Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Contractors Keep Killing - which is ... nothing new!
Now Playing: More deaths from out-of-control US invasion (contractors)
Iraq warns foreign
By Mariam Karouny and Waleed Ibrahim
BAGHDAD, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Iraq's government turned up the heat on private security firms on Tuesday, threatening to deal firmly with those that act outside the law and opening an investigation into the shooting of a woman in central Baghdad.
Monday's shooting was the latest in a string of incidents that have triggered widespread anger and prompted the Iraqi government to propose a change to the laws under which foreign security contractors operate.
The U.S. military said those responsible for the shooting on Monday could be charged under Iraqi law because the company involved, Dubai-based ALMCO, is a logistics contractor for food supply, construction and training, rather than a security firm.
Contacted in Dubai, ALMCO declined comment on the incident.
"We demand that all security companies obey the law and orders released by the Iraqi government, otherwise the security forces will be obliged to deal firmly with these companies," Baghdad security spokesman Brigadier-General Qassim Moussawi told a news conference.
Moussawi said Iraqi officials would try to bring charges against those responsible for seriously wounding the woman.
"There was a violation of Iraqi law," he said. "They were driving on the wrong side of the road, there was a random shooting and they hit a woman in her legs."
An investigation has been launched into the incident, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.
Statements from the firm's employees, taken in front of a civil judge, "revealed attempted murder of Iraqi civilians and other violations", Dabbagh said. "The Iraqi government will release those not found guilty in the Karrada incident once the investigation is concluded."
Moussawi and government officials identified 43 people detained at an Iraqi checkpoint after the shooting as including 21 Sri Lankans, nine Nepalis and one Indian.
There were 12 guards -- 10 Iraqis and two Fijians -- with the convoy of four vehicles, they said.
A September shooting involving Blackwater, a private U.S. firm, in which 17 Iraqis were killed, prompted the Iraqi government to approve a draft law to end a 2004 decree by former U.S. administrators giving security firms immunity from prosecution.
That draft law must still be passed by parliament.
The U.S. military said ALMCO was contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense and provided its own security.
Many Iraqis regard foreign security firms as little more than private armies which act with impunity.
Blackwater says it acted lawfully in the September shooting but the incident sparked a flurry of investigations and strained relations between Washington and Iraq.
Also on Tuesday, Iran said it had agreed to hold talks with the United States on Iraq's security in the "near future".
Another meeting between U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad would be the fourth time since May that the long-time foes have sat down to discuss Iraq.
The two countries have traded blame for Iraq's violence and Tehran has denied Washington's charges that it has armed, funded and supported Shi'ite militias.
With tensions appearing to ebb slightly, Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki said Iran had accepted a U.S. request, routed through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, for a new round of talks. Iraq's government said no date had been set. (Additional reporting by Alaa Shahine, Tehran bureau; Writing by Paul Tait and Missy Ryan, Editing by Dean Yates)
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:56 PM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007 1:26 PM PST
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Black Fucking Water
Now Playing: OUT OF CONTROL "Blackwater USA" update
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
Blackwater Killings Unjustified
Report Says That FBI Finds 14 of the 17 Blackwater Shootings in Iraq Were Unjustified
By LARA JAKES
The Associated Press
Blackwater Worldwide supports "stringent accountability" for any wrongdoing, a spokeswoman says following a report saying federal investigators found that the shooting deaths of at least 14 Iraqi civilians by its guards violated rules of deadly force.
The New York Times cited unidentified civilian and military officials in reporting for Wednesday's editions that the killings of at least 14 of the 17 Iraqi civilians shot by Blackwater personnel guarding a U.S. Embassy convoy were found to have been unjustified and violated standards in place governing the use of deadly force.
Responding to the Times report, Anne Tyrrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman, said the company "supports the stringent accountability of the industry. If it is determined that one person was complicit in the wrongdoing, we would support accountability in that. The key people in this have not spoken with investigators."
She added that the company will withhold further comment "until the findings are made available."
A government official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that no final conclusions have been reached about any of the fatalities. A State Department official said he was not aware that the department had been informed of any findings. Both requested anonymity because the investigation is still under way.
The Times said the Justice Department is already reviewing the findings even though the FBI is still investigating the Sept. 16 shootings.
