Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, December 5, 2008
(PrisonPlanet) – California cops tasered a distraught son whose father was drowning after he and his brother complained that police were not doing enough to rescue their dad, while authorities prevented the two sons from making any kind of rescue effort themselves.
The latest example of police brutality unfolded in Mendocino Country California. A San Francisco family was visiting Portuguese Beach when the father accidentally fell into the water and was washed away from the shore.
Police arrived with rescue crews but made no effort to save the drowning man, named as 54-year-old Maurizio Biasini, and prevented his two 18-year-old sons, Dario and Andriano Biasini, from helping their dad as they insisted on waiting for the Coast Guard and a Sheriff’s boat.
CHP officers claim the sons were “getting in the way of rescue efforts” but charges of “interfering” are likely to be dropped, according to a KHSL TV report.
“I think they could have settled them down in other ways than that,” said the eyewitness who filmed the incident.
The father who fell in the water is still missing.
This is just the latest example in an epidemic of police brutality that has swept America in the last few years as the indiscriminate use and abuse of Taser devices increases exponentially.
Last week we reported on the case of Margaret Hiebing, a 54-year-old women who was tasered by Wisconsin police for the dangerous crime of sitting in the wrong seat at a football game in Madison. Hiebing, a Badgers season ticket holder, had taken a different seat because someone else had occupied her usual place at the packed game. When police approached Mrs Hiebing she explained the situation and refused to leave. Onlookers began to berate the cops after one of them reportedly threatened Hiebing with pepper spray.
One witness filmed the altercation on a cell phone, evidence which would later dispel initial police claims that Hiebing was causing an obstruction by sitting in the aisle.
Police then forced Hiebing face down on the ground and tasered her on the back of the leg.
Hiebing was then placed in a wheel chair and ejected as she was unable to walk out of the stadium.
Soldiers sue Iraq contractor over toxic, cancer-causing dust
Sixteen soldiers are suing former Halliburton unit KBR, charging that its employees knowingly exposed them to a carcinogenic chemical in the course of their duties.
McManaway v. KBR, filed Wednesday at the U.S. District Court (Southern District of Indiana, Evansville), seeks to recover medical costs, along with monetary damages and monitoring for health problems including cancer, for sixteen Indiana National Guardsmen based in Tell City who were posted at a water treatment plant that KBR was commissioned to repair shortly after the American invasion, from April to September 2003. The Guardsmen charge that KBR was aware of dangerous levels of sodium dichromate on the premises, used to remove corrosion from pipes. Part of its chemical makeup is hexavalent chromium, which is known to cause lung cancer and birth defects. Sergeant First Class David Moore of Dubois, Indiana, was among those said to be affected: he died this year of chronic interstitial lung disease. His death was ruled service-related.
"It’s not right," said Mark McManaway, 55, the main plaintiff in the suit. He has suffered rashes and nosebleeds he blames on the exposure. Their attorney, Mike Doyle, is also representing ten KBR workers in arbitration (Langford v. Halliburton, American Arbitration Association, 70-480-00649-05) who echo the charge, saying that their employer chose to cover up the exposure after neglecting to issue them the proper protective gear. Ed Blacke, who worked as a medic at Qarmat Ali, testified to a Senate panel in June that he was fired when he discovered the toxic dust and tried to warn others. "A day’s exposure could write you a death warrant," he added. "Just one day’s exposure." He said that the chemical contamination was an act of sabotage by the Iraqi Baath party.
"The Tell City Guardsmen were repeatedly told that there was no danger on site, even after KBR managers knew that blood testing of American civilians exposed onsite confirmed elevated chromium levels," Doyle said in the complaint.
"We deny the assertion that KBR harmed troops and was responsible for an unsafe condition," KBR spokesperson Heather Browne said in an e-mail statement. "KBR appropriately notified the Army Corps of Engineers upon discovery of the existence of the substance on the site and the Corps of Engineers concluded that KBR’s efforts to remediate the situation were effective. Further the company in no way condones any action that would compromise the safety of those we serve or employ."
The Guardsmen’s complaint includes a copy of an internal KBR memo, dated June 2003, in which managers discussed sodium dichromate at the plant, and a statement from the Army confirming that there was "high potential for direct exposure" to the chemical during the time the Guardsmen were stationed at the plant.
