Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Abuses’

Bear with us: another proposed petition about the bailout

In Libertarian on September 25, 2008 at 12:08 pm

This is a proposed petition. You can suggest draft changes at Brad Spangler’s blog.

To President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin of the Russian Federation,

Thank you for the opportunity to address you in this petition.

The Russian News and Information Agency (RIA Novosti) recently published an opinion article written by British historian and political analyst John Laughland. Laughland suggested that the Russian government consider making the rouble convertible into gold. The article can be found here:

http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080924/117072937.html

We ask that you please consider Laughland’s proposal.

All factions of the political leadership of the United States government appear determined to wreck the value of the U.S. dollar. We are not optimistic that U.S. political leaders will adopt a wise monetary policy. Not only is this bad for the people of the United States, but because the U.S. dollar is so widely used it is bad for the people of the world.

We believe the Russian government has an opportunity to provide stability for the world economy during this time of crisis created by the U.S. government. We believe potential Russian adoption of a gold standard supports such efforts.

We ask this also on behalf of our own selves and all Americans who truly wish to prosper. You will recall, gentlemen, that the U.S. dollar once served as a stable currency for the informal economy in the Soviet Union. You may recall that this so-called “black market” did perhaps more to make life bearable for the ordinary Russian than the official economy did. We ask that the Russian government now return the favor by adopting a gold standard, creating a currency that can undisputably be trusted within the U.S. informal economy that must grow as the emerging U.S. police state grows in power.

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Tell Congress: Just Say No to Donkey Punch Bailout Plan!

In Activism, Congress, Corruption, Economics, Fraud, George Phillies, Libertarian, US Government on September 25, 2008 at 11:46 am

Petition from the desk of George Phillies, but don’t blame him for the headline

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/nobailouts/

petition urging Congress to reject the bailout

Let’s send Congress and the press the message. The text of the petition:

Respecting that many people have worked very hard to get a Congressional majority for their party, ‘we will vote against you’ covers the 2010 primaries as well as the general election.

Congress: Reject Paulson’s Bailout!

We call upon Congress to reject bank bailouts. We urge every Senator and Representative to vote against the plan. We urge every Senator to filibuster any bank bailout bill.

Congressmen: We mean it! If you vote for the bailout, we will vote against you, this Fall or in your next primary.

To pay for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’ plans, Uncle Sam will borrow trillions of dollars. That’s trillions of dollars out of our pockets and into the pockets of Paulson’s cronies. Congress should reject the Paulson plan and leave our money in our pockets.

Paulson’s plan will bankrupt the American taxpayer so Paulson’s banker friends can avoid suffering. Paulson wants to save his banker buddies by throwing our money at them. Instead of throwing money at bankers, Congress should throw the Paulson plan–and Paulson himself–into the wastebasket of history.

Americans believe in personal responsibility. If your neighbor borrows more money than he can repay, the penalty should fall on him, not on prudent working men and women like us who chose to live within their means. That goes for our neighbors, and it goes double for bankers and financiers, who are supposed to know how to invest money.

Congressional regulations make sure: When you sign a mortgage, the numbers you will pay were right in front of you. The Paulson plan to buy up mortgages rewards irresponsible people at the expense of the people who believed in the American way of thrift and frugality.

The Federal government should not stop banks from failing. That’s selective Federal intervention to aid the incompetent. That is just plain backwards. Congress should insist: If a bank wants to turn its assets over to Uncle Sam and go out of business, it should turn over absolutely all its assets, not just its bad assets. That includes funds reserved for executive buy-outs.

Congress should make sure: Foreign banks should get nothing from Uncle Sam. If foreign banks are unhappy with their investments, they should ask foreign taxpayers to pay them off. American working men and women should not pay through the nose because foreign bankers are too lazy to check out their investments and too incompetent to tell their investments cannot possibly be good.

Paulson proposes that his decisions should not be subject to review by the courts. Who does he think he is, King George III against whom George Washington revolted? Paulson would give himself powers that the King of England lacked. Americans would have no protections from Paulson’s bad judgement, no matter how grievous their injuries. That’s unconstitutional and immoral.

Congress should ask itself: Should we trust Paulson’s judgement? The record is clear: Paulson and Fed Reserve Bank Chair Bernanke got us into our mess. Paulson was completely wrong then, and there’s no reason to suspect he’s gotten smarter since. Congress has trusted Paulson for far too long. It should stop doing so.

Having said that, in these economically disorderly times some Americans through no fault of their own are momentarily unable to keep current on their mortgages. A program of modest loans with paybacks that could be re-scheduled, covering part of mortgage expenses for a limited time, would be far cheaper than the Paulson plan. To protect the taxpayer, such loans should not be voided by bankruptcy.

Most urgent private message

In Children, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Economics, Fraud, Human Rights Abuses, Humor, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Taxation, Terrorism, US Government on September 25, 2008 at 1:00 am

H/T Delaware Libertarian

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had a crisis that has caused the need for a large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Franklin Raines, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. You may know him as the Chief Economic Advisor for Senator Obama’s presidential campaign, and the former head of Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2006.

Let me assure you that this transaction is 100% safe. Mr. Raines is completely trustworthy with your money. His record speaks for itself.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of friend so the funds can be transferred. Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully

Henry “Hank” Paulson

Minister of Treasury

Technically legal signs for libraries

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law Enforcement, Police State, Protest, Terrorism on July 27, 2008 at 1:57 am

From librarian.net

FLDS finally getting their children back today

In Big Brother, Children, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Media, Minorities, Nanny State, People in the news, Police State on June 2, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Two months after their children were taken by state social service agencies, the parents of the Yearning For Zion polygamist sect have been granted permission by the court to pick up their children from foster care starting at 10:00 am CDT today.  This latest development comes after the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state lacked probable cause to remove their children from their families, because they could not show that any of the children were in immediate danger.

