Friday, September 29, 2006

Blacks Take Education Into Their Own Hands: Homeschooling Appeals to more African Americans

Leslie Fulbright, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, September 25, 2006
Suisun City parents Benjamin and Tanya Marshall are part of a new homeschooling movement led by African American families fed up with the public school system.

Nine years ago, the couple put their oldest son, Trevaughn, in kindergarten after discussing teaching him at home. When he had a substitute teacher several times in his first six weeks, they pulled him out.

"We felt like it wasn't the right environment, especially for an African American boy," said Tanya Marshall, 36. "The teachers were young and nervous. Black males were not being challenged and ending up in special ed."

Trevaughn, now 14, has been taught at home ever since. The couple also homeschools their two younger sons, 11 and 9, and their daughter, 12.

"We wanted to be the main and driving influence in our children's lives," said Benjamin Marshall, 37. "We didn't want them socialized with marijuana smokers and pregnant teens."

The Marshalls, who had both worked as teachers' aides, feared public school would contradict their Christian beliefs, and they wanted to avoid having their sons labeled as violent or hyperactive or seeing them pressured by peers to drink, do drugs and have sex.

A desire for more rigorous academics and greater emphasis on black history also has led black families into homeschooling, educators say.

Although homeschoolers often are stereotyped as white and evangelical Christians, in 2003 about 9 percent of homeschooled students were black, and 77 percent were white, compared with a total student population nationwide that was 16 percent black and 62 percent white. Homeschoolers numbered 1.1 million in 2003, compared with about 49.5 million students in public and private schools, according to the most recent federal statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.

The numbers of black and white homeschoolers rose about a third from 1999 to 2003 to encompass about 1.3 percent of U.S. black students and 2.7 percent of whites. Researchers say the number of black parents who are homeschooling their children may now be growing even faster.

More than half the students who are homeschooled come from families with three or more children, and more than one-quarter from families making less than $25,000 in 2003, when the nation's median family income was $56,500. More than half of homeschooled students came from families making between $25,000 and $75,000. Among black, white and Latino students, Latinos are least likely to be homeschooled, at less than 1 percent in 2003; no other ethnic groups are measured.

The growth among African Americans can be seen in the increasing number of networking groups, blogs and Internet sites directed at black homeschoolers -- and in who is showing up at conventions.

"There was a time when the conferences were all white," said Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute in Salem, Ore. "In the '90s, you saw a little more color, and by 2000, a substantial number of black families started showing up.

"In some cities, the majority of those attending conferences are African American."

Many say they left public schools because their children weren't expected to learn at an equal pace or being coached on getting into college, the schools were unsafe, or the curriculum lacked black history.

"Over the last couple of years, especially in places like D.C. and Cincinnati, there have been a growing number of black homeschooled students," said Michael Apple, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies the issue. "You will find more in areas where the black middle class can afford to do it."

Monica Utsey of Washington, D.C., said she decided to homeschool so she had as much say as possible in 6-year-old son Zion's life.

"I didn't want him put on the road to obesity, with junk food, or to be obsessed with commercialized clothing," Utsey said. "I also don't want my son to think that slavery was our only contribution. I want to give him a world view, a cultural perspective, and assure he understands his place and his heritage."

Many black homeschoolers worry that their children will be labeled in a public school. Black public school students are three times as likely as white students to be categorized as needing special education services, a 2002 study by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University found.

"My son is high-energy, and I didn't want him to end up on Ritalin or feel bad about himself," Utsey said. "There is an assumption that black boys are violent if they are too energetic."

Public schools have been a focus of the civil rights struggle, but many homeschooling parents said they are disillusioned with the system's failure to improve.

"Some educators and families think that because blacks fought so hard to get equal access, we shouldn't abandon it," said Jennifer James, a North Carolina mother who in 2003 started the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance, a 3,000-member, nonreligious group that provides information for homeschoolers. "But times have changed. It was a great step, but we have to think about our kids."

Parents say the most common concern about homeschooling -- that their kids will be socially isolated -- isn't a problem.

"My children know how to socialize, especially with adults," Benjamin Marshall said. "In the real world, my children are not always going to be surrounded by people their own age."

The Marshalls not only teach their children math, religion and vocabulary, but also take them on field trips to places like the Lawrence Hall of Science, the state Capitol, the San Francisco Symphony and the Museum of the African Diaspora.

"It is kind of rough in the beginning, but as time goes on, you learn," said Benjamin Marshall, who works as a dispatcher on the graveyard shift at the Valero refinery in Benicia and teaches his kids during the day.

The Marshalls also have started Seeds of Truth Academy in Suisun City, where parents interested in Christian-based homeschooling can bring their children on Tuesdays and Thursdays for counseling, sports and field trips.

Brianna Marshall, 12, said she likes homeschooling but thinks about other options.

"I think homeschooling is better than public school because there are no bullies and you don't have to listen to all the stuff your friends say," she said. "But I am curious about what school is like. I have never been inside a school, and sometimes I get tired of being at home."

Read More......

20 Damning Facts About Voting In The USA

By Angry Girl of Nightweed.com

Did you know....

1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S. http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html


2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry. http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0916-04.htm


3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.


4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."


5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.


6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.



7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.


8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.


9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.



10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.


11. Diebold is based in Ohio.

12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as consultants and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.


13. Jeff Dean was Senior Vice-President of Global Election Systems when it was bought by Diebold. Even though he had been convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree, Jeff Dean was retained as a consultant by Diebold and was largely responsible for programming the optical scanning software now used in most of the United States.


14. Diebold consultant Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.


15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.


16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here: http://www.bbvdocs. org/videos/ baxterVPR. mov.)


17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.

18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.





19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.


20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.
http://www.yuricare port.com/ ElectionAftermat h04/ThreeResearc hStudiesBushIsOu t.htm






1 in 5 Americans believe the elections were fraudulent.
That's over 41 Million Americans.
You are NOT alone!

Read More......

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State

By Allan Uthman, Buffalo Beast
Posted on May 26, 2006, Printed on September 27, 2006

Is the U.S. becoming a police state? Here are the top 10 signs that it may well be the case.

1. The Internet Clampdown

One saving grace of alternative media in this age of unfettered corporate conglomeration has been the internet. While the masses are spoon-fed predigested news on TV and in mainstream print publications, the truth-seeking individual still has access to a broad array of investigative reporting and political opinion via the world-wide web. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the government moved to patch up this crack in the sky.

Attempts to regulate and filter internet content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the Pentagon (which issued an "Information Operations Roadmap" in 2003, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, which outlines tactics such as network attacks and acknowledges, without suggesting a remedy, that US propaganda planted in other countries has easily found its way to Americans via the internet). One obvious tactic clearing the way for stifling regulation of internet content is the growing media frenzy over child pornography and "internet predators," which will surely lead to legislation that by far exceeds in its purview what is needed to fight such threats.

2. "The Long War"

This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines a goal that can never be fully attained -- as long as there are pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us all, "get used to it. Things aren't going to change any time soon."


Did anyone really think this was going to be temporary? Yes, this disgusting power grab gives the government the right to sneak into your house, look through all your stuff and not tell you about it for weeks on a rubber stamp warrant. Yes, they can look at your medical records and library selections. Yes, they can pass along any information they find without probable cause for purposes of prosecution. No, they're not going to take it back, ever.