Scientists ask: Is technology rewiring our brains?
NEW YORK – What does a teenage brain onlook like? Do all those hours spent online rewire the circuitry? Could these kids even relate better to emoticons than to real people? These sound like concerns from worried parents. But they’re coming from brain scientists.
Whilehave gotten a lot of public attention, some current concerns go well beyond that. Some scientists think the wired world may be changing the way we read, learn and interact with each other.
There are no firm answers yet. But Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatrist at UCLA, argues that daily exposure to digital technologies such as the Internet and smart phones can alter how the brain works.
When the brain spends more time on technology-related tasks and less time exposed to other people, it drifts away from fundamentallike reading facial expressions during conversation, Small asserts.
So brain circuits involved in face-to-face contact can become weaker, he suggests. That may lead to social awkwardness, an inability to interpret nonverbal messages, isolation and less interest in traditional classroom learning.
Small says the effect is strongest in so-called digital natives — people in their teens and 20s who have been "digitally hard-wired since toddlerhood." He thinks it’s important to help the digital natives improve their social skills and older people — digital immigrants — improve their technology skills.
At least one 19-year-old Internet enthusiast gives Small’s idea a mixed review. John Rowe, who lives near Pasadena, Calif., spends six to 12 hours online a day. He flits from instant messaging his friends to games like Cyber Nations and Galaxies Ablaze to online forums for game players and disc jockeys.
Social skills? Rowe figures he and his buddies are doing just fine in that department, thank you. But he thinks Small may have a point about some other people he knows.
"If I didn’t actively go out and try to spend time with friends, I wouldn’t have the social skills that I do," said Rowe, who reckons he spends three or four nights a week out with his pals. "You can’t just give up on having normal friends that you see on a day-to-day basis."
More than 2,000 years ago, Socrates warned about a different information revolution — the rise of the written word, which he considered a more superficial way of learning than the oral tradition. More recently, the arrival of television sparked concerns that it would make children more violent or passive and interfere with their education.
Small, who describes his modern-day concerns in a new book called "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind," acknowledges he doesn’t have an open-and-shut case that digital technology is changing brain circuitry.
Still, his argument is "pretty interesting and certainly provocative," although difficult to prove, says brain scientist Tracey Shors of Rutgers University.
Others are skeptical. Robert Kurzban, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, said scientists still have a lot to learn about how a person’s experiences affect the way the brain is wired to deal with .
Life in the age ofmay even change how we read.
Normally, as a child learns to read, the brain builds pathways that gradually allow for more sophisticated analysis and comprehension, says Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, author of "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain."
She calls that analysis and comprehension "deep reading." But that takes time, even if it’s just a fraction of a second, and today’s wired world is all about speed, gathering a lot of superficial information fast.
Wolf asks what will happen as young children do more and more early reading online. Will their brains respond by short-circuiting parts of the normal reading pathways that lead to deeper reading but which also take more time? And will that harm their ability to reflect on what they’ve read?
Those questions deserve to be studied, Wolf says. She thinks kids will need instruction tailored to gainingin the digital world.
Some research suggests the brain actually benefits from Internet use.
A large study led by University of California, Irvine, recently concluded that by hanging out online with friends — sending instant messages, for example — teens learn valuable skills they’ll need to use at work and socially in the digital age. That includes lessons about issues like online privacy and what’s appropriate to post and communicate on the internet, Ito said.of the
Rowe, the 19-year-old, said he and his buddies often debate whether technology might actually be bad for you. That includes kicking around the argument that computer use makes people socially inept.
Of course, he added, "we spend a lot of time on the computer and still have totally normal and perfect social lives."
WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Departing U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said on Wednesday that he saw no reason for prosecutions or for pardons for those who gave legal advice on the Bush administration’s terrorism policies. Some human rights groups have urged President-elect Barack Obama to launch criminal investigations into the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on al Qaeda terrorism suspects.