The order does have some serious restrictions, however.  The families have been ordered to cooperate with state officials, including unannounced home visits and physical and psychiatric testing; they are also not permitted to leave the state of Texas, and the parents must take parenting classes.  The families are also not allowed to travel more than 100 miles without notifying Child Protective Services.

The return of the children is being hailed as a victory by civil libertarians, who viewed the raid as a violation of the sect’s constitutional rights.  However, many still question the restrictions placed upon the families by the court.

Yearning For Zion is a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect.  FLDS members believe in the original teachings of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, who taught that polygamy is the way to glorification in heaven.  The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints banned polygamy over a hundred years ago.

The state of Texas had taken over 400 children into custody, following a hoax call from a woman falsely claiming to be a pregnant FLDS teenager being beaten by her much older husband.  That woman, Rozita Swinson of Colorado, has been arrested; and it has come to light that this is not the first time she has perpetrated a hoax of this type.

It is expected that the YFZ families whose children were removed, as well as the young women who were taken against their will and assumed to be underage even though they are legal adults (at least one is in her mid-twenties), will sue the state of Texas and the state’s Child Protective Services agency.  If that occurs, due to the number of people involved, the damages could be in the billions.

Previous LFV entries on this subject (listed in chronological order):

“Sickos: What’s a free market solution?” by Nigel Watt, 4/22/08

“Another viewpoint on FLDS case” by ElfNinosMom, 4/22/08

“Texas Supreme Court orders polygamist children returned to parents” by ElfNinosMom, 05/29/08

Dirty cop convicted in no-knock warrant death of 92-year-old woman

In Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug War, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Obituaries, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Police Brutality, Police State on May 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm

After two Atlanta cops (Gregg Junnier and Jason R. Smith) pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and federal civil rights violations in the death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, a third cop (Arthur Bruce Tesler) has been found guilty by a jury of lying in the investigation into the woman’s death. Tesler did not fire any of the shots in the raid.

Tesler and his partners Junnier and Smith had gotten a no-knock warrant, claiming that there was a kilo of cocaine in the house, but they lied about whether they had confirmed the information from their informant. Consequently they busted into the elderly woman’s home in plainclothes, shot and killed her when she shot at them – undoubtedly in self-defense, believing them to be intruders – then planted drugs in her house to make it look like a “good” bust.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The jury acquitted Tesler on two charges from the illegal 2006 narcotics raid in which officers shot and killed Kathryn Johnston in her northwest Atlanta home. It found him guilty of lying in an official investigation in the cover-up of police wrongdoing that followed the shooting.

“It is not like anyone intended to hurt her, but that’s what came out of it,” Woltz said. “Right will win out.”

Tesler, 42, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Thursday. If he had been convicted on all counts, he could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The verdict came shortly after the jury reviewed a transcript of Tesler’s defense testimony. He and his two partners were accused of lying to get the no-knock search warrant for Johnston’s home on the mistaken belief it was the house of a drug dealer.

The Johnston killing shocked metro Atlanta and enraged many in the African-American community, who complained that shoddy or heavy-handed police work in the war on drugs was a source of repeated abuses.

You can read the article in its entirety on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Police brutality in Philadelphia last night caught on tape

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Media, Minorities, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State on May 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Another viewpoint on FLDS case

In Activism, Big Brother, Children, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, First Amendment, Fraud, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Nanny State, People in the news, Police State on April 22, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Polygamists outside courtThe judge hearing the case of 400+ children removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Judge Barbara Walther, has ordered DNA tests of the children from the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) compound. The tests began yesterday via cheek swab, and it is taking an extraordinarily long time to do each one (about 30 minutes) due to the convoluted relationships between the adherents, which brings with it fear of contamination of the samples. Many polygamist children living in a sect of this type have no idea which woman is their biological mother, or which man is their biological father. Prosecutors have also requested psychiatric examinations of the children, while the attorneys for the children objected vehemently to both.

In polygamist relationships, the women assigned to a particular man refer to one another as “sister wives”, and they are all viewed as mothers to all of their husband’s children. There is a pecking order among the wives, though, with each subsequent wife bearing less power within the overall relationship. Furthermore, women and children can be taken from the fathers, and “reassigned” to another man. For this reason, it is not at all unusual for a child to not know the identity of their biological parents.

However, there is reason to fear that the DNA tests will be used for other purposes. For example, if it is proven that a child was born to an underage mother, or that the mother and father are closely related, criminal charges could ensue, and the state will already have proof of the illegal relationship. More chillingly, under the guise of scientific knowledge, the test results could be used for other purposes, since in established polygamist sects everyone is related by blood to everyone else, and incest is common. Frankly, I fear that these children will become guinea pigs.

The judge stated the reason for the testing is that the mothers have regularly changed their names, possibly lied about their ages, and have difficulty naming their relatives.

In the meantime, the children are being held as a group, inside a coliseum.

In an interview with CBS’s “The Early Show” one of the men from the polygamist sect, known only as “Rulan”, stated that the men would cooperate with DNA testing if it will help them get their children back. He also stated that the sect would reconsider allowing sex with girls under 18.

Many of us perhaps were not even aware of such a law. And we do reconsider, yes. We teach our children to abide the law.

