Monday, July 31, 2006

Newark cop kills suspect in drug deal: Bystanders claim 26-year-old had already been handcuffed

Monday, July 31, 2006
Star-Ledger Staff

A Newark man reaching for his gun during a drug arrest was shot and killed by a plainclothes police officer yesterday afternoon, city police said.

Bystanders told a different story. Two people who claimed to see the shooting said the man was arrested, handcuffed and then, when his arms were restrained, shot once in the back.

"They already had him handcuffed," said Jewell Younger, 18, who said she was a childhood friend of the man and was less than 30 feet away when the incident occurred. "If he was reaching for a gun, how could he do that if he had his hands in cuffs?"

"He had handcuffs already on," said Nahla Conover, 10, who at the time of the shooting was walking with her cousin to a local bus stop. "They had put him on the ground, they cursed at him -- I'm not going to repeat what they said -- and the police shot him in the back."

The shooting at West Alpine Street and Irvine Turner Boulevard that left 26-year-old Chakhan Nance dead is under investigation by the Newark Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

According to police, five members of the department's Narcotics Enforcement Team were in the neighborhood to deal with a chronic drug dealing problem in the area.

The stretch along Irvine Turner Boulevard where Nance was shot is well-known as a place for out-of-towners, and some locals, to buy drugs before driving back to Route 78, out of Newark, authorities said.

Shortly after 1:40 p.m., police saw a narcotics transaction between Nance and another man and told both to stop, said Capt. Derek Glenn, a department spokesman.

The second man fled, but Nance was tackled to the ground by plainclothes police displaying their badges, Glenn said. He continued fighting the officers and tried to grab a gun hidden in the waistband of his pants, Glenn said.

Still struggling with Nance, officer Jose Dopazo, a five-year member of the Newark force, reached for his weapon and fired one shot into the man's side, police said.

Nance was not handcuffed, police said, and the injured man was taken to University Hospital in Newark, where he later died. Police said they recovered his .45-caliber gun and bullets in his pocket.

"Based on what I know thus far in the investigation, I believe this officer made the correct decision," acting Police Chief Anthony Campos said. "He took the action he felt was necessary to defend his life, the lives of the other officers and possibly someone else's."

But bystanders said it wasn't a life-or-death decision because Nance was handcuffed, on the ground and posed no danger to anyone.

A father of two young boys and the youngest of eight brothers and sisters, Nance served as a father figure to youngsters in the neighborhood, said bystanders who described themselves as the man's friends.

"You could basically say he was my father," said Jazz Goines, 18, who identified herself as Nance's niece. "He was a totally great guy. He always looked after everybody."

Goines and her friend, Taliah Reed, also 18, said on many nights, while hanging out in their neighborhood, Nance would make sure they went home before it got dark.

"He'd tell us to go in the house," Reed said. "He would walk some of us home. He prevented us from stuff like this. He didn't want to see anything like this."

Dopazo, 30, will stay on active duty with full pay during the investigation and the case will go before a grand jury for review, Glenn said.

Acting Chief Campos said he fully supports his officers' efforts to keep the city safe.

"It is unfortunate when an officer is put in a situation where he must make a life-and-death decision," Campos said.

Reducing crime in Newark is the focal point of the city's safe summer initiative introduced by Mayor Cory Booker nearly a month ago.

The plan calls for more police on the streets and more recreational activities for youngsters.

Read More......

Friday, July 28, 2006

Landmark Settlement Reached in Notorious School Drug Raid Caught on Tape

Victims of South Carolina Raid Become Only Students in America with Complete Freedom From Unconstitutional Search and Seizure

GOOSE CREEK, SC -- The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that a federal court has approved a landmark settlement in its lawsuit challenging police tactics in the high-profile drug raid of Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina. The settlement includes a consent decree that sets a new standard for students’ rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Absent a warrant, police will now need either to have probable cause and pressing circumstances or voluntary consent in order to conduct law enforcement activity on school grounds – effectively granting Goose Creek students the essential privacy rights enjoyed by all Americans.

“Goose Creek students now have a unique place in our nation,” said Graham Boyd, Director of the ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project. “They are the only students in the nation who have complete protection of their Fourth Amendment rights of search and seizure.”

The November 5, 2003 police raid of Stratford High School was recorded by both the school’s surveillance cameras and a police camera. The tapes show students as young as 14 forced to the ground in handcuffs as officers in SWAT team uniforms and bulletproof vests aim guns at their heads and lead a drug dog to tear through their book bags. The ACLU represents 20 of the nearly 150 students caught up in the raid.

The raid was initiated by the school’s principal at the time, George McCrackin, who resigned shortly after the tapes surfaced on national television. The raid was authorized based on the principal’s suspicion that a single student was dealing marijuana. The raid was carried out despite the suspected student being absent at the time. No drugs or weapons were found during the raid and no charges were filed.

While African Americans represented less than a quarter of the high school’s students, more than two-thirds of those caught up in the sweep were African American. The raid took place in the early morning hours when the school’s hallways are predominantly populated with African American students whose buses -- which largely travel from different neighborhoods -- arrive before those of their white classmates. White students began to arrive during the raid and witnessed the hostile roundup and detention of their African American peers.

As 16-year-old Joshua Ody, one of the students caught up in the raid, put it, “I felt like I had less rights than other people that day.”

Following the raid, the ACLU brought a lawsuit on behalf of students’ families charging police and school officials with violating the students’ right to be free from unlawful search and seizure and use of excessive force. The lawsuit demanded a court order declaring the raid unconstitutional and blocking the future use of such tactics, as well as damages on behalf of the students.

In addition to recognizing students’ rights to be free from unconstitutional search and seizure and restricting police tactics, the settlement establishes a $1.6 million dollar fund to compensate the students and help cover medical and counseling costs from the incident.

The cost of the settlement will be paid by the city of Goose Creek, the Goose Creek Police Department, and the Berkeley County School District where the school is located, with assistance from their respective insurance companies.

It is not yet known exactly how many of the nearly 150 students will accept the settlement. The offer came in response to a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 53 students, of which the ACLU’s lawsuit is a part. Both sides agreed to the terms of the settlement earlier this year. The agreement received judicial approval yesterday.

The ACLU’s clients are: 15-year-old Carl Alexander, Jr.; 15-year-old Rodney Goodwin; 17-year-old Samuel Ody III; 17-year-old Micah Bryant; 15-year-old Marcus Blakeney; 14-year-old Danyielle Ashley Cills; 15-year-old Cedric Penn, Jr.; 14-year-old Elijah Le'Quan Simpson; 14-year-old Jeremy Bolger; 14-year-old Tristan Cills; 14-year-old Arielle Pena; 17-year-old Jalania McCullough; 17-year-old Cedric Simmons; 14-year-old Nathaniel Smalls; 15-year-old Timothy Rice; 15-year-old Shnikqua Simmons; 16-year-old Joshua Ody; 16-year-old De'Nea Dykes; 15-year-old Chernitua Bryant; and 18-year-old Rodricus Perry.

Read More......

Thursday, July 27, 2006

IRS Warns Churches to Stay Neutral on Politics

Opponents of the policy say that by threatening groups' tax-exempt status, the government is interfering with their 1st Amendment rights.

By Stephen Clark, Times Staff Writer
July 18, 2006

The Internal Revenue Service is warning churches and nonprofits that improper campaigning in the upcoming political season could endanger their tax-exempt status.

The agency also launched a program to expedite investigations into claims of improper campaigning, prompting an advocacy group to charge this month that the program could restrict the free speech of nonprofit groups and churches.

Such investigations came to light last year when the IRS warned All Saints Church in Pasadena that it was reviewing the Episcopal church's tax-exempt status because a priest criticized the Iraq war shortly before the 2004 presidential election. Church leaders say they have no intention of scaling back their criticism of the war.

The IRS' new enforcement program — the Political Activity Compliance Initiative — was first announced in February and again in June through news releases and notices to more than 15,000 tax-exempt organizations, numerous church denominations and tax preparers.

Under the program, the IRS will no longer wait for an annual tax return to be filed or the tax year to end before investigating allegations of wrongful campaigning. A three-member committee will make an initial review of complaints and then vote on whether to pursue the investigation in detail.

"While the vast majority of charities and churches do not engage in politicking, an increasing number did take part in prohibited activities in the 2004 election cycle," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said in a statement. "The rule against political campaign intervention by charities and churches is long established. We are stepping up our efforts to enforce it."

The IRS has investigated more than 200 organizations nationwide since 2004. Of the 62 cases with violations, three lost their nonprofit status (none were churches) and 59 received warning letters. Some of those that were warned also were ordered to pay an excise tax.

Federal law prohibits the IRS from releasing the names of those under investigation, but the agency said it has more than 100 cases pending — 40 of them churches.

