Posted 3/3/2005 11:12 PM
Key Iraq wound: Brain trauma
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
A growing number of U.S. troops whose body armor helped them survive bomb and rocket attacks are suffering brain damage as a result of the blasts. It's a type of injury some military doctors say has become the signature wound of the Iraq war.
Known as traumatic brain injury, or TBI, the wound is of the sort that many soldiers in previous wars never lived long enough to suffer. The explosions often cause brain damage similar to "shaken-baby syndrome," says Warren Lux, a neurologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
"You've got great body armor on, and you don't die," says Louis French, a neuropsychologist at Walter Reed. "But there's a whole other set of possible consequences. It's sort of like when they started putting airbags in cars and started seeing all these orthopedic injuries." (Related item: TBI gallery)
The injury is often hard to recognize — for doctors, for families and for the troops themselves. Months after being hurt, many soldiers may look fully recovered, but their brain functions remain labored. "They struggle much more than you think just from talking to them, so there is that sort of hidden quality to it," Lux says.
To identify cases of TBI, doctors at Walter Reed screened every arriving servicemember wounded in an explosion, along with those hurt in Iraq or Afghanistan in a vehicle accident or fall, or by a gunshot wound to the face, neck or head. They found TBI in about 60% of the cases. The largest group was 21-year-olds. (Related story: Survivors struggle to regain control)
From January 2003 to this January, 437 cases of TBI were diagnosed among wounded soldiers at the Army hospital, Lux says. Slightly more than half had permanent brain damage. Similar TBI screening began in August at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., near Washington. It showed 83% — or 97 wounded Marines and sailors — with temporary or permanent brain damage. Forty-seven cases of moderate to severe TBI were identified earlier in the year.
The wound may come to characterize this war, much the way illnesses from Agent Orange typified the Vietnam War, doctors say. "The numbers make it a serious problem," Lux says.
An explosion can cause the brain to move violently inside the skull. The shock wave from the blast can also damage brain tissue, Lux says. "The good news is that those people would have been dead" in earlier wars, says Deborah Warden, national director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. "But now they're alive. And we need to help them."
Symptoms of TBI vary. They include headaches, sensitivity to light or noise, behavioral changes, impaired memory and a loss in problem-solving abilities.
In severe cases, victims must relearn how to walk and talk. "It's like being born again, literally," says Sgt. Edward "Ted" Wade, 27, a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division who lost his right arm and suffered TBI in an explosion last year near Fallujah. Today, he sometimes struggles to formulate a thought, and his eyes blink repeatedly as he concentrates.
Migrant workers fear leaving island
IDs get checked on Catalina ferries
Los Angeles Times
Mar. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
AVALON, Calif. - The bright orange postcard is easy to spot on display at souvenir shops that dot Avalon: "Help! I'm marooned on Catalina Island."
Goofy keepsake for most visitors, but for Avalon resident Jorge Rodriguez, 28, an undocumented immigrant and construction worker who has lived on the island since he was a teenager, the card's gag has an uncanny note of accuracy.
"You can't go there anymore," Rodriguez said, gesturing north to the mainland. "Since they started checking 'los' IDs, everyone's afraid." advertisement
Avalon's sizable Hispanic community has been abuzz for months with stories and rumors of periodic documentation checks by U.S. Coast Guard and immigration officials on the ferries that connect Avalon to the mainland, where workers go for cheaper food, medical care, family visits and to spend their wages at Southern California theme parks.
For generations, the Spanish-speaking locals have called the mainland el otro lado, the other side, borrowing a phrase more commonly used to refer to the U.S.-Mexican border. But for some, the 20-something miles of sea that separate Avalon from mainland Los Angeles really has become a border, one that many are wondering whether they'll ever risk crossing again.
"I haven't left since I heard they were out there," said restaurant worker Juan Moreno, 43, sitting on a bench at Island Plaza during a lunch break, calmly finishing a cigarette. "Well, what else can I do?"
Moreno went to Avalon as many others did: young, sometimes barely teenagers, eager to fill jobs in Catalina Island's tourism industry. Usually, a relative lured them directly to the island with stories of plentiful jobs, a safe community and Catalina's natural beauty.
With false papers or no papers at all, undocumented immigrants have thrived as cooks, maids and builders and in other low-wage or service jobs. Many have families in the one-square-mile town of about 3,000. A little less than half the population is Hispanic, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
"For a long time, one of us would go back home (to Mexico) during wintertime, telling people 'It's going good, there are jobs,' and then come back with two or three others," said Jose Luis Cervantes, 44, a naturalized citizen who seems to greet everyone he meets on Avalon's brick sidewalks with a familiar wave.
Cervantes said he has lived in Avalon since he was 14. "I know everyone here. We're all like one family."
That closeness, some said, is what made news of the document checks spread so quickly.
The Coast Guard's Sea Marshals program, which was launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is randomly checking occupants of boats entering local harbors, not just commercial ferries to and from Avalon, said Chief Warrant Officer Lance Jones, a Coast Guard spokesman.
"We're not targeting anybody," Jones said. "We're doing spot checks on IDs. We're showing a presence."
Passengers who can't produce valid documents are turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jones said.
Immigration authorities also have joined the boat checks, said Lt. Tony Migliorini, another Coast Guard spokesman.
Officials in both agencies said they had no figures on how many people have been detained or deported as part of the operation on the Catalina ferries, which usually are filled with tourists headed to Avalon's village atmosphere and cozy hotels.
Some undocumented Avalon workers said they have heard of only three people who were detained, one of whom, they say, was deported.
For those who still risk it, the prospect of deportation has made the trip a nerve-racking one. "You get on there and you're looking all around, waiting for them to come out," Rodriguez said.
ttacks kill 31 Iraqis; parliament gears up to meet
Mar. 7, 2005 06:45 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Guerrillas launched a series of attacks in Iraq on Monday that left 31 people dead and dozens wounded as the country took its first major step toward forming a government whose most crucial task will be dealing with the insurgency.
Al-Qaida in Iraq purportedly claimed responsibility in an Internet statement for much of the bloodshed - violence in and around Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, where 15 people died.
The Baqouba assaults included a car bomb, three roadside bombs and small arms attacks three checkpoints, one of them just south of Baqouba in Muradiyah, said police Col. Mudhafar al-Jubbori
U.S. Maj. Ed House said a suicide car bombing outside a police station there killed nine people and wounded 17. The dead included the bomber, two police, three soldiers and three civilians.
In another attack near the city, a group of about 20 insurgents in five vehicles attacked an army checkpoint with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, killing five Iraqi soldiers. The troops fought back, killing one of the attackers. Nine people were wounded, House said.
Guerrillas also fired a mortar around near the blue-domed governor's office, causing no casualties, a spokesman for the U.S. 42nd Infantry Division, Maj. Richard Goldenberg.
Another car bomb exploded outside the home of an Iraqi army officer in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, killing 12 people and injuring 21 others, said the city's police chief, Ayad Ahmed. Hospital officials said most of the casualties were bystanders.
The bomb exploded outside the home of Iraqi army Lt. Col. Mohammed Abdul Mutaled, Ahmed said. Iraqi security forces are frequently targeted by insurgents.
In Baghdad, gunmen killed two police and wounded a third in a drive-by shooting in the eastern slum of Sadr City, said Dr. Abdul Jabar Solan, director of a hospital where the casualties were brought.
Two civilians were also killed when a roadside bomb targeting a joint U.S.-Iraqi military convoy exploded in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Amiriyah. The explosion missed the convoy, damaging two passing cars and wounding four people, including two girls, said 1st Lt. Ali Hussein Hamdani. Another roadside bomb exploded in the southeastern New Baghdad suburb, wounding several people on a bus.
A Polish soldier suffered a shrapnel wound to the hand Monday when a bomb blew up next to his convoy north of Hillah in central Iraqi, said Lt. Col. Zbigniew Staszkow, spokesman for the Polish military.
In the latest in a wave of abductions, Jordan's Foreign Ministry spokesman said a Jordanian businessman was kidnapped in Iraq by abductors demanding $250,000 in ransom.
More than 190 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq in the past year. At least 13 remain in the hands of their captors and more than 30 were killed. The rest were freed, some through the payment of ransom, or escaped.
In Bulgaria, Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov said a Bulgarian soldier killed last week in Iraq was likely shot by friendly fire from troops of the U.S.-led coalition.
A U.S. military spokesman, Tech. Sgt. Patrick Murphy, said the commanding general in the region had appointed a commission to investigate.
Monday's violence came a day after politicians set March 16 for the opening of the country's first democratically elected parliament in modern history as a deal hardened Sunday to name Jalal Talabani, a leader of the minority Kurds, to the presidency. The day marks the anniversary of the 1988 Saddam-ordered chemical attack on the northern Kurdish town of Halabja, which killed 5,000 people.
The more powerful prime minister's job will go to Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a deeply conservative Shiite who leads the Islamic Dawa party. His nomination, which the Kurds have agreed to, has been endorsed by the most powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq - Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
"This was one of our firm demands and we agreed on it previously. The agreement states that Jalal Talabani takes the presidential post and one of the United Iraqi Alliance members takes the prime minister's post," Talabani spokesman Azad Jundiyan told The Associated Press.
He said the clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance also reached a preliminary agreement with the Kurds on their other conditions - including extending their territories to include Kirkuk.
Jundiyan said they wanted the deal on paper before going though with it, while alliance officials, including Ahmad Chalabi, said those negotiations were not over.
Al-Jaafari and the alliance agreed on Talabani's presidency during a March 3 meeting with Kurdish leaders in northern Irbil. Kurds had long wanted the job for Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
The alliance, which won 140 seats in the assembly, needs the 75 seats held by a Kurdish coalition to gain the two-thirds majority needed to elect a president and two vice presidents, the first step toward setting up a government under a prime minister.
Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who controls 40 seats in the assembly, also has been negotiating to keep his job.
Officials have said the post of speaker probably would go to a Sunni Arab - either interim President Ghazi al-Yawer or interim Minister of Industry Hajim al-Hassani.
A Sunni Arab speaker would go far toward appeasing the minority, which is believed to make up the core of the insurgency and, like the Kurds, represents 15 percent to 20 percent of Iraq's estimated 26 million people. But unlike the Kurds, Sunni Arabs largely stayed away from the election to protest the U.S. presence in the country.
Kurdish demands include an autonomous Kurdistan as part of federal Iraq and a share of region's oil revenues. They also want to maintain their peshmerga militia and want a bigger share of the national budget.
Their demand for a federal state, though, would require redrawing the Kurds' current autonomous state borders to include Kurdish areas - oil-rich Kirkuk among them - that were dominated by Saddam loyalists and Sunni Arabs.
Chalabi, whose own party is part of the alliance, said no deal had yet been made with the Kurds - especially concerning Kirkuk.
"There are no obstacles at all, there are friendly negotiations with the Kurds because we have been allies for a long time and have common understandings," Chalabi told the Al-Jazeera television network. "There are two authorized committees, one represents the United Iraqi Alliance and the second represents the Kurds, that are negotiating over these issues in Baghdad."
this senator got almost $50K from some folks but he thinks he can still investigate them fairly for wrong doing. yea sure.
Senator sees no conflict in probe
Panel's vice chair got Indian funds
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 7, 2005 12:00 AM
The vice chairman of the U.S. Senate committee investigating an Indian lobbying scandal said he sees no conflict of interest in participating in the probe despite having received $47,000 in political support from interests connected with the man at the center of the case.
"Not at all," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "I'm very interested in finding out what the truth is with respect to all of these issues."
Dorgan said he has never met former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who along with public relations consultant Michael Scanlon, is under investigation by the Senate and Justice Department concerning $82 million of work billed to six Indian tribes.
"To the extent that contributions were made to me or to my campaign organizations by groups, it was not with any knowledge of Mr. Abramoff's involvement," Dorgan said in a brief interview Saturday in Phoenix.
Dorgan said he sees no reason to recuse himself from further hearings since learning of Abramoff's links to the money.
"No, no, no," he said. "I assume that . . . the tribes he represented made contributions to a lot of folks. I assume some perhaps were at Mr. Abramoff's recommendation; others on their own volition."
In trying to win friends in Congress for his clients, Abramoff recommended that at least four tribes send hundreds of thousands of dollars to the political funds of members of Congress, mostly Republicans. The total received by Dorgan in 2000 through 2003 was the most found for any Democrat in searches by The Arizona Republic.
Another recipient was then-Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., who chaired the Indian Affairs Committee until retiring from his Senate seat in January.
Campbell, a Native American, said he was unaware that his campaign committee had received $7,000 in April 2002 from four tribes represented by Abramoff.
"I didn't know that, but I didn't receive any money from him," Campbell said last week in a telephone interview.
"I would imagine that if you looked at any member of the (Indian Affairs) committee, you would find contributions from many of those same tribes," he said.
Abramoff-related interests contributed to at least 100 members of Congress and political action committees in a four-year period, federal records show. Some of the PACs and so-called 527 organizations bear such names as "Friends of the Big Sky," "Rely on Your Beliefs Fund" and "Missouri Millennium Fund," revealing nothing about who controls them.
A 527 organization is a political advocacy group named for a section of the Internal Revenue Service code.
Other Indian Affairs Committee members who received at least $2,000 from tribes linked to Abramoff include Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
Among Arizonans who received donations from tribes linked to Abramoff were GOP Reps. J.D. Hayworth, Jim Kolbe and Rick Renzi, and Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor.
In a continuing mystery, more than two dozen intended recipients of contributions totaling $71,000 from one tribe have no record of ever receiving the money. The group includes Sen. Jon Kyl and Rep. John Shadegg, both Arizona Republicans.
All donations were legal and the recipients could not have foreseen that a scandal would erupt around Abramoff. But tracking the money sheds light on the extent to which contributors hope to make an impression on politicians who could have a say in issues affecting them.
For example, the Tigua Indians of El Paso sent $2,000 to Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Ney's political fund, quickly followed by $30,000 as he took the lead in trying to steer legislation through Congress that would allow the tribe to reopen its casino.
At Abramoff's recommendation, three tribes made contributions totaling $67,000 to one senator's political committees in spring 2002.
GOP Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana received that amount from tribes linked to Abramoff in the first quarter of 2002. A year earlier, Abramoff himself gave $5,000 and a fourth tribe contributed $30,000. In all, Burns' committees received $137,000 in 2000-03.
Burns has come under fire since the Washington Post revealed a week ago that as chairman of the Interior subcommittee controlling appropriations for Indian reservations, he played a major role in securing $3 million for a new elementary school for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, one of the richest in the nation. The tribe did not qualify for funds intended for school refurbishment, but the money was given anyway, the Post reported.