They also have questioned whether the Bush administration broke the law with its warrantless domestic spying program adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Obama’s advisers have yet to say what he will do, but one idea being considered is creating an independent commission, like the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, to examine the interrogation policies. There has been speculation that President George W. Bush, before he leaves office next month and hands over to Obama, might give pardons to past or present officials implicated in the harsh interrogation methods or other abuses. Mukasey told reporters at the Justice Department that he did not see the need for prosecutions or for pardons. "There is absolutely no evidence that anybody who rendered a legal opinion either with respect to surveillance or with respect to interrogation policy did so for any reason other than to protect the security of the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful," he said. "In those circumstances, there is no occasion to consider prosecutions, there is no occasion to consider pardons," Mukasey said. Mukasey said he had not yet met with Eric Holder, a Washington lawyer who has been selected by Obama as the new attorney general, and he declined to say what advice he would give him. But Mukasey noted changes at the Justice Department since Holder served as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, with the creation of the national security division. Asked about the potential for an attack in the United States during the transition period to Obama, Mukasey replied, "Terrorist groups strike when they are ready to strike," not according to the political calendar or schedule of events. Obama has vowed he will close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which now holds about 255 terrorism suspects. Mukasey said he strongly believed that none of the detainees should be released into the United States. And if one of the dangerous detainees receives a short sentence from a military tribunal, Mukasey said it would be "suicidal" to release that person after the sentence has been served. Asked if that was justice, he answered, "Yes." Mukasey, a former federal judge, said he planned to go back to New York, but said he had not yet decided what he will do. (Editing by David Storey)
By Chris Kraul
Antonio, 30, who declined to give his last name for fear of reprisal, said armed and uniformed fighters who identified themselves as members of a paramilitary force called the Black Eagles gave residents minutes to leave San Jose, their Pacific coast hamlet.
Antonio, his wife and infant son are part of an alarming upsurge this year of displaced people in Colombia. According to CODHES, a human rights group based in Bogota, the capital, 270,675 additional internal refugees were documented in the first half of this year, 41% more than during the same period last year.
The wave of uprooted humanity is matched by a parallel surge in the number of fighters, according to a study released last week by the New Rainbow Coalition, a peace group also based in Bogota. More than 100 new gangs have been formed, including as many as 10,000 fighters, and have a presence in one out of five Colombian counties, mostly rural ones.
Paramilitary groups proliferated in the 1980s and 1990s as defensive forces financed by farmers and cattlemen to battle leftist guerrillas. Many of the fighters turned to crime, seizing land and trafficking in drugs, before laying down their arms in a government-brokered demobilization completed in 2006.
The reemerging armed gangs are wreaking havoc in Nariño state. They are vying with guerrillas and drug traffickers for control of a zone that boasts ideal coca growing conditions as well as a labyrinthine coastline offering hundreds of concealed, mangrove-studded inlets from which to ship drugs to U.S. markets.
The new paramilitary groups, like the rebels and traffickers, often force people such as Antonio from their homes and farms to take possession of land as war booty and to clear the area of potential enemy sympathizers. With an estimated 3 million people having been displaced, Colombia is second only to Sudan in the number of its internal refugees.
The struggle is creating an enormous human catastrophe, with displacement accelerating faster in Nariño than anywhere else in Colombia. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, has registered 27,000 new internal refugees in the state this year, double last year’s rate.
Cities such as Tumaco are struggling with the influx, said Marie-Helene Verney, a UNHCR official in Bogota.
"Massive displacements of people began last year, with people leaving the countryside for the cities to escape the combat, and it’s continuing now," Verney said. "It’s the worst since 2002."
One reason for the stepped-up combat, said New Rainbow analyst Claudia Lopez, is that emerging paramilitary groups such as the Black Eagles and New Generation are filling the power vacuum left by the demobilization of 31,000 right-wing militia members in 2006.
Dozens of paramilitary figures confessed to crimes and were jailed as part of the peace process. Fourteen top leaders were extradited to the United States in May to face drug trafficking charges, clearing the way for a power struggle.
"Since the chiefs went to jail, it’s generated a lot of commotion in the mafias," Lopez said. "Every group needs its own army because disputes are more likely to be settled by combat now."
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and others in his government insist that since demobilization ended, paramilitary fighters no longer exist. Uribe describes new groups as "emerging gangs" or "criminal bands," saying they don’t fit the mold of their predecessors.
But political science professor Gustavo Duncan at the University of the Andes in Bogota said the new groups were performing many of the same criminal functions as paramilitaries: extorting money from businesses, governments and even poor farmers, and providing protection for drug traffickers.
"The government denies that paramilitaries exist because it is the same as admitting that demobilization didn’t work," Duncan said.