An advocacy group's report criticizing the IRS enforcement program predicts a chilling effect on free speech and accuses the agency of using vague standards and lacking deadlines to complete inquiries.

"I don't think this is a case of bad faith," said Kay Guinane, author of the report. "I just think it's a poorly structured program."

The report was prepared by OMB Watch, a Washington-based nonprofit government watchdog group. Among the recommendations: The IRS should develop complaint standards and create clear rules defining partisan activities.

The report predicts that the program could prompt a flood of retaliatory and harassment complaints during the 2006 election year unless the IRS develops clear guidelines.

All Saints still awaits a resolution. Two days before the 2004 presidential election, the Rev. George F. Regas, the church's former rector, delivered a guest sermon that pictured Jesus in a debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry.

Although Regas didn't endorse a candidate, he said Jesus would have told Bush that his preemptive war policy "has led to disaster."

The IRS sent the church a letter June 9, 2005, stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church."

A month later, the church drew national attention when the Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints, disclosed the investigation during a Sunday sermon.

Despite leaving voicemail messages and sending letters seeking an update, church leaders have not heard from the IRS since October, when the agency told them that they were in violation and that it was taking the investigation to a higher level, Regas said. The IRS won't confirm or deny whether the investigation is still open.

Marcus Owens, a former head of tax-exempt organizations at the IRS and now an attorney representing All Saints, called the agency's silence "deafening and extraordinary."

Asked why the agency is not responding, Owens said, "The IRS is uncertain how to proceed — maybe confused, maybe wishes everything would just go away."

Owens also represents — in what is possibly the most prominent case — the NAACP, which drew the IRS' attention in July 2004 after the organization's chairman, Julian Bond, criticized the Bush administration's policies on civil rights. The NAACP also has not heard from the IRS about its investigation.

Owens says the IRS' actions have had a chilling effect on the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. The speech from Bond was removed from the organization's website shortly before the election.

All Saints, though, has not fallen silent. There is a long history of social activism at the church, one of Southern California's largest and most liberal. Since the 1940s, the church has championed civil rights, women's rights, gay rights and, most recently, has launched an interfaith coalition against the war in Iraq.

"We support the IRS regulations and have always seen ourselves as being on the correct side of the line that they draw," said Robert Long, senior warden for All Saints. The investigation "was not a cause to scale back our advocacy for justice issues but rather to continue what we've always done."

IRS officials would not discuss the All Saints case or others, but did refer to the tax code.

The code bans nonprofits from "participating or intervening" for "any candidate for public office." That includes endorsements, donations and fundraising. But nonprofits are allowed to speak out on issues of public interest as long as "a substantial part of the organization's activities is not intended to influence legislation."

In December, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and two Republican colleagues called for the federal Government Accountability Office to investigate the IRS, expressing concern about the 1st Amendment rights of clergy. The GAO turned down their request, citing confidentiality of IRS investigations, Schiff said.

The OMB Watch report, Schiff said, has motivated him to again seek a response from the IRS and the Treasury Department. He wants the report's recommendations to be adopted.

"I think the guidelines are so ambiguous and unclear, anyone standing behind the pulpit has to be wondering what they can say on the most important issues of the day," he said.

Lois G. Lerner, director of the IRS' exempt organizations division, counters that the agency is only enforcing the law.

Read More......

'Big-box' wage law passes - YAAAAEAEEEE!!!!!

Aldermen defy mayor, anger retailers

By Gary Washburn and Mickey Ciokajlo
Tribune staff reporters
Published July 26, 2006, 11:36 PM CDT

In rare and open defiance of Mayor Richard Daley, the City Council Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a measure that will require big retailers to pay a higher minimum wage than most other Chicago employers.

The vote was 35-14 and came after more than three hours of sometimes stem-winding and often impassioned debate.

As union leaders and other proponents claimed victory, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association was poised to go to court, if necessary, to seek to have the measure declared unconstitutional.

"I'm not as disappointed as the thousands of job seekers who would have had an opportunity for employment," said David Vite, the association's president. "There are, as it stands, thousands of jobs that are going to be lost."

Supporters of the measure were exultant after the vote was tallied.

"At the heart of this ordinance is equality and fairness," Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon said in a statement. "Today's vote sends a message that our elected officials and community members alike are not interested in the creation of low-paying jobs that fail to provide a living wage or adequate health-care benefits for working families.

"The choice between no job and a low-paying job is a choice between bad and worse," Gannon said.

The so-called "big-box" ordinance applies to stores of at least 90,000 square feet operated by firms with $1 billion or more in annual sales. It provides that beginning next July, employees will be paid a minimum of $9.25 an hour in wages and $1.50 in fringe benefits, figures that will rise to $10 and $3, respectively, by 2010. Automatic annual cost-of-living increases will apply thereafter.

By comparison, the federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, while the state minimum is $6.50 an hour—but both amounts can be less if employees receive tips.

Vite, of the retail merchants association, called on Daley to veto the measure.

After the council meeting, the mayor would not say whether he would take that advice. But if he decides to veto, he would have to persuade two aldermen who supported the ordinance to change their minds. A mayoral veto can be overridden by 34 votes.

Daley expressed disappointment in the council's action, contending that companies will decide to locate stores outside the city limits.

The council next could vote to reduce the size of stores that come under the wage requirements and, ultimately, work down to such franchise operations as McDonald's, he said.

"Next week, it is going to be something else."

Gerald Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, put it in more dire terms.

"I think that the aldermen who voted in support of this helped put the sign up, really big, that development in Chicago is dead," he said. "There is no sense of coming to this city because there is no predictability ... And it is a sad day."

But some of the aldermen who voted in favor asserted that big retail firms, despite threats otherwise, will continue to locate in Chicago because of the growth that it offers and its fertile market.

"There is a buck to be made, a lot of bucks," asserted Ald. Joe Moore (49th), the ordinance's sponsor. "If they are to continue to remain profitable, they must expand.

"I welcome these stores to our communities," Moore said. "But let's make sure when these big stores open up in our neighborhoods, they help our people."

"We have an obligation to the people in the community," said Ald. Ed Smith (28th). "We are supposed to work for those people. The right thing to do is to pass this ordinance."

Ald. Edward Burke (14th), another supporter, said that attempts at negotiation with Wal-Mart were rebuffed, and he asserted that the retail giants were fearful of Chicago's approval of the measure.

"They know what happens in Chicago is going to be duplicated everywhere else," he said.

There are about 40 existing stores in the city that will fall under the ordinance, including many operated by such big national chains as Wal-Mart—a key target of some of the measure's supporters—Target, Sears, Menards and Home Depot. Also affected are higher-end outlets such as Nordstrom's and Marshall Field's.

Daley has been wounded politically by a federal investigation that has uncovered City Hall contracting and hiring fraud, a probe that has crippled several political organizations loyal to him. He once enjoyed nearly dictatorial control over the council, in part because of his ability to field challengers to incumbent aldermen who dared to oppose him.

Wednesday's vote was viewed in some circles as a sign of Daley's declining strength.

"If the Chicago City Council is able to establish a veto-proof majority, they will have taken a considerable level of power and authority away from the mayor," said one Chicago lobbyist who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The mayor will have to engage in coalition-building rather than operating from strength."

Next could come an attempt to override Daley's opposition again and approve a measure requiring all residential developers to build a certain percentage of "affordable" units.

At a news conference after the meeting, Daley shrugged off suggestions that his influence may have diminished.

"I can roll with the punches anytime," he said.

Daley said he believes that some of the council members who voted for the measure were "afraid of candidates running against them" in next February's election if they had voted against such a populist measure. "That is a real issue," the mayor said.

Some aldermen said they believed union leaders would target opponents of the measure for defeat. A Wal-Mart official said earlier this year that plans for as many as 20 new company stores in Chicago in the coming years might be affected by the council's decision.

In a statement Wednesday, Michael Lewis, the company's senior vice president of store operations, said that "just as every business weighs the costs and complications associated with each potential location, we will try to provide Chicago residents with the savings, choices and jobs they clearly want without subjecting ourselves to a discriminatory marketplace and a competitive disadvantage."

Lewis said that "dozens of communities around the city of Chicago already welcome the savings, job opportunities and tax revenue we bring with each store opening. It's sad to see the City Council make this unfortunate choice to stand in the way of these benefits for Chicago's working families."

If unions intended to target aldermen opposed to the ordinance at election time, the Chicagoland Chamber is considering another kind of targeting.

"We are going to take a look at those aldermen who have decided they don't want development in their particular wards, and we will make sure when we bring in retailers and other companies we go to the wards that have supported development," Roper said. Two of the council members in good standing with the chamber because of their opposition to the measure are Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) and Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), who represent impoverished wards on the West Side.



