings, officials said. The data will help the Pentagon and Arlington shape their lockdown policies for [Bush's] chemical and biological attacks or accidents, and will also help them determine the most effective locations for sensors.  For complete story, click here.
US launches missile strike in Somalia 03 Mar 2008 Two U.S. missiles hit a house in southern Somalia on Monday, according to local officials, in an attack Washington said was directed at "known terrorists". A man in Kismayu, who said the house that was hit belonged to him, told Reuters in Kismayu his daughter was among the wounded and four of his cows had also been killed in the attack. [The "known terrorists"are Bush and Cheney, carrying out war crimes all over the world.]  For complete story, click here.
Antidepressant drugs don't work – official study--February 26th, 2008--They are among the biggest-selling drugs of all time, the "happiness pills" that supposedly lift the moods of those who suffer depression and are taken by millions of people in the UK every year.  But one of the largest studies of modern antidepressant drugs has found that they have no clinically significant effect. In other words, they don't work. The finding will send shock waves through the medical profession and patients and raises serious questions about the regulation of the multinational pharmaceutical industry, which was accused yesterday of withholding data on the drugs. It also came as Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, announced that 3,600 therapists are to be trained during the next three years to provide nationwide access through the GP service to "talking treatments" for depression, instead of drugs, in a £170m scheme. The popularity of the new generation of antidepressants, which include the best known brands Prozac and Seroxat, soared after they were launched in the late 1980s, heavily promoted by drug companies as safer and leading to fewer side-effects than the older tricyclic antidepressants.  The publication in 1994 of Listening to Prozac by Peter Kramer, in which he suggested anyone with too little "joy juice" might give themselves a dose of the "mood brightener" Prozac , lifted sales into the stratosphere. In the UK, an estimated 3.5 million people take the drugs, collectively known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), in any one year and 29 million prescriptions were issued in 2004. Prozac, the best known of the SSRIs made by Eli Lilly, was the world's fastest-selling drug until it was overtaken by Viagra.  In the study, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of all 47 clinical trials, published and unpublished, submitted to the Food and Drug Administration in the US, made in support of licensing applications for six of the best known antidepressant drugs, including Prozac, Seroxat – which is made by GlaxoSmithKline – and Efexor made by Wyeth. The results showed the drugs were effective only in a very small group of the most extremely depressed.  For complete story, click here.
US Vets to Testify About War Crimes They Committed or Witnessed 28 Feb 2008 U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to descend on Washington from Mar. 13-16 to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in those countries. "The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it," said Liam Madden, a former Marine and member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. [Let's get the betting pool going on what will dominate the mainstream media on March 13-16. I am thinking six school lockdowns, an explosion/shootup of an Illinois shopping mall, the release of a new 'bin Laden' videotape, or the 'killing' of the 548th 'al-Qaeda number two' in the 'restive Anbar province.' --LRP]  For complete story, click here.
ACLU: 900,000 Names on U.S. Terror Watch Lists 27 Feb 2008 The FBI now keeps a list of over 900,000 names belonging to known or suspected terrorists, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. Last September, the ACLU notes, the Department of Justice's Inspector General reported the FBI watch list was at 700,000 names, and growing at 20,000 names per month.  For complete story, click here.
Journalist for CTV labelled 'unlawful enemy combatant' by U.S. military 27 Feb 2008 The U.S. military has designated a journalist employed by CTV in Afghanistan as an unlawful enemy combatant. A military spokesman told the Associated Press that a review board has determined Jawed Ahmad, an Afghan national, is a danger to foreign troops and the Afghan government.  For complete story, click here.
Canada-U.S. pact allows cross-border military activity in civil emergency 23 Feb 2008 Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal. Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas. The U.S. military's Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation in a civil emergency. [See:U.S. Northern Command, Canada Command establish new bilateral Civil Assistance Plan 14 Feb 2008.]  For complete story, click here.