Prosecutors claim that simply living in the compound exposes the girls to sexual abuse, or the imminent risk of abuse, due to the practice of forcing girls as young as 13 to marry men sometimes old enough to be their grandfathers or great-grandfathers. There is a pecking order among the men, just as there is among the women, and even elderly men can request that a young girl be “assigned” to them as an additional wife. The purpose of this, insofar as their religious belief, is so that the man can produce as many “superior souls” as possible. Once that man dies – or if he no longer wants the wife, or if a man higher in the patriarchy decides he wants that man’s wife – his wives and children are assigned to other men; the women have no say with regard to which man they are assigned as a wife.

Once the DNA sampling is completed, which is expected to take several days, the children will be placed in foster care, and the children younger than four – who up to this point have stayed with their mothers – will be taken away as well.

Psychologists, however, warn that placing the children in conventional foster homes can cause severe psychological damage due to overexposure; these children have lived in such a strict community that even being allowed to play with mainstream children could cause serious problems. State workers have said that they will try to keep siblings together, and keep the children in groups. For the sake of the children, they will also need to create an environment with little to no contact with the outside world, which means no television, computers, or other media. It is unclear how the children will be educated, given that sending them to public school could prove to cause lifelong emotional and psychological scars.

Furthermore, another barrier stands in the way, which is that FLDS children have been taught from the earliest age that even mere disobedience to one’s parents leads to eternal damnation, and that the world outside the compound is evil. Obviously, these children are suffering both emotionally and psychologically, not just from being separated from their parents and community, but because they fear damnation for merely being taken by the state into the outside world.

I know some foster families, but I cannot imagine changing their entire household to accommodate restrictions that severe. I fear most foster parents will not even try, thinking it is best for the children to be exposed to the outside world. I therefore fear for those children, because I honestly think the psychologists’ warnings are to be taken seriously. We’re living in the 21st Century, while those children for all intents and purposes have never known anything beyond the 19th Century, since most have never even been off the compound before now. Experiencing a typical home today would be something akin to a time machine for them, and could even alter the religious beliefs they have been taught. The state, however, has absolutely no right whatsoever to expose those children to anything which might alter the beliefs their parents hold as truth; and to do otherwise is a violation of the First Amendment.

This is a very serious problem in this situation, and personally, I think this is such an extreme case – since the state has essentially denied their religious rights as well as the right to be secure in their homes – that the Supreme Court needs to step in and make sure the constitutional rights of the children and their parents are protected, before irreparable damage is done. It may already be too late.

Rozita SwinsonIn the meantime, police have identified a 33-year-old Colorado Springs woman, Rozita Swinton, as a “person of interest” and the possible source of the phone calls which caused this situation. Swinton is currently in police custody, charged with false reporting to authorities in another, unrelated case. There has been no explanation regarding why she would make phone calls of that nature regarding this particular religious sect, as it appears that she has no ties to the group.

We should all watch this case very, very closely. What the state is doing in the YFZ case could happen to any of us, based upon a hoax call. Child Protective Services nationwide is renowned for removing children from homes on the flimsiest of evidence, while leaving children actually at risk (and sometimes obviously being abused) in the home with their abusers. The truth of the matter is that religions such as the Primitive Baptists are equally strict with their children, and the women are completely subservient to their husbands (in fact, Primitive Baptist women look very much like the FLDS women), both of which could also be misinterpreted as abuse by overzealous social workers. One attorney stated that none of the parents had ever even received a copy of the original petition for removal of the children, yet were expected to appear in court 14 days later in order to present their case to have their children returned; one mother said that removing the children from their home and community was the worst abuse the children had ever experienced, and she may very well be correct.

On the other hand, you have the question of indoctrination into a patriarchal society, where young girls are taught from a very early age to be completely subservient to men. They are then married off as young as 13 years old, with no choice in who they marry and possibly even without warning. Many boys are driven off the compound at a very young age, to eliminate competition for the young girls’ affection. It is a strange society by our standards, to be sure, and we as a society do have a responsibility to help those children.

The question is, how do we help them, while ensuring the protection of their constitutional rights, as well as the constitutional rights of the parents? Is government intervention the best decision? I’m not altogether sure that it is, unless abuse can be proven. However, abuse is defined based upon the norms of society – for example, spanking is legally defined as abuse in some countries, but here parents can spank their children and a spanking in and of itself is not considered abusive – and it is indisputable that such sects have their own society, quite apart from our own; what is defined as abuse in our society is obviously not viewed as abuse in theirs, and is instead the norm. We are also not on a moral high ground with regard to pregnant teenagers, since we see that all the time in our own society, and many teen mothers in our society were impregnated at an even younger age.

This is an extremely complex question, with no easy answers to be found. However, one thing is clear, and that is that the FLDS sects have the same constitutional rights as you or I, and those rights must be protected above anything else. At this point, I do not believe the state had any cause whatsoever to remove the young children, and I fear that doing so has violated their constitutional rights, as well as the constitutional rights of the parents. If the state’s concern is sexual abuse of teen girls as stated, they may have probable cause to remove the teens for their own protection, but not to remove the younger children. I have seen and heard nothing which would suggest that children under the age of ten are in imminent danger of abuse, except the state’s assertion that, according to their religion, they may be “spiritually married” at any age. I therefore suspect the state is trying to enforce its own standards and morality upon a religion which has existed and been practiced the same way for hundreds of years.

My biggest concern is that this is nothing more or less than religious persecution. Religious persecution absolutely cannot be tolerated in our country, so there needs to be oversight at the federal level, to ensure the rights of all the sect members are protected.

Sickos: What’s a free-market solution?

In Children, Crime, Human Rights Abuses on April 22, 2008 at 12:08 am

FLDS approvesThe creeps of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints are receiving renewed attention after one of their members (currently on probation in Arizona) was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl and impregnating her. Over the last few days, Texas CPS bureaucrats have been removing hundreds of women and children from their new compound outside Eldorado.