Read More......

Cell Phone Picture Called Obstruction Of Justice

Man Arrested For Shooting Photo Of Police Activity

POSTED: 6:41 pm EDT July 25, 2006
UPDATED: 5:11 pm EDT July 26, 2006

PHILADELPHIA -- A Philadelphia family said they are outraged over the arrest of one of their family members.

The family of Neftaly Cruz said police had no right to come onto their property and arrest their 21-year-old son simply because he was using his cell phone's camera. They told their story to Harry Hairston and the NBC 10 Investigators.

"I was humiliated. I was embarrassed, you know," Cruz said.

Cruz, 21, told the NBC 10 Investigators that police arrested him last Wednesday for taking a picture of police activity with his cell phone.

Police at the 35th district said they were in Cruz's neighborhood that night arresting a drug dealer.

Cruz said that when he heard a commotion, he walked out of his back door with his cell phone to see what was happening. He said that when he saw the street lined with police cars, he decided to take a picture of the scene.

"I opened (the phone) and took a shot," Cruz said.

Moments later, Cruz said he got the shock of his life when an officer came to his back yard gate.

"He opened the gate and took me by my right hand," Cruz said.

Cruz said the officer threw him onto a police car, cuffed him and took him to jail.

A neighbor said she witnessed the incident and could not believe what she saw.

"He opened up the gate and Neffy was coming down and he went up to Neffy, pulled him down, had Neffy on the car and was telling him, 'You should have just went in the house and minded your own business instead of trying to take pictures off your picture phone,'" said Gerrell Martin.

Cruz said police told him that he broke a new law that prohibits people from taking pictures of police with cell phones.

"They threatened to charge me with conspiracy, impeding an investigation, obstruction of a investigation. … They said, 'You were impeding this investigation.' (I asked,) "By doing what?' (The officer said,) 'By taking a picture of the police officers with a camera phone,'" Cruz said.

Cruz's parents, who got him out of jail, said police told them the same thing.

"He said he was taking pictures with his cell phone and that was obstructing an investigation," said Aracelis Cruz, Neftaly Cruz's mother.

The NBC 10 Investigators asked the ACLU union how they viewed the incident.

"There is no law that prevents people from taking pictures of what anybody can see on the street," said Larry Frankel of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I think it's rather scary that in this country you could actually be taken down to police headquarters for taking a picture on your cell phone of activities that are clearly visible on the street."

Frankel said Cruz's civil rights might have been violated.

"He was unlawfully seized, which is a violation of the 4th amendment the last time we checked," Frankel said.

Cruz, a Penn State University senior, said that after about an hour police told him he was lucky because there was no supervisor on duty, so they released him.

"They said if the supervisor was there I wouldn't be a free man and that he is letting me go because he felt that I was a good person," Cruz said.

Police told Hairston that they did take Cruz into to custody, but they said Cruz was not on his property when they arrested him. Police also denied that they told Cruze he was breaking the law with his cell phone. Cruz's famly said it has filed a formal complaint with the police department's Internal Affairs division and are requesting a complete investigation.

Read More......

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

NAFTA Superhighway RFID Card For US Citizens

Trusted traveler toll road system means government will decide if, where you travel

Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet.com July 26 2006

US citizens will be forced to adopt a de-facto national identification card and have their freedom of mobility defined by behavioural fielty to the government under proposals set to derive from NAFTA superhighway toll road systems and the implementation of the American Union.

Existing toll road systems operational at US borders such as SENTRI/NEXUS and the FAST program mandate that passing vehicles are enrolled in RFID passive tracking and identification programs linked to central databases.

The open plan to merge the US with Mexico and Canada and create a Pan American Union networked by a NAFTA Super Highway has long been a Globalist brainchild but its very real and prescient implementation on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations has recently come under bright spotlight.

According to author Jerome Corsi,

"Across the NAFTA Super-Highways will flow millions more Mexicans, now armed with North American border passes and biometric identification, as defined by the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America working groups organized within the Department of Commerce."

Similar toll systems snaking their way from the southern and northern borders cutting through major American cities will force American citizens to submit to having RFID enabled identification cards which contain an ever-increasing array of information about their personal lives.

Illegal aliens with cloned RFID transponders will enjoy streamlined access to the US while Americans labor under the financial burden of tolls that go directly to foreign corporations and restrictions that take the right of free travel out of their hands.

To even be allowed to use major roads and highways, US citizens will be subject to a criminal background check and the government will have the ability to pinpoint their particular RFID signal and remotely block it from central computer mainframes - effectively abolishing freedom of mobility in America.

Political dissidents attending protests or hurricane victims attempting to flee could find their journeys cut short at the whim of beaureacrats under the guise of 'protecting national security'.

A May 2006 Homeland Security audit predicts that increasing amounts of traveller's personal information will be stored on central computer databases and readable via passive RFID tracking. It forecasts an expansion of the 'trusted traveler' system being introduced in airports to all major roads and highways.

The Bush administration has embraked on a policy of selling off key US infrastructure to the highest bidder - in most cases foreign owned corporations. The Indiana Toll Road, Virginia's Pocahontas Parkway, a Texas toll road from Austin to Sequin and The Chicago Skyway have all been siphoned off to foreign companies who will all enjoy billions in profits from American citizens forced to pay the tolls.

The New Jersey Turnpike and the Ohio Turnpike are also under the hammer with foreign interests at the forefront of the negotiations.

The framework on which the American Union is being pegged is the NAFTA Super Highway (pictured) , a four football-fields-wide leviathan that stretches from southern Mexico through the US up to Montreal Canada.

An earlier Corsi article cites government websites which carry full planning details of the Super Highway and its construction has already begun in Texas with no congressional oversight whatsoever. The Trans-Texas Corridor is being overseen by The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the contract is owned by the Cintra corporation which in turn is owned by the King of Spain Juan Carlos. The project is being financed by the implementation of a toll that will be collected by means of GPS tracking devices installed in all vehicles and also envelops many connecting roads to the highway.

The NAFTA Super Highway will allow vehicles, people and goods to travel from Mexico, into the heart of America and up to Canada with little impediment, effectively erasing America's borders wholesale.

Coupled with Bush's blanket amnesty program, the Pan American Union and the NAFTA Superhighway are the final hammer blows for the wholesale dismantling of American sovereignty.

Read More......

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Video shows Ghraib-like torture by sheriffs lead to man's death, say groups, family

Jennifer Van Bergen
Published: Tuesday July 25, 2006

On Feb. 6, 2006, Jessie Lee Williams, Jr., a 40-year-old black man in a Southern Mississippi jail, was allegedly hooded and hog-tied by police, beaten about the head and testicles and ultimately died from blunt injuries to the head.

The coroner determined the death was a homicide. The local sheriff indicated law enforcement agencies were investigating and that the individual targeted by the investigation is “no longer employed by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.”

Despite the fact that the beating was videotaped, no arrests have been made.

Williams’ family has filed a $150 million civil suit for damages. Last Friday, the sheriff’s attorney in the Williams case asked the court to halt the civil proceedings until the criminal investigation is complete in order to avoid self-incrimination.

The complaint documents numerous previous incidents of abuse in the Harrison County jail booking room where Williams died, including beatings, hooding, use of a restraint chair – called “the torture chair” or “the devil’s chair” by inmates – and a technique similar to water-boarding where a sheet was wrapped tightly around the head of a man in the restraint chair and water was poured into the breathing hole.

In April, US Attorney Dunn Lampton told reporters, “We’re moving at a good speed.” Lampton told Harrison County Sheriff George Payne not to discuss the investigation with anyone and Payne has not returned RAW STORY’s calls.

Read More......

Does 'Separation of Church and State' really exist?

Warner Todd Huston
July 23, 2006

Secularists today have a catch phrase that they use like a club against religion in America. That club is named "The Separation of Church and State."

So many Americans have heard the phrase that they think it is one actually written right into the Constitution of the United States. Those who are more learned on the subject realize it is not. In fact, those who are learned on the subject know that it wasn't mentioned in any law, or even in the halls of Congress, until long after the Constitution was written. In fact, there was not much attention paid to the phrase at all until after Thomas Jefferson, the originator of the phrase, was long dead.

Not even the Supreme Court paid it much attention until the 1940s, so this "wall of separation" issue is not one that hails from the early Republic with the same meaning as it does today. Our Founders had very different ideas about religion and government, ideas that were not nearly as simple as the stark black or white assumptions of the activists of today.