No evidence supports assertions by Blackwater employees that they were fired upon by Iraqi civilians, but the FBI has concluded that three of the deaths may have been justified under rules that allow lethal force in response to an imminent threat, the paper reported.
"Without a doubt, the teams were faced with deadly force that day," the Blackwater spokeswoman said.
Investigators have concluded that as many as five of the company's guards opened fire during the shootings, the newspaper reported. One guard has become the focus of the investigation, the Times reported, because that guard was responsible for several deaths.
The shootings took place in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. Blackwater contends that its convoy was attacked before it opened fire, but the Iraqi government's investigation concluded that the shootings were unprovoked.
State Department officials have said it has offered limited immunity to private security contractors involved in shootings in Iraq. They disagreed with law enforcement officials that such actions could jeopardize prosecutions in the Sept. 16 incident.
Rep. David E. Price, D-N.,C., has sponsored legislation to apply U.S. criminal law to contractors serving overseas and called for the Justice Department to hold someone accountable for the shootings.
"We've always supported any productive moves toward accountability, including Congressman Price's bill," said Tyrrell, the Blackwater spokeswoman.
Paul Cox, a spokesman for Price, said late Tuesday that "we don't have any independent verification of this. I don't have any access to the report." But he said if the FBI concludes there was criminal wrongdoing, "just because there are deficiencies in the law, and Congressman Price is trying to rectify that, that's no excuse not to prosecute."
"For him, it just underscores that the administration should work with Congress in trying to pass this bill," added Cox.
Associated Press writers Tom Foreman Jr. in Raleigh, N.C., and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 3:05 PM PST
Friday, 9 November 2007
Dear Dennis Kucinich I support Impeachment letter
Now Playing: I support Res.H.799, so I wrote Congressman Kucinich
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
Hello Dennis (Sir)I live in Portland OregonI just signed up for your newsletter ;-)
…… PS ….. (“You got my vote”)
I heard your Interview on Thom Hartmann (Air America Radio) yesterday (I recorded it and put it on my website)I watched CNN of your Resolution in Congress which I also copied onto my website to share -- > http://www.joe-anybody.com/id100.html I admire good judgment and insight and I want you to know I do support you, and am very proud of your ethics and tenacity for honest government.
I have been “video taping” as an “independent journalist” for 16 weeks the, weekly protests outside Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s office, in Portland Oregon.There is about 2 dozen of us (a few times as many as 50 people) who are willing to stand outside there and rally for Honest Government every Thursday at high noonWe have had zero luck with Earl, in fact its like pulling teeth to get him to even discuss it.
Here is my website link to my Impeachment Video’s that mostly are hosted on Google & YouTube from this weekly vigil since July 07http://www.joe-anybody.com/id96.html
Every Thursday at noon, I skip my lunch and go film these concerned citizens as we stand as Individuals who are restlessly petitioning our congressman for justice and honest leadership.
One video I made (link is below) was when a small group protested when Earl & Nancy had a Global Warming (corporate press only) discussion at the Convention Center in Portland That link is here. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7869474360244231172
The man who stands up (from the sit in, wearing a red/orange shirt) and addresses the security is going by the nickname “The Lone Vet” he is an aspiring, brave, loving man. Who’s real name is Joe Walsh. It is inspiring to see citizens fight for justice and Integrity in these overwhelming times at hand, when so many engage in apathy or are so preoccupied, when in reality they are doing nothing, to help make positive honest changes, that are rightly deserving and guaranteed in our constitution.
I wanted you to know what we are doing out here (in the west)We are the “grassroots movement you spoke of” We are doing our part …. We call on our Congress to do theirs
And you are doing just that…… Thank you for your respect of the constitution and the ethics of doing what is right rather than ignoring this or allowing it to go unaddressed
We all talk very highly of you
Thank You for working for Peace and Justice
Please let my name go on the record to the Judiciary Committee that I want and demand impeachment hearings I support H.Res.799 I film under the name Joe Anybody (Because I am just an average Joe Anybody)
But my real name is Ben Waiting, I am a single dad with two older kids and one still at home (He is 14 and knows about neo-cons, Ralph Nader, the Constitution, and Impeachment)I am concerned for my children and their kids future, your stance on this issue (and many others) gives me hope for them and what I want for our country and the world
For that is why for the past 5 months we stand at Earls Office, (a few times we went inside) (ok more than a few times) and urge him to endorse impeachment J
If you get a chance to see any of my videos drop me a quick hello if you can …… I would like you to give a few of the videos of our rally’s a glance over (I understand if you are unable to)
Fele free to use any of them or embed them into any web format of yours, if you need to show what America is screaming about, right-along-side of you!