Records show that the Chippewas donated $20,000 to Burns' Friends of the Big Sky in 2002.
A spokesman for Burns was quoted as saying the senator helped obtain approval at the request of members of the Michigan congressional delegation, and the contributions had no influence.
In Montana, state Democratic Chairman Bob Ream said the Senate should open an ethics investigation of Burns over the school appropriation, which Ream called a "potential payoff" for the financial support Abramoff directed his way.
Dorgan's committees also received funds from the Chippewa Tribe, both before and after he participated in a hearing on Abramoff's activities.
Records show that Dorgan's Great Plains Leadership Fund and his re-election campaign received $7,000 from the tribe in 2002-03.
The tribe also contributed $5,000 in October, a month after one of its Tribal Council members testified before the Senate committee about Abramoff's behind-the-scenes involvement in electing a slate of Tribal Council candidates who later approved millions of dollars of payments to him and his associate.
In the September hearing, the tribal witness said he could not recall whether any Indian Affairs Committee member had been sent a contribution at Abramoff's recommendation. Dorgan did not disclose the contributions to his funds at the hearing.
Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who now chairs the committee, declined to comment on whether he believes Dorgan might have a conflict of interest in continuing to explore the activities of someone who directed money his way.
"The senator does not comment on ongoing investigations," spokeswoman Andrea Jones said.
Searches of campaign-fund records turned up no contributions from Abramoff interests to McCain's committees.
Man gets life in prison for sex with 9-year-old
PHOENIX - A man convicted of having sex with his girlfriend's 9-year-old daughter while riding in his ice-cream truck has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole or release for 35 years.
Adrian Cruz Hernandez was also sentenced to lifetime probation by Judge Thomas O'Toole of Maricopa County Superior Court.
Cruz, 25, drove an ice-cream truck on the west side of Phoenix and took the girl for rides in his truck to have sex with her. He was arrested in July after the girl became pregnant. Because she was too young to carry the baby, she had an abortion.
Cruz was initially charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, but he pleaded guilty to one count Wednesday. Because of the victim's age, the crime carries a penalty as serious as first-degree murder. The second count was reduced to a lesser charge, for which Cruz received probation.
High court says judges can't use unproven reports to add jail time
Mar. 8, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court further restricted federal judges' sentencing powers Monday, ruling that police reports and other unproven evidence cannot be used to tack on prison time.
The 5-3 decision in a Massachusetts case puts into doubt judicial fact-finding involving a defendant's prior behavior when boosting sentences.
Most states rely on some sort of judicial fact-finding for prior convictions in their sentencing systems.
Douglas Berman, a sentencing expert at Ohio State University's law school, said the ruling, coming on the heels of January's decision that found federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional, adds confusion.
Justice David Souter, writing for a four-justice plurality, said only a plea agreement, a charging document to which a defendant pleads guilty, an admission by a defendant and similarly reliable facts may be used to stiffen sentences.
Souter was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The case involved Reginald Shepard, who pleaded guilty to gun possession. At sentencing, the government asked that Shepard be sentenced to 15 years under a federal "career criminal" law, based on three prior convictions for burglary.
At issue was whether the burglaries to which Shepard pleaded guilty involved a "building," as opposed to a vehicle or vessel, which are not considered violent under federal law.
once the cops get use to having this stuff they will be making junk telephone calls asking us to report the location of suspected pot smokers, and jay walkers.
Automated call alerts neighbors to crime
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 9, 2005 12:00 AM
It was just after 6 a.m. Tuesday when Leslea Rutherford got an automated phone call from Tempe police: "We're looking for a suspect."
Two unarmed men were spotted in a stolen minivan. Now a K-9 and 14 officers were searching for them because they took off on foot somewhere in the neighborhood.
"It startled me," Rutherford said. "It made me scared. I didn't want to go outside."
But the message, aimed at nearly 500 homes northeast of the intersection of Southern and Mill avenues, did its job by making her aware of a potential danger, police said.
"Our only other option of sending officers door to door is much less efficient and more costly," said Jay Spradling, assistant chief of police.
It was only the third time Tempe has used the county's Community Emergency Notification System to get a public safety message out since it was made available 15 months ago. The alert also was launched in Tempe after an ammonia leak in March 2004 and when an elderly man with health problems went missing in January.
The city's utilization of the county's $50,000-a-month program is representative of a Valley-wide trend. As law enforcement and city agencies get more comfortable with the program, it's getting more use, said Liz Hunt, CENS manager.
In 2004, CENS was used 15 times. During 2005, only three months in, it has been used nine times.
Yet the early-morning warning irked some Tempe residents.
"I didn't know why they were telling me," said Richard Brinkley, a retired cabinetmaker. "What do I care about a car thief?"
Police agreed that this particular use of the alert system might not have been warranted. Spradling said he would evaluate the effectiveness of the call.
But other residents said they were grateful for the decision to launch the alert. Even Rutherford, despite her initial, frightened reaction, said she was glad.
Before a trip to school, she had her husband walk their 3- and 7-year-old children out to the car. And Rutherford sent the family's Pomeranian, Coco, outside. The fluffy brown pooch is small but loud, she said, while Coco yapped in the back yard.
"We're definitely all for it," said her husband, Jeff. "When we hear it, we can know we should be more alert."
DMV wont give you a drivers license? But it sounds like these criminals went a little too far. Why do all that work and risk getting caught when any terrorist knows you can make your own license at home with photoshop?
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Authorities warn of consequences of DMV break-in
If criminals fashion IDs that look genuine, considerable damage could occur, police say
By OMAR SOFRADZIJA
Las Vegas police Lt. Steve Franks fears the theft of 1,700 blank Nevada driver's licenses could ruin the financial lives of many Southern Nevadans.
"Everybody counts on the validity of government-issued IDs," Franks said Tuesday. "There's going to be a lot of damage done with this."
With identity theft running rampant in the Las Vegas Valley, Franks fears that personal information pilfered from elsewhere could be mated to the blanks, creating an ID card that is virtually indistinguishable from a real one.
Those illegally minted IDs could be used to open bank accounts and raid existing bank accounts, cash checks, open lines of credit, rent cars, buy plane tickets and pass through security checkpoints, all under an oblivious victim's name.
The consequences to victims could be everything from drained checking accounts and wrecked credit ratings to arrests on warrants for crimes committed by the identity thief.
"If I can get information on your date of birth, Social Security number, I put everything to match you (on an ID), but with my face," said Franks, part of the Las Vegas police financial crimes bureau.
The blank licenses, along with an equal number of laminated covers with state seals, a digital license camera, a desktop computer and a license printer were taken Monday after thieves rammed a truck into a Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles bureau at 4110 Donovan Way in North Las Vegas.
DMV officials initially said the equipment would largely be useless to criminals because much of it won't work unless connected to the department's mainframe computer in Carson City.
That means the personal information of licensed drivers should be safe. However, officials concede the camera and printer could be configured to churn out IDs that appear genuine.
"Sure, it's possible," said Kevin Malone, a DMV spokesman. "The equipment is readily available, though the cards and laminates are not. Even if they do make driver's licenses out of them, it will still be a fake ID with no record to back it up."
But few businesses and government agencies actually check the record behind an ID, according to Franks. And identity theft is no idle threat in Nevada, which ranks second nationally for identity thefts per capita.
About 5,000 Las Vegans are victimized each year by identity thieves, who break into businesses to steal client information, pilfer checks and deposit slips, and look for receipts and bank statements by rummaging through trash or breaking into mailboxes.
Franks attributes the crime's popularity here to the quick turnover of residents, the constant influx of tourists and the massive flow of money through the valley; a tempting threesome for crooks seeking opportunity.
"When you have 34 million visitors and the amount of money that's being spent here, it's an absolute gold mine for criminals," he said.
A quality false driver's license is invaluable in furthering such crimes because the cards have become the ubiquitous trusted ID of choice in the private and public sectors.
On the black market, such IDs can cost $250 to $500 apiece, according to Franks.
Identity thieves could use the ID in concert with stolen or forged bank documents to cash bad checks or make withdrawals from accounts, or to offer a believable alias when arrested, allowing them to skip bail with the consequences falling on an unsuspecting ID theft victim.
"That's the insidiousness of ID theft," Franks said. "It'll all get cleared up eventually, but will it be after you spend a week in jail?"
A thief can trade in a fake license for a real one in another state with a reciprocal exchange program, if thorough background checks are not done, Franks said.
Likewise, police wouldn't be able to detect an ill-gotten ID unless a driver's record is closely scrutinized for inconsistencies that could reveal a stolen identity.
For example, an identity thief who is a white male and 6 feet tall might have put their photo, height and weight on a license printed in the name of a Hispanic male who is 5 feet tall, and whose real DMV records indicate such.
"Sex and race, a lot of times people don't look at those categories," Franks said.
Because identity theft is so hard to detect, the typical victim doesn't know their identity has been compromised until three years after the fact, Franks said.
Malone said the DMV is looking at upgrading security at its bureaus around the state, but he declined to get into specifics.
"We are taking a few steps I'd rather not disclose," he said. "We're not telling the bad guys what we're doing. We're tightening it up a little bit."
Posted on Tue, Mar. 08, 2005
1,700 blank licenses stolen from Nev. DMV
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Thieves rammed a vehicle through the back wall of a Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles office and stole 1,700 blank driver's licenses.
"This could be anything from a bunch of juveniles who want to be able to make IDs to buy beer, to major criminal activity or even terrorism," police spokesman Tim Bedwell said Tuesday. "We don't know what they took them for."
The theft occurred early Monday in a remote industrial area, authorities said. The thieves took blank licenses and laminated covers, a digital license camera, a camera computer and a license printer, DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said.
The equipment would not work without a connection to the DMV's mainframe computer, Malone said. "It would be very, very difficult to break the encryption," he said.
However, the officials said false information could be placed on blank licenses and covered with authentic laminates and holographic seals, making the fake licenses indistinguishable from the real thing.
"It's been pondered that this has national security interests," Bedwell said. "But it's easier to pass a fake ID to a teller than to use it to get on a plane and fly internationally."
March 08, 2005
Thieves smash into Nevada DMV office, take blank licenses
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) - Authorities said they fear identity thieves were behind the smash-and-grab theft of 1,700 blank driver's licenses from a Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles office.
"This could be anything from a bunch of juveniles who want to be able to make IDs to buy beer to major criminal activity or even terrorism," Tim Bedwell, North Las Vegas police spokesman, said Tuesday. "We don't know what they took them for."
The blank licenses, with laminated covers and license-making equipment, were taken after a vehicle rammed through the back wall of a DMV office at the end of a road in a remote industrial area about 1 a.m. Monday.
"It appears they knew what they wanted," Bedwell said. "We got the alarm and responded, but by the time we got there they were gone."
DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said Tuesday that along with blank licenses and laminated covers, a digital license camera, a camera computer and a license printer were taken.
The equipment contained no driver information, and would not work without a connection to the DMV's mainframe computer in Carson City, Malone said. He added that the computer link was designed to thwart hacking.
"It would be very, very difficult to break the encryption," he said.
However, the officials said false information could be placed on blank licenses and covered with authentic laminates and holographic seals, making the fake licenses indistinguishable from real licenses.
With enough other personal information, an identity thief could use the card to cash checks or open bank accounts in someone else's name.
"It's been pondered that this has national security interests," Bedwell said. "But it's easier to pass a fake ID to a teller than to use it to get on a plane and fly internationally."
Cindy Cesare, Reporter
DMV Says Personal Information Was Not Stolen
March 8, 2005, 08:54 PM MST Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version
DMV Says Personal Information Was Not Stolen
Click here to contact Reporter Cindy Cesare.
The DMV is taking steps to prevent identity theft and future burglaries after a brazen break-in Monday. Thieves crashed their vehicle into the DMV on Craig and Donovan and stole equipment to make fake IDs.
The area is all boarded up right now but the thieves went inside a break room and then stole equipment to make over a thousand fake IDs. Now the DMV is contacting other agencies to warn them about the theft.
The computer printer, camera, blank license cards and enough Nevada seal laminates to make 1,700 Nevada driver's licenses were stolen from a desk.
Nevada DMV says that the thieves will not be able to access already issued Nevada drivers license information from the computer. But if the thieves can access your information by other means they could steal your identity.
DMV customer Eric Jensen was concerned enough about the stolen equipment to inquire about future security at the North Las Vegas DMV. "We just asked them, inside due to the theft, would they have cameras? And she said possibly. She didn't know, but I would think it would be a good idea. They have cameras everywhere else in town -- every hotel, convenience store, so why not here at the DMV?"
The DMV will not be specific about what security measure will occur. An armed security guard is already at all DMV's during the day but they say that removing the equipment and locking it up every night would not be realistic because of all the wiring.
North Las Vegas Police say the only way to really catch these criminals who stole the equipment is to wait for the counterfeits to show up on the streets.
The Nevada DMV has sent out warnings across the country. "We have notified the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, which is an umbrella organization for DMV's, and they will let the DMV's across the country know. We're also in the process of sending out a bulletin through the National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System," said DMV spokesperson Kevin Malone.
That national telecommunications system will inform police agencies around the country, as well as the federal government about this ID theft, so they can be on the lookout for fradulent Nevada drivers' licenses.
In order to spot a fake ID made on this equipment, police say they would have to do a background search to determine if the photo matches the history of the license. This would make it extremely difficult to track down
The Nevada Department of Homeland Security was not informed about the potential for identity fraud until Channel 8 Eyewitness News called them Monday
Uncle Psalm and the First Amendment
The US Supreme Court has been asked to judge whether a granite edition of the 10 Commandments should not be removed from public display on the grounds that the state is thereby discriminating against Muslims, Hindus and others. Meanwhile George W. Bush has said that he would like to nominate high court judges who share his own religious beliefs. Mister Thorne examines the issue
Last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the arguments in the case of Van Orden v. Perry. The plaintiff in the case is Thomas Van Orden, a down and out lawyer who has time on his hands. The defendant is Rick Perry, the very busy governor of Texas.
The dispute is about a large, granite edition of the Ten Commandments located on a walkway between the Texas State Capitol and the Texas Supreme Court. Van Orden says the monument should go; Perry says it should stay. Their arguments have been heard, and now it’s up to the court to decide if the monument violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Van Orden claims the Ten Commandments are religious, both in origin and content. Displaying them on public property, and in such close proximity to where the state legislature and the state’s highest court do their business, violates the Establishment Clause. Why? Because it shows that the state prefers some religions (i.e., Judaism and Christianity) over others (e.g. Islam and Hinduism). Any reasonable person seeing this monument would come to that conclusion.