The Danbury Letter

The man who initially wrote the phrase, Thomas Jefferson, wrote it in an 1802 letter to a congregation of Baptist churchmen from Danbury, Connecticut. Only elected president of the United States but two years preciously, (1800–1808) Jefferson was responding to a letter sent him by the Danbury church members who were attempting to get his support for their struggle against the state's somewhat oppressive religious requirements for certain rights in that state — not an unusual practice in the states at that time. While Jefferson's letter only obliquely addressed the Baptist's concerns, more importantly it addressed the Federal position on establishing a national religion because Jefferson's reply was focused on the Federal issue, not that of the states.

In his short letter, Jefferson said, "... I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, ..."
(See full text HERE)

Jefferson used the words "act of the whole American people" and "supreme will of the nation" for a very specific reason. While he obliquely seemed to be supportive of the Baptist's plight, he did not give them direct support for overturning Connecticut's state laws just on his say-so. Jefferson restricted his response to the Federal (or National) position, distancing himself from being seen to talk badly about the state's laws. After all, as president of the United States, Jefferson had no power to alter a state's Constitution. Worse, should a letter he had written attacking a state's Constitution on an issue that was commonly extent in most of the Union become public, it could lead to a messy backlash that Jefferson did not need after the tumultuous and vicious presidential campaign of 1800.

Lastly, it should be remembered that Jefferson already had an unsavory reputation as an irreligious, heathen as the charge was leveled against him during the contentious 1800 campaign. Jefferson knew that every state in the Union (except Rhode Island) had a state sponsored religion since before the days of the Revolution, so by, relegating himself to the settled national issue, he could not easily be accused of more atheist sentiments.

So, what does this mean to the issue of "separation of church and state" for today's argument? It means that Jefferson's letter should not be used by anti-religionists to support their position. Jefferson was clearly saying that religious issues were in the various state's area of influence and control, not his as leader of the Federal Union. Unfortunately, today's anti-religionists who wish to eliminate religion in the states as well as the Federal Union illegitimately use Jefferson's words in their cause misconstruing Jefferson to say that all religion should be eliminated from government.

A true reading of Jefferson's letter would tend to undermine the secularists who imagine that Jefferson was saying in the Danbury letter that all government should be separated from religion because he made no effort to say that the states should emulate the Federal government's separation. After all, an "act of the whole American people" refers to those acts made concerning rules for the Federal Union, not those of the individual states.

In summation, Jefferson was addressing the separation of powers as much as he was of that of the Federal government and religion.

Jefferson's Danbury letter, of course, was just one man's opinion and, to be sure, it was one made more to get someone off his back with a short address than one of any detailed discussion of the issue. But he was far from the only Founder to have considered the issue of religion, society, and the state.

Other Founders

Their own personal religious practices aside, the Founders had an intense desire to see religion observed by the people, but where the Founder's brilliance lay was in an insistence for freedom of religious expression, not in a squelching of same. James Madison, who addressed that subject many times, wrote that, "Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect."

Of course, Madison was quite explicit in his thoughts that government should not operate or directly run a religion, yet he was equally as insistent that religious observance was a very important aspect of republicanism. To expect that the same man who would say such things would advocate a total elimination of public religion just doesn't logically follow.

The Founders were as worried about virtue in the people as they were for their liberty and freedom as it turns out. Here are just a few more quotes as grist for the mill for discussion.

Benjamin Rush

"I proceed...to enquire what mode of education we shall adopt so as to secure to the state all the advantages that are to be derived from the proper instruction of youth; and here I beg leave to remark, that the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."

George Washington

"Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

And one more from James Madison,

"The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it."

With these few quotes (and there are many, many others) we see that the Founders desired the people to be led by religion. And, to be sure, the religion they assumed would play a leading role were the various forms of Christianity as existing in the Union at the time. So, we can easily establish that the Founders weren't anti-religion, that they desired religions to be included in American life, and that Christianity served as a necessary foundation upon which to build a civil society.

But what did it all really mean for the Constitution? For a fuller discussion of the issue we can turn to Supreme Court Associate Justice Joseph Story's writings.

Associate Justice Joseph Story

Justice Story was born in 1779 and became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1811 after having previously been a distinguished politician from Massachusetts. He figured prominently later in the era of the John Marshall Court as the Supreme Court solidified its position as presumed final arbiter of Constitutionality of laws passed by Congress.

One of the things he is remembered for the most by posterity is his exposition on the Constitution. Story's "Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States" (3 vols., 1833) is still widely looked upon as the standard treatise on the subject of the Constitution of the United States. This treatment has been standard reading for law students, Constitutional historians, and students of civil government for 173 years and has served as a chief reference in some of the best schools for generations. There is no question that Story's work is considered authoritative and widely accepted.

It should be noted that Story's able commentaries on the Constitution were published in 1833 and were used as an authoritative textbook for study of the law and the Constitution all the way until our own times. As a measuring stick, it should be noted that the last of the Founders, James Madison, wouldn't pass away until 1836, three years after the publishing of Story's work. So, Story's era was still intimately connected to that of those who framed the Constitution. Story's commentaries were not viewed as revolutionary, or radical in any way.

1st Amendment to the Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To set the stage, we must first ascertain what Mr. Story and the Founders before him envisioned what the role of religion in society, as well as in government, should be? We must review more than their thoughts on the place of religion and the Constitution to get an informed idea of what the Founders desired. Should we concern ourselves solely with their thoughts on religion and the Federal Constitution we give ourselves an incomplete picture of their thoughts on the matter and this tends to horribly skew the debate in too simplistic a direction.

That in mind we find that Mr. Justice Story went on at great length about the place of religion in government arriving at a point far from saying religion had no right or place to intermingle with government.

In one of his first few paragraphs on the First Amendment and the religion clause therein, Story said, "Indeed, the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice."

This straight forward paragraph reveals that Story was hardly a man who imagined government and religion should be alienated one from the other! Story began with the basic assumption that the Christian religion was indispensable to a good society, echoing the thoughts of the Founders.

"...the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to him for all our actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues; — these never can be a matter of indifference in any well ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive, how any civilized society can well exist without them. And at all events, it is impossible for those, who believe in the truth of Christianity, as a divine revelation, to doubt, that it is the especial duty of government to foster, and encourage it among all the citizens and subjects. This is a point wholly distinct from that of the right of private judgment in matters of religion, and of the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one's conscience."

After setting this basic groundwork, Story went on a brief review of the history of religion in the colonies and young states as it directly affects the Constitution and the American system — turning to history as the authors of the Federalist Papers did in their own exposition on the Constitution.

In so doing, he observes that every state had a state sponsored religion.

"In fact, every American colony, from its foundation down to the revolution, with the exception of Rhode Island, (if, indeed, that state be an exception,) did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion; and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines. And this has continued to be the case in some of the states down to the present period, without the slightest suspicion, that it was against the principles of public law, or republican liberty."

This all led Story to the conclusion that Christianity was never imagined to be detrimental to the health of the state or Federal government.

"Probably at the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation."

Story was not insensible to religious oppression, of course, and his next several sections dealt with the religious oppressions of western history up to the time of the Founding of the country. Again, history was his guide.

With his historical investigations revealing the all too common religious oppressions by past governments concluded, Story assured his readers that the issue of religion belonged properly with the states where the people had the most ability to affect it — As did the Founders before him.

"Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions..."


In the final analysis, Story observed no stark separation of church and state, but a practice of delegating a regulation of religion that rested with the various states. There was no expectation by the Founders or any language placed in the Constitution whereby religion would be banished from the public sphere. So this mythical "Wall of separation" does not really exist but in the minds of later day anti-religionists.

The reality of the Founder's intent for the roles of government and religion were far more nuanced and complicated than modern religion banners pretend. Unfortunately, they are presenting an incorrect picture of history and Constitutional law that is damaging the system that the Founders created and materially altering our culture for the worse.

In closing, I'd like to quote one more Founder, Elias Boudinot, delegate from New Jersey to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1778, and 1781 to 1784. Then President of the Continental Congress, 1783.

"Our country should be preserved from the dreadful evil of becoming enemies to the religion of the Gospel, which I have no doubt, but would be the introduction of the dissolution of government and the bonds of civil society."

Religion was not something the Founders necessarily feared and wanted distanced from society and government, but one that must be closely held and carefully regulated for the health of both society and government.

Unfortunately, anti-religionists today forget that our nation was based on and intimately connected with, religious freedom. Not freedom from religion.

Read More......

Dragging death highlights black community's distrust of justice

Posted 7/22/2006 4:52 AM ET

The death of Anthony Graham — and what happened in the days after his murder — has roiled the black community.

Graham, a black man, was dragged seven city blocks by a car driven by a white man. The car then struck a brick wall and Graham's head hit a utility pole, killing him.

The driver, Thomas Sewastynowicz, fled the scene but turned himself in the next day. He was permitted to stay out of jail while awaiting trial — even though he was charged with murder.