Anthrax tests on troops to be conducted 'strictly under supervision'--February 24th, 2008--Following deliberation on petition protesting IDF medical experimentation on soldiers, government announces Ministry of Health to supervise such experiments.  State officials reported to the High Court of Justice on Sunday that all medical experiments on IDF soldiers are to be conducted only under strict Health Ministry supervision and approval.  The State also reported to the court that the Health Ministry protocol for human experimentation is to be implemented in the IDF as standard command.  This announcement was made following a petition brought to the court by the human rights group Physicians for Human Rights, in conjunction with several Israeli Defense Force soldiers, protesting medical experimentation on active duty soldiers in the IDF.  Most prominently, petitioners protested the use of IDF soldiers in secret experiments testing Anthrax vaccines, codenamed "Omer 2".  Physicians For Human Rights petitioned the High Court three months ago, demanding that the IDF stop medical experimentation on soldiers, and demanding the establishment of a commission of inquiry on this matter.  The IDF soldiers petitioning the court demanded that they be compensated for pain and suffering endured during such experimentation.  The "Omer 2" Anthrax experiment that triggered this petition was held between 1999 and 2006, and included some 800 IDF soldiers. The experiment included a series of seven injections, some including an American Anthrax vaccine, and others a recently developed Israeli formula.  Physicians for Human Right has maintained that the experiment failed to uphold several ethical imperatives, including garnering the informed consent of the soldiers in question, as well as following up on their general health and well being at the conclusion of the experiment.  Israeli law regulates medical experiments on human beings through sub-ordinances rather than through major legislation. In the IDF, the legislative status of human medical experiments is even more uncorroborated.  FOr complete story, click here.
Inside the world of war profiteers --From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S. 21 Feb 2008 (IL) A common thread runs through these cases and other KBR scandals in Iraq, from allegations the firm failed to protect employees sexually assaulted by co-workers to findings that it charged $45 per can of soda: The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs. The dollar value of Army contracts quadrupled from $23.3 billion in 1992 to $100.6 billion in 2006, according to a recent report by a Pentagon panel.  For complete story, click here.
UK troops accused of executions and torture in Iraq 22 Feb 2008 Lawyers for five Iraqis have accused British soldiers of mass executions and torture and called for a police investigation into an "atrocious episode" in British army history. Phil Shiner and Martyn Day produced statements on Friday from five men who say they were detained by British forces after a battle in southern Iraq in May 2004. The men, who were blindfolded and bound, said their captors repeatedly beat and abused them, including forcing them to strip naked. While detained, they said they heard the systematic torture and execution of up to 20 other prisoners.  For complete story, click here.
New Bill To Allow Police Misconduct Be Hidden From Public --February 14th, 2008--A new bill proposed at the legislature would allow for police to withhold misconduct reports from the public. Supporters of the bill believe that police misconduct should be kept secret from the public so to not discredit police testimony. Others say that a forthright police unit is essential to the community.  In September, Jared Massey was zapped with a taser by Trooper John Gardner. A video of the incident was recorded from Gardner’s patrol car. Gardner can be seen shocking Massey until he hits the ground while Massey’s wife screams from the side of their SUV.  More than a million people watched the video on “YouTube.” Massey was shocked to see his new found fame. The footage may have never been seen had Massey not made a records request to obtain the tape.  For complete story, click here.
Scalia: It is "extraordinary" to assume that the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" also applies to "so-called" torture. Top court's Scalia defends physical interrogation 12 Feb 2008 Reichwing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said on Tuesday some physical interrogation techniques [torture] can be used on a suspect in the event of an imminent threat, such as a hidden bomb about to blow up. In such cases, "smacking someone in the face" could be justified, the outspoken Scalia told the BBC. "You can't come in smugly and with great self  satisfaction and say 'Oh it's torture, and therefore it's no good.'"  For complete story, click here.
Scalia says 'so-called torture' may not be unconstitutional 12 Feb 2008 US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Tuesday defended the use of harsh physical interrogation techniques, saying in an interview with Law in Action on BBC Radio 4 that they may be justified to deter an immediate threat. Scalia argued that "so-called torture" may not necessarily be prohibited by the US constitution, as he said the Eighth Amendment bar against "cruel and unusual punishment" was only intended to apply to criminal punishments... For complete story, click here.
VIDEO: Woman Calls Police for Help, Gets Violently Strip Searched--February 11, 2008--The victim was kept in a cell for six hours, was not allowed to make a phone call or to get medical assistance for cuts and bruises she received.   For complete story, click here.