Perry doesn’t see it that way at all. Sure, the monument bears what is unquestionably a religious text, but that text has had an indisputable impact on our laws and our government, our history and our culture. The monument simply serves to acknowledge the “substantial contribution of the Ten Commandments to the development of Western civilization and legal codes.” It does not show a preference for some religions over others, and no reasonable person would come to that conclusion.
This begs the question: can reasonable people disagree? If one person says that the Ten Commandments are the very foundation of our laws and our system of government, and another says they’re not, is one of them being unreasonable? If the court’s decision in this case is less than unanimous, does that mean a Supreme Court justice is being unreasonable?
The author of The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies wouldn’t agree that the Ten Commandments are at the foundation of our laws and our government. In fact, Thomas Jefferson criticized the notion that Christianity had any part in the foundations of our laws. In a letter he wrote to a friend in 1814, Jefferson made the argument that the common law of England – the basis of the laws of the colonies – could not possibly have been influenced by Christianity, much less the Ten Commandments. His argument? The common law existed in England for 200 years before Christianity arrived there. His conclusion? “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
Ten years later, in another letter to another friend concerning the same subject, Jefferson blamed activist judges for promoting the mistaken idea that there was a connection between Christianity and the law. In that letter, he wrote, “the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed.”
Joseph Story, a contemporary of Jefferson’s, and an associate justice of the Supreme Court, disagreed. When he learned of Jefferson’s letters, he criticized them. He wrote, “It appears to me inconceivable how any man can doubt that Christianity is part of the Common Law of England.” Years later, in a speech at Harvard University, he said, “There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations.”
Was Jefferson being unreasonable, or was Story? Or does it even matter? The plain fact of the matter is this: so many of our judges agree with Story, and they believe it’s a fact that our laws are based on the Ten Commandments. Consider what some of those activist judges that Jefferson complained about have said in recent years:
In 1995, a federal appeals court ruled it was an “historical fact that the Ten Commandments served over time as the basis of our national law.”
In 2000, a federal appeals court ruled that the Ten Commandments have had an “indisputable influence on the development of secular law.”
In 2002, a federal appeals court ruled described “what any sober student of history knows: for good or bad, right or wrong, the Ten Commandments did have an influence upon the development of United States law.”
Consider what Justice Rehnquist had to say about it in 1980 in a case about a Kentucky law that required the Ten Commandments to be posted in each and every public school classroom. The court ruled that the law violated the Establishment Clause, and Rehnquist dissented. He wrote that it can’t be denied: “the Ten Commandments have had a significant impact on the development of secular legal codes of the Western World.” And in 2001, when the court decided not to hear a case about a granite edition of the Ten Commandments posted in front of a city’s municipal building, Justices Scalia and Thomas joined Chief Justice Rehnquist in an opinion which said it could not be denied: the Ten Commandments have contributed significantly to our laws.
What leads people to the conclusion that the Ten Commandments are the very foundation of our laws? Don’t they realize that the First Commandment is in direct conflict with the First Amendment?
What they claim is this: we have laws against murder; we have laws against theft; we used to have laws against blasphemy, against working on Sunday, and against adultery; we take an oath to God in court, and if we lie, we’re guilty. And so the correlation between our laws and God’s are undeniable.
In the next few years, President Bush may be able to nominate as many as three justices to the Supreme Court. The president’s made it clear that – Article VI of the Constitution not withstanding – he intends to nominate to the high court only those justices who share his religious beliefs; i.e., they must believe in God and that our rights come, not from some old scrap of paper, but from God. And that could have a profound impact on the court for many years.
The president is likely to nominate justices who tend to agree with the two Supreme Court justices he says he admires most: Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote that government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. Scalia doesn’t see it that way. In a speech in 2002, he reminded his audience what it says in the Bible: the government is ordained by God. During arguments in Van Orden v. Perry, Scalia said that Jefferson was wrong. Our government doesn’t derive its authority from the consent of the governed. It “derives its authority from God.” And, he insisted, it’s a fact that “the foundation of our laws is God.”
Justice Scalia describes himself as an originalist; he doesn’t believe that the Constitution should be interpreted according to ‘evolving standards of decency’ or any other such nonsense. The Constitution means what it meant when it was adopted. Period. If it was constitutional to execute someone for stealing horses 200 years ago, then it’s constitutional now; and the age and mental capacity of the thief are irrelevant.
Justice Thomas is of like mind, and he’s quite clear about this when it comes to the Establishment Clause, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That clause doesn’t say anything about states not being able to make such laws. In fact, claims Thomas, applying the Establishment Clause against the states prohibits “precisely what the Establishment Clause was intended to protect.” And what, according to Justice Thomas, was the clause meant to protect? It was meant to protect state-established religions from federal interference.
That must come as welcome news to Christian Exodus, an organization whose goal is to take over South Carolina and, if necessary, start a 21st Century civil war. The idea is to get conservative Christians to move to the state in waves. In the first wave, to be completed by September, 2006, the group hopes to take control of two counties. After that, subsequent waves will take control of other counties. If all goes according to plan, the organization will be able to make “constitutional reforms returning proper autonomy to the State by 2016 regardless of illegal edicts from Washington, D.C.” One of those reforms is to rewrite the state’s constitution to recognize “the Ten Commandments as the foundation of law.”
The group takes seriously the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which it sees as allowing the states, and not the U.S. Supreme Court, to decide whether abortion is legal, whether homosexuals can be executed, and whether public school students can be required to recite the Lord’s Prayer or attend Bible study classes. And it dismisses the Fourteenth Amendment – the one that’s used to make states respect the Establishment Clause – as a fraud that was forced upon the southern states after the first civil war. According to the organization’s position statement, South Carolina has a right “to nullify this Amendment and all laws and court rulings arising from it.” And if the tyrannical federal government should interfere with that right, then the state will have no choice but to secede.
President Bush can do his part to make sure it doesn’t come to that. All he needs to do is appoint Supreme Court justices who share the views of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. South Carolina will be free to exercise the will of the people.
Just imagine: a Supreme Court that understands our rights come, not from men, but from God. Imagine the justices turning to the 14th Psalm for guidance, rather than the 14th Amendment.
Note: This article was first published by JUST Response on March 7 2005. Mister Thorne is a mathematics editor in San Francisco.
hello iraq, good bye vietnam
Women, kids among corpses found in Iraq
Mar. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
BAGHDAD - Iraqi authorities found 41 decomposed bodies - some bullet-riddled, others beheaded - at sites near the Syrian border and south of the capital, and said Wednesday they included women and children who may have been killed because insurgents thought their families were collaborating with U.S. forces.
In Baghdad, a suicide bomber driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and at least one other gunman shot their way into a parking lot in an attempt to blow up a hotel used by Western contractors. At least four people, including the attackers and a guard, were killed.
The U.S. Embassy said 30 Americans were among 40 people wounded in the blast. No Americans were killed. In an Internet statement, al-Qaida in Iraq purportedly claimed responsibility for the attack on the Sadeer hotel, calling it the "hotel of the Jews." advertisement
While Sunni Arab insurgents have repeatedly targeted Westerners in Iraq, Shiite Muslims, top Iraqi officials and civil servants, even Muslim women are no longer safe.
Decapitated bodies of women have begun turning up in recent weeks, a note with the word "collaborator" usually pinned to their chests. Three women were gunned down Tuesday in one of Baghdad's Shiite neighborhoods for being alleged collaborators. And in the northern city of Kirkuk, a woman identified as Nawal Mohammed, who worked with U.S. forces, was killed in a drive-by shooting, police said.
The decomposed bodies were found Tuesday.
Twenty-six of the dead were discovered in a field near Rumana, a village 12 miles east of the western city of Qaim, near the Syrian border. Each body was riddled with bullets. The dead were found wearing civilian clothes and one was a woman, police Capt. Muzahim al-Karbouli said.
The other site was south of Baghdad in Latifiya, where Iraqi troops found 15 headless bodies at an abandoned army base, Defense Ministry Capt. Sabah Yassin said. The bodies included 10 men, three women and two children.
Yassin said some of men found dead in Latifiya were thought to have been part of a group of Iraqi soldiers kidnapped two weeks ago.
The gruesome discoveries were among 58 new killings in Iraq announced Wednesday, including the death of a U.S. soldier in a Baghdad roadside bombing.
Iraq's interim planning minister, Mahdi al-Hafidh, a Shiite, narrowly escaped death Wednesday after gunmen opened fire on his convoy in the capital. Two of his bodyguards were killed and two others were wounded.
Hey Kevin and Laro:
I not trying to convert you guys to libertarian but since you pass this on to other people I might as well run it by them and try to convert them or at least show them there are alternatives to the Republicans and Democrats. Also you have probably head the saying that one mans religion is another mans belly laugh. I think the same saying also apply to political parties and one mans political party is also another mans belly laugh. So from that you will get to learn what us Libertarians believe and also laugh a lot while you learn the weird stuff about my political views.
This is summary of the platform of the Libertarian Party. It is from http://www.lp.org/issues.
The libertarian party is the only political that allows convicted criminals to join it. The Libertarian party is also often called the legalize everything party. We want to legalize all drugs, all victimless crimes, guns and just about everything else. Just about the only thing we don’t want to legalize are real crimes such as rape, murder, robbery, theft, fraud, assault and battery, and of course taxes. Yes we consider taxes a crime. Anytime somebody in the government points a gun at you and demands money we consider that a crime. Anyhow a summary of the platform follows. I will put the actual platform in the next letter you mail you. I am also trying to find a version of it in Spanish to include in a third letter. After that I won’t give you any more of this Libertarian nonsense.
The Libertarian way is a logically consistent approach to politics based on the moral principle of self-ownership. Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property. Government's only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.
The Libertarian Party is for all who don't want to push other people around and don't want to be pushed around themselves. Live and let live is the Libertarian way.
Highlights and Summary of
The Libertarian Party's Solution to America's Crime Problem
An approach to criminal justice and crime control that is smart, compassionate and tough. An approach that will make our streets safe again.
America suffers from an epidemic of violence and crime, victimizing one family out of four every year. There is a murder every half hour, a rape every five minutes, and a theft every four seconds.
Despite decades of tough talk, the anti-crime policies of the Republicans and Democrats have clearly failed. The Libertarian Party believes a fresh approach is needed. That's why we're offering this five-point plan for making America's streets safe again:
Protecting the rights and interests of victims should be the basis of our criminal justice system. Victims should have the right to be present, consulted and heard throughout the prosecution of their case.
In addition, Libertarians would do more than just punish criminals. We would also make them pay restitution to their victims for the damage they've caused, including property loss, medical costs, pain, and suffering. If you are the victim of a crime, the criminal should fully compensate you for your loss.
Drug prohibition does more to make Americans unsafe than any other factor. Just as alcohol prohibition gave us Al Capone and the mafia, drug prohibition has given us the Crips, the Bloods and drive-by shootings. Consider the historical evidence: America's murder rate rose nearly 70% during alcohol prohibition, but returned to its previous levels after prohibition ended. Now, since the War on Drugs began, America's murder rates have doubled. The cause/effect relationship is clear. Prohibition is putting innocent lives at risk.
What's more, drug prohibition also inflates the cost of drugs, leading users to steal to support their high priced habits. It is estimated that drug addicts commit 25% of all auto thefts, 40% of robberies and assaults, and 50% of burglaries and larcenies. Prohibition puts your property at risk. Finally, nearly one half of all police resources are devoted to stopping drug trafficking, instead of preventing violent crime. The bottom line? By ending drug prohibition Libertarians would double the resources available for crime prevention, and significantly reduce the number of violent criminals at work in your neighborhood.
The Libertarian Party is the party of personal responsibility. We believe that anyone who harms another person should be held responsible for that action. By contrast, the Democrats and Republicans have created a system where criminals can get away with almost anything.
For instance: sentences seldom mean what they say. Fewer than one out of every four violent felons serves more than four years. Libertarians would dramatically reduce the number of these early releases by eliminating their root cause - prison over-crowding.
Since nearly six out of every ten federal prison inmates are there for non-violent drug-related offenses, it's clear that drug prohibition is the primary source of this over-crowding. It has been estimated that every drug offender imprisoned results in the release of one violent criminal, who then commits an average of 40 robberies, 7 assaults, 110 burglaries and 25 auto thefts. Early release of violent criminals puts you and your family at risk. It must stop.
We believe that the private ownership of firearms is part of the solution to America's crime epidemic, not part of the problem. Evidence: law-abiding citizens in Florida have been able to carry concealed weapons since 1987. During that time, the murder rate in Florida has declined 21% while the national murder rate has increased 12%.
In addition, evidence shows that self-defense with guns is the safest response to violent crime. It results in fewer injuries to the defender (17.4% injury rate) than any other response, including not resisting at all (24.7% injury rate). Libertarians would repeal waiting periods, concealed carry laws, and other restrictions that make it difficult for victims to defend themselves, and end the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense.
Any society that lets kids grow up dependent on government welfare, attending government schools that fail to teach, and entering an economy where government policy has crushed opportunity, will be a society that breeds criminals. No permanent solution to crime will be found until we address these root causes of crime.
The Libertarian Party would increase employment opportunities by slashing taxes and government red tape. We would also end the welfare system with its culture of dependence and hopelessness. Most important of all, we would promote low-cost private alternatives to the failed government school system.
The Libertarian Party's anti-crime plan would do what the Democrats and Republicans have not done:
This Libertarian program would help make America's streets safe again.
The Libertarian Party asks:
SHOULD WE RE-LEGALIZE DRUGS?
Libertarians, like most Americans, demand to be safe at home and on the streets. Libertarians would like all Americans to be healthy and free of drug dependence. But drug laws don't help, they make things worse.
The professional politicians scramble to make names for themselves as tough anti-drug warriors, while the experts agree that the "war on drugs" has been lost, and could never be won. The tragic victims of that war are your personal liberty and its companion, responsibility. It's time to consider the re-legalization of drugs.
In the 1920's, alcohol was made illegal by Prohibition. The result: Organized Crime. Criminals jumped at the chance to supply the demand for liquor. The streets became battlegrounds. The criminals bought off law enforcement and judges. Adulterated booze blinded and killed people. Civil rights were trampled in the hopeless attempt to keep people from drinking.
When the American people saw what Prohibition was doing to them, they supported its repeal. When they succeeded, most states legalized liquor and the criminal gangs were out of the liquor business.
Today's war on drugs is a re-run of Prohibition. Approximately 40 million Americans are occasional, peaceful users of some illegal drug who are no threat to anyone. They are not going to stop. The laws don't, and can't, stop drug use.