In Solidarity www.Joe-Anybody.com
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 1:00 AM PST
Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007 1:08 AM PST
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
CIA RENDITITION - a smoking gun - Nov 6 2007
Now Playing: Smoking Gun - The USA - TORTURE
Hello Z3 Readers, from the link below I read this information on the USA use of TORTURE
ABC News: The Blotter
CIA Rendition: The Smoking Gun Cable
November 06, 2007 2:33 PM
Sometimes the music was American rap, sometimes Arab folk songs. In the CIA prison in Afghanistan, it came blaring through the speakers 24 hours a day. Prisoners held alone inside barbed-wire cages could only speak to each other and exchange their news when the music stopped: if the tape was changed or the generators broke down.
In one such six-foot-by-10-foot cell in February 2004, equipped with a low mattress and a bucket as a toilet, sat a man in shackles named Ibn al Sheikh al Libi, the former al Qaeda camp commander described by former CIA director George Tenet in his autobiography last year as "the highest ranking al-Qa'ida member in U.S. custody" just after 9/11.
In this secret facility known to prisoners as "The Hangar" and believed to be at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, al Libi told fellow "ghost prisoners," one recalled to me for a PBS "Frontline" to be broadcast tonight, an incredible story of his treatment over the previous two years: of how questioned at first by Americans, by the FBI and then CIA, of how he was threatened with torture. And then how he was rendered to a jail cell in Egypt where the threats became a reality.
In his book, officially cleared for publication, Tenet confirms how the CIA outsourced al Libi's interrogation. He said he was sent to a third country (inadvertently named in another part of the book as Egypt) for "further debriefing."
The Bush administration has said that terrorists are trained to invent tales of torture.
Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.
Yet, on this occasion, the CIA believed al Libi's tales of torture -- an account that has proved to be one of the most serious indictments of the agency's practice of extraordinary rendition: sending suspected Islamic terrorists into the hands of foreign jailers without legal process.
In a CIA sub-station close to al Libi's jail cell, the CIA's "debriefers," who had been talking to al Libi for days after his return from Cairo, were typing out a series of operational cables to be sent Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 to the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va. In the view of some insiders, these cables provide the "smoking gun" on the whole rendition program -- a convincing account of how the rendition program was, they say, illegally sending prisoners into the hands of torturers.
Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaeda in chemical weapons. This evidence was used by Colin Powell at the United Nations a year earlier (February 2003) to justify the war in Iraq. ("I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al Qaeda," Powell said. "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.")
But now, hearing how the information was obtained, the CIA was soon to retract all this intelligence. A Feb. 5 cable records that al Libi was told by a "foreign government service" (Egypt) that: "the next topic was al-Qa'ida's connections with Iraq...This was a subject about which he said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story."
Al Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box approximately 50cm X 50cm [20 inches x 20 inches]." He claimed he was held in the box for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, al Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al Libi did not satisfy the interrogator, al Libi claimed that "he was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back." Al Libi told CIA debriefers that he then "was punched for 15 minutes." (Sourced to CIA cable, Feb. 5, 2004).
Here was a cable then that informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war -- the al Qaeda/Iraq link -- was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive.
Although there have been claims about torture inflicted on those rendered by the CIA to countries like Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Uzbekistan, this is the first clear example of such torture detailed in an official government document.
The information came almost one year before the president and other administration members first began to confirm the existence of the CIA rendition program, assuring the nation that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture." (New York Times, Jan. 28, 2005)
Last September, these red-hot CIA cables were declassified and published by the Senate Intelligence Committee, but in, a welter of other news, one of the most important documents in the history of rendition had passed almost without notice by the media. As far as I can tell, not a single newspaper reported details of the cable. (Senate Intelligence Committee, page 81, paragraph 2)
A spokesman of the intelligence committee told me last month: "We were not able to establish definitively who was told about the cable or its contents or who read it." Other members of Congress may soon be taking up this story to find out just who at the White House was told about the cable.