While I’m happy that women and children who by all accounts have likely been abused or coerced in some way are being taken out of that situation, as a libertarian, I’d rather the wasteful and often abusive Texas CPS wasn’t involved.

So what’s a libertarian way of dealing with people like this, or animal abusers, or others who are so disturbed upstairs that they harm those incapable of recourse? I can think of three ways of dealing with them:

  1. Ignore them. People like this will exist anyways, and trying to stop them won’t solve the problem.
  2. Ostracize them. Don’t sell them food or land and don’t buy anything from them, forcing them to be entirely self-sufficient to survive.
  3. When there’s credible evidence of a crime being committed, make the necessary arrests and ask members of the outside community to adopt kids potentially at risk.

None of these options is perfect. All three allow the standard-level abuse to continue. The second stops being effective once the group reaches a certain size, and the third requires somebody from inside to call for help, which groups like this make very difficult.

Please discuss how to deal with these people in the comments.

Latest from Jeff Bouffard, LP candidate for Congress

In Activism, Communism, Congress, Human Rights Abuses, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics, Protest, US Government on April 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Jeff BouffardI’m writing to let you know that on Monday, 14 April 2008, I’ll have an opinion piece in the Florida Today regarding the Olympics.  The piece is set to appear in the print and online editions of the newspaper.  Also, there are a few new things on the web site – I hope you’ll take a few minutes to see some of them.  And please spread the good word.

Finally, I’d really like to meet each of you in person.  Anyone who would care to invite his or her friends and family to meet me by hosting a coffee at his home, a local restaurant or social club would be greatly appreciated.  I am available nearly every evening for the next three weeks.  Please email me so that we can arrange it.

In Liberty,
Jeff Bouffard
Libertarian Candidate for Congress
www.electbouf.com

Here is his op-ed in Florida Today; normally I would just post an excerpt and link the rest, but that particular paper has a screwy website, so I’m not sure everyone would be able to easily access it.

Boycott the Beijing Games

Don’t reward China for human rights abuses.

When I was invited to write an op-ed piece for FLORIDA TODAY, many issues flew through my head.

From war to immigration to my tax plan as a Libertarian candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon in Congress, dozens of topics could have been a focus.

But after 15 Congressmen and women made the not even half-hearted effort of asking President Bush to skip the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics this summer, I knew I needed to explain my moral position concerning the games.

All U.S. athletes should boycott the Beijing Olympics this summer. I know this decision will be difficult for any athletes to make because they have trained for years. But when you consider whether many former Olympians proudly displayed their medals from the 1936 games in Nazi Germany, I doubt it.

There are myriad reasons to boycott:

  • TibetAfter years of oppression, Chinese authorities arrested hundreds of Buddhist monks and other protesting Tibetans over the last month.
  • XinjiangA mostly Muslim province north of Tibet, the people of this sparsely populated region also do not consider themselves Chinese but forced integration into Chinese society and arrests are the norm there as well.
  • Sudan/Darfur.Film director Stephen Spielberg resigned as a consultant for the game’s opening ceremonies because of Chinese support for the government of Sudan. China is Sudan’s largest trading partner and many activists are upset the Chinese government does nothing to pressure the Sudanese to end the genocide in Darfur.
  • Taiwan.Chinese hostility toward Taiwan constitutes the single greatest danger to world peace. China insists the re-unification of Taiwan is an “internal affair.” The Taiwanese do not agree.
  • The Chinese Gulag.China’s prison system is the largest in the world. Dozens of human rights activists have been jailed for speaking out against the “Harmonious Society.”

    Ironically, the same day the Olympic Torch was lit a Chinese court sentenced Yang Chunlin to five years in prison. His crime: Collecting 10,000 signatures on a petition that began “We want human rights, not the Olympics.”

    British Foreign Secretary David Miliband doesn’t think a boycott would help human rights issues in China. He also said “engagement, not isolation” of the Chinese is the correct road.

    But more than a few people in Britain compare him to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who thought the best way to deal with Adolf Hitler was to let him have Czechoslovakia in 1939.

    President Bush and Congress have no moral clarity on this vital issue. They have broken moral thermometers themselves by allowing Abu Ghraib and the torturing of prisoners held by the U.S. military.

    The rest of us know torture, oppression of free speech and the denial of legal representation are wrong.

    That’s why U.S. athletes should boycott the Beijing Games. Anything less will glorify and justify the deeply corrupt communist government of China.

  • Bouffard is a Libertarian candidate for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which includes the southern half of Brevard County. A former Army lieutenant, he lives in Satellite Beach.

    Eugenics being promoted to prevent child abuse

    In Big Brother, Children, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Crazy Claims, Health, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Minorities, Nanny State, Personal Responsibility, US Government on March 24, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    EugenicsI ran across the following comment on a newspaper’s reader comments section:

    ARRRG!… I’ve said it before and I will stand by it. Some people do not deserve to have children. It should be mandatory that when a girl get her period they go on birth control and when they are ready to have a kid someone has to come and check out the living conditions and a mental exam has to be administered to both parents and they have to pass and then they grant you permission to have a child. I personally think it would save a lot of children. Being a woman myself and seeing this type of stuff I am all for it. IGNORANCE IS PREVENTABLE!!!

    Why on earth would anyone living in the United States harbor the belief that the government should have total control over everyone’s life, including their most basic right, to reproduce?

    While I do understand that child abuse is a very serious problem in this country, the solution is the exact opposite of what she proposes. If everyone took responsibility for their own lives, there would be no child abuse or neglect. Obviously, total personal responsibility is merely a philosophical ideal, since there will always be those who refuse to step up and take responsibility. Nevertheless, the failure of the few to take responsibility for their lives does not negate the right of the many to do so, without government interference.