Whenever there is a great demand for a product and government makes it illegal, a black market always appears to supply the demand. The price of the product rises dramatically and the opportunity for huge profits is obvious. The criminal gangs love the situation, making millions. They kill other drug dealers, along with innocent people caught in the crossfire, to protect their territory. They corrupt police and courts. Pushers sell adulterated dope and experimental drugs, causing injury and death. And because drugs are illegal, their victims have no recourse.
Half the cost of law enforcement and prisons is squandered on drug related crime. Of all drug users, a relative few are addicts who commit crimes daily to supply artificially expensive habits. They are the robbers, car thieves and burglars who make our homes and streets unsafe.
Civil liberties suffer. We are all "suspects", subject to random urine tests, highway check points and spying into our personal finances. Your property can be seized without trial, if the police merely claim you got it with drug profits. Doing business with cash makes you a suspect. America is becoming a police state because of the war on drugs.
Today's illegal drugs were legal before 1914. Cocaine was even found in the original Coca-Cola recipe. Americans had few problems with cocaine, opium, heroin or marijuana. Drugs were inexpensive; crime was low. Most users handled their drug of choice and lived normal, productive lives. Addicts out of control were a tiny minority.
The first laws prohibiting drugs were racist in origin -- to prevent Chinese laborers from using opium and to prevent blacks and Hispanics from using cocaine and marijuana. That was unjust and unfair, just as it is unjust and unfair to make criminals of peaceful drug users today.
Some Americans will always use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs. Most are not addicts, they are social drinkers or occasional users. Legal drugs would be inexpensive, so even addicts could support their habits with honest work, rather than by crime. Organized crime would be deprived of its profits. The police could return to protecting us from real criminals; and there would be room enough in existing prisons for them.
It's time to re-legalize drugs and let people take responsibility for themselves. Drug abuse is a tragedy and a sickness. Criminal laws only drive the problem underground and put money in the pockets of the criminal class. With drugs legal, compassionate people could do more to educate and rehabilitate drug users who seek help. Drugs should be legal. Individuals have the right to decide for themselves what to put in their bodies, so long as they take responsibility for their actions.
From the Mayor of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, to conservative writer and TV personality, William F. Buckley, Jr., leading Americans are now calling for repeal of America's repressive and ineffective drug laws. The Libertarian Party urges you to join in this effort to make our streets safer and our liberties more secure.
BY DR. MARY RUWART
Who's the greatest polluter of all? The oil companies? The chemical companies? The nuclear power plants?
If you guessed "none of the above," you'd be correct. Our government, at the federal, state, and local levels, is the single greatest polluter in the land. In addition, our government doesn't even clean up its own garbage!
In 1988, for example, the EPA demanded that the Departments of Energy and Defense clean up 17 of their weapons plants which were leaking radioactive and toxic chemicals -- enough contamination to cost $100 billion in clean-up costs over 50 years! The EPA was simply ignored. No bureaucrats went to jail or were sued for damages. Government departments have sovereign immunity.
In 1984, a Utah court ruled that the U.S. military was negligent in its nuclear testing, causing serious health problems (e.g. death) for the people exposed to radioactive fallout. The Court of Appeals dismissed the claims of the victims, because government employees have sovereign immunity.
Hooker Chemical begged the Niagara Falls School Board not to excavate the land where Hooker had safely stored toxic chemical waste. The school board ignored these warnings and taxpayers had to foot a $30 million relocation bill when health problems arose. The EPA filed suit, not against the reckless school board, but against Hooker Chemical! Government officials have sovereign immunity.
Government, both federal and local, is the greatest single polluter in the U.S. This polluter literally gets away with murder because of sovereign immunity. Libertarians would make government as responsible for its actions as everyone else is expected to be. Libertarians would protect the environment by first abolishing sovereign immunity.
By turning to government for environmental protection, we've placed the fox in charge of the hen house -- and a very large hen house it is! Governments, both federal and local, control over 40% of our country's land mass. Unfortunately, government's stewardship over our land is gradually destroying it.
For example, the Bureau of Land Management controls an area almost twice the size of Texas, including nearly all of Alaska and Nevada. Much of this land is rented to ranchers for grazing cattle. Because ranchers are only renting the land, they have no incentive to take care of it. Not surprisingly, studies as early as 1925 indicated that cattle were twice as likely to die on public ranges and had half as many calves as animals grazing on private lands.
Obviously, owners make better environmental guardians than renters. If the government sold its acreage to private ranchers, the new owners would make sure that they grazed the land sustainably to maximize profit and yield.
Indeed, ownership of wildlife can literally save endangered species from extinction. Between 1979 and 1989, Kenya banned elephant hunting, yet the number of these noble beasts dropped from 65,000 to 19,000. In Zimbabwe during the same time period, however, elephants could be legally owned and sold. The number of elephants increased from 30,000 to 43,000 as their owners became fiercely protective of their "property." Poachers didn't have a chance!
Similarly, commercialization of the buffalo saved it from extinction. We never worry about cattle becoming extinct, because their status as valuable "property" encourages their propagation. The second step libertarians would take to protect the environment and save endangered species would be to encourage private ownership of both land and animals.
Environmentalists were once wary of private ownership, but now recognize that establishing the property rights of native people, for example, has become an effective strategy to save the rain forests. Do you remember the movie, Medicine Man, where scientist Sean Connery discovers a miracle drug in the rain forest ecology? Unfortunately, the life-saving compound is literally bulldozed under when the government turns the rain forest over to corporate interests. The natives that scientist Connery lives with are driven from their forest home. Their homesteading rights are simply ignored by their own government!
Our own Native Americans were driven from their rightful lands as well. Similarly, our national forests are turned over to logging companies, just as the rain forests are. By 1985, the U.S. Forest Service had built 350,000 miles of logging roads with our tax dollars -- outstripping our interstate highway system by a factor of eight! In the meantime, hiking trails declined by 30%. Clearly, our government serves special interest groups instead of protecting our environmental heritage.
Even our national parks are not immune from abuse. Yellowstone's Park Service once encouraged employees to trap predators (e.g., wolves, fox, etc.) so that the hoofed mammals favored by visitors would flourish. Not surprisingly, the ecological balance was upset. The larger elk drove out the deer and sheep, trampled the riverbanks, and destroyed beaver habitat. Without the beavers, the water fowl, mink, otter, and trout were threatened. Without the trout or the shrubs and berries that once lined the riverbanks, grizzlies began to endanger park visitors in their search for food. As a result, park officials had to remove the bears and have started bringing back the wolves.
Wouldn't we be better served if naturalist organizations, such as the Audubon Society or Nature Conservancy, took over the management of our precious parks? The Audubon Society's Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary partially supports itself with natural gas wells operated in an ecologically sound manner. In addition to preserving the sensitive habitat, the Society shows how technology and ecology can co-exist peacefully and profitably.
The environment would benefit immensely from the elimination of sovereign immunity coupled with the privatization of "land and beast." The third and final step in the libertarian program to save the environment is the use of restitution both as a deterrent and a restorative. Next month's column will feature the second part of the Pollution Solution, answering the question: "How would libertarians keep our air and water clean?"
Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D., is the author of Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle, a liberty primer for liberals, Christians, New Agers, and pragmatists. She also wrote Short Answers to the Tough Questions: Sound Bites for the Libertarian Candidate after her Internet column (www.self-gov.org) of the same name.
1. John Baden, "Destroying the Environment: Government Mismanagement of Our Natural Resources" (Dallas, TX: National Center for Policy Analysis, 1986), pp. 20-21.
2. Alston Chase, Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America's First National Park (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press), pp. 123-124.
3. Mary J. Ruwart, "Destroying the Environment" and "Pollution Solution" in Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle (Kalamazoo, MI: SunStar Press, 1993), pp.97-110; 171-182.
Do you remember when the standard of living in America was the best in the world?
Today it is doubtful if our children will be better off than we are. Today, buying a decent home is no more than a dream for many hard-working American families.
Something has caused your family's budget to be cut. Something is going to destroy your family's future unless you act to stop it.
That something is the Federal government and its policy of taxation and inflation. Let's take a look at a median income family of four in the 1950s. At that time, the Federal income tax amounted to only 2% of the family budget. Americans enjoyed the highest standard of living in the world.
By contrast, in the 1990s, the Federal income tax takes 25% of income for the same family of four. Taxes at all levels -- federal, state, and local; hidden and visible -- take about 50% of a family's income. We must work from January to June just to pay taxes.
It now requires two paychecks to keep many families from going bankrupt. Typically, a working mother brings home 32% of a family's income.
So, whether she chooses to work -- or must work to make ends meet -- taxes have stolen her contribution to the family budget. In other words, one spouse now works all year just to pay taxes.
Ask yourself: Is the government spending that half of your income wisely?
During those same years, the government has increased the money supply -- producing inflation. Whether the inflation rate is 12% or 3%, the result is the same: groceries cost more; clothing costs more; your car costs more. You work harder every year for less purchasing power.
The Federal government is driving your family into bankruptcy.
The government hasn't stopped there. They have borrowed so much money that your children will be sacrificing their entire economic lives to pay the Federal debt.
It seems that no matter who we elect to public office, the government budget gets bigger and the family budget gets smaller.
All too often we have only two choices in an election: a Democrat or a Republican. And no matter which one you vote for, you get higher taxes, bigger deficits, and broken promises.
There is a political party that believes the family budget is more important than the Federal budget. A political party that is working to restore the hopes and dreams of every hard-working American family.
It is the Libertarian Party.
Over one hundred Libertarians are currently holding public office. Each of them is working today to keep the government from taking any more of your money. And each of them believes that if government were limited to protecting us against force and fraud, then most Americans would be better off. Less government corruption. No more expensive "boondoggle" projects. No more "special interest" favors at your expense.
The Libertarian Party always defends the family budget. In its entire history, elected Libertarians have never voted to increase taxes. In fact, Libertarians were instrumental in having the Alaska state income tax repealed.
The Libertarian Party will stop the waste in government by decreasing its size and power. We will work to roll back the power of Washington bureaucrats and politicians -- and leave you and your neighbors in control of your own lives.
We need more Libertarians elected to save this nation from financial ruin. We need you in the Libertarian Party to help protect your family's budget, and your family's future.
BY MICHAEL TANNER
Foreign aid is little more than welfare for nations -- with the same disastrous effects as domestic welfare programs.
The U.S. currently spends approximately $14 billion per year on foreign aid -- far less than most people believe, but still a substantial sum. Since the end of World War II, the United States has spent more than $400 billion on aid to other countries. But there is little evidence that any of these programs has significantly improved the lives of the people in countries receiving this aid. Instead, foreign aid has typically slowed economic development and created dependence.
Indeed, the U.S. Agency for International Development itself admits, "Only a handful of countries that started receiving U.S. assistance in the 1950s and 1960s has ever graduated from dependent status." In fact, despite massive amounts of international aid, the average annual increase in per capita GNP has declined steadily in developing nations since the 1960s, with many of the Third World's heaviest aid recipients actually suffering negative economic growth.
Tanzania provides a perfect example. Since the early 1970s, Tanzania has received more international aid per capita than any other country. Yet, the country remains the world's third-poorest nation and has had no per capita GNP growth between 1980 and 1992. During the same period, inflation averaged 25% and energy and agricultural production declined dramatically.
A recent study by Peter Boone of the London School of Economics and the Center for Economic Performance confirmed that U.S. economic aid does not promote economic development. Studying more than 100 countries, Boone concluded that "Long-term aid is not a means to create [economic] growth."
There are many reasons for the failure of foreign aid. First, foreign aid has a widespread record of waste, fraud, and abuse. U.S. aid programs have built tennis courts in Rwanda, sent sewing machines to areas without electricity, and constructed hospitals in cities where a dozen similar facilities already sat half empty.
Frequently, the aid is stolen by corrupt foreign leaders. The Agency for International Development admitted in 1993 that "much of the investment financed by AID between 1960 and 1980 has disappeared without a trace."
Even when aid reaches its intended beneficiaries, the results are often counterproductive. Just as domestic welfare prevents Americans from becoming self-sufficient, foreign aid keeps entire nations dependent. According to one internal AID audit, "Long-term feeding programs . . . have great potential for creating disincentives for food production."
Specific examples of counterproductive aid policies are easy to come by. For example, following a devastating earthquake in Guatemala, farmers trying to sell their surplus grain found the market flooded by the U.S. Food for Peace program. As a result, according to the Institute for Food and Development Policy, "food aid stood in the way of development." According to journalist Michael Maren, a long-time volunteer with such groups as the Peace Corps, Catholic Relief Services, and AID, aid to Somalia aggravated the country's famine, disrupted local agriculture, and turned nomadic tribesmen into "relief junkies." Similar results have been documented in countries as diverse as Colombia, Haiti, and India.
Moreover, foreign aid has often been used to prop up failing Socialist economies, preventing countries from moving to free-market economic policies. Yet, an examination of world economies clearly shows that those countries with free markets experience the greatest economic prosperity.
As a result, Alex de Waal, president of the human rights group, Africa Rights, concludes that foreign aid is "structurally bad because it undermines the incentive to take responsibility. The more aid a country receives, the less the government of that country has to answer to the people."
If Americans truly want to help other countries, they can best do so not through failed foreign aid programs, but by improving the U.S. economy, so that U.S. businesses have funds to invest abroad, and pursuing free trade policies. As the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted, "Critics rightly argue that the broad policies of the major Western countries -- trade policies, budget deficits, growth rates, and the like -- generally exert greater [positive] influence on the economies of developing countries than does aid."
"We defend the rights of individuals to unrestricted freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right of individuals to dissent from government itself. ...
We oppose any abridgment of the freedom of speech through government censorship, regulation or control of communications media, including, but not limited to, laws concerning:
A Principled Stand Against Censorship
The Libertarian Party is the only political party in the United States with an explicit stand against censorship of computer communications in its platform. The Libertarian Party also opposes restrictions on the development and use of cryptography.
As a political party, the LP is the only anti-censorship organization that gives you a chance to vote for freedom of speech on Election Day -- by voting for Libertarian candidates for public office.
Cast your vote to defend your freedom: Vote Libertarian!
Other Organizations Opposing Internet Censorship
The following organizations may not agree with the Libertarian Party on all issues, but share our opposition to censorship. Visit their home pages for valuable information about threats to your freedom of speech and ways you can get involved in the fight to preserve your rights.
Libertarians, like other Americans, want to be able to walk city streets safely and be secure in their homes. We also want our Constitutional rights protected, to guard against the erosion of our civil liberties. In particular, Libertarians want to see all people treated equally under the law, as our Constitution requires. America's millions of gun owners are people too.