Meanwhile, al Libi, who told fellow prisoners in Bagram he was returned to U.S. custody from Egypt on Nov. 22, 2003, has disappeared. He was not among the "high-value prisoners" transferred to Guantanamo last year.
*Stephen Grey is the reporter for a documentary "Extraordinary Rendition" broadcast on PBS on Tuesday Nov. 6. He is the author of "Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA's Rendition and Torture Program" (St Martin's Press). He is an award-winning investigative reporter who has contributed to the New York Times, BBC, PBS and ABC News among others.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 1:02 PM PST
Monday, 5 November 2007
Farm Bill is really helping the rich - Contact Congress Today
Now Playing: FARM BILL - TAKE ACTION my fellow Z3 READERS
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
The 2007 Farm Bill provides a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty at home and abroad. The Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives, however well intentioned, maintains an unfair system of harmful commodity subsidies.
Zebra 3 Readers....
TAKE ACTION TODAY
Don't let the Senate play trick or treat with the Farm Bill
The Senate is playing trick or treat with the Farm Bill.
The Senate's trick: claiming the Farm Bill is good for everyone when in truth it hurts poor farmers here and abroad. And who gets a treat from the Senate? Millionaire farmers who receive unfair subsidies.
This is our last chance to enact real reform, but the Senate won’t listen unless thousands of people take action. Poor farmers are counting on you!
The Senate bill being considered, like the House version that passed, favors a relatively small number of producers at the expense of most farmers and rural communities, and it falls short of meeting its obligations to families that depend on food stamps and to conservation programs that protect rivers and streams. To make things worse, the Farm Bill would actually hurt poor farmers in developing countries—if we don't take action to fix it.
Please contact your senators and ask them to insist that the Farm Bill that comes to a vote in the Senate reduces trade-distorting subsidies and uses the savings to support programs that provide public benefits such as nutrition, conservation, and rural development. The Farm Bill only comes up once every five years, so it is critical that you take action today.
CLICK THE LINK I PROVIDED BELOW:
These subsidies undercut farmers and rural economies at home and abroad. Only one-quarter of American farmers receive commodity subsidies. Of these, the largest 10 percent of producers receive 75 percent of all payments. Contrary to the notion that subsidies help promote economic growth in rural America, the counties that receive the most commodity subsidies have seen job gains below the national average. Moreover, the commodity subsidies that our taxpayer dollars support lead to excess production, reducing world market prices, undermining the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world.
Your leadership can bring about change. As a voting constituent, I urge you to:
1. Vote yes on the Lugar-Lautenberg Farm Ranch Equity Stewardship and Health (FRESH) Amendment. The FRESH Amendment will provide a more effective safety net for all farmers regardless of what they grow or where they farm. The amendment reinvests $16 billion in savings over five years into several programs: $1.5 billion will go to new support for specialty crop farmers; $2.0 billion will go to improve diet and health; $6.2 billion will go to invest in popular conservation programs; $4.3 billion will go to help more hungry Americans; $3.0 billion will go to reduce the federal deficit; and $1.6 billion will go to support investments in renewable energy. The amendment will also bring our farm policy into compliance with international trade rules-removing the threat of real threat of retaliation.
2. Vote yes on the Grassley-Dorgan Payment Limits Amendment. The Grassley-Dorgan Payment Limits Amendment will place a real limit on the amount of money any one entity can receive, and it will close loopholes that allow some producers to evade limits altogether. This amendment will level the playing field for family farms and rural communities by producing budget savings that can be reinvested into programs?such as nutrition, conservation, and rural development-that deliver enhanced social benefits.
3. Provide mandatory funding for all programs, including $15 million for the 2501 Outreach and Education Program to match H.R. 2419. Mandatory funding will allow this program to help address inequities faced by farmers of color here at home.