4. Prison Camps

This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400 million to build detention centers in the United States, for the purpose of unspecified "new programs." Of course, the obvious first guess would be that these new programs might involve rounding up Muslims or political dissenters -- I mean, obviously detention facilities are there to hold somebody. I wish I had more to tell you about this, but it's, you know... secret.

5. Touchscreen Voting Machines

Despite clear, copious evidence that these nefarious contraptions are built to be tampered with, they continue to spread and dominate the voting landscape, thanks to Bush's "Help America Vote Act," the exploitation of corrupt elections officials, and the general public's enduring cluelessness.

In Utah, Emery County Elections Director Bruce Funk witnessed security testing by an outside firm on Diebold voting machines which showed them to be a security risk. But his warnings fell on deaf ears. Instead Diebold attorneys were flown to Emery County on the governor's airplane to squelch the story. Funk was fired. In Florida, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho discovered an alarming security flaw in their Diebold system at the end of last year. Rather than fix the flaw, Diebold refused to fulfill its contract. Both of the other two touchscreen voting machine vendors, Sequoia and ES&S, now refuse to do business with Sancho, who is required by HAVA to implement a touchscreen system and will be sued by his own state if he doesn't. Diebold is said to be pressuring for Sancho's ouster before it will resume servicing the county.

Stories like these and much worse abound, and yet TV news outlets have done less coverage of the new era of elections fraud than even 9/11 conspiracy theories. This is possibly the most important story of this century, but nobody seems to give a damn. As long as this issue is ignored, real American democracy will remain an illusion. The midterm elections will be an interesting test of the public's continuing gullibility about voting integrity, especially if the Democrats don't win substantial gains, as they almost surely will if everything is kosher.

Bush just suggested that his brother Jeb would make a good president. We really need to fix this problem soon.

6. Signing Statements

Bush has famously never vetoed a bill. This is because he prefers to simply nullify laws he doesn't like with "signing statements." Bush has issued over 700 such statements, twice as many as all previous presidents combined. A few examples of recently passed laws and their corresponding dismissals, courtesy of the Boston Globe:

--Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush's signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

--Dec. 30, 2005: When requested, scientific information ''prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay."

Bush's signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.

--Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.

Bush's signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ''as advisory in nature."

Essentially, this administration is bypassing the judiciary and deciding for itself whether laws are constitutional or not. Somehow, I don't see the new Supreme Court lineup having much of a problem with that, though. So no matter what laws congress passes, Bush will simply choose to ignore the ones he doesn't care for. It's much quieter than a veto, and can't be overridden by a two-thirds majority. It's also totally absurd.

7. Warrantless Wiretapping

Amazingly, the GOP sees this issue as a plus for them. How can this be? What are you, stupid? You find out the government is listening to the phone calls of US citizens, without even the weakest of judicial oversight and you think that's okay? Come on -- if you know anything about history, you know that no government can be trusted to handle something like this responsibly. One day they're listening for Osama, and the next they're listening in on Howard Dean.

Think about it: this administration hates unauthorized leaks. With no judicial oversight, why on earth wouldn't they eavesdrop on, say, Seymour Hersh, to figure out who's spilling the beans? It's a no-brainer. Speaking of which, it bears repeating: terrorists already knew we would try to spy on them. They don't care if we have a warrant or not. But you should.

8. Free Speech Zones

I know it's old news, but... come on, are they fucking serious?

9. High-ranking Whistleblowers

Army Generals. Top-level CIA officials. NSA operatives. White House cabinet members. These are the kind of people that Republicans fantasize about being, and whose judgment they usually respect. But for some reason, when these people resign in protest and criticize the Bush administration en masse, they are cast as traitorous, anti-American publicity hounds. Ridiculous. The fact is, when people who kill, spy and deceive for a living tell you that the White House has gone too far, you had damn well better pay attention. We all know most of these people are staunch Republicans. If the entire military except for the two guys the Pentagon put in front of the press wants Rumsfeld out, why on earth wouldn't you listen?

10. The CIA Shakeup

Was Porter Goss fired because he was resisting the efforts of Rumsfeld or Negroponte? No. These appointments all come from the same guys, and they wouldn't be nominated if they weren't on board all the way. Goss was probably canned so abruptly due to a scandal involving a crooked defense contractor, his hand-picked third-in-command, the Watergate hotel and some hookers.

If Bush's nominee for CIA chief, Air Force General Michael Hayden, is confirmed, that will put every spy program in Washington under military control. Hayden, who oversaw the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and is clearly down with the program. That program? To weaken and dismantle or at least neuter the CIA. Despite its best efforts to blame the CIA for "intelligence errors" leading to the Iraq war, the picture has clearly emerged -- through extensive CIA leaks -- that the White House's analysis of Saddam's destructive capacity was not shared by the Agency. This has proved to be a real pain in the ass for Bush and the gang.

Who'd have thought that career spooks would have moral qualms about deceiving the American people? And what is a president to do about it? Simple: make the critical agents leave, and fill their slots with Bush/Cheney loyalists. Then again, why not simply replace the entire organization? That is essentially what both Rumsfeld at the DoD and newly minted Director of National Intelligence John are doing -- they want to move intelligence analysis into the hands of people that they can control, so the next time they lie about an "imminent threat" nobody's going to tell. And the press is applauding the move as a "necessary reform."

Remember the good old days, when the CIA were the bad guys?

Read More......

Panelists say 40-year term harsh for girl, 16 in Texas

By Zahira Torres / El Paso Times
El Paso Times

Area educators, health-care professionals and lawyers gathered Saturday to discuss a decision by the county attorney's office to seek a tougher punishment for a 16-year-old El Paso girl accused of trying to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
"Our correctional system is so imperfect," said Cristina Cruz-Grost, a child psychiatrist and forensic expert. "We need to come together to educate and rehabilitate people who go through the system. É To place a 16-year-old in the correctional department of Texas with up to a 40-year sentence erases the potential for rehabilitation and destroys her life."

The Ysleta district student, whose name was withheld because she is a juvenile, was allegedly caught trying to smuggle nearly 50 pounds of cocaine into the U.S. The street value of the cocaine is estimated to be between $280,000 and $700,000, officials said.

Last week, a grand jury, at the request of the county attorney's office, decided to allow the teen to be tried under the Texas Determinate Sentencing statute.

Under the statute, the juvenile faces the possibility of a sentence of up to 40 years in juvenile detention facilities and in adult prison.

In a statement released last week, County Attorney José Rodríguez said his office was hoping the decision would deter the city's ongoing problem with teenagers transporting drugs across the border.

"Proceeding under determinate sentencing statute in this case demonstrates that we will not tolerate these types of crimes, and should serve as a warning to those teens who might be tempted by the money being offered by the drug cartels," Rodríguez said.

According to statistics from the Juvenile Probation Department, eight minors have been detained at the bridge in the past seven years for carrying up to 200 grams of a controlled substance, other than marijuana. During the same period, six others have been detained for carrying more than 200 grams of a controlled substance, other than marijuana.

Panelists Saturday said the figures are not enough to prove the need for determinate sentencing.

"I have to wonder if this was politically motivated," said Samuel Schmidt, a political science professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.

"It seems that they are not really trying to rehabilitate if they are trying to sentence a 16-year-old to 40 years in prison. Did she do something wrong? Yes. Should she be punished? Yes. But to what extent?"