Sewastynowicz's release has underscored a perception that Jefferson County's judicial system doesn't always give blacks a fair shake, and findings from a recent report appear to support some of the complaints.

A local commission investigating racial bias in the court system issued a report that said blacks make up a larger portion of the county's jail population than whites, even though more whites are booked into the jail.

Community activists say mistrust of the city's justice system has festered since the fatal shooting of a young black man by a white detective here two years ago.

Prosecutors say Sewastynowicz, 49, is out of jail partly because his attorneys "were successful in improperly getting the facts out there before the community and in giving the impression that Mr. Sewastynowicz was an innocent victim."

But local black activists say Sewastynowicz still should not be out of jail with a pending murder charge.

"I think he should be in jail right now with a big million-dollar bond on him or something to keep him stationary," said Graham's father, Dr. Toney Graham, a family physician in Lake City, S.C. "I'll bet you if it would've been my son, it would have been a million dollars on him."

He has traveled to Louisville for all of Sewastynowicz's court proceedings.

The commission report investigating bias found that black males spent an average of a week longer in jail after they were booked, according to data taken from the county's correctional facilities during the 2004-2005 fiscal year.

The study took a sample of offenders arrested on cocaine possession in Jefferson County from 1999 to 2002 and found that black offenders were incarcerated in 31.6% of cases, compared with 18.4% for non-black offenders.

The 2004 fatal shooting of 19-year-old Michael Newby by officer MacKenzie Mattingly during a botched drug bust brought simmering racial tensions in the community to a head.

Newby, who was black, was shot three times in the back, and Mattingly, who is white, was later fired from the department. A jury cleared him of all criminal charges, causing an outcry in the black community.

Newby was the seventh black man killed by police in five years in Louisville, a city of nearly 700,000, where blacks make up about 20% of the population and 13% of the police force.

"You have never seen that level of unrest, you never seen that kind of level of anger, recently," said Christopher 2X, a local activist.

Denise Clayton, a Circuit Court judge in Jefferson County and a member of the commission, said the survey may appear to uncover racial bias, but that is actually not a factor in the disparities.

Clayton, who is black, said the study found that white defendants are more likely to make bail partly because they tend to have more financial resources.

"I don't think the judges and trial commissioners are setting bond with race in mind," Clayton said. "But I certainly think there still is a distrust of the system by African Americans, and certainly this kind of result could make individuals question whether or not they're given a fair shake or opportunity once they're here on the issue of bail."

The commission is currently examining the racial makeup of juries. Civil rights activists have complained there are too few blacks on juries and too many all-white juries.

Sewastynowicz, who declined to be interviewed, told police he had stopped to ask for directions on March 31 when he encountered Graham near downtown Louisville. He told police Graham reached inside his Nissan sedan, and Sewastynowicz drove away, according to a police report. Graham held on and was dragged for seven blocks.

But Graham's wallet was found inside Sewastynowicz's car, and Graham was not armed, according to court records filed by prosecutors.

Sewastynowicz's attorney, Don Major, said his client was freed from jail because he has cooperated with authorities and had "no history of violence whatsoever."

Read More......

PRIVATIZING THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS: The Next Tool Rob Americans of Jobs & Wealth


Infowars.com June 29, 2006
By Bob Dacy

On July 29, 2005, President Bush signed a bill which permits and promotes the charging of tolls on existing and planned interstate highways, bridges, and tunnels. Before the passage of the bill, known as SAFETEA-LU, or “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users”, it was generally illegal to charge tolls on roads built with Federal funds. What’s more, the tolls collected will be automatic, requiring universally compatible toll transponder tags on every vehicle.

SAFETEA-LU makes possible a variety of programs, all aimed at forcing Americans to pay to travel. To wit:

* “Interstate System Reconstruction & Rehabilitation Pilot Program” allows the tolling of existing interstate highways, bridges, and tunnels to fund repair of existing highways.

* “Interstate System Construction Toll Pilot Program” authorizes tolling existing facilities on the interstate system to fund new interstate highways.

* “Value Pricing Pilot (VPP) Program” allows new tolls on existing toll free facilities such as high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, tolls on new lanes added to existing highways, and electronically collected variable tolls on existing and new toll facilities.

* “Express Lanes Demonstration Program” allows tolling to finance new lanes. Automatic toll collection is REQUIRED and revenue collected may be used to provide a reasonable rate of return on PRIVATE financing, operation, and maintenance costs.

* “High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Facilities, SAFETEA-LU Section 1121 (23 USC 166)” authorizes states to build high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on interstate and non-interstate facilities.

Although most of these programs are experimental, the mindset they demonstrate and the precedents they intend to set will have devastating consequences on all Americans. The mindset is that Americans are lab rats in a maze, who must be tagged and tracked everywhere they go. Cockroaches control the maze. The consequences to the heretofore taken for granted freedom to travel and to individual pocketbooks are ominous.

Imagine for a moment what must have been going through the minds of the six-legged elites when they thought up this diabolical scheme. The question is “How do you destroy the national sovereignty of the United States, merge it with the rest of the western hemisphere, build the infrastructure system needed to link up the entire landmass, confiscate private property on a wholesale level, spy on everyone’s comings and goings, and trick American suckers into paying for their own demise all in one fell swoop ? The answer: TOLL EVERYTHING!

As with any diabolical plot, many problems and obstacles had to be removed in order to insure success. As the Wicked Witch of the West once said, “The question is `how to do it`. These things must be done delicately, or you’ll hurt the spell”.

The first obstacle is that it is generally illegal to toll federally funded roads. No problem…just sneak section 1604 into a telephone book sized highway bill and no one will notice. Everyone knows Congressmen and Senators do not actually read the bills they vote on.

How do you get the super rich elites to go along with the plan? Simple…give them a piece of the action. Construction contracts will go to selected insiders and toll facilities will be given to private investors. We will call it “public-private partnership”.

But wait! State by state, the local politicians must be persuaded to pass legislation to further the scheme. How to do it? Tell the contractors to write the necessary legislation, line the campaign coffers of key legislators, convince the Governor of each state that it was his idea via more campaign contributions, and sneak the bills through the state legislatures when nobody is looking. After all, state representatives do not read the bills they vote on either.

Yet another requirement in order to pull this off is to keep the unwashed masses in the dark It would not do to have the sheep to find out they are about to be shorn. So how do you keep the press quiet? No problem…we control the press! The watchdog will remain asleep, and no one will find out until it is a done deal. Besides, when the cretins begin to realize what is going on, they will complain to their local transportation officials and wonder why no one is listening. Just don’t let the slaves know that the “massa” barking the orders resides in New York City at the headquarters of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

But the Constitution stands in the way of the plot. What to do about the pesky supreme law of the land which prohibits the taking of private land and handing it over to other private entities? How fortunate that the globalist infested Supreme Court, in June of 2005, legislated from the bench by re-writing the takings clause of the 5th Amendment in Kelo vs. City of New London. Now the Supremes say it is okay to force people to sell their land to private developers who promise a kickback to the government, we are free to proceed with the tolling of America.

Still one more problem must be overcome. We must propagandize transportation officials into believing this is a great idea so they can sell it to private investors and politicos nationwide. ADVERTISING is the key. We will get the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to put up a website called www.innovativefinance.org. It will be a veritable “how to” encyclopedia of fascism, but we will call it “public-private partnership” because “fascism” does not roll so well off of the tongue. Multi-millionaire highway contractors and local politicians will be able to swill at the federal trough to their hearts content. It will be a win-win setup for everyone except regular Americans, who are just being set up.

This malicious plan is being implemented all across America. Such plots survive and thrive only in the dark. It is time to turn on the lights and watch the cockroaches run. In Texas, pro-toll politicians have been replaced with anti-toll newcomers. This trend must continue, and spread like a wildfire of truth throughout the country. The alarm clock is ringing. Wake up. Get up. Open your eyes. Get out the roach spray. Fumigate your house. Go wake up your neighbors.

Read More......

"The Man" is at it Again: These are the Type of Things that Fascist Governments Do ...

I.R.S. to Cut Tax Auditors of the Rich
July 23, 2006

The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.

The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency’s 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them.

The Bush administration has passed measures that reduce the number of Americans who are subject to the estate tax — which opponents refer to as the “death tax” — but has failed in its efforts to eliminate the tax entirely. Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview Friday that he had ordered the staff cuts because far fewer people were obliged to pay estate taxes under President Bush’s legislation.

But six I.R.S. estate tax lawyers whose jobs are likely to be eliminated said in interviews that the cuts were just the latest moves behind the scenes at the I.R.S. to shield people with political connections and complex tax-avoidance devices from thorough audits.

Sharyn Phillips, a veteran I.R.S. estate tax lawyer in Manhattan, called the cuts a “back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax.”