    The same people who harbor such beliefs would likely scream to high heaven if the mother in question – who abused her infant after losing her temper when the baby cried for days on end – had undergone an abortion rather than giving birth to a child she likely did not want, and definitely could not handle. Regardless of what the uninformed among us believe, giving a child up for adoption carries a stigma as well. Many times a pregnant woman finds herself in the position that she’s damned if she does have the child, and she’s damned if she doesn’t have the child, due to social pressures.

    I don’t have the answer to this dilemma, but I do know that government control over reproduction is not the answer. After all, many otherwise completely normal mothers lose their tempers with crying infants, socioeconomic status notwithstanding, so governmental control would not stop the problem. That does not excuse the behavior, but it does prove that the suggestion made above is rather ignorant; though strangely, she attributes ignorance to those who dare disagree with her.

    If denying the government the ability to grant or deny such a basic human right as reproduction is her definition of ignorance, I will gladly bear the title.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not excusing the mother for abusing her child; far from it, in fact, since I find the abuse of the helpless to be the most heinous crime of all. However, there is an undercurrent in this country, with its basis in extremist religious beliefs and the far right, which uses child abuse cases as an excuse to advocate that the government take total control over the reproductive lives of its citizens. These extremists do not understand that government must be controlled, and never given carte blanche to do whatever it wants. Yet they would grant the government the right to decide who can reproduce, and when they can reproduce; and as history has proven, in no time the government would turn that power into a eugenics program wherein the poor – which by necessity would include many minorities – would not be permitted to reproduce at all. That’s absolutely insane.

    I fear for the future of this country, when I read such comments. Perhaps it is easier for some if they don’t have to take any responsibility whatsoever for their lives; but when they are openly and actively advocating total government control over others’ lives, they have gone too far. As libertarians we have a responsibility to speak out, loudly and clearly, against anyone who would openly advocate such bizarre government programs. We have a responsibility to educate others about the very real dangers of giving the government too much control over our lives, whether we run across the statist mindset online, or in our personal lives. As libertarians, we must spread the word of liberty, even if only to one person at a time.

    American death toll in Iraq reaches 4000

    In Activism, Children, Congress, Corruption, George Bush, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Middle East, Military, Music, Obituaries, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, Republican, US Government, War on March 24, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Today, the official death toll for American soldiers in Iraq hit 4000. The actual number is undoubtedly higher.

    4000+ Americans are dead, because Bush lied about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction.

    4000+ Americans are dead, because Bush claimed that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Iraq.

    4000+ Americans are dead, because Congress blindly accepted Bush’s lies.

    4000+ American are dead, because Americans reelected Bush for a second term

    4000+ Americans are dead, because the American people elected a Democratic Congress to put an end to the killing, and they failed us miserably.

    There are far more Iraqis dead, though. Just today, soldiers killed a 10-year-old Iraqi girl. They claim they didn’t do it on purpose, but who knows the truth of that situation. When you put soldiers in a country where their lives are constantly at risk, and you arm them with automatic weapons, it is inevitable that many innocents will be killed. Some will be killed accidentally. Some will be killed due to mistaken identity. And some will be killed because the armed soldiers snap under the pressure, and just start killing people.

    Unlike many in the antiwar movement, I don’t blame the soldiers. After all, they are doing what they were trained to do, under circumstances that no human was ever intended to experience; and the vast majority of soldiers became soldiers to protect us, and not to kill innocent civilians. So no, I don’t blame our soldiers when the inevitable happens. I blame Bush and Congress for putting our soldiers in that situation.

    Of course, our tax dollars will be spent for the foreseeable future treating the injuries, physical and mental, those soldiers received while fighting in the war that should never have been fought. Some of them will recover from their wounds, but many won’t. I don’t complain about spending our tax dollars on the soldiers in need of medical and psychiatric care; we owe them that. I do complain that they should never have been sent to Iraq and injured in the first place.

    Let us all look forward to the day when the killing stops, and our soldiers are brought home from the Middle East once and for all. When will that happen? It’s up to the American voters. If Americans put another warmonger in the White House, the blood will be on their hands. It is already on the hands of those who voted Bush for a second term, knowing full well he was a warmonger.

    When considering candidates for the Libertarian presidential nomination, especially given that there are so many candidates brand-new to libertarianism, ask them whether they voted for Bush. If they did, they have blood on their hands, and therefore can never truly represent the Libertarian Party.

    My hands, I’m happy to say, are clean in this situation (though I am not running for any political office). I didn’t vote for Bush the first time, and I actively worked against his candidacy the second time. Many may think my efforts were for naught, but I disagree. The message of true freedom is spread one person at a time.

    I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask it again. Where is Osama bin Laden? We can see a dime on the sidewalk from outer space, but we can’t seem to find a strange-looking human giant hiding in the desert. I find that extremely hard to believe. I also won’t be the least bit surprised if we suddenly “find” him just in time for the presidential election. Younger readers may not be cynical enough to believe our country would play us for fools like that. To them I would simply say, history has been my lesson; let it be yours as well.

    To that end, I offer the song “End of the Innocence”, which was a hit song when many of our readers were but infants. It applies more today than ever.

    Disturbing medical marijuana case involving an AIDS patient

    In Activism, Big Brother, Children, Civil Liberties, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug War, Health, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical Marijuana, Nanny State, Police State, Protest, Science on March 17, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Tom FaltynowiczTom Faltynowicz, a 43-year-old gay rancher in Meade County, South Dakota, was diagnosed with Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1990, and is currently facing criminal charges for possessing and growing marijuana for medicinal usage.