Law-abiding, responsible citizens do not and should not need to ask anyone's permission or approval to engage in a peaceful activity. Gun ownership, by itself, harms no other person and cannot morally justify criminal penalties.
America's founders fought the Revolutionary War to throw off British tyranny. Most of the revolutionaries owned and used their own guns in that war. After the war, in 1789, the 13 American States adopted the Constitution, creating the federal government. Before ratifying the Constitution, the people demanded a Bill of Rights to prevent our government from depriving them of their liberties as the British had done.
One of the most important protections we have against government tyranny is that we are presumed innocent of any crime until proven guilty, before a jury, in a proper trial.
But, gun control advocates would declare all gun owners guilty without trial, simply for owning guns. although millions of them have never used their guns to harm another person. Such blanket condemnation is immoral, unfair and contrary to the principles on which America was founded.
Gun control advocates are much like the prohibitionists of the early 20th Century. By making liquor illegal, they spawned organized crime, caused bloody, violent turf wars and corrupted the criminal justice system. Today's war on drugs has exactly the same results.
Prohibition didn't stop liquor use; the drug laws can't stop drug use. Making gun ownership illegal will not stop gun ownership.
The primary victim of these misguided efforts is the honest citizen whose civil rights are trampled as frustrated legislators and police tighten the screws.
Banning guns will make guns more expensive and give organized crime a great opportunity to make profits in a new black market for weapons. Street violence will increase in new turf wars. Criminals will not give up their guns. But, many law abiding citizens will, leaving them defenseless against armed bandits.
Libertarians agree with the majority of Americans who believe they have the right to decide how best to protect themselves, their families and their property. Millions of Americans have guns in their homes and sleep more comfortably because of it. Studies show that where gun ownership is illegal, residential burglaries are higher. A man with a gun in his home is no threat to you if you aren't breaking into it.
The police do not provide security in your home, your business or the street. They show up after the crime to take reports and do detective work. The poorer the neighborhood, the riskier it is for peaceful residents.
Only an armed citizenry can be present in sufficient numbers to prevent or deter violent crime before it starts, or to reduce its spread. Interviews with convicted felons indicate that fear of the armed citizen significantly deters crime. A criminal is more likely to be driven off from a particular crime by an armed victim than to be convicted and imprisoned for it. Thus, widespread gun ownership will make neighborhoods safer.
Foolish politicians and police now seek to ban semi-automatic "assault rifles". They ignore the fact that only honest citizens will comply; criminals will still have them. Such a ban will only increase the criminals' ability to victimize the innocent.
Guns are not the problem. They are inanimate objects. Gun control advocates talk as if guns could act on their own, as if human beings cannot control them, so the uncontrollable guns must be banished.
Let us put the responsibility where it belongs, on the owner and user of the gun. If he or she acts responsibly, without attacking others or causing injury negligently, no crime or harm has been done. Leave them in peace. But, if a person commits a crime with a gun, then impose the severest penalties for the injuries done to the victim. Similarly, hold the negligent gun user fully liable for all harm his negligence does to others.
Rather than banning guns, the politicians and the police should encourage gun ownership, as well as education and training programs. A responsible, well-armed and trained citizenry is the best protection against domestic crime and the threat of foreign invasion. America's founders knew that. It is still true today.
Please use the attached coupon to request more information -- or to become a member of the Libertarian Party.
Politicians are trying to take away your right to read what you want, and to say what you want.
The Internet is making it possible for new voices to be heard -- the voices of people who simply could not afford to publish their ideas or display their artistic talents to a wide audience using older technologies. Established interests of both the left and the right fear new voices, and are trying to control what appears on the Internet through new laws and regulations.
America's Founders couldn't foresee the Internet, but they knew that government control of information was not only a violation of personal liberty -- it was a threat to their hopes for a nation based on the principles of self-government. So they gave us the First Amendment.
The Libertarian Party carries on today in the tradition of the Founders:
BY MICHAEL TANNER
America has always been a nation of immigrants. Thomas Jefferson emphasized this basic part of the American heritage, taking note of "the natural right which all men have of relinquishing the country in which birth or other accident may have thrown them, and seeking subsistence and happiness wheresoever they may be able, and hope to find them."
The Libertarian Party has long recognized the importance of allowing free and open immigration, understanding that this leads to a growing and more prosperous America. We condemn the xenophobic immigrant bashing that would build a wall around the United States. At the same time, we recognize that the right to enter the United States does not include the right to economic entitlements such as welfare. The freedom to immigrate is a freedom of opportunity, not a guarantee of a handout.
A policy of open immigration will advance the economic well-being of all Americans. All major recent studies of immigrants indicate that they have a high labor force participation, are entrepreneurial, and tend to have specialized skills that allow them to enter under-served markets. Although it is a common misconception that immigrants "take jobs away from native-born Americans," this does not appear to be true. In 1989, the U.S. Department of Labor reviewed nearly 100 studies on the relationship between immigration and unemployment and concluded that "neither U.S. workers nor most minority workers appear adversely affected by immigration."
Indeed, most studies show that immigrants actually lead to an increase in the number of jobs available. Immigrants produce jobs in several ways: 1) They expand the demand for goods and services through their own consumption; 2) They bring savings with them that contribute to overall investment and productivity; 3) They are more highly entrepreneurial than native-born Americans and create jobs through the businesses they start; 4) They fill gaps in the low and high ends of the labor markets, producing subsidiary jobs for American workers; 5) Low-wage immigrants may enable threatened American businesses to survive competition from low-wage businesses abroad; and 6) They contribute to increased economic efficiencies through economies of scale.
Confirmation can be seen in a study by economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Galloway of Ohio University and Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute. They found that states with the highest rates of immigration during the 1980s also had the highest rates of economic growth and lowest rates of unemployment.
Studies also show that not only do immigrants not take jobs away from American workers, they also do not drive down wages. Numerous studies have demonstrated that increased immigration has little or no effect on the wages of most American workers, and may even increase wages at upper income levels.
Contrary to stereotypes, there is no evidence that immigrants come to this country to receive welfare. Indeed, most studies show that immigrants actually use welfare at lower rates than do native-born Americans. For example, a study of welfare recipients in New York City found that only 7.7% of immigrants were receiving welfare compared to 13.3% for the population as a whole. Likewise, a nationwide study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 12.8% of immigrants were receiving welfare benefits, compared to 13.9% of the general population. Some recent studies indicate that the rate of welfare usage may now be equalizing between immigrants and native-born Americans, but, clearly, most immigrants are not on welfare.
The impact of immigrants on taxes is more equivocal. Most immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in government benefits. However, the majority of immigrant taxes are paid to the federal government, while immigrants tend to use mostly state and local services. This can place a burden on states and localities in high immigration areas.
However, the answer to this problem lies not in cutting off immigration, but in cutting the services that immigrants consume. The right to immigrate does not imply a right to welfare -- or any other government service. Moreover, this is not simply a matter of saving tax money. The Libertarian Party believes that most government welfare programs are destructive to the recipients themselves. Thus, immigrants would actually be better off without access to these programs. As Edward Crane, President of the Cato Institute, has put it:
"Suppose we increased the level of immigration, but the rule would be that immigrants and their descendants would have no access to government social services, including welfare, Social Security, health care, business subsidies, and the public schools. I would argue, first, that there would be no lack of takers for that proposition. Second, within a generation, we would see those immigrants' children going to better and cheaper schools than the average citizen; there would be less poverty, a better work ethic, and proportionately more entrepreneurs than in the rest of U.S. society; and virtually everyone in that group would have inexpensive high-deductible catastrophic health insurance, while the 'truly needy' would be cared for by an immigrant culture that gave proportionately more to charity."
Finally, any discussion of immigration must include a warning about the threat to civil liberties posed by many of the proposals to limit immigration. Recent legislation to restrict immigration has included calls for a national identity card for all Americans. Senator Diane Feinstein (CA-D) has suggested that such an ID card should contain an individual's photograph, fingerprints, and even retina scans. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has proposed legislation that would require employers to consult a national registry of workers before hiring anyone, effectively giving the U.S. government control over every hiring decision by every business in America.
Other legislation has contained provisions penalizing people who fail to "inform" on people they "suspect" might be illegal immigrants. Such Orwellian nightmares have no place in a free society, but are the natural outgrowth of an obsession with restricting immigration.
From across the political and ideological spectrum, there is now almost universal acknowledgement that the American social welfare system has been a failure.
Since the start of the "war on poverty" in 1965, the United States has spent more than $5 trillion trying to ease the plight of the poor. What we have received for this massive investment is -- primarily -- more poverty.
Our welfare system is unfair to everyone: to taxpayers who must pick up the bill for failed programs; to society, whose mediating institutions of community, church and family are increasingly pushed aside; and most of all to the poor themselves, who are trapped in a system that destroys opportunity for themselves and hope for their children.
The Libertarian Party believes it is time for a new approach to fighting poverty. It is a program based on opportunity, work, and individual responsibility.
None of the proposals currently being advanced by either conservatives or liberals is likely to fix the fundamental problems with our welfare system. Current proposals for welfare reform, including block grants, job training, and "workfare" represent mere tinkering with a failed system.
It is time to recognize that welfare cannot be reformed: it should be ended.
We should eliminate the entire social welfare system. This includes eliminating AFDC, food stamps, subsidized housing, and all the rest. Individuals who are unable to fully support themselves and their families through the job market must, once again, learn to rely on supportive family, church, community, or private charity to bridge the gap.
If the federal government's attempt at charity has been a dismal failure, private efforts have been much more successful. America is the most generous nation on earth. We already contribute more than $125 billion annually to charity. However, as we phase out inefficient government welfare, private charities must be able to step up and fill the void.
To help facilitate this transfer of responsibility from government welfare to private charity, the federal government should offer a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private charities that provide social-welfare services. That is to say, if an individual gives a dollar to charity, he should be able to reduce his tax liability by a dollar.
Almost everyone agrees that a job is better than any welfare program. Yet for years this country has pursued tax and regulatory policies that seem perversely designed to discourage economic growth and reduce entrepreneurial opportunities. Someone starting a business today needs a battery of lawyers just to comply with the myriad of government regulations from a virtual alphabet soup of government agencies: OSHA, EPA, FTC, CPSC, etc. Zoning and occupational licensing laws are particularly damaging to the type of small businesses that may help people work their way out of poverty.
In addition, government regulations such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits drive up the cost of employing additional workers. We call for the repeal of government regulations and taxes that are steadily cutting the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.
There can be no serious attempt to solve the problem of poverty in America without addressing our failed government-run school system. Nearly forty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, America's schools are becoming increasingly segregated, not on the basis of race, but on income. Wealthy and middle class parents are able to send their children to private schools, or at least move to a district with better public schools. Poor families are trapped -- forced to send their children to a public school system that fails to educate.
It is time to break up the public education monopoly and give all parents the right to decide what school their children will attend. It is essential to restore choice and the discipline of the marketplace to education. Only a free market in education will provide the improvement in education necessary to enable millions of Americans to escape poverty.
We should not pretend that reforming our welfare system will be easy or painless. In particular it will be difficult for those people who currently use welfare the way it was intended -- as a temporary support mechanism during hard times. However, these people remain on welfare for short periods of time. A compassionate society will find other ways to help people who need temporary assistance. But our current government-run welfare system is costly to taxpayers and cruel to the children born into a cycle of welfare dependency and hopelessness.
The Libertarian Party offers a positive alternative to the failed welfare
state. We offer a vision of a society based on work, individual responsibility,
and private charity. It is a society based on opportunity and genuine
compassion It is a society built on liberty.
"The individual's right to privacy, property, and right to speak or not to speak should not be infringed by the government. The government should not use electronic or other means of covert surveillance of an individual's actions or private property without the consent of the owner or occupant. ...
We oppose all restrictions and regulations on the private development, sale, and use of encryption technology. We specifically oppose any requirement for disclosure of encryption methods or keys, including the government's proposals for so-called "key escrow" which is truly government access to keys, and any requirement for use of government-specified devices or protocols. We also oppose government classification of civilian research on encryption methods. ...
We oppose the issuance by the government of an identity card, to be required for any purpose, such as employment, voting, or border crossing.
We further oppose the nearly universal requirement for use of the Social Security Number as a personal identification code, whether by government agencies or by intimidation of private companies by governments. "
A Principled Stand For Privacy
The Libertarian Party is the only political party in the United States with explicit support of the right to develop, sell, and use computer cryptography in its platform. The Libertarian Party also opposes censorship of online communication.
As a political party, the LP is the only pro-privacy organization that gives you a chance to vote for your right to use cryptography on Election Day -- by voting for Libertarian candidates for public office.
Cast your vote to defend your freedom: Vote Libertarian!
Other Organizations Supporting Online Privacy
The following organizations may not agree with the Libertarian Party on all issues, but share our support for the right to use cryptography and opposition to government surveillance. Visit their home pages for valuable information about threats to your privacy and ways you can get involved in the fight to preserve your rights.
Politicians in Washington are stealing your future.
Every year, they take 12.4% of your income to prop up their failed Social Security system - a system that is heading toward bankruptcy.
If you are an American earning the median income of $31,695 per year, and were given the option of investing that same amount of money in a stock mutual fund, you would retire a millionaire - without winning the lottery or a TV game show.
That million dollars would provide you with a retirement income of over $100,000 per year - about five times what you could expect from Social Security.
Even a very conservative investment strategy would yield three times the benefits promised by Social Security.
Libertarians believe you should be able to opt out of Social Security and invest your money in your own personal retirement account. An account that you own and control - one that politicians can't get their hands on.
Republicans and Democrats say it can't be done - that your Social Security taxes are needed to pay benefits to today's retirees. Instead of letting you invest in your own future, they want you to have faith that someone else will pay your benefits when it comes time for you to retire.
Although most won't admit it publicly, their "solutions" to the Social Security crises all come down to some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts.
Libertarians know that there's a better way.
Countries like Chile, Mexico, Britain, and Australia have successfully made the transition from their failed Social Security systems to healthy systems based on individual retirement accounts. In Chile, over 90% of workers have opted out of the government-run system. It's time America did as well.
The federal government owns assets worth trillions of dollars - assets that it simply doesn't need to perform its Constitutional functions. By selling those assets over time, we can keep the promises that were made to today's retirees, and to those nearing retirement, while freeing the rest of America from a failed Social Security system.
Libertarians will introduce and support legislation to give you that choice, and put you in control of your own retirement future.
The Libertarian Party is working every day to cut your taxes. By contrast, professional politicians from the other parties just want more of your money, and are busy increasing the size of government.
In the last few decades, the federal government has exploded in size. No area of your life or business is free from the meddling of politicians -- especially your wallet.