Mr. Brown dismissed as preposterous any suggestion that the I.R.S. was soft on rich tax cheats. He said that the money saved by eliminating the estate tax lawyers would be used to hire revenue agents to audit income tax returns, especially those from people making over $1 million.

Mr. Brown said that civil service rules barred the estate tax lawyers from moving over to audit income taxes. An I.R.S. spokesman said that the agency had asked for permission to allow such transfers twice, but that the Office of Personnel Management had not responded.

Estate tax lawyers are the most productive tax law enforcement personnel at the I.R.S., according to Mr. Brown. For each hour they work, they find an average of $2,200 of taxes that people owe the government.

Mr. Brown said that careful analysis showed that the I.R.S. was auditing enough returns to catch cheats and that 10 percent of the estate audits brought in 80 percent of the additional taxes. He said that auditing a greater percentage of gift and estate tax returns would not be worthwhile because “the next case is not a lucrative case” and likely to be of relatively little value.

That is a change from six years ago, when the I.R.S. said that 85 percent of large taxable gifts it audited shortchanged the government. The I.R.S. said then that it would hire three more lawyers just to audit taxable gifts of $1 million or more.

Over the last five years, officials at both the I.R.S. and the Treasury have told Congress that cheating among the highest-income Americans is a major and growing problem.

The six I.R.S. tax lawyers, some of whom were willing to be named, all said that clear evidence of fraud was pursued vigorously by the agency, but that when audits showed the use of complicated schemes to understate the value of assets, the I.R.S. had become increasingly reluctant to pursue cases.

The lawyers said that the risk analysis system the I.R.S. used to evaluate whether to pursue such cases gave higher-level officials cover to not pursue tax cheats and, in the process, emboldened the most aggressive tax advisers to prepare gift and estate tax returns that shortchanged the government.

“This is not a game the poor will win, but the rich will,” said John Hruska, another I.R.S. estate tax lawyer in New York who, like Ms. Phillips, is active in the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents I.R.S. workers.

Colleen M. Kelley, the national union president, said: “If these lawyers are not there to audit the gift and estate tax returns, then a lot of taxes that should be paid will go uncollected, and that impacts every taxpayer who is paying their fair share.”

Read More......

Monday, July 24, 2006

Now Students...Later Everyone. We Must Stop This Now!!!!

School to randomly test student drivers for drugs
Associated Press July 20, 2006

"The school has no business interfering with our role as parents and forcing kids to prove their innocence."

Urinalysis reveals not only the presence of illegal drugs, but also the existence of many other physical and medical conditions, including genetic predisposition to disease - or pregnancy.

ABILENE, Texas - Students who drive themselves to school this year will be subject to random drug tests, De Leon High School officials said.

The school board decided to expand former drug testing regulations to include students who park on school property and those who participate in all extracurricular activities. Athletes, beginning in seventh grade, were already being tested, the Abilene Reporter-News reported.

"Our goal is to include as many students as possible into our drug-testing program," said Randy Mohundro, superintendent of De Leon schools.

Students must agree to the program when they register this fall and obtain their parking permit, officials said. Marijuana, cocaine, barbiturates and methamphetamine can be detected by the test.

Students testing positive would not be turned over to police but instead would be required to undergo counseling. They would temporarily be banned from school activities and driving to the campus.

Mohundro said officials already had the right to search student vehicles and were simply expanding that policy.

"Bringing a car to school is a privilege, not a right," he said.

Merkel superintendent Bill Hood said his district had not instituted such tests but was interested in the idea to promote safety.

"If you're going to let them drive a car around the campus, you would want them to be drug free," he said.

But other schools have shied away from random drug testing to ensure that students' rights are not violated. The Supreme Court has upheld such testing only for extracurricular activities.

De Leon is about 80 miles southeast of Abilene.

Read More......

Am I My Brtoha's Keeper? Not in Vegas

Vegas Makes It A Crime To Feed Homeless People

WXII2 | July 21, 2006

LAS VEGAS -- A battle is brewing over a new Las Vegas ordinance that bans providing food or meals to the indigent at city parks.

The Las Vegas City Council unanimously passed a law, which went into effect Thursday, making it a crime to feed the homeless at city parks. It carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 and six months in jail.

The law bans giving away or selling food to anyone who could get assistance from official sources under state law, and officials said city marshals will get specialized training to enforce it.

The city’s mayor, Oscar Goodman, dismissed questions about how marshals will identify the homeless so that they can enforce the ordinance.

"Certain truths are self-evident," Goodman said. "You know who's homeless."

Marshals recently began arresting the homeless in parks under a campaign to force people who are unable or unwilling to care for themselves to get mental help.

City officials call the measure an attempt to stop so-called "mobile soup kitchens" from attracting the homeless to parks.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada calls it unconstitutional, unenforceable and the latest attempt by the city to hide and harass the homeless instead of constructively addressing their plight.

"So the only people who get to eat are those who have enough money? Those who get (government) assistance can't eat at your picnic?" asked ACLU attorney Allen Lichtenstein, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I've heard of some rather strange and extreme measures from other cities. I've never heard of something like this. It's mind-boggling."

One advocate for the homeless said she will continue to feed the homeless, despite being cited twice already.

"I'm going to do whatever I think is necessary to keep people alive," Gail Sacco told the paper.

She said her previous citations came while she was feeding the homeless for holding a gathering of 25 or more people without a permit.

Read More......

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Da Man is Getting Away With More Crimes: No Suprise to some of Us

Lack of charges no surprise to alleged torture victims

July 20, 2006


Thirty-three years later, the bare wires twisted into his leg irons, the little black box and the sickening grinding sound of the hand crank are all distinct in Anthony Holmes' mind.

And in his nightmares, Holmes sees burly Jon Burge, with wavy slicked-back hair, grinning as the infamous Chicago Police commander administers the electric shocks. "It felt like a thousand needles all at one time," Holmes said Wednesday.

But as he learned that neither Burge nor any of his subordinates will face criminal charges after a four-year investigation, Holmes expressed no surprise.

"You think they are going to charge Burge with something and let him pull everyone else down?" Holmes said. He was convicted of murder in 1974, he says, based on a false, tortured confession. "That's why they ain't gonna let it happen."

Holmes' reaction was typical of several alleged Burge victims and their families Wednesday.

'Didn't look for a remedy here'

"We understood what [Special Prosecutor Edward] Egan was going to do -- he was going to continue to keep stuff covered up," said David Bates, who says Burge tortured him in 1983. "We didn't look for a remedy here."

But Bates, addressing dozens of reporters at a downtown law office, appeared weary and frustrated. "I'm at a loss for words to look at this [expletive] report and to hear that torture existed but that there was no way we can deal with it," Bates said.

'If there's a hell, he's going'

Mary Johnson, 73, mother of alleged torture victim Michael Johnson, also appeared with Bates at a press conference that included representatives from the MacArthur Justice Center and the People's Law Office. Johnson said she suspects the reason she and other victims' families continue to be denied justice is because "people just don't care."

"Guess what? My son is black. Guess what? His mother is poor. We are the minority," she said.

Johnson said she has no idea if Burge might one day end up behind bars. "But I know that if there's a hell, he's going."

In the meantime, Holmes said his nightmares will continue.

"They are hell," said Holmes, who lives in Joliet. "It's like falling out of a plane and knowing you are gonna hit the ground and knowing you can't stop it. It's like being in a dark place with no way out."

Read More......

Proof that Cops torture suspects: Like Brotha's Have Been Saying for a Long Time

By Carlos Sadovi and Bob Secter
Tribune staff reporters
Published July 19, 2006, 11:00 PM CDT

Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge led the torture of criminal suspects for two decades, coercing dozens of confessions with fists, kicks, radiator burns, guns to the mouth, bags over the head and electric shock to the genitals, special prosecutors charged Wednesday.

Concluding a four-year probe, the prosecutors painted a portrait of a criminal justice system where top officials in a position to stop Burge—among them Mayor Richard Daley, when he served as Cook County state's attorney—appeared blind to the abuse.

But, the prosecutors concluded, it's too late to pursue charges against Burge or any of the other officers. Statutes of limitations have long since run out on the cases, which they said stretched from the 1970s through the 1980s.The prosecutors singled out for criticism former Chicago Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek, who served under Mayor Jane Byrne.

Brzeczek was guilty of "dereliction of duty," failing to act in the early 1980s on suspicions that Burge and detectives under his command had mistreated prisoners. Brzeczek publicly praised the detectives while privately harboring suspicions about their activities, the prosecutors alleged. His inaction, they added, allowed the torture of criminal suspects to continue for years.

"There are cases which we believe would justify our seeking indictments for mistreatment of prisoners by Chicago police officers," said the prosecutors, Edward Egan and Robert Boyle.