Army quietly changed rules in '06 to allow military executions at 'other locations' --Muslim section of cemetery at Guantanamo has been dedicated by Islamic cultural adviser 12 Feb 2008 If six suspected terrorists are sentenced to death at Guantanamo Bay for the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. Army regulations that were quietly amended two years ago open the possibility of execution by lethal injection at the military base in Cuba, experts said Tuesday. Until recently, experts on military law said, it was understood that military regulations required executions to be carried out by lethal injection at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. But in January 2006, the Army changed its procedures for military executions, allowing "other locations" [such as KBR detention centers] to be used. The new regulations say that only the president can approve an execution and that the secretary of the Army will authorize the location. [The Army quietly changed its regulations to allow military executions at 'other locations' in January 2006. Guess who got a multi-year, no-bid $385 million contract to construct detention centers on US soil, the same month and year? See: KBR Awarded U.S. Department of Homeland Security Contingency Support Project For Emergency Support Services  For complete story, click here  

'They have permission to 'shoot to kill' in the event of martial law.' The FBI Deputizes Business By Matthew Rothschild 07 Feb 2008 Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does--and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials... One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to "shoot to kill" in the event of martial law... This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do... "Then they said when--not if--martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted," he says.  For complete story, click here.
AP Confirms Secret Camp Inside Guantanamo 06 Feb 2008 Somewhere amid the cactus-studded hills on this sprawling Navy base, separate from the cells where hundreds of men suspected of links to 'al-Qaida' and the Taliban have been locked up for years, is a place even more closely guarded - a jailhouse so protected [hidden from human rights organizations] that its very location is top secret. For the first time, the top commander of detention operations at Guantanamo has confirmed the existence of the mysterious Camp 7.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.guardian.co.uk  Date: February 6, 2008)
Britney Spears Was Drugged, Controlled By Sam Lutfi, Parents Allege 'Mr. Lutfi has drugged Britney ... he claims to control everything,' singer's father wrote in petition for restraining order.--Feb. 1st, 2008--Britney Spears' parents allege that the singer's acting manager, Sam Lutfi, was drugging her to control her, according to the petition for the restraining order against him, released by Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday (February 5).  Lutfi, who already has had three other parties file requests for restraining orders against him, is ordered in this latest one issued on Friday to stay 250 yards away from Britney, her homes, her cars, her children's homes and child-care facilities, her sibling's homes, her parents' homes, and UCLA Medical Center, where she's currently hospitalized. The order was extended on Monday to include no contact with Spears by phone, e-mail or text message.  Since meeting the singer "in or about" October, Lutfi has "essentially moved into Britney's home and has purported to take control of her life, home, and finances," according to Jamie Spears, the singer's father, who has temporary conservator powers over the singer's person and estate. "Mr. Lutfi has drugged Britney," Jamie wrote. "He has cut Britney's home phone line and removed her cell-phone chargers. He yells at her. He claims to control everything - Britney's business manager, her attorneys and the security guards at the gate."  He asked for the restraining order "to avoid the risk of physical harm to Britney by Mr. Lutfi and to allow her to undergo necessary medical treatment without interference by Mr. Lutfi," according to the petition.  A declaration from Lynne Spears, the singer's mother, explained in more detail some incidents in late January that gave both parents cause for concern. Lynne wrote that she, her friend Jackie and Jamie went to visit Britney's home on January 28 because they heard on the news that their daughter had been in a big argument with Lutfi and that she was crying. When they arrived, they found Lutfi, who told them that Britney only wanted to see her mother and that she was frightened to see her father. The paparazzi were allowed inside - but not Jamie Spears.  For complete story, click here.