4. Vote yes on amendments that would reduce cotton subsidies that hurt poor farmers around the world. Cotton subsidies maintained by the Agriculture Committee are especially troubling, with just 12,000 farms receiving up to three billion dollars in subsidies annually. These subsidies have a devastating effect on poor cotton farmers around the world. Failure to reform these trade-distorting subsidies will mean that those who don't need subsidies in the US continue to benefit at the taxpayers' expense while those who need the most help -the 10 million people in West Africa for whom cotton is their only source of income - suffer more. Cotton is often the only source of cash income for these families, most of them living on less than $1 a day. Reforming U.S. cotton subsidies would increase world cotton prices, resulting in added income that could feed an additional million children for a year who live in extremely poor West African cotton growing households.
Commodity subsidies hurt family farmers and cheat taxpayers. The Senate can succeed where the House of Representatives failed by making the Farm Bill fair.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 5:48 PM PST
Sunday, 4 November 2007
IMPORTANT = ANTI WAR SIT IN - SOLIDARITY NEEDED
Now Playing: High School Kids make ststement - need support from alies
Scores of H.S. Students Face Expulsion Following Antiwar Sit-In
Over 30 anti-war protesters at Morton West High School in Berwyn face expulsion for a demonstration at the school on Thursday.
Scores of Students Face Expulsion Due to Sit-in
Over 70 students participated in a sit-in against the Iraq War on All Saint's Day, Thursday, November 1st. It began third hour when dozens of student gathered quietly in the lunchroom at Morton West High School and refused to leave. Administrators and police became involved immediately and locked down the school for a half hour after class ended. Students report that they were promised that there would be no consequences besides cutting classes if they took their protest outside so as not to disturb the school day. The students agreed and were led to a corner outside the cafeteria where they sang songs and held signs while classes resumed. "At first they tried to make us like leave the school, " said Jerry Petrack, who was with the protest from the beginning. Petracek refers to the massive walk-out for immigrant rights in 2006 as a guide for their actions. (chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/71540/index.php
) "They were like march the streets or whatever and we were like no we don't wanna leave the school because last time there was a protest outside the school and kids got arrested and we remembered that."
Despite the caution tape and a police line set up between the protestors and the student body, many other students joined the demonstration. Organizers say they chose November first because it is the Christian All Saints holy day and a national day of peace. They wrote a letter and delivered it to Superintendent, Dr. Ben Nowakowski who was present at the time, stating the reason for their protest.
John Acevedo, a junior says he has been thinking about the world since he was a freshman. " I've noticed that there are many students that do not really notice anything that is going on in the world. They focus on themselves or their music and I really wanted to show and lead them on to these ideas that what really is happening in the world."
Adam Swarek says that a lot of people thought they just wanted to cut classes. "It was a lot more spiritual than that." "Bascially, you know the school has people in military uniforms that you know stand out there and they give away prizes for doing pull-ups and doing this and that and what they're basically representing and trying to put out there is murder and killing. That's all that basically represents when it comes down to war, you know. Like, what else is there?
So we were just trying to do something opposite, like peaceful and they took it as insubordinant."
Deans, counselors and even the Superintendent tried to change the minds of a few, mainly those students with higher GPA scores to abandon the protest. The school called the homes of many of the protestors. Those whose parents arrived before the end of school and took their students home, or left before the protest ended at the final bell, received 3-5 days suspension. All others, an estimated 37 received 10 days suspension and expulsion papers. Parents report that Nowakowski stated those who are seventeen will also face police charges.
Parents who are frantically trying to spare their child's expulsion flooded the school yesterday to file appeals on the matter. So far, Superintendent Nowakowski has held firm on the punishments. They are expected to find out the results of the appeals on Tuesday. Parents and students report and the school's videotape shown to some of the parents confirms that the students were non-violent in their action and there was no damage to property.
The protest came on the heels of a recent incident on October 15th, when a student reported hearing that another student had a gun on campus. The story of the eyewitness was deemed unreliable and the school was not locked down. Later that week (October 19), the Berwyn police, acting on a tip arrested one of the youths originally questioned for gun possession and he allegedly confessed to carrying an unloaded semi-automatic handgun that day. All these issues, plus the expected announcement of whether uniforms will be established in the school should make the next Board of Education meeting on Wednesday at 7:00pm at the Morton East campus very well-attended.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 6:33 PM PDT
Friday, 2 November 2007
TSA cheats and fixes their own screening - Security my ass!