Their conclusions could find their way into civil lawsuits that former Death Row inmates have filed against Burge and the city. Officials at the state appellate defender's office said they will study the report for evidence of additional wrongful convictions that might be appealed.

Meanwhile, the office of U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald requested a copy of the 290-page report. The Justice Department during the Clinton administration had looked into torture allegations against Burge and determined they were too old to prosecute.

It is not clear what Fitzgerald can do with the new information, but civil rights attorneys said it could provide a road map for prosecutors to investigate possible civil rights violations by Burge and others, including high-ranking officials who may have looked the other way.

At the same time, however, the special prosecutors said their investigation raised doubts about torture claims leveled by a handful of former Death Row inmates pardoned by former Gov. George Ryan, who said their confessions had been coerced by Burge.

The special prosecutors said they did not believe Leroy Orange had been tortured and were suspicious of the claims of Madison Hobley, Stanley Howard and, to a lesser degree, Aaron Patterson.

Burge was fired by the Chicago Police Board in 1993 for allegedly torturing a murder suspect. He lives in Florida and still receives a monthly city pension of more than $3,400.

Burge has consistently denied torture allegations. His lawyer, Richard T. Sikes Jr., said Wednesday that Burge "stands on that" claim, and pointed to the report's skepticism about some torture claims as partial validation.

The city has spent at least $7 million so far defending itself in lawsuits arising from torture allegations tied to Burge, who invoked his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination when called to testify before a grand jury. The special prosecutor investigation cost nearly $6.2 million.

"Anyone who thinks it necessary to solve crime by abusing people to get confessions from them is a disgrace," Boyle said.

Egan, a former judge and prosecutor, and Boyle, also a former prosecutor, were appointed in 2002 by Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel Jr. to investigate long-standing allegations against Burge. Egan and Boyle said they launched detailed investigations into 148 cases, almost all involving minority suspects, and determined about half were credible.

Egan and Boyle said the evidence of abuse in at least three of the cases was so strong they were convinced they could prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt if they could prosecute.

The most high-profile of those cases involved Andrew Wilson, arrested along with his brother in 1982 for the murders of two Chicago policemen. The special prosecutors said a confession was beaten out of Wilson, allegedly by Burge and his men, and was later used to convict him.

The conviction and death sentence were overturned, but he was convicted at a retrial and is serving a life sentence. His lawyers now acknowledge his guilt, the report said.

Despite his second conviction, Wilson sued Burge and others, claiming that while in custody he was kicked, slapped and punched, burned in the arm with a cigarette and had a plastic bag put over his head. Wilson said Burge, who was then commander of the Area 2 violent crimes unit on the South Side, applied electronic shocking devices to his ear, fingers and genitals and pressed him against a hot radiator, causing burns. Burge also put a gun inside the suspect's mouth and clicked it, Wilson claimed.

Burge has denied the allegations in court testimony.

A Cook County jail doctor who later examined Wilson sent a letter to Brzeczek indicating Wilson had been beaten and tortured. Attaching a copy of the doctor's note, Brzeczek then wrote Daley seeking guidance about how to proceed. Despite regular contact with Daley's office, Brzeczek posted this letter in the U.S. mail.

"If Supt. Brzeczek had done his duty to investigate the Andrew Wilson case, we would not be here today," Egan said. "The superintendent did not conduct a meaningful examination [of the allegations] in that letter and he tried to palm it off on somebody else."

By focusing criticism on him, Brzeczek said the special prosecutors have dodged fully explaining the responsibility that Daley may have borne, as well as the conduct of Burge's more immediate supervisors.

Responsibility for dealing with the allegations ended up with William Kunkle, then chief deputy state's attorney and the prosecutor assigned to the Wilson case, who took no action against Burge.

The report criticized Kunkle, now a Cook County judge, for his shifting explanations for burn marks on Wilson. The special prosecutors called the burn marks the most important physical corroboration of Wilson's torture account.

Kunkle tried to convince special prosecutors that officers who transported Wilson after his questioning inflicted the burns. The report scoffs at that possibility, in part because the so-called wagon men were never questioned about Wilson or charged with abusing him.

State's Atty. Richard Devine, who was Daley's first assistant prosecutor in the early 1980s, said claims of systemic abuse at Area 2 had not "crystallized" at that time and it was not unexpected that defendants in a high-profile murder case would later claim their confessions had been coerced.

"We cannot undo the past," he said. "We can only commit ourselves to doing all in our power to prevent such abuses from happening in the future."

Ald. Ed Smith (28th) chairman of the City Council's black caucus, said he found it "absolutely disgusting" that Burge may emerge free of prosecution.

"That was one of the things that people talked about early on, that they were dragging the process to allow this to happen because they knew he was guilty," Smith said. "There might be some credibility to that."

Read More......

The Real Ghetto Tax: One of the Ways the Rich Steal from the Poor

July 19, 2006
Study Documents ‘Ghetto Tax’ Being Paid by the Urban Poor
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON, July 18 — Drivers from low-income neighborhoods of New York, Hartford and Baltimore, insuring identical cars and with the same driving records as those from middle-class neighborhoods, paid $400 more on average for a year’s insurance.

The poor are also the main customers for appliances and furniture at “rent to own” stores, where payments are stretched out at very high interest rates; in Wisconsin, a $200 television can end up costing $700.

Those were just two examples among several cited in a report Tuesday showing that poor urban residents frequently pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year in extra costs for everyday necessities. The study said some of the disparities were due to real differences in the cost of doing business in poor areas, some to predatory financial practices and some to consumer ignorance.

The study, from the Brookings Institution, said finding ways to eliminate these added costs, often called a “ghetto tax,” could be an important new front in the fight against poverty.

At a meeting connected with the report’s release, officials from three states — New York, Pennsylvania and Washington — said they were already doing just that through a variety of programs to draw banks to poor neighborhoods, help finance the construction of supermarkets and encourage innovative insurance schemes.

“There’s a large and for the most part overlooked opportunity here to help low-income families get ahead,” Matt Fellowes, the Brookings researcher who wrote the report, said in an interview. “That is to reduce their costs.”

Measures that reduced the price of essential goods and services for low-income Americans by just 1 percent would put an additional $6.5 billion a year in their hands, said the report, titled “From Poverty, Opportunity.”

Sheldon H. Danziger, a poverty expert at the University of Michigan, noted that $6.5 billion was roughly one-third the benefit the same families have gained through the earned-income tax credit. “Certainly these measures could be an important source of income,” Professor Danziger said of the report’s findings. “But I don’t see them as competing with things like raising the minimum wage, raising child subsidies and providing health insurance.”

Citing other examples of the ghetto tax, the report found that nationally, 4.5 million low-income customers, defined as families making less than $30,000 a year, paid an average of two percentage points more for car loans than did middle-class buyers. And the common use of storefront check-cashing services by poor people, it said, comes at a steep price that varies with local regulations; in 12 cities studied, the fee for cashing a $500 check ranged from $5 to $50.

Part of the problem, the study found, is a discrepancy between the poor and the middle class in consumer skills and mobility: people who comparison-shop, especially on the Internet, tend to pay hundreds less for the identical car than those who walk onto a city lot and buy.

But the disparities can be reduced, the report said, not only by consumer education but also by some combination of incentives to lure banks and stores into poor neighborhoods and tighter regulation on things like the fees of storefront lenders.

The New York State Banking Department has drawn major banks into underserved neighborhoods by placing deposits of government money, sometimes at below-market interest, in the new branches. These may enable more residents to open accounts and reduce reliance on costly check-cashers and lenders, said the state’s superintendent of banks, Diana L. Taylor.

In Pennsylvania, a program led by a Democratic state legislator, Dwight Evans, used state and private financing for construction of supermarkets in areas where residents had previously had to rely on costly small stores or drive long distances for groceries.

Washington State’s insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, described efforts to restrict the use of personal credit scores by sellers of home and car insurance.

In a practice that has recently come into wide use in the industry, insurers study credit history to help judge the likelihood that a customer will file insurance claims; those with worse credit records are charged higher premiums, because, insurers say, the industry has found a correlation between poor ratings and the filing of claims.

Read More......

Monday, July 17, 2006

Medicare Doughnut Hole: Gov. says "Here's Some Help for Your Drugs...Syke"

4/27/2006, 12:07 a.m. PT
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mildred Lindley is stuck in a hole, the doughnut hole — "right in the middle of it," she says — that comes with Medicare's new prescription drug benefit.

Just four months into the program, Lindley has hit the point in her coverage where she has to pick up, at least for a few months, the full cost of the medication she takes to keep her bone marrow cancer in remission. As a result, her two-month supply of Thalomid shot up from $40 to a whopping $1,300.