Lilly's $1 Billion E-Mailstrom--Feb. 5th, 2008--A secret memo meant for a colleague lands in a Times reporter's in-box.  When the New York Times broke the story last week that Eli Lilly & Co. was in confidential settlement talks with the government, angry calls flew behind the scenes as the drug giant's executives accused federal officials of leaking the information.  As the company's lawyers began turning over rocks closer to home, however, they discovered what could be called A Nightmare on Email Street, a pharmaceutical consultant told Portfolio.com. One of its outside lawyers at Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton had mistakenly emailed confidential information on the talks to Times reporter Alex Berenson instead of Bradford Berenson, her co-counsel at Sidley Austin.  With the negotiations over alleged marketing improprieties reaching a mind-boggling sum of $1 billion, Eli Lilly had every reason to want to keep the talks under wraps. It was paying the two fancy law firms a small fortune to negotiate deftly and quietly.  If and when it did settle the allegations that it had improperly marketed its most profitable drug, Zyprexa, for schizophrenia, it would certainly want to announce the news on terms carefully negotiated with the government.  "We usually try to brace for that [kind of] story," a Lilly staffer said.  So when the Times' Berenson began calling around for comment, and seemed to possess remarkably detailed inside information about the negotiations, Lilly executives were certain the source of the leak was the government.  As it turned out, one of Eli Lilly's lawyers at Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia wanted to email Sidley Austin's Berenson, about the negotiations. But apparently, the name that popped up from her email correspondents was the wrong Berenson.  Alex Berenson logged on to find an internal "very comprehensive document" about the negotiations, the consultant said, and on January 30, Berenson's article, "Lilly in Settlement Talks With U.S." appeared on the Times' website. A similar article followed the next day on the front page of the New York Times.  Those who knew the real story must have had a chuckle-or shed some tears-over Lilly's statement to the Times that it had "no intention of sharing those discussions [with the government] with the news media and it would be speculative and irresponsible for anyone to do so."  When reached for comment, Alex Berenson told Portfolio.com, "I can't say anything. I just can't."  A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Philadelphia, which is spearheading the Zyprexa investigation, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Eli Lilly.  However, the Lilly spokeswoman called back to add that the drugmaker would continue to retain Pepper Hamilton. Phone calls to Sidley Austin and Pepper Hamilton were not returned.  And sadly, no confidential emails with further scoops were received in error.  For complete story, click here.
Bush asserts authority to bypass defense act --Bush asserted four sections of bill unconstitutionally infringe on his powers, so executive branch is not bound to obey them 30 Jan 2008 President [sic] Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent US military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill. Bush made the assertion in a signing statement that he issued late Monday after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008.  For complete story, click here.
Iraq conflict has killed a million, says survey 30 Jan 2008 More than one million Iraqis have died as a result of the conflict in their country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to research conducted by one of Britain's leading polling groups. The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes.  For complete story, click here.
Halliburton Co. enjoys 46% income growth 29 Jan 2008 Net income of the American oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. in 2007 was $3,5 billion, up 46% from $2,4 billion of the previous year. Halliburton reported that revenue was $15,3 billion, an increase of 19% from $12,9 billion in 2006. Halliburton’s net income for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $690 million. This compares to net income of $658 million in the fourth quarter of 2006.  For complete story, click here.
Like FBI, CIA Has Used Secret 'Letters' 25 Jan 2008 Newly released documents shed light on the use of national security letters by the CIA. The spy agency has employed them to obtain financial information about U.S. residents and does so under extraordinary secrecy, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained copies of CIA letters under the Freedom of Information Act. The CIA's requests for financial records come with "gag orders" on the recipients, said ACLU lawyer Melissa Goodman. In many cases, she said, the recipient is not allowed to keep a copy of the letter or even take notes about the information turned over to the CIA.  For complete story, click here.
Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told 22 Jan 2008 The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists. Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world". It has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, over the past 10 days.  For complete story, click here.
New Generation of Homeless Vets Emerges--January 20th, 2008--LEEDS, Mass. - Peter Mohan traces the path from the Iraqi battlefield to this lifeless conference room, where he sits in a kilt and a Camp Kill Yourself T-shirt and calmly describes how he became a sad cliche: a homeless veteran.  There was a happy homecoming, but then an accident - car crash, broken collarbone. And then a move east, close to his wife's new job but away from his best friends.  And then self-destruction: He would gun his motorcycle to 100 mph and try to stand on the seat. He would wait for his wife to leave in the morning, draw the blinds and open up whatever bottle of booze was closest.  He would pull out his gun, a .45-caliber, semiautomatic pistol. He would lovingly clean it, or just look at it and put it away. Sometimes place it in his mouth.  "I don't know what to do anymore," his wife, Anna, told him one day. "You can'