    For those of you unaware of the specifics of that disease, a patient infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may or may not develop AIDS. Once infected with HIV, the disease damages the CD4 cells (T-Cells), and in fact uses those cells to replicate within the body; CD4 cells can be replaced through normal process in the early stages of the disease, but eventually the counts start to fall as the cells are overcome by the virus. A CD4 count between 700 and 1000 is considered normal in a non-HIV infected person; while a CD4 count of about 500 is considered normal when the virus is present. A CD4 count below 200 is indicative of AIDS, since it is at that point that the body loses its ability to fight off opportunistic infection.

    Opportunistic infection is any infection which, under normal circumstances, the body could easily fight off. However, due to the lack of CD4 immune cells, AIDS patients are at very high risk of contracting diseases which they would never contract were it not for the virus destroying their immune system. Some diseases are so common in AIDS patients, and so uncommon in non-AIDS patients, that they are considered to be AIDS-defining diseases. Examples of AIDS-defining diseases include Pneumocystis Pneumonia (a fungal infection of the lungs) and Kaposi’s Sarcoma (once believed to be a rare form of cancer, now believed to be caused by Herpes Virus HHV8); these diseases are normally not seen in patients with a normal immune system. While there is viable treatment for many opportunistic diseases, they must be treated swiftly in an AIDS patient due to the patient’s body being unable to fight infection on its own.

    Another important way of measuring HIV is by measuring the viral load. The viral load is the amount of HIV in the body. So while a CD4 count measures the amount of damage HIV has done, a viral load count will measure how much of the virus is actually in the body. In this way, doctors are able to measure whether drugs are working to halt the spread of the virus.

    AIDS is a pandemic first identified in 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), due to Pneumocystis Pneumonia being identified in five homosexual men in Los Angeles. The disease did not take over worldwide as quickly as it is generally believed, though. AIDS has been identified in tissue samples of patients who died of unknown causes as early as 1959; one postmortem case identified the virus in a tissue sample from a 15-year-old boy who died in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1969, though it is still unknown how the boy may have contracted the virus. Some scientists suggest the virus could have first infected humans sometime during the end of the 19th Century, while other scientists suggest it first infected humans during the early 20th century, between 1915 and 1930. Regardless of whether it started during the late 19th Century or early 20th Century, it took many decades for it to even become prevalent enough to be noticed. Since the virus is slow to overtake its host, the window for inadvertent infection of others is years, rather than days or weeks as with most viruses.

    It is unclear exactly how the virus started, but it seems clear that it crossed species from primates (which can carry a disease known as the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) into humans, likely when humans came into contact with the bodily fluids of monkeys, possibly during consumption, hunting or butchering the animals (monkey meat is a delicacy in some areas of the world, and is regularly eaten in some areas of Africa). The virus spread due to a number of factors, including vaccines given with unclean needles in developing countries. While AIDS is now generally viewed as a disease of gay men and intravenous drug users, the truth is far more chilling, since the virus is not contained only within a particular population. Many women and children are infected with the virus, and in some areas of the world, particularly Africa where infected patients do not have access to proper health care, the number of deaths has become catastrophic.

    At this time, there is no cure for HIV, or for AIDS, nor is there a vaccine to prevent transmission. However, scientists have designed a number of drugs inhibit the virus’s replication. To understand how these drugs work, a short primer on the virus is necessary.

    HIV takes over CD4 cells, changing their molecular structure by inserting its own ribonucleic acid (RNA). The virus itself, which is too small to be seen except with an electron microscope, consists of an outer envelope containing the virus and the proteins and enzymes necessary for replication; the envelope has about 72 spikes on its surface. When the virus bumps into a cell coated by the CD4 protein, the spikes stick into the cell and fuse, at which time the inner contents of the HIV envelope is released into the CD4 cell.

    Once inside the cell, the HIV enzyme called reverse transciptase converts the viral RNA into DNA, which is compatible with human genetic material. This DNA is transported to the cell’s nucleus, where it is spliced into the human DNA by the HIV enzyme called integrase. Once it is spliced into the human DNA, the HIV DNA is known as provirus. The provirus may lie dormant within a cell for quite some time. However, when the cell becomes activated, it treats HIV genes in almost the same way as human genes. First it uses human enzymes to convert HIV genes into messenger RNA. The messenger RNA is transported outside the cell nucleus, and is used as a blueprint for producing new HIV proteins and enzymes, much in the same way as the human body normally produce replacement cells.

    Complete copies of HIV genetic material is contained among the strands of messenger RNA produced by the cell. These copies combine with newly made HIV proteins and enzymes to form new viral particles, which are then released from the cell. The enzyme protease plays a vital role of the HIV life cycle, as it chops up long strands of protein into smaller pieces, which are then used to construct mature viral cores. At that point the newly matured HIV particles are ready to infect another cell, and begin the replication process all over again. In this way the virus quickly spreads through the human body, and causes its host to become infectious. HIV is passed to others through bodily fluids; some fluids contain more of the virus than others.

    Contrary to popular belief, people do not die of HIV, or of AIDS. They die of the opportunistic infections which accompany the complete loss of their immune system. Patients therefore must take a strong cocktail of medications to stop the virus from replicating and destroying their immune system. Some common drugs prescribed for AIDS patients, to stop the virus from replicating, include reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which prevent the viral RNA from being converted into human DNA; protease inhibitors, which prevent the virus from creating new mature viral cores; and integrase inhibitors, which prevent the viral DNA from being spliced into the human DNA within the cells.