It doesn't have to be that way. With less government and lower taxes, you could keep more of what you earn. It would be easier to start new businesses, build new homes, and fuel stronger economic growth.
Libertarians believe that if government's role were limited to protecting our lives, rights and property, then America would prosper and thrive as never before. Then the federal government could concentrate on protecting our Constitutional rights and defending us from foreign attack. A federal government that did only those two things, could do them better and at a small fraction of the cost.
Instead of tending to the basics, government has grown into a bloated conglomerate of political services that gets larger every year -- with no end in sight.
For example, politicians spend millions of dollars to urge people not to smoke -- while spending more millions to subsidize tobacco farmers. They send billions overseas for foreign aid -- while the federal deficit swells. They spend millions to subsidize public art -- while working families struggle to pay their taxes.
Politicians also run trains, bail out savings and loans, construct houses, sell insurance, print books, and build basketball courts -- you name it! But the fact is, every service supplied by the government can be provided better and cheaper by private business.
All over the world, governments are busy selling airlines, power plants, housing, and factories to private owners. Where inefficient government bureaucrats lost money and squandered tax dollars, hard-working private owners now make profits and create new jobs. Why can't we do the same thing in America?
Military expenses are over $250 billion a year! A large percentage of this is spent overseas to defend wealthy countries like Germany and Japan -- who then wallop us in international trade. Let's take them off military welfare. We can defend America better and save at least $100 billion a year in taxes.
No one has the right to cover his losses at taxpayer expense -- and yet wealthy corporations demand exactly that. The federal government has bailed out railroads, banks, and other corporations with your tax dollars. This must stop!
The bulk of your welfare tax dollars goes to pay the handsome salaries of well-educated welfare workers. The poor get little from government welfare except meager handouts and a cycle of despair. Let's get government out of the charity business. Private charities and groups do a better and more efficient job of helping the truly needy get back on their feet.
Before 1913, federal income taxes were rare and short-lived. America became the most prosperous nation on earth. The U.S. Government did not try to police the world or play "nanny" to everyone from cradle to grave. People took responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is how the founders of America thought it should be. And it worked. It can again!
running a police state costs money!
High school closed lunch to cost Mesa $1.5 million
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
MESA - Closing Mesa's high school campuses at lunch will cost the district an estimated $1.5 million for the bare essentials, but the first ones could close next fall, school Superintendent Deb Duvall says.
Under a new policy, sophomores and juniors will have to stay on campus, but seniors in "good standing," a not-yet-defined status, will be allowed to leave for lunch.
The school board voted for the policy Tuesday after a three-month campaign started by a couple who lost their daughter in a lunchtime car crash. The board asked that the move be made as soon as possible. But it will require more cafeteria seats, changes in parking lots and adding personnel, which could take two summers, Duvall said.
Four of the six campuses now have an open lunch for all students. "After all these years, I'm convinced more than ever that times have changed and we need to do something," said board President Michael Hughes, who had sought a total ban on students leaving at lunch.
"I think it's wonderful," said David Shinn, whose daughter, a ninth-grader, will enter a Mesa high school next year.
Skyler Dearmon, 17, a junior at Westwood High, where students and parents supported open campuses, was less thrilled. "That's going to make us want to leave campus even more, knowing we can't go."
The issue arose after the Dec. 9 deaths of Dobson High students Shayna Linneen, 16, and Krystal Ebel, 15.
military covers up war crimes by high up officers
Military clears brass in report on abuses
Mar. 10, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - A comprehensive U.S. military review of prisoner interrogation policies and techniques for the global war on terrorism concluded that no civilian or uniformed leaders directed or encouraged the abuse of prisoners, officials familiar with the review said Wednesday.
No Pentagon official or senior military commander "ever accepted that detainee abuse would be permissible," an official quoted the review as stating among its central conclusions.
However, the review concluded that, in hindsight, the failure to provide commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan with specific and early guidance on interrogation techniques was a "missed opportunity." It offered no judgment on whether this failure led to any of the abuses discovered in 2004.
The probe also found, in the cases of detainee operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the dissemination of approved interrogation policy to commanders in the field was generally poor. And in Iraq in particular it found that compliance with approved policy guidance was generally poor.
The review was done last summer by Navy Vice Adm. Albert T. Church and is to be made public at a congressional hearing today. Officials familiar with Church's investigation provided his key findings.
The Church probe was among several triggered by disclosures last spring of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison complex in Iraq. Church, formerly the Navy's chief investigator, was directed to look at how interrogation policies were developed and implemented from the start of the terror war in the fall of 2001.
"Even in the absence of a precise definition of 'humane' treatment, it is clear that none of the pictured abuses at Abu Ghraib bear any resemblance to approved policies at any level," one passage was quoted as saying.
laro give my best regards to kevin
in the last letter he sent me.
Feds Still Can't Compute
This just in: The FBI has fouled up another $170 million worth of software, this time an ambitious database system. Why is this still news? It is not new; it is not shocking. It is simply what the FBI does and has done for at least 15 years now. Not even a murderous terrorist attack on U.S. soil has shaken the way the Bureau does it business or the audacity of its defenders in Washington.
By any reasonable measure, the FBI is a dysfunctional organization, one where incompetence is rewarded and covered up. There is simply no other way for something as vital as bringing the nation's primary counter-intelligence, counter-terrorist organization into the modern age can keep going so wrong. The Virtual Case File the Bureau tried to implement should be the primary building-block of all investigations, part of a relational database that each and every field agent could access from a laptop.
Without such a system all the various reporting and data gathering the Bureau and its federal brethren engage in is meaningless. In fact, if lawmakers were serious about security in the U.S. they would refuse to even consider reauthorizing any part of the PATRIOT Act until such time as the FBI has solved its chronic computer woes.
Gunman kills judge at courthouse
Mar. 11, 2005 08:40 AM
ATLANTA - A judge and a court reporter were shot to death Friday at the Fulton County Courthouse and at least two others wounded, authorities said. A search for the suspect was under way.
Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor confirmed that Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and his court reporter were killed. He gave no other details in announcing the deaths in the state Senate.
The judge was shot on the eighth floor of the courthouse, while one deputy was shot on a street corner just outside the building, said Officer Alan Osborne with the Atlanta Police Department.
Witnesses said the gunman carjacked a car and authorities were searching for several vehicles reported stolen in the area.
Fulton County Sheriff's Lt. Clarence Huber identified the suspect as 33-year-old Brian Nichols, who was being held on rape charges stemming from an incident in August.
Grady Hospital reported that it was treating two deputies. It was not immediately known the extent of their injuries.
"I saw one person on the street that they were performing CPR on," said court reporter Amy McKee.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newsroom staff was told that Don O'Briant, a features reporter for the paper, was beaten by the suspect outside the courthouse. Mike King, an editorial board member for the paper, said O'Briant was taken to Grady.
All the judges in the building were locked in their chambers. The courthouse and other buildings in downtown Atlanta were on lockdown. Traffic in the blocks surrounding the courthouse was backed up as police cruisers flooded the area looking for the suspect.
Among cases handled by Barnes was the fatal 2003 car wreck by hockey star Dany Heatley that killed his 25-year-old teammate Dan Snyder. Heatley pleaded guilty and was sentenced Feb. 4 to three years on probation and ordered to give 150 speeches about the dangers of speeding.
Pentagon to move POWs from Guantanamo to foreign countries so it can legally torture them?
Pentagon seeks to reduce Guantanamo prisoners
New York Times
Mar. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is seeking to enlist help from the State Department and other agencies in a plan to cut by more than half the population at its detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in part by transferring hundreds of suspected terrorists to prisons in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen, according to senior administration officials.
The transfers would be similar to the renditions, or transfers of captives to other countries, carried out by the CIA, but they are subject to stricter approval within the government, and face potential opposition from the CIA as well as the State and Justice Departments, the officials said.
Administration officials say those agencies have resisted some previous handovers, out of concern that transferring the prisoners to foreign governments could harm American security or subject the prisoners to mistreatment.
A Feb. 5 memorandum from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calls for broader interagency support for the plan, starting with efforts to work out a significant transfer of prisoners to Afghanistan, the officials said.
The proposal is part of a Pentagon effort to cut a population at Guantanamo that stands at about 540 prisoners by releasing some detainees outright and by transferring others for detention elsewhere.
The proposal comes as the Bush administration reviews the future of the naval base at Guantanamo as a detention center, after court decisions and shifts in public opinion have raised legal and political questions about the use of the facility.
The White House first embraced using Guantanamo as a holding place for terror suspects taken in Afghanistan, in part because the base was seen as beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. law. But recent court rulings have held that prisoners held there may challenge their detentions in federal court.
For the past six months, the Pentagon has halted the flow of new terrorism suspects into the prison, according to Defense Department officials.
Defense officials said that the adverse court rulings had contributed to their determination to reduce the population at Guantanamo.
Pentagon whitewashes war crimes committed by higher ups at Abu Ghraib POWs torture chamber in Iraq
Pentagon says its policies did not cause abuses
Mar. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - The U.S. military failed to react to early signs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and missed chances to correct lapses but its own policies and top officials were not directly to blame, according to a Pentagon report on Thursday that critics called a "whitewash."
The report, by Navy Vice Adm. Albert Church, was billed by the Pentagon as its broadest investigation into the treatment of military detainees, particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
Human Rights Watch said the report looked "like another whitewash." Amnesty International said that to prevent future abuses "senior officials need to be held to account, not placed beyond the reach of investigation."
Church said in the course of his probe, he did not interview Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, Paul Bremer, who served as the U.S. governor of Iraq at the time of many of the abuses, or any detainees or former detainees.
"I don't believe anybody can call this a whitewash," Church told a Pentagon briefing.
"Had the facts and the documentation led me to a different conclusion, I would have made that conclusion," said Church, adding it was not his job to assess any responsibility of high-level officials for abuse.
A 21-page unclassified summary released at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing largely echoed the Pentagon's previous contention that its leaders were not directly responsible for sexual and physical mistreatment of prisoners.
The full 368-page report was deemed classified.
The summary found "no single, over-arching explanation" for the abuses, which have drawn international condemnation and undermined U.S. credibility as it pursues President George W. Bush's war against terrorism.
It said authorized interrogation policies did not cause the abuses. But the report "identified a number of missed opportunities in the policy development process" to issue more specific guidelines and to learn from previous conflicts.
The summary said it found "no evidence to support the notion that the office of the secretary of defense, the National Security staff, Centcom (U.S. Central Command ) or any other organization applied explicit pressure for intelligence or gave 'back-channel' permission to forces in the field to use more aggressive interrogation techniques" than authorized in the Army's manual or by the command interrogation policy.
Democrats and rights groups said the report left gaps in information on how abuses became widespread, and did not delve into whether Rumsfeld and other top officials set a tone that led to such treatment.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said he would hold at least one more hearing.
The Abu Ghraib abuses came to light in photographs of U.S. soldiers sexually humiliating detainees there. Some detainees released from the prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base on Cuba said they were mistreated.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, questioned Bush's decision to deny some detainees captured in the war on terrorism rights due under international law to prisoners of war.
"If we decide that a certain country's military personnel are not eligible for treatment under a convention that we signed, then wouldn't it be logical to expect that they would declare, as the North Vietnamese did, that American prisoners are not eligible under the Geneva conventions," McCain said.
Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee's top Democrat, called for an independent investigation to assess accountability.
The American Empire has a long history of committing war crimes and murdering 100,000's of civilians - Tokyo firebombings, Dresden Germany firebombings, and murdering millions by nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Tokyo recalls firebombing
60th anniversary of WWII air raid by wave of B-29s
Mar. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
TOKYO - Marking an attack that brought the full force of total war to Tokyo, the Japanese bowed their heads in prayer Thursday in remembrance of the massive 1945 U.S. air raid that incinerated wide swaths of the capital and killed at least 100,000 in a single night.
Hundreds crowded a memorial hall in the center of the former damage zone in east Tokyo to honor those who died on March 9-10, 1945, and about 2,000 gathered at an afternoon assembly at a service attended by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who called the raid "a massacre."
Amid calls for Japan to hew to its postwar pacifist ideals, survivors recalled the horror of that night, when 334 B-29 Superfortress bombers saturated the city's crowded downtown residential district with tons of incendiaries.
"We had buckets of sand to put the fires out, but instead of fighting the flames, we just ran for our lives," remembered survivor Heiyo Majima, 75, as dozens of people put burning incense into a large urn in front of a memorial hall Thursday.
The raid on Tokyo, which followed a similar attack on Dresden, Germany, in February 1945, brought open warfare by the Allies on civilian targets to a new height.
U.S. military planners at the time said the assault was needed to break Japanese morale and wear away resistance to surrender. Bombers also hoped to wipe out small urban factories keeping the economy alive. Less than six months later, and days after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan finally surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, bringing World War II to a close.
The devastation of the assault on the capital encouraged the Allies to apply the same methods - nighttime, low-altitude incendiary attacks - to dozens of other Japanese cities. By the end of the war, much of urban Japan had been reduced to smoldering ruins.
The commemorations of the destruction of war come as Japan is slowly taking on a larger military role in the world. Japan dispatched hundreds of non-combat troops to Iraq last year on a humanitarian mission, in the country's first deployment in a combat zone since 1945, and top officials are considering changing the pacifist constitution to give the country's soldiers greater leeway to join international military operations.
Although the Allies generally viewed the Tokyo attack as an unsavory necessity to push the Japanese toward surrender, critics decry the outrageous loss of civilian life. Nearly all the estimated 100,000 killed were civilians. With fighting-age men mostly at the war front, the attack wiped out whole neighborhoods of women, children and elderly.
Many in Japan view the air raid as a war crime on a par with atrocities carried out by Japanese troops in Asia during the war, and the firebombing has often been pointed to by nationalists as one of the great forgotten injustices of history.
"That firebombing is unforgivable," Ishihara, Tokyo's outspoken governor, said at a news conference Thursday. "One hundred thousand people died in one night. That's a massacre, isn't it? We have to say this. But Japanese politicians these days, and the Foreign Ministry, don't."
Survivors paint vivid depictions of the horror of that night: women fleeing the fires with flaming babies on their backs; thousands who sheltered in presumably safe schools or parks who were eventually incinerated; the indelible scenes of the sun dawning on streets piled with charred bodies.
Many survivors still alive were children at the time; their memories are often expressed in phantasmagoric paintings or apocalyptic accounts.
The American Empire refuses to be liable for the civilians it poisoned in the Vietnam war
Vietnamese Agent Orange lawsuit fails
Mar. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
NEW YORK - A federal judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of about 4 million Vietnamese claiming that U.S. chemical companies committed war crimes by making Agent Orange for use during the Vietnam War.