Duncan and Lopez said the surrender of paramilitary fighters was significant because it cleared regions of Colombia of large armies that had begun to challenge the armed forces for power. But "reinsertion" of the demobilized fighters into productive society has been spotty. According to some estimates, 15% to 20% of the new paramilitary groups may consist of former combatants who have returned to their criminal ways.
The largest group is thought to be the Black Eagles, which may account for half of the newly emerged fighters. U.N. officials say its forces have recently moved into Nariño state to compete with New Generation and another criminal gang, the Weeds.
Antonio said other armed groups, such as leftist rebels, also posed a threat where he lived. Guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were constantly trying to recruit teenagers into their ranks, he said.
A displaced woman named America, who gave only her first name, said she arrived in the Milenio settlement in May with her husband, six children and several other townspeople from the valley of the Patia River after being forced to flee by the FARC.
"The army had come before and pitched their tents next to our farm," she said.
"But then they left and we had no protection. Soon afterward, there was fighting nearby and in came the rebels. They thought we were serving the soldiers and told us we had to leave.
"We had a 10-acre farm with five cows, cocoa and sapote trees, and we had never had any problems," she said. "But we had to get on boats immediately and leave without anything. They killed a friend of my husband’s before we left. There is a lot of fighting now."
"We are talking about what can be done," Sedlak said. "Look, they [Planned Parenthood] could easily have said, ‘these certificates are not to be used for abortions.’ But they intentionally chose not to do that."
Those who criticize the gift certificates, said PPIN’s Cockrum, are missing the forest for the trees. "We see 92,000 patients each year at Planned Parenthood of Indiana, and 5,000 of them opt for abortions," Cockrum said. "Ninety-five percent of what we do is provide basic health care."
Such tales of law enforcement gone awry emerged in court papers Tuesday as federal prosecutors unveiled a series of elaborate sting operations aimed at officers who hired out to ride shotgun for drug deals and other .
Fifteen officers and two other men who had pretended to be law enforcement officers were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine or heroin or both.
But the most spectacular pretending was done by the federal agents themselves.
The pilots of the airplane were not drug runners but undercover agents. So were the gamblers who busily played hand after hand of high-stakes poker — all for show.
The drug broker who squired the officers to the airport to pick up the duffel bags was an agent. So was the drug dealer who stuffed the bags into his Mercedes-Benz.
U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said he was dismayed to find that so many law enforcement officers had "sold out their badge."
"When drug dealers deal drugs, they ought to be afraid of the police — not turn to them for help," Fitzgerald said at a news conference.
Officials paid homage to an unnamed FBI agent who moved into a business in Harvey more than a year ago and set up shop as a drug broker. He soon attracted the attention of police and the corruption grew, authorities said.
They said the agent was sent in undercover because there had been reports of southern Cook County, including the Harvey police department. An investigation into allegations of robbery, extortion, narcotics offenses and weapons distribution is ongoing, officials said.over the last several years in
Those charged include 10 Cook County sheriff‘s , four Harvey police officers and one Chicago police officer.
Of the 17 defendants, 14 were arrested or surrendered Tuesday and were being immediately brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason. Two sheriff’s officers are on active duty with Army National Guard units in Afghanistan, and warrants were issued for their arrest.
If convicted of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine or one kilogram of heroin, the defendants would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life. The maximum fine would be $4 million.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart called the alleged behavior "absolutely reprehensible."
"The responsibility of watching overis an important one and it’s a shame these men didn’t take that responsibility more seriously," he said in a statement.
Each of those charged has been suspended with pay pending a hearing next week, Dart said. "That step will then lead to a request for termination," he said.
Brazil selling 100 missiles to Pakistan
The Associated Press
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s defense minister says his nation is selling 100 aircraft-borne missiles to Pakistan.
Brazilian officials approved the euro85 million ($107 million) sale of the missiles, which can be installed on jets and used to take out radar installations.
Brazilian news media say Brazil’s air force negotiated the sale with Pakistan’s government. The deal needed the approval of Brazil’s trade ministry, which signed off on the deal on Tuesday.
The Brazilian arms maker Mectron will make the missiles.
Brazil has been trying to bolster its defense industry, which was the largest in the developing world 20 years ago. The industry has struggled since the end of the Cold War.