Elhiu Dominguez, the county attorney's office spokesman, said that the decision to prosecute under the Texas Determinate Sentencing statute does not necessarily mean that the office is trying for a 40-year sentence.

Instead, he said, the statute allows a jury the flexibility to punish the juvenile past her 21st birthday, under provisions that include prison time, probation or parole. If a minor is prosecuted in a non-determinate sentencing case, punishment would not extend beyond the age of 21, he said.

"We simply wanted to give jurors an option for a wider sentence," Dominguez said. "Our emphasis is not on incarcerating juveniles but on rehabilitating them."

The teenager's trial, originally set for Monday, has been rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 30 in the 65th District Court. Dominguez could not verify whether the teenager has a lawyer.

Read More......

Black Man has ear bitten in racist attack in London

POLICE are appealing for information after a racially motivated attack on a 31-year-old man.

The black man was walking home from a friend's house after getting off the train at New Cross Gate at 10.20pm.

He walked through the Woodpecker Estate, Deptford, and on reaching the end of the estate at the junction with Trundleys Road he saw a group of about six or seven white men who were walking towards him under the bridge.

They were spread out across the pathway and as he neared them one of the men stopped directly in front of him and began talking on a mobile phone.

The victim put his hand on the man's shoulder in an attempt to get past and said "excuse me" but the man did not move.

He tried again to get past and accidentally knocked the man's phone out of his hand.

The man shouted at him and the victim was hit from behind with something that appeared to burst.

The victim then smelt alcohol, turned and hit the man. There was then a fight.

The victim was eventually hit to the floor where he was kicked and stamped on.

The man who was on the mobile phone then jumped on the victim and bit his ear causing it to split.

The victim suffered a broken thumb, fractured jaw, a split ear lobe and cuts and bruises.

The men then ran off but one of the group stopped to hurl racial abuse at the victim.

The suspects were white and were drinking from beer cans.

The man with the mobile phone was approximately 5ft 5in to 5ft 7in with black hair, a slim build and wearing a dark blue tracksuit, white T-shirt and light coloured trainers.

The suspect who shouted abuse was in his late 20s, with dark hair and a bald patch and sideburns and was wearing a T-shirt.

Read More......

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Living Minimum-Wage: Living Wages or Job Killer

September 26, 2006

On Sept. 11, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley used the first veto of his 17-year tenure to reject an ordinance aimed at forcing big retailers to pay wages of $10 an hour and health benefits equivalent to $3 an hour by 2010. The veto is important to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which plans to open its first store in Chicago late this month in the economically depressed 37th ward.

Some cities such as Santa Fe, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have such "living wage" laws, which opponents argue keep some retailers out of town and boost unemployment among low-wage workers. Supporters counter that such measures can help ensure adequate wages for workers.

The Online Journal asked economists Richard Epstein, a professor and director of the University of Chicago's Law and Economics program and Michael Reich, director of the Institute of Industrial Relations and an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to discuss their different views on local minimum wage rules. What do you think? Share your comments on our discussion board.

Richard Epstein writes: Mayor Richard M. Daley is not known as an arch defender of laissez-faire economics, but not withstanding that regrettable deficiency, he did the right and courageous thing in vetoing Chicago's living-wage ordinance.

In doing so he understood what too many Chicago aldermen fail to grasp, which is that people, including sophisticated corporate executives, respond to incentives. Oddly enough that simple truth seemed to escape many of the aldermanic defenders of the initiative, who held fast to the sunny illusion that Chicago is such an attractive market for Wal-Marts, Target, and other big-box stores that they are sure to come here no matter what wage structure the city council imposed. Before making that rash statement, they should have asked this question first: Why is it that Wal-Marts hadn't already started in Chicago, if its market offers such irresistible lures?

The answer is that big businesses, like everyone else, will go where their costs are low, and where they are treated as a good neighbor and not as a potential felon. Ironically though, the damage may be done even though the mayor's veto was not overridden by the city council. Daley will not be mayor forever, and even though this piece of legislation bit the dust, the next one might not. So why invest in immovable assets if the city council could pass another version of the living-wage ordinance once the stores are up and open for business?

Michael Reich writes: Three quick points:

First, most large retailers in the U.S. already have saturated the consumer market in suburban areas, in part because in many states each suburb competes with other suburbs for sales tax revenue and so they provide subsidies to local retail development. Retailers want to increase their market share -- that is the best way to maximize their long-run profit -- and the opportunities now are greatest in the underserved areas of central cities. Despite what some retailers might say, they have preferred to be located near consumers even when local costs are a bit higher. Otherwise there would be no retailers at all in our central cities. For systematic evidence that retailers are not fleeing and indeed are continuing to come into cities with higher minimum wages, such as San Francisco and Santa Fe, see Do Businesses Flee Citywide Minimum Wages?

Second, the range of economists' estimates of minimum wage effects on employment have shifted substantially in the past decade. Studies using data from the 1990s find either very small negative effects on employment or find zero or positive effects. My own work -- with data from businesses in San Francisco before and after the citywide minimum wage was introduced -- finds zero effects on overall employment, with upgrading of some jobs from part-time to full-time status. Studies of Santa Fe businesses also find no employment effect. For more details on my San Francisco study, see this paper.

Third, it does make sense that higher minimum wages need not reduce the number of jobs, once we take into account job vacancies, recruitment and retention costs, and other employee turnover issues that are familiar to all employers. Low-wage employers typically experience turnover of 100% or more per year; they are constantly hiring and cannot fill all their vacancies. A higher minimum wage attracts more workers and encourages them to stay longer with their employer, so the result is fewer vacancies, not fewer jobs.

Richard Epstein writes: Let me respond to Michael's point first with a general and second with some specific observations. On a general level, the evidence that Michael cites, even if true, is not directed toward the Chicago big-box ordinance, which has two features that are not found in other minimum wage laws. First, the wage and health care boosts are much higher than those in the other communities which he has referred to, and second they are limited to big-box firms, and exclude all other retailers.

Even if one thought, as I do not, that changes in minimum wage laws have little effect on employment, it is clear that this statute will have some differential effect on which retailers, selling what goods at what prices, decide to remain in Chicago. We have strong testimonial evidence that the large box companies will stay out, which means that the local market is left to other merchants whose higher labor costs guarantee a higher price structure.

On some particulars, the saturation point is wholly unpersuasive with respect to a long and skinny city like Chicago with a high boundary-to-area ratio. Here it is easy for suburban stores to poach on city residents who live as near to them as they do to many urban stores. The common pattern here is for people to make large trips to the big-box stores once or twice a month in order to avoid the local merchants who charge higher prices. Merchants may come to some cities with higher minimum wage, but if they do they will surely design business plans that make less use of unskilled labor than they would have in the absence of minimum wages. One simple interpretation of the data is that firms that are less dependent on minimum-wage workers will flourish while others do not. But this hardly helps the unskilled workers who lose twice. They are shut out by the minimum wage and have to pay higher prices for the goods they want. So they will just go elsewhere.

Third, I do not think that the turnover issues offer any justification for a minimum wage law. If the turnover costs are this high, then an employer can voluntarily reconfigure its work force by using higher wages as an offset to higher turnover. There is no reason to mandate actions that work in employer's self interest. And there is certainly no reason to apply this paternalist rationale to big box employers to the exclusion of everyone else, which is what the Chicago ordinance does.