U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein disagreed that the toxic defoliant and similar U.S. herbicides should be considered poisons banned under international rules of war even though they may have had comparable effects on people and land.
The Brooklyn judge also found that the plaintiffs could not prove that Agent Orange had caused their illnesses, largely because of a lack of large-scale research.
Plaintiffs' lawyers said an appeal is planned.
The lawsuit was the first attempt by Vietnamese plaintiffs to seek compensation for the effects of Agent Orange.
The defoliant is laden with the highly toxic chemical dioxin and has been linked to cancer, diabetes and birth defects among Vietnamese soldiers, civilians and American veterans.
U.S. aircraft sprayed more than 21 million gallons of the chemical from 1962 to 1971 in attempts to destroy crops and remove foliage used as cover by communist forces.
The courts never make mistakes and people in government always deal honestly with their subjects. Beleive that and I have some land I want to sell you :)
Maryvale JP draws State Bar suspension
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
The Maryvale justice of the peace has been suspended from the State Bar of Arizona and reassigned after repeated allegations of misconduct.
Jesse R. Miranda allegedly kept clients' settlement money, allowed a family to move into another client's home and asked another client to lend him $100,000 from a home sale.
Miranda is still drawing a salary but isn't hearing cases, said Keith Stott, executive director of the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Five clients' complaints were lodged with the State Bar. The commission is investigating a sixth complaint, but Stott declined to discuss it specifically.
Miranda has not responded to any of the allegations.
Vanessa Villa, a legal secretary, was one of the clients who complained to the State Bar. According to the complaint, she declared bankruptcy after Miranda allowed people to live in a house she was trying to sell without paying her rent.
"It's horrible what I had to go through," said Villa, who was a single mother of a toddler at the time.
Miranda, the brother of state lawmakers Ben and Richard Miranda, won his seat from incumbent Andy Gastelum in Maryvale in a September election.
Justices of the peace decide traffic tickets, issue protection orders and rule on small civil claims. The chief justice of Arizona can reassign a judge when his or her "conduct may pose a threat to the public or the administration of justice."
The State Bar informally reprimanded Miranda in February 2004 because he had proceedings on the same issue in two courts, but didn't tell the judges.
Miranda was fined and ordered to pay $326.25. He never paid.
A formal complaint was filed against Miranda in January 2005. The allegations included four complaints.
According to the allegations in State Bar records:
• One client said Miranda took $2,000 from a car accident settlement for further legal work that was never done.
• A second man went to court after he wrote a check with insufficient funds. The man agreed to pay $500 and sent Miranda, his attorney, a check for that amount. Miranda never gave the money to the plaintiff and the man's wages were garnished.
• Villa tried to sell her house to avoid foreclosure and gave Miranda rights to the home. Miranda was supposed to sell the house quickly, but let a woman and her young children live in the house without the owner's permission. The sale fell through and the woman filed for bankruptcy protection.
• The fourth client hired Miranda to deal with her companion's estate and establish a trust fund. Miranda sold a house for $375,000 and then borrowed $100,000 of the proceeds. He also liquidated $140,000 in stocks. With the proceeds, he bought three flower shops and five properties.
Because Miranda didn't dispute the complaints, they were accepted by the State Bar, which has begun a process to disbar Miranda.
"As far as we're concerned, he cannot practice law," said Matt Silverman, a spokesman for the State Bar.
(Sorry no URL)
this is interesting, and i think other police depts have also made it so that officers don't have to experience the tasering. so, like most things, there's a double standard about what's appropriate for cops and what's apporpriate for everyone else. hopefully these kinds of bans will shape their guidelines for use on everyone else in a more favorable way.
Scottsdale police ban Taser shock training
Mar. 10, 2005 08:20 AM
Citing a concern over possible injuries, the Scottsdale Police Department has banned officers from being shocked by stun guns during training.
The department had wanted trainees to feel the Taser's effects since getting the weapons in 2002 through December.
"Personally, I feel you can experience that by watching videotapes," Police Chief Alan Rodbell said.
Critics say the weapons, made by Scottsdale-based Taser International, may have contributed to numerous deaths nationwide.
Phoenix prohibited officers from receiving the 50,000 volts of the Taser after two trainees were injured.
Scottsdale decided to change its Taser training policy so not to injure an officer, said Sgt. Mark Clark.
The city's police officers are still required to be pepper-sprayed during training because they need to know how to fight through the effects when it gets sprayed in the field.
Clark said Scottsdale has 120 Tasers available but only a few are carried on the street at a time.
The department expects to train all of its 370 officers with Tasers, he said.
Bud Clark, a senior master instructor with Taser International, said police should be shocked because "it gives officers confidence in the product."
Stun guns are designed to temporarily paralyze suspects with a jolt that can be delivered by the tip of the unit or from two barbed darts that are fired
But law enforcement officials throughout the country have been moving to restrict, and in some cases ban, the use of stunning devices in their departments.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International have recently called for a moratorium on all stunning devices.
Taser International defends the devices, saying they do not generate enough electrical current to stop the heart and blaming the deaths on intoxication or health problems exacerbated by police chases.
isnt this article the new times put out for the copwatch press release great??? Hug-A-Cop day?? where did they come up with that?
Beat the Rush Copwatch marches on
When we first heard about Phoenix Copwatch's demonstration to
commemorate International Day Against Police Brutality, we
thought, "Great, yet another opportunity for Hallmark to profit off
an obscure holiday!" But then we realized we'd confused the planned
march from Patriots Square Park, at Central Avenue and Washington
Street, with Hug-A-Cop day, which is when some folks affectionately
accost their local Barney Fife and shower him with Hershey's Kisses
and a gift certificate to the Body Shop. Nevertheless, after a 4
p.m. rally on Tuesday, March 15, the good folks at Copwatch will
stroll through downtown Phoenix en route to the nearby po-po station
and jails to protest unnecessary force and the use of Tasers.
(Apparently, stun-gun fun isn't for everyone.) For details on the
demonstration, contact Phoenix Copwatch at 602-337-7188 or see
www.phoenixcopwatch.org. -- Joe Watson
tempe to steal land for miravista corp from 19 tempe citizens
Lawsuits target 19 property owners
They stand in path of $200 million mall
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 11, 2005 12:00 AM
Tempe has filed lawsuits against 19 property owners who stand in the path of a $200 million development.
The move marks the beginning of a legal battle over the quest by Tempe and developers to build an outdoor shopping center with a movie theater and large retailers.
As part of a complex deal with the mall's developers, the Tempe City Council voted to condemn an industrial corridor near Rio Salado Parkway and McClintock Drive. City leaders have argued that the project is the best way to clean up the area, which is a former Superfund site.
Although some owners on the site have sold their land to developers, others have not.
Some holdouts question the city's right to take their property, and those who are willing to sell say Miravista Holdings hasn't offered enough money.
It will be nearly impossible for many owners to buy similar property or relocate their businesses for what the developer has offered to pay, said Del Sturman, a property owner who belongs to Tempe Property Owners Against Governmental Theft.
"There is a difference between fair market value and putting you into a building," Sturman said.
Tempe tried to negotiate, and the lawsuits were the next logical step, City Attorney Marlene Pontrelli said.
"We need to have a court determine what is the fair market price of the property," Pontrelli said.
The city will ask a judge for "immediate possession" of the property. During that hearing, the judge will determine if it was legal for the city to condemn the property. If the judge rules in the city's favor, another proceeding will determine the land's fair market price, Assistant City Attorney Cliff Mattice said.
The city will file 20 lawsuits -- 15 were filed on March 1 and four were filed this week, and one is pending.
Organizers look to highlight police violence
by Megan Dobransky
March 10, 2005
With highly publicized incidents of police brutality recently, local residents and activists are planning a local rally to coordinate with the Ninth Annual International Day Against Police Brutality.
"Police brutality is a serious issue that plagues communities across the globe and the Phoenix area is no exception," said Bobby Dempsey, co-organizer of the rally. He highlights the gravity of the issue by pointing to last November when three people were shot by Mesa Police in the same week, the death of 15-year-old Mario Madrigal Jr., who was shot by Mesa Police two years ago and a string of various uses of excessive force by police departments all over the country that have received significant media attention.
"We feel that public exposure to police violence is one of many methods of addressing the serious problem of police brutality," Dempsey said. "March 15 is a day in which individuals express their concern by publicly demonstrating and demanding that this violence end."
Sergeant Randy Force, of the Phoenix Police Department, agrees that no citizen should stand for police brutality. "It's not a huge problem in that it happens very often," he said. "But any abuse is too much."
Force said that Phoenix Police has very harsh consequences for any officer that uses excessive force. There is an internal board of three police officers and three civilians from the community. The board decides whether the officer did, in fact, use excessive force and passes its decision to the police chief.
It's entirely up to the chief as to the final punishment for the officer, but the board influences the decision.
Paralleled to the internal investigation, a criminal investigation is conducted by the Maricopa County Attorney's office. If a decision is made to prosecute, then the officer could face not only internal punishment through the police department, but also criminal charges as well.
"It's really hard to get a police officer convicted of a crime," Force said. He credits this to the feeling of admiration for police officers that surged through the country after September 11. Still, an officer can be punished internally and not be convicted of any criminal charges.
Sergeant Force also said that most police departments make it very easy for people to make a complaint against any officer and that is the first step in solving the problem.
Another hotly debated issue that the International Day Against Police Brutality will confront is the use of Tasers. Most of the police departments in the Phoenix area do have and use Tasers. "Yes, people get hurt as a consequence of being Tased," Force said. "But it is preferable to getting shot."
He said that the Phoenix Police Department has had no serious injuries or deaths and that overall they have had a good experience with the devices, which deliver an electric shock to people.
Still, people are skeptical about the use of Tasers and how quickly officers seem to use them.
"Although they are a less-than-lethal weapon and shootings have gone down, they are used at a startlingly higher rate than the use of lethal weapons, even though Tasers have been known to not only severely injure, but also kill," Dempsey said.
It is because of concerns like this that people have organized the rally on March 15. "We intended to make this protest a form of not only exposure, but also education," Dempsey said, "We seek to inform the public of escalating police violence and promote methods of reversing the problem."
Police brutality will no doubt remain a controversial issue. On one side, residents demand that the people who are selected to protect them do just that and not forget the ethics and standards that guide any police force. And on the other side, there are ordinary men and women, who put their lives on the line every day.
"Excessive force happens because as carefully as we chose police officers, we are limited to members of the human race," Force said.
Ninth Annual International Day
Against Police Brutality
Patriot's Square Park
Central and Washington, Phoenix
Tuesday, March 15, 4 p.m.
A drug dog doing a routine sniff of cars at R.E. Lee High School in Staunton, Va., alerted near the car parked by student body president Sam Dungan, 17. Officials demanded he let them search the car but Dungan, the son of a defense attorney, called his dad instead. After all, it was his dad's car, since his own was broken down. His father, James Dungan, arrived at the school and consented to a search, since "I don't smoke marijuana, my wife doesn't smoke marijuana, and my son doesn't smoke marijuana," he told them. Bad idea: the search turned up a rusty Boy Scout knife and a bottle of cream liqueur, left in the car after a Christmas party. Good enough: Sam was suspended for 5 days for "possessing" a "weapon" and alcohol on campus. He also must attend alcohol counseling.
(Waynesboro News Virginian)
(the moral here is dont let the pigs flush your constitutional right down the toilet by letting them search you (demand that they get a search warrent). also always refuse to talk to the police thugs. take the fifth and refuse to answer their questions.
people do a lot of strange stuff in the name of religion! first a religious government council orders some to rape a woman to punish the women. next a higher level of religious government says the men should be executed for the rape.
Islamic court reinstates convictions in gang rape
Pakistani judges restore death sentences in case
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's highest Islamic court on Friday reinstated the convictions of five men sentenced to death for raping a woman on orders from a village council.
The ruling was handed down following a firestorm of criticism after a lower tribunal ordered the suspects freed.
The decision by the Federal Shariat Court was yet another twist in the case of Mukhtar Mai, a 33-year-old woman who said she was raped in 2002 after elders in her village ordered the attack as punishment for her brother's purported illicit affair with a woman from another family.
"We welcome the decision, and we know our case is strong," said Ramzan Khalid Joya, Mai's lawyer.
Mohammed Yaqub, an attorney for the men, said he had not had time to study the decision and would have no comment.
Six men, including village elder Faiz Mastoi, were sentenced to death in 2002.
But on March 3, the sentences of five of them were overturned. The sixth man had his death sentence reduced to life in prison.
Human rights groups in Pakistan and around the world denounced the ruling, and thousands of Pakistani women rallied in Multan, in eastern Punjab province, this week demanding justice and protection for Mai, who said she fears the men would seek revenge, if released.
The Canadian High Commissioner on Tuesday visited Mai in Meerwala, a village about 350 miles southwest of the capital, Islamabad, to pledge money for a school she runs.
In its decision Friday, the Federal Shariat Court ruled on technical grounds that the Multan tribunal had no powers to hear the case. It said it alone had the power to rule on appeals in rape cases.
The Shariat Court works separately from the normal legal system but has the power to overturn decisions involving Islamic law, such as in instances of rape, adultery and some cases of murder.
The court indicated it would hear the men's appeal but did not say when. All six men remain in jail.
Once the Federal Shariat Court rules, a final appeal from either side can be heard only by a special Shariat Branch of Pakistan's Supreme Court, the highest court in the nation.
Mai denies that her 13-year-old brother ever had illicit relations with the woman, and she says the village council's decision to order her rape was made to cover up a sexual assault on the boy by men from the Mastoi clan, which enjoys local power.
Violence against women is common in deeply conservative Pakistan, particularly in rural areas where the government has little control.
Hundreds of women are killed or brutally disfigured - often at the hands of their fathers, brothers or husbands - in so-called honor attacks.
The government promised to crack down on such attacks after Mai's rape, pushing through tougher sentencing laws, but women's rights activists say little has changed for most women.
Murders by angry plaintiff called unpredictable
FBI agents find list of targeted attorneys, judges
Lianne Hart and Stephen Braun
Los Angeles Times
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
CHICAGO - As he annoyed judges with droning arguments and demonized opposing lawyers as architects of a vast conspiracy, the man identified Friday as the killer of a federal judge's relatives always managed to get one more day in court.
Bart Ross kept his stacks of baffling legal documents in crisp order. He cared about his appearance, wearing tidy turtlenecks to court, even if he showed up later in bulky workman's overalls and once took out his mouth prosthesis and waved it in the air to demonstrate how his face had been disfigured by what he said was poor medical care.