Now Playing: CAN YOU SAY "scammed - lied to - cheating - phoney TSA"
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
TSA cought cheating
on their own screening checks
= "SCAM on us Americans"
Official sends e-mail detailing tests;
agency's inspector general investigates
WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration touts its programs to ensure security by using undercover operatives to test its airport screeners. In one instance, however, the agency thwarted such a test by alerting screeners across the country that it was under way, even providing descriptions of the undercover agents.
The government routinely runs covert tests at airports to ensure that security measures in place are sufficient to stop a terrorist from bringing something dangerous onto an airplane. Alerting screeners when the undercover officer is coming through and what the person looks like would defeat the purpose.
But that’s exactly what happened on April 28, 2006, according to an e-mail from a top TSA official who oversees security operations.
In an e-mail to more than a dozen recipients, including airport security staff, the TSA official warned that “several airport authorities and airport police departments have recently received informal notice” of security testing being carried out by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The e-mail from Mike Restovich, assistant administrator of TSA’s Office of Security Operations, relayed an alert that described a couple who were testing security. The woman is white but has “an oriental woman’s picture” on her identification card, it stated. “They will print a boarding pass from a flight, change the date, get through security (if not noticed) and try to board a flight and place a bag in the overhead.”
Because the pair had altered the date on a boarding pass, the e-mail advised: “Alert your security line vendors to be aware of subtle alterations to date info.”
The TSA inspector general is investigating the incident, and the agency would not discuss details of the case because it’s part of an ongoing investigation.
TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said, “We are confident in the overall integrity of the program. Tip-offs are not a systemic problem because we do so much testing.”
Lawmakers are asking for more details on the incident as well.
“Any effort to undermine the integrity of covert testing of TSA’s screening checkpoints is unacceptable,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in a letter Thursday to TSA Administrator Kip Hawley. Thompson chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 4:48 PM PDT
Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Congress passes 7-year Net tax ban
Now Playing: NO TAX ON INTERNET USE - for at least 7 more years
Posted by Richard Koman @ October 30, 2007 @ 2:09 PM
The House unanimously passed a seven-year extension of a ban on Internet taxes, in harmony with a bill passed by the Senate last week. The bill goes to President Bush for approval, just two days before the existing tax moratorium is scheduled to expire, Computerworld reports.
While many Republicans and Bush had supported a permanent ban, Bush is expected to sign the seven-year plan.
It’s great to see Congress act on time for a change and take an enormous step for Internet tax freedom — banning access taxes and protecting e-mails and instant messaging for the next seven years,” Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) said in a statement. “I will continue to fight for a permanent ban on access taxes, but this is a strong step forward. Taxing the Internet is wrong for consumers and wrong for the economy.”
Washington politicians and lobbyists alike spoke enthusiastically about the extension. “Americans will not face a toll road when they get on the information superhighway” if Bush signs the bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. The extension “will ensure continued investment and growth in the broadband marketplace,” Verizon lobbyist Peter Davidson said, according to Bloomberg.
Even governors agreed the bill is `reasonable” and will “close tax loopholes, promote Internet usages and protect states,” in the words of Raymond Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association in Washington.
One key issue: The original House bill failed to exempt email services not bought as part of an access package. The final version continues the exemption for independent email and IM services.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:56 AM PDT
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
War on Drugs is a "FAILURE & TOTAL DISASTER"
Now Playing: da Texas Judge is "Right On"
War on Drugs a ‘failure, ‘total disaster’
By: Stephen Webster
Denton Co. Judge Jake Collier, a Flower Mound resident, takes top honors in poll of peers, calls for drug policy reform, regulation, control, rehabilitation
Jake Collier, 67, of the 158th District Court in Denton, Texas, is riding the only tidal wave of fame afforded to judges outside of the rising insanity of celebrity justice. Since being named “Best Judge in Denton” by the Denton County Bar Association for his conservative viewpoints, efficient use of court time and strict interpretations of the law, Judge Collier has been the toast of the county’s legal community.
When this reporter called for an interview about bench time, legal philosophy and the dark humor one acquires from a life in legal practice, it was more than a little surprising when Collier began to solicit his views on America’s Drug War.
To begin, however, the judge reinforced the principal requirement of his job.
“It does not matter whether a judge agrees or disagrees with the law,” he said. “We must know it and uphold it, and that’s what I do.”