    Unfortunately, with those life-saving treatments for the virus come life-threatening side effects, from lethal liver damage to an overwhelming nausea which results in starvation and dehydration; when this occurs, it only worsens those same symptoms which can be caused by the virus itself. Over the years many drugs have been discovered to combat the side effects (those same side effects are found in many other medical conditions as well), and to increase the quality of life for those who are infected with the virus; some of those drugs and treatments are pharmaceutical in nature, and some are natural.

    One of the non-pharmaceutical drugs, which has proven very helpful in battling the anxiety, overwhelming nausea and physical wasting which comes with the virus and its treatment, is marijuana. So effective is marijuana that scientists have even made a pharmaceutical version of the drug, used in chemotherapy patients as well as AIDS patients, which contains synthetic THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). However, many patients believe that the natural THC in marijuana works better than the synthetic version in Marinol, and science supports this belief. In studies of marijuana usage for medicinal usage, it was found that other chemicals found in marijuana have additional medicinal effects which complement the effects of THC. Furthermore Marinol is extremely expensive (Tom’s Marinol costs about $2200 per month, so severe is his nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms), and thus the drug is far beyond the financial reach of most patients; and for that reason they cultivate and smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. While the black market cost of marijuana can be high, the plant can be cultivated at home from seeds, at very little cost to the patient.

    In some states, it is legal for patients with a valid medical prescription to possess certain amounts of dried and cultivated marijuana for personal medicinal use. However, even in those states, the US Government – which has declared that marijuana is an illicit and therefore illegal drug – refuses to permit patients to use the cultivated form of THC. Patients are regularly arrested for merely possessing the substance which allows them to live a more normal life, and which in cases of extreme wasting seen in AIDS, is actually life-saving. This occurs nationwide, including in the states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use.

    I do not advocate the casual use of marijuana (or any other drug, prescription or otherwise) to get “high”. I do strongly advocate the right of physicians and patients to determine the best course of treatment, and I believe the government has no right to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship when the patient is not being placed in untoward danger.

    Enter Tom Faltynowicz. When Tom was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, he was given “maybe a few years” to live. Eighteen years later, he is in a fight for his life, but it’s a fight of a very different kind.

    In September 2007, law enforcement officials in his native Meade County received an anonymous call, stating that Tom had between 75 and 100 marijuana plants growing behind a metal building on his property. It is believed that the anonymous call came from Tom’s daughter, who was angry with him because he had recently stated his disapproval of her relationship with a particular man.

    When Meade County Investigator Michael Walker and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Agent John Griswold arrived at Tom’s home the next day, there were not 75 to 100 plants on the property, or even anywhere near that many; in fact, there were no plants out in the open at all. However, when asked by those officers about the accusation, Tom immediately admitted to growing marijuana to treat his medical condition. He even invited the officers into his home, so they can see where he was growing it, and he was completely cooperative at all times, even according to the police report regarding the incident. All told, the officers found five plants, and about four ounces of dried marijuana. There was never an allegation that the marijuana was being used for anything but his medical condition, and never an allegation that he was selling the marijuana. It remains undisputed that Tom was using the marijuana to treat AIDS, and the side effects of the many potent medications he takes to fight the virus.

    Tom takes a total of four antiretroviral drugs to combat the HIV infection: Combivir (a combination of Retrovir and Epivir), Sustiva, and Viread. Each of these drugs, by themselves, come with potentially fatal side effects. All of these drugs can cause severe nausea, and can result in extreme anxiety as an additional side effect. In addition, Tom has been prescribed Marinol, the synthetic THC drug to combat nausea and vomiting, so there is no question that he suffers the side effects which are treated by marijuana, and there is no question that his side effects are severe based upon his dosage. However, Tom says that the marijuana is far more effective than the Marinol, since Marinol makes him so tired that he cannot function; and his physician is aware of and supports his use of marijuana to treat his symptoms.

    Tom, though he has no prior criminal record with the exception of two prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana – both of which occurred after he was diagnosed with AIDS – pled guilty to felony possession of marijuana. He faces a maximum of two years in prison, and a maximum fine of $4000; he could also be given probation. His sentencing date has been set for April 21st, before the Honorable Jerome Eckrich, Circuit Judge. Tom’s Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Traub, will speak at the sentencing hearing. The State Attorney has already said that he will not object to anything Dr. Traub might say. It appears that no one is interested in punishing Tom Faltynowicz; at the same time, under the law, his possession of marijuana – regardless of the reason why he possessed it – is a felony in the state of South Dakota.

    Tom, however, is an exception to the reason that law was written. It was written to stop people from abusing the drug to get high, and to stop them from selling or otherwise providing it to others for the same illicit purpose. It is extremely doubtful the legislature was aware of the medicinal effects of marijuana when that law was passed, and it’s extremely doubtful the legislature ever intended to punish patients with a deadly disease. It’s even possible that the medicinal effects of marijuana were unknown to them when that law was passed, since it is hardly a new law. Nevertheless, since the law exists, it will be enforced, even against people like Tom who are using marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes.

    This raises a number of questions. Even if Tom is merely placed on probation, and even if he stopped smoking marijuana altogether, using Marinol to control his symptoms would result in violation of probation, since he would test positive for THC during required drug tests. If he fails a drug test while on probation, he will be incarcerated.

    If he is incarcerated, he will not only not have access to the drug which he needs to survive without excessive suffering due to overwhelming nausea, vomiting, physical wasting, and extreme fatigue; but the South Dakota Department of Corrections will be forced to pay for the extremely expensive antiretroviral drugs which fight the virus as well as the Marinol, at a cost of thousands of dollars per month to the taxpayers, in addition to the increased cost of incarceration for a man with an infectious deadly disease. As you should understand after my explanation of how those drugs work, and how the virus works, missing even one dose of his antiretroviral drugs could be catastrophic for his health, since it would allow the virus to replicate until the drug was again built up to a therapeutic dosage. Yet in a prison environment there is no guarantee that he will receive his life-sustaining medications at all, much less receive them on the schedule those drugs demand.