Michael Reich writes: On the specifics of the Chicago ordinance, its higher minimum wage would increase in steps until 2010. By then the Santa Fe and San Francisco minimums will be very close to the same level as in Chicago, and San Francisco has also just implemented a health-care policy on top of the minimum wage. So these cases are very comparable.

In any case, I understand that a modified proposal for Chicago will be introduced, so there will be further give and take, just as in many other jurisdictions. We need not limit ourselves to this specific example.

The analysis of citywide minimum wages always should be based on scientific evidence, not on any individual's theoretical arguments or statements of belief, nor on self-interested statements from the companies. Regarding Chicago's retail conditions, we have two studies with systematic evidence: One is from a University of Illinois at Chicago research unit4 that specializes in community economic development. The other, from NYU's Brennan Center5, also supports the current attractiveness of locating in Chicago to large retailers.

I agree that higher minimum wages might lead to somewhat higher prices. But this might be a good tradeoff. To find out, again we must draw from careful empirical studies, not general statements, to quantify the effect. My San Francisco study found that a 26% increase in the minimum wage increased restaurant prices by about 2.5%, or 25 cents for an average $10 menu item. We now know, using Wal-Mart's own data, that if Wal-Mart's hourly pay and benefits scale increased to match those in its industry as a whole, and the costs were fully passed on to consumers, its prices would increase by only a penny on the dollar. Moreover, profit margins have been increasing in large retail companies, so there is room for pay increases that do not translate entirely into price increases. See "Wrestling with Wal-Mart: Tradeoffs between Profits, Wages and Prices."

On the issue of turnover costs, no one is arguing that low-wage firms would individually choose to increase their pay and lower turnover, as the savings would not be sufficient. If all firms are required to do so, however, employment can actually increase. In the field of labor economics, this is a standard argument used to understand minimum wage effects. You will find it in every major undergraduate textbook, including those by free-market-oriented economists such as George Borjas and David MacPherson. You will also find an emphasis on turnover issues in understanding labor markets in the 2006 Economic Report of the President.

As for applying a standard only to retail, it is likely that other industries will be forced by competition to increase pay as well. To what extent, we don't yet know. Small employers in San Francisco were phased into the minimum wage level in its first two years; I found that they increased wages substantially during the phase-in period.

Richard Epstein writes: Once again, I think that the difficulties here arise as much in the interpretation of the various bits of data as with the data itself. On the various ordinances, I do not believe that the Santa Fe or San Francisco ordinances are focused exclusively on the big boxes, which creates all sorts of distortions between different classes of retailers, and thus has additional adverse effects not found elsewhere. In addition, there is a real question of how the ordinance interacts with the composition of the work force. It is worth remembering that when Wal-Mart offered low-paying positions8 in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, 25,000 people showed up for 325 or so jobs.

Clearly the low end of the market is out of whack even under the current labor market structure. It is hard to see how any of these people will do better if they are priced out of the market, even if the firms could scramble to find other individuals at higher wages to fill the more exclusive spots that remain. On the study point, I have obviously had no time to review the studies in Chicago, but that seems to have been true of Mayor Daley, who thought that the threat of the big-box companies to stay out was credible. And it is also important to ask whether these studies take into account the hostile reception that big-box stores get from zoning authorities every time they seek permissions to build. And it is worth noting that the strongest opponents of the big-box ordinance in the city are alderman from low-income districts.

On the Wal-Mart profit figures, the numbers that I have seen differ. The average profit per employee is around $2,000 per year. That hardly speaks of massive exploitation of workers. Rather it is consistent with the lower prices that it offers to consumers, often from the least advantaged areas, where prices are estimated at around 8% to 13% below what they would otherwise be. Finally, I am totally puzzled why any labor text would argue that high-wage-low-turnover strategies are only efficient if everyone in town adopts them. The brief explanation that Michael offers here is just not credible.

Why won't the savings be sufficient to induce the change? Indeed any change in position, however small, that improves output should be welcomed, period. There is no prisoner's dilemma game here. A firm that gets higher output from adopting superior strategies should be thrilled if its competitors lag behind. So absent the statute, there should be a really strong incentive to make changes in employment strategies that other firms cannot duplicate. Nor is there any reason in theory to expect non-covered firms to raise wages unless demand for labor increases as the cost increases. It is every bit as likely that non-protected workers will be more numerous and could easily receive lower wages, if they stay in the community at all.

Michael's argument is a huge plea for monopoly wages and collective bargaining, without any explanation as to why employers fiercely resist changes that public officials think are in their interest. And how on his theory do we decide what minimum wage is optimal? Why not $20, or $50?

Michael Reich writes: An omitted point is that Wal-Mart and some other companies have had negative effects on retail wages and benefits and on taxpayers. These negative effects create hidden but very real and large costs, especially by increasing the ranks of the uninsured. These effects have been documented in a series of careful studies.

The majority of employers in Santa Fe, San Francisco and, more recently, in Santa Cruz, Calif., have not resisted these policies; the vehemence is coming from a few, mainly Wal-Mart and Target.

In concluding, I want to re-emphasize the importance of carefully-developed empirical evidence to illuminate these controversies, as there are different theories of how competition works in labor markets. Consider the following:

In a standard competitive model, there are no impediments to employee mobility and employers have to pay the competitive wage or lose their entire work force instantaneously. But whenever there are job search costs, or when it takes time for employers and employees to find good matches with each other, or when there are any other impediments to employee mobility, competitive firms face what we call in introductory economics a rising supply of labor schedule. In essence, they face much higher labor costs for every worker when they expand employment.

With these frictions, firms maximize their profits by hiring fewer workers and paying lower wages, relative to the simple competitive textbook model. So a minimum wage mandate can in principle bring about a result closer to the competitive market equilibrium, with both higher pay and higher employment.

How important are these "frictions" in urban and low-wage labor markets? Quite a few studies find that they are the rule, not the exception, even, say, among fast-food restaurants that have many competitors. High turnover and ongoing vacancies are indicators of such frictions. In my San Francisco findings, turnover dropped substantially among firms that were covered by the minimum wage, and did not among firms that were not covered. These considerations are likely to be even more important among very large firms that in effect set local wages by virtue of their sheer size, and not just in retail.

Of course, minimum wages at levels that are set too high will trigger negative effects. (The limits depend in part upon how sensitive consumers are to prices.) But we have moved away from such limits in the past two decades. The national minimum wage in real dollars and relative to average wage is quite low by historical standards. Shouldn't the most productive economy in history be able to pay all of its workers a real living wage?

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Obstruction of Justice: The Mena Connection - Bill Clinton train murders cocaine

On August 23, 1987, two teenage boys stumbled upon a drug smuggling operation that was sanctioned by federal officials and protected by local law enforcement. The boys, Kevin Ives, 17, and Don Henry, 16, were murdered.
Their bodies were laid across nearby railroad tracks and mutilated by a passing train.

Obstruction of Justice: The Mena Connection tells what really happened and gives vivid detail into the cover-up and the state and federal officials who orchestrated it.

KEY PLAYERS: Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton as well as Joycelyn Elders who went on to serve as surgeon general of the United States under President Bill Clinton.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Houston Radio Ad Asks Houstonians to Arm Themselves Against "Katricians

Sept. 21, 2006, 3:52PM

Radio ad plays on Katrina evacuee tension
Associated Press

A radio commercial for a local gun shop advises Houstonians to arm themselves against "Katricians," adding to the growing tension between Houstonians and the Katrina evacuees who have been blamed for a rising crime rate.