"If I can't get it, I guess I'm here until the Lord takes me out. That's all I can do, because there's no way I can afford it," said Lindley, an 80-year-old from Jonesboro, Ark.

"I'm in the hole all right."

Under the standard drug benefit, the government subsidizes the drug costs for seniors and the disabled. But after costs reach $2,250, the subsidy stops until a beneficiary has paid out $3,600 of his or her own money. Then, the government will start picking up 95 percent of each purchase.

OBM: "What Tha Hell is this"?

Congress designed the drug benefit to give people some help with their initial drug costs, plus help those who have massive expenses. The doughnut hole was designed to reduce the overall cost of the program and still allow the federal government to meet those two goals.

About 6.9 million Medicare beneficiaries will have to deal with a gap in their drug coverage at some point this year, according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research group.

Medicare officials point out that, even with the doughnut hole, millions of seniors are getting financial help that they never had before. They also stress that the poorest of beneficiaries will get extra help to cover their medications.

However, there are beneficiaries who are convinced they will be worse off, many of whom had relied on free medicine provided by the drug manufacturers. They were told by the manufacturers this year that the free supplies would stop now that they were eligible for Medicare coverage.

Victoria D'Angelo of Denver relied on the patient assistance programs for many of her prescription needs last year. She enrolled in a Medicare drug plan when told by one of those companies that such help would end Jan. 1.

Now, that she's hit the doughnut hole, she's charging some of her drugs to her credit card. She said she'll worry about the ramifications later since she cannot afford to skip taking her Seroquel, which is used to control bipolar disorder.

"Basically, I've been to hell and back on this," said D'Angelo, referring to her disease. "I'm just deathly afraid of getting sick again."

Shirley Rhodes of Gladwin, Mich., figures that while she and her husband, Samuel, are in the doughnut hole, they'll have about $49.67 a month to live on after covering their drug expenses.

For that reason, they will wait until the last possible day to enroll in a Medicare drug plan. In the meantime, she'll continue to ask the pharmaceutical companies to help her out, and she'll work with Social Security officials to figure out how the family might qualify for extra assistance through Medicare.

"If we don't qualify, we will be giving our house back to the mortgage company, and then we'll still owe for the second and third mortgage," Rhodes said.

Some beneficiaries pay higher monthly premiums to make the doughnut hole smaller or do away with it entirely. Also, the poorest beneficiaries don't have to worry about it at all.

Analysts say that most beneficiaries who hit the doughnut hole probably won't get there until the fall.

Mark McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, stresses that the beneficiaries may be able to avoid the doughnut hole entirely by switching to generic drugs or lower-cost brand names.

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, says that senior citizens taking five commonly prescribed drugs _for high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis pain and depression_ could save between $2,300 and $5,300 a year under various Part D plans by switching to lower-cost drugs.

Lawmakers are also pleading with drug manufacturers to continue with patient assistance programs that allowed many low-income people to get free medicine.

"We've got a situation where it looks like the May 15 date has become an excuse for dropping the assistance that many Medicare beneficiaries rely on, and that's not right," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Read More......

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Labour shortage leaves Florida's oranges to rot

Associated Press in Lakeland
Monday July 10, 2006
The Guardian

Millions of oranges will rot on the trees of Florida this year because a shortage of fruitpickers has been aggravated by fears about more stringent US immigration laws, local media reported yesterday.
"There's very little doubt we'll leave a significant amount of fruit on the tree," Mike Carlton, the director of production and labour affairs at Florida Citrus Mutual, told the newspaper The Ledger. "Whether that's 3m boxes or 6m boxes, nobody can say."

Growers have reported difficulty finding enough workers. Industry officials say labour problems got worse in the middle of May, when a large segment of the Hispanic labour force seemed to leave the state.
They said reports of an immigration crackdown made it difficult to find Hispanic workers, who make up much of Florida's farm workforce.

"Really, the labour shortage is what held us up this year," said Dave Crumbly, the vice-president of fruit control at Florida's Natural Growers in Lake Wales, the nation's third-largest citrus processor. He said word had spread through the Hispanic community that they should return home if they wanted jobs in the US in future. The workers were told they could get deported if they remained in the country, he said. But if they returned home, they would become eligible for a guest-worker programme that is part of the immigration reform bill.

"In reality, the current guest-worker programme bars anybody who has been in this country illegally," Mr Carlton said. There are still tens of millions of oranges on Florida's trees, according to the US department of agriculture, one of the highest totals on record, he added.

Read More......

Medicine as Murder: Unauthorized human testing

Related Articals
1. Loyola will test blood substitute without patients'consent

2. Researchers tested AIDS drugs on children

by Underground Panther in the Sky, Unknown News.com
July 10, 2006

One of the Nazis' flaws was that their death camps were out there for all to see, confirmed with a simple flyover. The trains of people were visible to every German. Who knows how long that state of denial could go on. Eventually it broke, and the dictators get dragged through the street.

Smart psychopaths don't want to lose the game, so the study how other psychopaths were busted. When the bodies piled up and the neighbors notice something stinks, then the jig is up. How does a smart psychopath get around that?

How would corporate psychopath Nazis hide the Death camps from the do-gooder human rights people, like Amnesty International, if it was happening all over again nowadays? Hide them in plain sight. Hide the prisoners inside jails, hospitals and nursing homes, foster care, private homes. Put the death camps where forgotten people or sick, hurt people are vulnerable and may die anyway. Just kill and call it a "clinical trial" done without consent.

It's much harder, after all, to see the killers, to count the bodies murdered, to reveal the methods, when you never know what killed them... And you will never know whom is guilty of a crime if a crime scene is a 'clinical trial,' declared private "proprietary information" and a company secret. Can't know squat if everything you need to know has been redacted from the 'study' results to protect corporate privacy. You'll never see a cattle car coming for you, when it looks like a hospital emergency room.

You might declare, 'Not in my body you don't', or 'Not with my life — don't test your poisons and potions on me. Oh, but you don't have a right to say no to your self serving testing now, do you? Especially when you're bleeding to death and unconscious. So your life and rights will be taken away, simply because they can be taken away.

Well, fuck you very much!

Fuck all these corporate sociopaths. We've got to do something before they go too far — oops, they already did — but nobody's looking.

It happens one by one. A mother dies from an untested drug to stop her heart from fibrillating, and she and her family had no clue she was a lab rat... A is kid shot on the street, taken to an ER, given fake blood and dies, and nobody knows he was given the fake blood. A homeless guy dies from a trial vaccine he got for the flu, but no-one had to ask his permission... A drug addict dies from an untested medicine and nobody notices... An old lady in a nursing home dies from an untested drug but who cares, who even knows? A foster kid dies from AIDS medicines, an orphan too, a retarded kid, and they won't be missed, I'm sure. Some mother's problem teen gets too big a dose of psych drugs, just to test how much a body can take before it implodes, and nobody knows why her kid died. Must have been stress. The company owns the results of the 'studies', the reasons for these deaths, and the company caused these deaths, but all the evidence remains in a corporate vault somewhere — evidence that is "proprietary information" now.

With these new laws violating consent, we will never see the horrors coming at us. If we keep trusting these corporate psychopaths — as if they see us as anything but a means to their own depraved ends, more profit, and a very sick utopian vision — they will impose their will, their tests, their death upon us whether we consent or not.

Drug companies can test experimental, unapproved, unsafe, deadly drugs on human beings without our consent now. And it's funny how particular hospitals and ambulance crews in poor black neighborhoods are in the scheme Testing PolyHeme is murder in plain sight, but it gets worse.

Click the articles in the sidebar, to the right. Pay special attention to FDA's new rules sidestep safety concerns, from the science journal Nature. And cross your fingers, and hope you're not selected for a 'study' without your own knowledge.
“The rules on testing in people will mostly benefit the large pharmaceutical companies, by allowing 'phase zero' or 'exploratory' trials. These are brief trials — of seven days or less — in which human subjects are given very low doses of experimental drugs before standard in vitro and animal testing is complete.”

Read More......


The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.

The myriad of facts, conjecture, perspectives, viewpoints, opinions, analyses, and information in the articles, stories and commentaries posted on this site range from cutting edge hard news and comment to extreme perspectives. I choose not to sweep uncomfortable material under the rug - where it can grow and fester. I choose not to censor uncomfortable logic. These things reflect the world as it now is - for better and worse. I present multiple facts, perspectives, viewpoints, opinions, analyses, and information.

Journalism should be the profession of gathering and presenting a broad panorama of news about the events of our times and presenting it to readers for their own consideration. I believe in the intelligence, judgment and wisdom of my readers to discern for themselves among the data which appears on this site that which is valid and worthy...or otherwise