In the state of Texas, election to District Court Judge requires at least five years as bar-certified attorney. Judge Collier, currently serving in his fifth year with the court, has been a legal professional since 1969, when he first moved to Lewisville. A graduate of the University of Texas, Collier has worked in almost every sector of the legal world, from corporate and real estate law to family law to criminal defense. The father of two children, and grandfather to three, Judge Collier feels his service to the county and the court reflects his respect for the American system of justice and his philosophy of civic duty.
However, he said, there is one frequented issue in his court that causes him a great deal of moral turmoil.
“My experience is the War on Drugs that has been waged by America for all these years is an absolute, total disaster … A failure,” he said. “We’re putting people in jail for possession, and we seldom if ever really run across a dealer. I don’t think, since I’ve been in office, we have not had more than four or five dealers come through my court.”
Judge Collier said he looks at countries such as England and the Netherlands as having a more intelligent approach to substance abuse, especially pertaining to the dangerous and addictive drug heroin.
“[Regulation and control] seems to work in countries that regulate the dangerous drugs,” said Judge Collier. “They do not have the criminal problem with heroin that the Untied States has. I believe Texas is one of just four or five states that do not have a free needle exchange program. In almost every other state, if someone is going to shoot up, they can get a clean needle. Now, we know they’re going to shoot up, and nothing we’ve ever done has made a bit of difference with that, but at least we’re going to help prevent a disease such as AIDS. But Texas doesn’t do that. We’re hell bent; by God, that’s a crime and we ain’t gonna help you do it.”
As for America’s number one cash crop, Judge Collier does even go as far as batting an eye at marijuana.
“Marijuana is well on its way, even in the state of Texas, to not being much of a crime,” he said. “I don’t hear marijuana cases. The only marijuana cases I hear is when somebody has four ounces or more. In other words, they’ve already reduced possession of a couple of joints to the level of a throw-away misdemeanor. I would not be surprised to see it be treated more like a parking violation, where you’d have to pay a fine for being caught with it in public.”
Judge Collier reinforced his belief in incarceration as a tool for reform, or to protect society at large, but continued his insistence that drug policy must be reformed.
“I don’t believe in violent crime,” he said. “Give me a chance and I’ll put you in jail for the rest of your life if you’re violent. But I truly do think we’re making a terrible mistake, locking up all these people for possession of drugs, even serious drugs, especially if they’ve only physically hurt themselves. There’s a philosophical point that says it is not the government’s business what someone puts in their body. Everybody says, ‘Oh, but it ruins lives.’ Well, hell, so does liquor! Liquor is the worst drug in the world. There are more people’s lives and family’s lives that have been ruined and more deaths each year from drinking alcohol than from all the drugs combined.”
However, just because he opines a progressive stance on drug policy does not mean he is somehow soft on crime. This is especially true when confronted with intoxicated drivers, for whom the judge has zero tolerance.
“Within six months of me taking the bench, word was out in the legal community that you do not want Judge Collier to set the penalty in a DWI case,” he said. “By the time I see them, they’re on their third DWI, making it a felony. And to be perfectly honest, at that point, I just do not know what to do other than put them away for their entire lives. You can do what you want to with your body in your own home, but when you drive without clarity of mind, you risk others’ lives and that is unacceptable.”
Finally, Collier concluded: “We’re getting our butts kicked. That’s all there is to it. The Mexican drug mafia is about to move across the Rio Grande into Texas. It’s real simple. If I can buy a pencil for a penny, walk across the street and sell it for a dollar, there’s no way in hell you’re going to prevent me from buying a bunch of pencils and walking across the street. The money is too good. The same is true in the drug trade. There’s no way we’re going to prevent all these people from growing all these drugs and manufacturing methamphetamine and all these things. There’s too much profit. We’ll only reduce drug use if we take away that profit from the bad guys, and put funding into really educating our children that you ought not to do this. That’s the only way we’ll ever stop being a user nation.”
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 4:54 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007 4:59 PM PDT
1961 - biggest bomb ever was dropped
Now Playing: 58 megaton bomb from Russia
|On This Day|
October 30, 1961 - The Soviet Union detonated a 58 megaton yield hydrogen bomb over Novaya Zemlya, which is still the largest nuclear device to ever be detonated.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:01 AM PDT
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