OBM: Most of the people from N.O. are poor blacks....so instead of offering more jobs, Education/vocational programs, and requesting more job assistance for the criminal government that caused them to be there anyway...this radio stations is saying lets shoot & kill the poor black people who don't have money or jobs to feed their families. I'M NOT GOING TO SAY WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN TO THIS GUY, THIS RADIO STATION, AND ANYONE ADVOCATING THIS B.S. ...IT WOULD BE INCRIMINATING!!!!!!

Gun shop owner and radio talk-show host Jim Pruett said today he started running the ad a few weeks ago after hearing a local television interview with a Katrina evacuee living in Houston who implied he would have to turn to crime if his government assistance ran out.

"There are many evacuees here who are working," said Pruett, who has owned Jim Pruett's Guns & Ammo in northwest Houston for five years. "They have become Houstonians now. That is fantastic. That is what you are supposed to do. You are not supposed to threaten the place you are working in."

Katrina evacuees are suspects or victims in 59 of Houston's 262 homicides between Jan. 1 and Aug. 26.

Residents in upper middle-class west Houston have blamed evacuees for violent crime rates that have increased almost 14 percent in one district and homicides that have nearly doubled in another.

Earlier this month, the FBI reported that violent crime in Houston jumped 2.4 percent last year, slightly above the national figure of 2.3 percent.

Pruett's radio ad says, "When the 'Katricians' themselves are quoted as saying the crime rate is gonna go up if they don't get more free rent, then it's time to get your concealed-handgun license."

Department of Public Safety statistics show that from January to Sept. 1, the number of applications for concealed-carry permits have risen almost 25 percent in Harris County, which includes Houston. Texas has no other gun registration laws.

Black activists planned a community meeting Thursday evening to "end the conflict" between Houston and New Orleans. They indicated they would discuss Pruett's radio ad.

The meeting was also expected to address comments made earlier this month by gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, who attributed a spike in Houston's crime rate to the "crackheads and thugs" who evacuated New Orleans.

Mayor Bill White has said most evacuees are law abiding citizens but that lawbreakers will not be tolerated. He has also called for "able-bodied" evacuees to find jobs.

Pruett, 62, said while crime in Houston was an issue before Katrina evacuees came to the city, they have contributed to the problem.

"It's a serious crime epidemic, no matter what the mayor says," said Pruett, whose store Web site offers the following advice: "Be polite and courteous, but have a plan to KILL everybody you meet."

As many as 120,000 evacuees remain in Houston since the city welcomed at least 250,000 after Katrina swamped New Orleans last year.

Pruett said gun sales as his store are up 50 percent from last year but he couldn't be certain it was due to concern over evacuees.

Classes his store offers so people can get a concealed handgun license are always full. Pruett said he doesn't think he is profiting from fear in the community about evacuees and crime.

"I'm profiting from people who want to protect themselves. We provide a great service and one that may save people's lives," said Pruett, who added that he has also sold guns to evacuees.

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A Way to Protest Bush's Foreign Policy - Buy Gasoline at Citgo Stations


Published on Monday, May 16, 2005 by CommonDreams.org

Buy Your Gas at Citgo: Join the BUY-cott!
by Jeff Cohen

Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations.

And tell your friends.

Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him "the Anti-Bush."

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. There are 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the US. (Click here http://www.citgo.com/CITGOLocator/StoreLocator.jsp to find one near you.) By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans.

Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor in Venezuela. A country with so much oil wealth shouldn't have 60 percent of its people living in poverty, earning less than $2 per day. With a mass movement behind him, Chavez is confronting poverty in Venezuela. That's why large majorities have consistently backed him in democratic elections. And why the Bush administration supported an attempted military coup in 2002 that sought to overthrow Chavez.

So this is the opposite of a boycott. Call it a BUYcott. Spread the word.

Of course, if you can take mass transit or bike or walk to your job, you should do so. And we should all work for political changes that move our country toward a cleaner environment based on renewable energy. The BUYcott is for those of us who don't have a practical alternative to filling up our cars.

So get your gas at Citgo. And help fuel a democratic revolution in Venezuela.

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Possibly the First Time a U.S. President Admits to Ordering Assassinations

I just want to mention an observation I had that I think will go un-noticed..I believe that this might be the first time that a president..either current or former..has ever admitted that our executive branch..has had a program for the sanctioning of assassinations of foreign ‘problems’. (the beginning of part 2 clip)

Part 1

part 2

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Friday, September 22, 2006

PBS 1987: "The Secret Government" - Part 2

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PBS 1987: "The Secret Government" - Part 1

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

IBM, Verichip, and the Fouth Reich

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Congress Considering Strip Searching Students

September 18, 2006

Imagine an America in which school officials could strip search every student in their school based on the unsubstantiated tip that one of them might have a joint. Congress is voting on a bill Tuesday or Wednesday that could make these police state tactics more common.

We can stop Congress in its tracks, though. Call your representative RIGHT NOW and tell them to vote against this dangerous bill.

If you don't know who your House representative is, simply call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and give them your address. They'll connect you directly with your representative's office. When you get a staffer on the phone, politely say something like:

"My name is [your name] and I live in [your city]. I'm calling to urge [the congressman/the congresswoman] to vote against the Student and Teacher Safety Act (HR 5295) when it comes to the floor this week. This bill would allow schools and police to invasively search large groups of innocent students based on the mere suspicion that just one of them has drugs. It strips Americans of their 4th Amendment rights. Please let me know how [the congressman/the congresswoman] votes."


The Student Teacher Safety Act of 2006 (HR 5295) is a sloppily written bill that would require any school receiving federal funding (essentially every public school) to adopt policies allowing teachers and school officials to conduct random, warrantless searches of every student, at any time, for essentially any reason they want. All they would have to do is say they suspect one of their students might be carrying drugs, and then they could conduct a wide scale search of every student in the building. These searches could be pat-downs, bag searches, or strip searches depending on how far school administrators wanted to go. Although courts would have the power to overturn policies that went "too far", it could take years - possibly decades - to safeguard the rights of students in every school.

Disconnecting searches from individualized suspicion is what led to the Goose Creek scandal in 2003. That South Carolina city sent a machine-gun toting SWAT team into a high school because the principal suspected one of the students might be selling marijuana. 150 terrified students were handcuffed and forced to the floor at gunpoint as drug dogs tore through their book bags. No drugs or guns were ever found.

Searching students without individualized suspicion that they have done something wrong fosters mistrust between adolescents and the adults they should feel comfortable turning to when they do have substance abuse problems. Treating groups of students as if they're guilty until proven innocent sends them the wrong message about what it means to be American citizens, and makes them less likely to seek help and guidance when they need it.

The legislation is supported by senior House Republicans and the National Education Association (NEA). It's opposed by the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the ACLU, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association.

The bill wasn't voted on in committee and is being fast-tracked to the floor under a procedure that requires a 2/3 vote to pass. This means there's a chance we can defeat it on the House floor.

The offending text of the legislation (which is not officially public yet) is as follows:

(a) In General- Each local educational agency shall have in effect throughout the jurisdiction of the agency policies that ensure that a search described in subsection (b) is deemed reasonable and permissible.