"Sure, he filed wild pleadings, and he never made much sense," attorney Barry Bollinger said. "But he was never a raging, crazy person in court. How could you predict?"
As police and federal forensics teams here shored up the evidence Friday linking Ross to the murder of Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother, Bollinger learned that he was on a long list of judges, attorneys and doctors drawn up by Ross as possible targets.
The list was found, along with a suicide note, in the minivan where Ross shot himself to death Wednesday night outside the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, Wis. As FBI agents notified those whose names Ross had left behind, investigators were seeking to determine whether he had driven from the Lefkows' Chicago home to Milwaukee to stalk two federal Appeals Court judges who dismissed one of his legal actions in 2003.
Ross' Plymouth minivan was ticketed in downtown Milwaukee on Wednesday, just three hours before he killed himself. Cecilia Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, said the $20 ticket was issued for an expired meter. Gilbert said Ross had parked about a half-mile from the federal courthouse where the two appeals judges are based.
Chicago police spokesman David Bayless said Friday that detectives were trying to nail down a timeline for Ross' movements. They were not yet certain why he drove north after killing the judge's husband, Michael Lefkow, 64, and her mother, Donna Humphrey, 89.
"We still don't know what his state of mind was," Bayless said. But ballistics links and a genetic match between Ross' DNA and traces on a cigarette butt left at the Lefkow house "tell us he was the lone killer," Bayless said.
Police have not found the .22-caliber weapon or a silencer Ross claimed to have used in the murders. On Friday, detectives searched the roof of the judge's north-side home, coming up empty, Bayless said.
Federal firearms experts linked the bullets that killed the pair to a box of 150 .22-caliber shells found in the van where Ross killed himself, said Thomas Ahern, a spokesman for the Chicago office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
In his hand-written suicide note, Ross indicated that after the murders, he drove to the northern Chicago suburbs of Glencoe and Northbrook and neared the homes of a doctor and a judge named on his list. Police were unsure when Ross made the approaches and whether he had made similar moves against anyone else.
"The irony in all this was that when Judge Lefkow finally dismissed his complaint a few weeks later, she wrote in her order that she had real sympathy for his condition. She didn't have to go that far, but that's the kind of judge she is. In his paranoid state, all Ross saw was the last judge who closed the door on him," said Thomas Browne, an attorney who was also told by FBI agents that he had been targeted.
In an interview with the New York Times, Lefkow described Ross as "a very pathetic, tragic person." She added, "It's heartbreaking that my husband and mother had to die over something like this."
i dont see how they can say with a straigh face that robert stewart tried to plan and murder a judge. robert stewart was in a federal prison at the time all the stuff happened. robert stewart is in federal prison on charges simular to laros, and he was also set up on bogus charges like laro
Despite security, fear lingers in court
With many threats made, officials worry about similar event in Valley
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
At the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix, each hearing room has a panic button.
In Maricopa County Superior Court, armed deputies watch over many criminal trials.
But high-tech security and extra firepower cannot erase the fear that looms over judges who endure occasional threats from the delusional, desperate and despondent figures moving through America's justice system.
That danger was driven home twice in recent days, first with the murder of a federal judge's husband and mother at their Chicago-area home last week, then Friday when a rape defendant killed a judge and two others in an Atlanta courtroom.
"The judges here are all scared to death," said David Gonzales, the U.S. marshal assigned to protect federal courts in Arizona.
"We have our security in place, but this kind of thing is a wake-up call."
Judge Brian Ishikawa of Maricopa County Superior Court said the Atlanta and Chicago incidents "show you how dangerous your occupation can be and how fragile life is."It's really a sad day to people who love and respect our system of justice in this country," he added. "You do the best you can, don't take any chances, but don't let it worry you."
"It's something you're aware of every day," U.S. District Judge Mary Murguia agreed. "But you can't let it affect what you do. So you just go on."
Colin Campbell, presiding judge of Maricopa County Superior Court, held a news conference Friday to stress that the danger has escalated dramatically in recent years. "The news this morning was our worst nightmare," he said.
Campbell reeled off a list of unsettling local events: A court litigant showed up in the back yard of a judge who was hosting a Girl Scout meeting at the time. Another judge received mail containing a picture of her house. A so-called "constitutionalist" served legal papers on a judge at night. In July, a litigant committed suicide outside the courthouse in Mesa after a security officer spotted him carrying two guns.
"We've seen increasing threats," Campbell noted.
The evolution of justice-system security in Arizona and across America is written in blood.
Fifteen years ago, anyone could walk into a courtroom without being screened.
In the mid-1990s, a Phoenix man who was sentenced to prison pulled out a gun and shot himself on the spot. That prompted screening at county courts. The Oklahoma City bombing a decade ago spawned a new wave of security measures, including bomb-blocking structures outside courthouses. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks added another layer to the protective bubble.
But events across the country suggest there are still vulnerabilities.
"We're doing a year 2005 function in a building that was designed in 1964," said Bill Duffy, security chief for the Maricopa County Superior Court system.
Experts said they do not know of an Arizona judge who was killed or seriously hurt by an assailant upset with the justice system. Still, threats are routine: e-mails, letters, phone calls and jail intelligence. Most are spouted in frustration by courtroom losers who have no real intention of doing harm. But a few are more serious, requiring criminal investigation and protection for judges.
In 2003, Robert D. Stewart of Mesa was sentenced to 24 years in prison for soliciting the murder of U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver, who presided over his earlier conviction for a weapons violation. No murder was attempted.
Prosecutors said Stewart, a former history teacher, hoped to ignite a wave of political assassinations targeting officials who didn't share his dogmatic constitutional views.
Duffy described those who issue public threats as "howlers," who make noise, and "hunters," who silently stalk judicial prey. "Hunters seldom howl and howlers seldom hunt," he added. "But there is no true science or matrix to say who's going to hurt you and who's not."
But some cases require a greater show of force. Ricky Wassenaar, a state prison inmate who took two corrections officers hostage and held authorities at bay for 15 days, appears in Superior Court wearing a remote-control stun belt. A team of armed deputies sits in on proceedings.
In federal court, pending trials for the Hells Angels and New Mexican Mafia (New Eme), are particularly sensitive. New Eme and its associates are blamed for at least a half-dozen witness murders. Indictments were first issued in New Mexico, but the federal court there was considered unsafe. One judge in Santa Fe asked for bodyguards and bulletproof glass, the lead investigator purportedly was targeted for a hit and prosecutors began carrying weapons before the trial was moved to Phoenix's courthouse with state-of-the-art protective systems.
Besides providing internal security in federal courts, U.S. marshals investigate threats and give outside protection to judges and their families. Gonzales would not discuss details of the work but said his office deals with about one threat each week.
"The trend is now they are actually very overt about it," he added. "There are even Web sites people will put up. It's crazy. They'll put judge's pictures in them."
Reporter Jim Walsh contributed to this article. Reach Wagner at (602) 444-8874.
rigging elections - a way of life for some government rulers.
Fla. officials charged in ballot case
Accused of paying for collection of absentee forms
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
ORLANDO - The mayor and a circuit court judge surrendered Friday on a felony charge that they paid a campaign worker to collect absentee ballots, and the mayor was suspended from his post.
A defense attorney denied charges against Mayor Buddy Dyer, Circuit Judge Alan Apte and two others who also turned themselves in on similar indictments - Dyer campaign manager Patty Sharp and Ezzie Thomas, a campaign consultant to Dyer and Apte.
Apte has been "unassigned" and his docket has been turned over to another judge, said Karen Levey, a spokeswoman for the 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida. The Judicial Qualifications Commission will probably decide whether Apte stays on the bench.
Dyer, a Democrat, called the charge politically motivated and said he intends to fight it. He could return to his $144,349-a-year job if he is successful.
City Councilman Ernest Page will take the mayor's place until there is a special election within two months.
The indictments were issued a day earlier by a grand jury looking at whether Thomas illegally collected absentee ballots in predominantly Black neighborhoods for Dyer and Apte's campaigns a year ago in this city of 186,000 residents.
Dyer has previously said he was too busy with his mayoral duties to pay attention to the day-to-day details of the campaign.
the british keep in sync with the american police state
Blair gets anti-terror law
Parliament OKs package despite Lords' objections
New York Times
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
LONDON - Over strong objections from civil libertarians, Parliament on Friday enacted Prime Minister Tony Blair's new anti-terrorism package, which, among other things, allows the authorities to place terrorist suspects under an unusually strict form of house arrest, without trial, instead of sending them to prison.
The passage came as eight foreign terror suspects were released under strict bail conditions on Friday, after being held without charges or a trial under an anti-terrorism law hastily passed after Sept. 11, 2001. Three months ago, a panel of judges ruled that their imprisonment violated European human-rights legislation.
The new law was designed to get around just such objections, and had become a political minefield. An increasingly angry Blair insisted that it was essential for national security; his opponents in an unusually combative House of Lords asserted, in the words of the Earl of Onslow, that it was a "rotten, rotten stinking bill."
With an election widely expected to be held in May, neither the Labor Party nor the Conservative opposition wants to be seen as weak on terrorism. In the end, the differences between the two parties came down to issues of procedure rather than issues of substance, as the civil-liberties objections of legislators from both parties were swept away in the final rush to exhibit toughness.
The debate in Britain mirrors that in the United States, where the Supreme Court ruled last June that foreign terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be allowed to challenge their detention before a judge or other neutral "decisionmaker."
Authorities are straining to enact laws that are as tough as possible while also being able to withstand judicial scrutiny and possibly to creatively circumvent existing law.
The debate has been particularly bitter in Britain, with its proud civil libertarian tradition. The House of Commons, controlled by the prime minister with his huge parliamentary majority, easily passed the proposed legislation.
But the House of Lords, which has a preponderance of Conservatives and whose members are appointed rather than elected, balked at a bill that many of its members felt violated centuries-old legal principles like the right of habeas corpus, as enshrined in the Magna Carta.
With most legislation, the House of Lords is fairly supine, ceding to the House of Commons' wishes without much fuss. But in this case, it dug in its heels. Four times, the House of Commons sent it the bill for consideration; four times, the Lords voted the bill down, sitting throughout the night on Thursday in a session that eventually lasted 30 hours.
Finally, with the old terrorism law set to expire at midnight on Sunday, the prime minister offered a concession: if his bill were enacted, he said, he would agree to allow Parliament to review it within a year.
The compromise was immediately seized on by the Tory leader, Michael Howard. The Tories had wanted the bill to include a "sunset clause," under which it would expire after a year; Howard declared victory, saying Blair had agreed to a "sunset clause in all but name."
The eight detainees released on Friday will find themselves in situations remarkably like those allowed for in the new law. Though the eight, all Muslim men, are due to return home soon, they will hardly be free when they get there.
The men will have to wear electronic monitoring tags, report to an official every time they enter and leave their houses, and remain at home between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily.
Ex-Biden aide gets 3 years in theft
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
WILMINGTON, Del. - A former aide to U.S. Sen. Joe Biden has been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing more than $400,000 in campaign funds partly to buy gifts for men he met through the Internet.
Roger Blevins III, 34, a former assistant campaign treasurer for Biden, was sentenced in federal court Thursday after pleading guilty last year to two charges, including interstate transportation of stolen property.
Assistant U.S. Attorney April Byrd said Blevins wanted to play "sugar daddy" to three Florida men he met online.
Prosecutors alleged he made almost two dozen improper transfers or withdrawals from Biden's account in 2002 and 2003 and spent the money on expensive dinners, wine and luxury cars, including a Porsche Boxster and a BMW convertible.
Blevins apologized in court Thursday, saying his actions were "stupid, ignorant and wrong." He said he never intended to harm the Delaware Democrat's political career.
According to court records, Blevins got involved with the men when he placed the highest bid for a date with one of them.
the american empire has a long history of war crimes
'Gold Train' settlement is reached
U.S. owes $25.5 mil in WWII reparation
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
MIAMI - The federal government Friday reached a $25.5 million settlement with the families of Hungarian Holocaust victims and will acknowledge the U.S. Army's role in commandeering a trainload of the families' treasures during World War II.
Under terms of the settlement, the money will be distributed to needy Hungarian Holocaust survivors rather those who lost family possessions.
"The case never really was about money alone. It was about having a reckoning with history," said Sam Dubbin, one of the families' lawyers. He called the agreement "a great outcome."
The Justice Department, which negotiated on behalf of the government, issued a statement saying it was "very pleased to announce" the settlement but said it would be inappropriate to add comment on a pending legal matter.
A commission appointed by then-President Clinton concluded in 1999 that high-ranking U.S. Army officers and troops plundered the train after it was intercepted on its way to Germany in May 1945 during the closing days of the war.
The train carried gold, jewels, 1,200 paintings, silver, china, porcelain, 3,000 Oriental carpets and other heirlooms seized from Jewish families by the Nazis. The cargo would be worth $45 million to $90 million in today's dollars.
About $21 million in funding for humanitarian services will be distributed to social-service agencies worldwide based on the percentage of survivors, including 40 percent in Israel, 22 percent in Hungary, 21 percent in the United States and 7 percent in Canada.
Up to $3.85 million is proposed for legal fees and costs. A total of $500,000 would fund an archive on the so-called Nazi "Gold Train" for scholarly and educational uses.
"I can't say that I'm happy with the settlement, but I am happy that we have a closure," said David Mermelstein, one of the plaintiffs.
'Monsters' at family gathering now
Mar. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
Regarding "Mogollon Monster a hairy tale" (Back Page, March 4):
Yes, the Mogollon Monster does indeed exist, but Republic columnist Clay Thompson is misinformed.
Although members of the smelly species supposedly related to Big Foot have been sighted wandering rim country locations and in and around Prescott, they gather as a family about this time of year right in metropolitan Phoenix.
Men, women and childlike Mogollon Monsters prefer cavelike locations with copper domes where they can stomp around unfettered, spend money taxpayers don't have, eat up all the food and generally leave a big mess for others to clean up.
Oh, yes, Arizona, Mogollon Monsters do exist!
E. M. "Mel" Hasbrouck
one of those rare cases where a piggy gets fired for committing crimes. usually they get promoted.
Police officer is fired after neighbor assault
CHANDLER - A police officer has been fired for his suspected role in the aggravated assault of a neighbor.
The Chandler Police Department announced Friday that Brian Delbert Rader, 32, was terminated Thursday after an internal investigation determined the officer had violated several city personnel rules, including engaging in conduct that could discredit city service.
Rader, who was arrested Jan. 17 after reportedly punching and biting a neighbor while "extremely intoxicated," may appeal the termination. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and criminal trespass.