(b) Searches Covered- A search referred to in subsection (a) is a search by a full-time teacher or school official, acting on any reasonable suspicion based on professional experience and judgment, of any minor student on the grounds of any public school, if the search is conducted to ensure that classrooms, school buildings, school property and students remain free from the threat of all weapons, dangerous materials, or illegal narcotics. The measures used to conduct any search must be reasonably related to the search's objectives, without being excessively intrusive in light of the student's age, sex, and the nature of the offense.

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Big Brother is Shouting at You


OBM: Coming to the US Soon!!!!!

Big Brother is not only watching you - now he's barking orders too. Britain's first 'talking' CCTV cameras have arrived, publicly berating bad behaviour and shaming offenders into acting more responsibly.

The system allows control room operators who spot any anti-social acts - from dropping litter to late-night brawls - to send out a verbal warning: 'We are watching you'.

Middlesbrough has fitted loudspeakers on seven of its 158 cameras in an experiment already being hailed as a success. Jack Bonner, who manages the system, said: 'It is one hell of a deterrent. It's one thing to know that there are CCTV cameras about, but it's quite another when they loudly point out what you have just done wrong.

'Most people are so ashamed and embarrassed at being caught they quickly slink off without further trouble.

'There was one incident when two men started fighting outside a nightclub. One of the control room operators warned them over the loudspeakers and they looked up, startled, stopped fighting and scarpered in opposite directions.

'This isn't about keeping tabs on people, it's about making the streets safer for the law-abiding majority and helping to change the attitudes of those who cause trouble. It challenges unacceptable behaviour and makes people think twice.'

The Mail on Sunday watched as a cyclist riding through a pedestrian area was ordered to stop.

'Would the young man on the bike please get off and walk as he is riding in a pedestrian area,' came the command..

The surprised youth stopped, and looked about. A look of horror spread across his face as he realised the voice was referring to him.

He dismounted and wheeled his bike through the crowded streets, as instructed.

Law-abiding shopper Karen Margery, 40, was shocked to hear the speakers spring into action as she walked past them.

Afterwards she said: 'It's quite scary to realise that your every move could be monitored - it really is like Big Brother.

'But Middlesbrough does have a big problem with anti-social behaviour, so it is very reassuring.'

The scheme has been introduced by Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon, a former police superintendent who was dubbed Robocop for pioneering the zero-tolerance approach to crime.

He believes the talking cameras will dramatically cut not just anti-social behaviour, but violent crime, too.

And if the city centre scheme proves a success, it will be extended into residential areas.

The control room operators have been given strict guidelines about what commands they can give. Yelling 'Oi you, stop that', is not permitted.

Instead, their instructions make the following suggestions: 'Warning - you are being monitored by CCTV - Warning - you are in an alcohol-free zone, please refrain from drinking'; and Warning - your behaviour is being monitored by CCTV. It is being recorded and the police are attending.'

Mr Bonner said: 'We always make the requests polite, and if the offender obeys, the operator adds 'thank you'. We think that's a nice finishing touch.

'It would appear that the offenders are the only ones who find the audio cameras intrusive. The vast majority of people welcome these cameras.

'Put it this way, we never have requests to remove them.'

But civil rights campaigners have argued that the talking cameras are no 'magic bullet', in the fight against crime.

Liberty spokesman Doug Jewell said: 'None of us likes litterbugs or yobs playing up on a Saturday night, but talking CCTV cameras are no substitute for police officers on the beat.'

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FEMA Camp with Better Quality Video

This is the one in Beech Grove but It's much sharper and larger.

I did some research on the "so called" furnaces and the white AGA Gas Inc. Cylinder.

The "so called" furnaces are exhaust fans.

AGA GAS Inc. Sells mostly asphyxiation type gases...you can verify this by doing a search via dogpile for AGA GAS Inc. and the look for web site MDS and they will list the gases.

In the video it shows a gas main, you can see there are 2 or 3 connections with regulators on top. Regulators are used to regulate pressure and gas mixtures.

It seems that this is indeed a death camp, for those on the red and blue list. It can process 26,000 people every 24hrs. The site has since been cleaned up to look inconspicuous.

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Department of Homeland Security Soon to Begin Extortion of U.S. Travelers

Registered traveler program to cost $200 per year
By Michael Hampton
Posted: September 15, 2006 9:48 am

OBM: Our tax dollars already pay the government for the security of U.S. citizens. To request us to pay more money for the freedoms we had before DHS & Bush took them away is CRIMINAL EXTORTION. PEOPLE WAKE UP!!!!!!!

The cost per person of the Terrorist Support Agency’s Registered Traveler program to pre-clear passengers and give them a “fast lane” through airport security would be $200 per year, out of the range of many business travelers.

The costs include an annual fee of $80 for the program, along with $30 for a terrorist watchlist check, $20 for a separate criminal background check, and $70 to pay for dedicated TSA screeners and screening lanes at participating airports.

Businesses wanting to get the program started, though, say the cost would deter many people from participating.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., whose committee oversees Registered Traveler, said $200 “far exceeds anything that’s ever been entertained. …You don’t know if it’s going to succeed now.”

Larry Zmuda, head of homeland security for Pennsylvania-based Unisys, which also wants to run Registered Traveler, said the heftier price tag “would be a huge blow.” It could deter millions from signing up and make Registered Traveler unprofitable at some airports, he said.

The program would operate only at airports that choose to apply and are approved by TSA. About 20 have applied so far.

The TSA says it wants to avoid spending taxpayer dollars on Registered Traveler. “It’s a private-sector program, and it’s designed to have Registered Traveler customers pay for use of the lane,” [TSA spokeswoman Ellen] Howe said. — USA TODAY

It’s fine to have the program paid for by the people using it, rather than the taxpayers, but homeland security analyst Christian Beckner says that $70 is much more than the actual costs of airport screening. “Travelers already pay for part of the cost of TSA screeners via the existing aviation security fees,” Beckner wrote. “For this $70 portion of the total cost, I think a more nuanced analysis of cost allocations is in order.”

Some security experts don’t like the registered traveler program because it would be too tempting for terrorists to attempt to register in an effort to subvert airport security, and invariably, some would pass the background screening and be approved for the program. “The Trusted Traveler program is based on the dangerous myth that terrorists match a particular profile and that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we only can identify everyone,” said Bruce Schneier. “That’s simply not true.”

Last year I pointed out that terrorists, even if not approved for the program, could register just to find out if they were on government watchlists.

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Officer allegedly draws weapon on 7-year-old girl for an Insurance Violation

Hear Pamela Lawton tell the story of how a Pittsburgh Police officer pulled a gun on her and a car full of children during a traffic stop. (Click on shows, then scroll down to: "Childs Life threatened by Police" and click on photo to watch.) Click on shows, then scroll down to: "Childs Life threatened by Police" and click on photo to watch.)

New Pittsburgh Courier Online

What was supposed to be a typical drive through a peaceful Shadyside neighborhood, turned into a standoff with a police officer threatening the life of a 7-year old girl, according one local mother.

OBM: I'm not even going to say what I would do if this happened to my wife & kids. It would be incriminating.

Pamela Lawton of the Hill District said on Aug. 26, she was on her way to Homewood for a Pee Wee League football game with her two daughters, 7-year old Joshalyn, 8-year old Jasmine, and two other children ages 2 and 3. She said she was driving her green, 1998 Ford Windstar and was approaching the intersection at Kentucky Street and Negley Avenue when a Pittsburgh Police cruiser signaled for her to pull over.

“He was flying up behind me and I stopped immediately because I wanted to stay in view,” said Lawton. “I felt like there was something wrong—why would he fly up behind me like that? Plus, I had my kids in the car so it kind of scared me.”

What Lawton said happened next was beyond anything her initial fears predicted.

“I said, ‘What’s the problem, officer?’ and he said ‘Get your hands up,’” wrote Lawton in a prepared statement. “He repeated, pulled out his gun and pointed into the passenger side of the window where my youngest daughter was trying to get her seatbelt off. So, I put my hands up.”

According to Lawton, she and her children spent the next 20 to 30 minutes trying to convince Officer Eric Tatusko to put his weapon down or to at least go to the driver’s side to address the problem with the only adult in the car.

“The children were in the car screaming and crying,” she wrote. “My hands were still in the air and I was screaming ‘Help, someone help!’ over and over again.”

Florence Williams, a resident at the Kitley House Senior Center on Kentucky Street, said she didn’t see everything that happened that morning, but she knows she heard the cries for help.

“I happened to hear somebody screaming and I came to my porch,” Williams said. “I don’t know what the cop was doing because he was on the other side, but she had her arms out the door and she was hollering ‘Please, somebody help me.’”

During this time, Lawton says Tatusko refused to take her identification, never told her why she was stopped and never left the passenger side of the vehicle. She said at one point the officer got so angry he cocked his gun and said if Joshalyn moved again he would “blow her brains out.”

“He clicked the thing back and then he turned off his radio,” said Jasmine. “I was like ‘He’s going to kill us.’”

“Me and the babies were crying and (Jasmine) jumped over me for my life, and I thank my sister for doing that,” said Joshalyn.

A witness at the scene said Tatusko kept his gun drawn at the passenger side window until more officers came to the scene and told him to drop the weapon.

“When I turned the corner, there were 10 police cars and (Lawton) was in the middle,” said Rick Hill, an employee of Shadyside Nursing Rehab on Kentucky Avenue. “I heard her hollering for help and she had her hands out the window and everything. The cop already had his gun, not on her, but on the other side. When I looked in there she had kids. One cop said ‘If the kids move again, we will shoot.’”

Hill, who left a frantic voice message on Lawton’s sister’s phone during the standoff, said that once more officers arrived, they searched the vehicle for a weapon and found nothing. He also said Tatusko, who was not available for comment, was told to get into another vehicle and leave the scene.

Since that day, Lawton says she has struggled to come to terms with what happened to her family. The Shuman Center employee and former nurse, who changed careers to become part of the law enforcement community, said she doesn’t understand why she was treated as she was before, during and after the standoff. From the time she was pulled over to when she said police Lt. Cindy Windsor told her to shut up or ‘You’re going to jail and your kids are going to CYF,’ Lawton believes she and her children were treated worse than most criminals.

Lt. Windsor declined to comment other than to say that she was off of work that day. Tammy Ewin, spokesperson for the Pittsburgh Police, also declined to comment because of the case’s status with the CPRB.

As it was, Lawton ended up being cited for an insurance violation. She was fined and her car was towed, but according to her, the ultimate cost has already been paid with her daughters’ security and peace of mind.

“Your inspection can be wrong, your license can be wrong, there’s no reason for (police) to come to the passenger side and pull a gun out and aim it through the window of a 7-year old,” she said.

“I can’t even sleep at night, I just think about it every day,” said Joshalyn. “They got it deep in my mind. “He was talking to me the whole time.”

Hear Pamela Lawton tell the story of how a Pittsburgh Police officer pulled a gun on her and a car full of children during a traffic stop. (Click on shows, then scroll down to: "Childs Life threatened by Police" and click on photo to watch.) Click on shows, then scroll down to: "Childs Life threatened by Police" and click on photo to watch.)

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Friday, September 15, 2006

The American Nightmare: The Working Poor

By Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

What happened to the American dream? The belief that through hard work families can give their children a more comfortable life than generations before them. We work harder today than ever before with less to show for our accomplishments.

Though the economy has recovered from the recent recession, the benefits of that recovery have mainly profited the rich. And for the first time in decades, economic recovery has not offered much hope to the average American.

The State of Working America, developed by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), reports that technological advances enable working Americans to be more productive than at any time in history. In fact, productivity has risen by 33 percent over the last decade. Worker harder, make more money, right? Wrong. Since 2001, when profit for some industries has been greater than ever before, wages either remain unchanged or fell, says EPI, after adjusting for inflation.

For families who live in major urban areas—Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, or Washington, D.C.—the cost of living, including prices for gasoline, food, and housing have gone up or remain high, but EPI’s report reveals that the typical man trying to lift his family up is managing hourly wages that are 5 percent lower than they were in 1979.

Add to that the trend in government and private industry to shift risk from corporate America on to the backs of working families, requiring them to absorb half the rise in cost of employer-provided health insurance premiums. And, millions of Americans work who have no health benefits at all. According to the Census Bureau, Georgia was one of eight states where the numbers of uninsured have climbed in the past two years, along with the rate of poverty, and maybe these statistics explain why.

Where can average Americans find some relief? It’s hard to say. Finding a better paying job won’t work. Job creation is slow, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Americans no longer compete only among themselves; today they vie with workers in a worldwide labor market who can survive much more cheaply in their economies than Americans can. How about getting more education? That usually makes workers more marketable. But the EPI report says only about 27 percent of American jobs even require a college education, and that rate is expected to increase very little in the next 15 years. Plus federal support for student aid has been cut by this Congress, essentially to finance the war.

So how are America’s families surviving? Credit cards finance many of their day-to-day expenses. The EPI reveals that the average family’s debt is 130 percent of their personal disposable income. About a quarter of low-income households had debts that exceeded 40 percent of their income.

If the bills pile up too high, those families can’t even declare bankruptcy. The House and Senate majority pushed through revised bankruptcy laws that make it difficult for the average citizen to get out of debt. Meanwhile, corporate America has been allowed to balance their budgets at the expense of employees, imposing wage freezes or cuts, baling out of pensions and health insurance premiums so they can reach their profit projections. Don’t look to the federal government for an example either. It has run up the largest deficit in history, with no end in sight.

In 1965, a CEO made 24 times the pay of the average worker in his company, according to the EPI report. Today the average CEO makes 262 times the pay of his or her average worker. That employee’s wages have risen only 7.2 percent since 1992, while CEO compensation has risen over 186 percent. The top fifth of our economy controls 84 percent of the wealth in this country, and the average net worth of the top 1 percent of Americans is $15 million. Compare that to 30 percent of all American households, tens of millions of Americans, who have an average net worth less than $10,000.

A series of tax cuts for the rich promoted by the White House and the current congressional majority have fueled this divide, and they are still pushing for one more, an estate tax cut. Even the richest of the rich—Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and David Rockefeller Sr.—think this adds insult to injury for the common man and woman. Maybe they would agree with what one leader said when government policy was designed to offer more hope to average Americans. “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor,” said President John Kennedy, “it cannot save the few who are rich.”

Where is the compassion in our economic policy, the concern for humanity that is the duty of government? If government does not protect the interests of the people it represents, then who will? The values of “personal responsibility” lauded by this administration are really code words that mean every man and women for themselves. And if Hurricane Katrina demonstrates this government’s concern for the least among us, we better hope that the proverbial financial “levee” does not break. I have no doubt that our economy will survive, but it won’t be pretty.

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Seizure law riles Cooper City residents

By Thomas Monnay
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

September 9, 2006

COOPER CITY · The city has given itself the right to seize its residents' personal property for public use in an emergency.

And although commissioners say it would use its new law only in "an exceptional disaster," some residents are furious.

"These people, with their mindset, should be arrested and put in jail for even attempting to do something like this," said Tim Wilder, a mobile mechanic who owns emergency tools and equipment.

Commissioners on July 25 approved the law in anticipation of a busy hurricane season, to ensure the city could assist residents quickly. But they said they wouldn't enforce it unless there were no other options.

"There's always the possibility of abuse of power," Commissioner Elliot Kleiman said, "but it's not going to happen here."

Property that could be taken includes a truck to transport emergency workers or a building to shelter disaster victims.

Fort Lauderdale has had a similar law on the books since 2004. Mayor Jim Naugle said no one has complained about it because residents and businesses understand that governments must protect and assist them in times of disaster.

But he said, "We haven't had to exercise the authority. We try very hard to prepare ourselves for emergencies."

The state has the same power, but Mike Stone, a spokesman with the Division of Emergency Management, said he couldn't recall Florida ever using it. Still, he said, it's a necessary tool.

"You don't know what you are going to be facing," Stone said. "You don't want to limit your ability to render services."

Cooper City business owner John Sims owns two trucks, a 7,500-watt generator and chain saws. He said that despite the law, "I intend to not allow anyone on my property without a warrant. I'm going to use my equipment to protect my family prior to allowing the city to [take my equipment]."

Under the city law, once the city declares a state of emergency, officials would be able to regulate fuel and alcohol sales, close any place of public assemblage and prohibit public possession or display of firearms. In addition, they would be able "to confiscate merchandise, equipment, vehicles or property needed to alleviate any emergency condition."

Confiscated property would be returned within 30 days after an emergency ends. And the city must compensate an owner for using personal property, which would have to be returned in the same condition in which it was seized.

The plan was advertised in local newspapers for several days before it became law. Commissioner Bart Roper said only one resident complained during a public hearing, when the item was discussed and approved by a 4-0 vote.

Barry Butin, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Broward County, said there is no need to confiscate property because both the state and federal governments help cities after disasters.

"It's just political grandstanding," Butin said.

Weston has an emergency management law, but it doesn't allow the city to seize private property, Mayor Eric Hersh said.

"We certainly do not have any desire to infringe on people's personal property," he said.

Lorie Mertens, an assistant city manager in Hollywood, said her city uses its own equipment and makes service arrangements with contractors before a hurricane strikes.

Kleiman said Cooper City residents should be happy because their city has taken preventative steps to ensure their well-being.

Wilder, who owns chain saws, a 45,000-watt generator and several trucks, said the law is unconstitutional because city officials could take his property against his will.

"These clowns think they can come to your home anytime they want," he said.

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Vote-Stealing Software That Can Be Installed Within 1 Minute on Electronic Voting Machine


Researchers reveal 'extremely serious' vulnerabilities in e-voting machines
by Teresa Riordan ·
Posted September 13, 2006; 12:46 p.m.

In a paper published on the Web today, a group of Princeton computer scientists said they created demonstration vote-stealing software that can be installed within a minute on a common electronic voting machine. The software can fraudulently change vote counts without being detected.

"We have created and analyzed the code in the spirit of helping to guide public officials so that they can make wise decisions about how to secure elections," said Edward Felten, the director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, a new center at Princeton University that addresses crucial issues at the intersection of society and computer technology.

The paper appears on the Web site for the Center for Information Technology Policy.

The researchers obtained the machine, a Diebold AccuVote-TS, from a private party in May. They spent the summer analyzing the machine and developing the vote-stealing demonstration.
"We found that the machine is vulnerable to a number of extremely serious attacks that undermine the accuracy and credibility of the vote counts it produces," wrote Felten and his co-authors, graduate students Ariel Feldman and Alex Halderman.

In a 10-minute video on their Web site, the researchers demonstrate how the vote-stealing software works. The video shows the software sabotaging a mock presidential election between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Arnold is reported as the winner even though Washington gets more votes. (The video is edited from a longer continuously shot video; the long single-shot version will be available for downloading from the center's site as well.)

The researchers also demonstrate how the machines "are susceptible to computer viruses that can spread themselves automatically and invisibly from machine to machine during normal pre- and post-election activity."
Felten said that policy-makers should be concerned about malicious software infecting the Diebold AccuVote-TS and machines like it, from Diebold and other companies. "We studied these machines because they were available to us," the researchers wrote in their Web posting. "If we had gotten access to another kind of machine, we probably would have studied it instead."
Felten said, "There is reason for concern about other machines as well, even though our paper doesn't directly evaluate them. Jurisdictions using these machines should think seriously about finding a backup system in time for the November elections."

Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs who is known for his groundbreaking work in computer security, said that some of the problems discussed in the paper cannot be fixed without completely redesigning the machine.

Other problems can be fixed by addressing software or electronic procedures. "But time is short before the next election," he said.

According to the researchers' paper, the Diebold machine they examined and another newer version are scheduled to be used in 357 U.S. counties representing nearly 10 percent of all registered voters. About half those counties, including all Maryland and Georgia, will use the exact machine examined by Felten's group.

Felten said that, out of security concerns, the Diebold machine infected with the vote-stealing software has been kept under lock and key in a secret location.

"Unfortunately election fraud has a rich history from ballot stuffing to dead people voting," he said. "We want to make sure this doesn't fall into the wrong hands. We also want to make sure that policy-makers stay a step ahead of those who might create similar software with ill intent."

Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy includes members from diverse departments, including computer science, economics, electrical engineering, operations research and financial engineering, sociology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

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No Child Left Behind

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Water Warriors (Trailer)

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A Girl Like Me

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Understand the real Neo-Con agenda in 2 1/2 min.


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Bush Boys

Warning: Explicit Lyrics

In early 2004, DJ Danger Mouse became world famous for his “Grey Album,” the Jay Z/Beatles mash-up that sent hundreds of lawyers into convulsions. Months earlier, Danger Mouse had dropped his acclaimed hip-hop record Ghetto Pop Life. “Bush Boys,” an anti-Bush anthem with lyrics by MC Jemini, was part of that masterpiece. The video for “Bush Boys” is a collaboration between Danger Mouse and his longtime friend, video producer Alex Motlagh, who had access to CNN’s vast library. The video was first seen in “Under the Influence,” a compilation DVD by Atlanta’s film collective YETI. subMedia put the video online on April of 2003 and since it has been downloaded over 100,000 times. “Bush Boys” will be included in subMedia’s upcoming DVD/Zine “Molotov.”

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The Diamond Life

Warning: Explicit Images

THE DIAMOND LIFE, puts the spotlight on the brutal atrocities committed by the Sierra Leone rebel forces (Revolutionary United Front) and the international diamond cartels, who have been willing to pay almost any price to maintain the artificial value of their gems.

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Tracking the covert history of CIA drug smuggling from Nicaragua to Arkansas and South Central Los Angeles, GNN sheds light on the darkest secret of the Agency’s operational directorate. Cut to the ambient Hip Hop loops of DJ Trek-e, Crack The CIA features explosive footage of Mike Ruppert’s historical televised confrontation with CIA Director John Deutch.
Don’t blink!

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