    Tom has said that he will not stop using marijuana, because it allows him to live a relatively normal life. Without it, his body is wracked with pain, nausea, and vomiting; he is unable to eat or drink, and thus his body becomes even more weakened, even more unable to fight the virus, and even more prone to the many opportunistic illnesses, any one of which could easily end his life. This is especially true if he is confined in a jail or prison facility, given that there are large numbers of inmates living in close approximation.

    To incarcerate Tom Faltynowicz would therefore place his life at severe risk, and as such would clearly constitute cruel and unusual punishment, as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution. Furthermore, it would serve no purpose to incarcerate him, since his crime is merely possession of a drug which allows him to live with his disease and to continue take the cruel medications which literally keep him alive. He poses no threat to anyone and he is not selling or otherwise distributing the marijuana, nor has it even been suggested that he is selling or distributing the marijuana. Rehabilitation is also not a valid cause for his incarceration, since he merely uses the drug for medicinal purposes, and thus he is not in need of rehabilitation.

    Society would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz. The interests of justice would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz.

    As such, justice demands that the court show mercy by giving Tom Faltynowicz a suspended sentence, no probation, and whatever fine the court sees fit, as long as it is within Tom’s ability to pay said fine.  The courts should also order the return of Tom’s property; police seized property such as lights, and not just marijuana and implements for its use.  Those lights  should be returned.

    My Lai Massacre remembered by survivors

    In Activism, Crime, History, Human Rights Abuses, Military, Obituaries, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on March 16, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    My Lai Massacre MY LAI, Vietnam – Forty years after rampaging American soldiers slaughtered her family, Do Thi Tuyet returned to the place where her childhood was shattered.”Everyone in my family was killed in the My Lai massacre — my mother, my father, my brother and three sisters,” said Tuyet, who was 8 years old at the time. “They threw me into a ditch full of dead bodies. I was covered with blood and brains.”More than a thousand people turned out Sunday to remember the victims of one of the most notorious chapters of the Vietnam War. On March 16, 1968, members of Charlie Company killed as many as 504 villagers, nearly all of them unarmed children, women and elderly.

    When the unprovoked attack was uncovered, it horrified Americans, prompted military investigations and badly undermined support for the war.

    Sunday’s memorial drew the families of the victims, returning U.S. war veterans, peace activists and a delegation of atomic bombing survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    On that morning 40 years ago, Tuyet and her family were getting ready to go to work in the fields when members of Charlie Company burst into their house and herded them outside at gunpoint.

    They were pushed into a ditch where more than 100 people were sprayed with bullets, one of which hit Tuyet in the back, paralyzing the right side of her body.

    Her parents, three sisters and a brother were slaughtered. The oldest child was 10, the youngest just 4.

    “I was here when the shooting started,” Tuyet said, sitting by a family altar in the replica of her simple two-room home. “The troops rounded us up and took us to the ditch.”

    Her 4-year-old brother, who was eating breakfast when the troops came, died with his mouth full of rice, Tuyet said.

    You can read this entire disturbing article here.

    Pope speaks out against the war

    In George Bush, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Politics, War on March 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Pope Benedict XVIPope Benedict XVI has issued the following statement on Iraq:

    “Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq!”

    This proclamation came after a Catholic Cardinal was found murdered, after having been abducted February 29th.

    The Pope has called the Cardinal’s death an “inhuman act of violence”, and he praised the priest for his refusal to abandon the Catholic faithful in Iraq despite the many dangers of remaining there.

    The Pope has also called upon the Iraqi people to make peace among themselves.

    At the same time, I make an appeal to the Iraqi people, who for the past five years have borne the consequences of a war that provoked the breakup of their civil and social life.

    He urged the Iraqi people to raise their heads and reconstruct their life through “reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and coexistence among tribal, ethnic and religious groups.”

    The Vatican strongly opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, so it is unlikely that the Pope’s newest statements against the war will have any effect on Bush Administration policy.

    Deputy arrested for dumping quadriplegic from wheelchair

    In Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Crime, Health, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State on March 8, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Charlette Marshall-Jones, the Hillsborough County, Florida deputy who was caught on surveillance cameras dumping a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair after he was arrested on a traffic violation, has been arrested herself.

    In case you missed it, here is the video:

    Marshall-Jones has been charged with abuse of a disabled person, and faces five years in prison. In the meantime she has been suspended without pay.

    I bet the gals in genpop would be happy to have not only an ex-cop, but an abusive ex-cop who likes to abuse people in wheelchairs who can’t even move, join their ranks. They might even throw her a few of those pillowcase parties I’ve heard so much about. ;-)

    Now authorities need to go after the jail employees who saw it but didn’t report it, and especially the jerk cop at the end of the video who laughed about it.

    _____________________________

    Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

    Cops Gone Wild: Quadriplegic Edition

    In Cops Gone Wild, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Health, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State on February 26, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I had heard about this, but seeing really is believing.

    In Tampa (Hillsborough County, Florida) a quadriplegic man named Brian Sterner was arrested for a traffic violation (I’m not sure what the violation was, since they didn’t say, but obviously the guy wasn’t a violent felon or anything like that). An incredibly stupid cop didn’t believe he really was a quadriplegic, even though it’s obvious from looking at his body, so she walked behind him and dumped him out of his wheelchair face-first, and the fall broke several of his ribs. She then proceeded to frisk him, while he was one the ground, completely unable to move. Another idiotic cop is seen laughing about it, and not one person who witnessed the assault thought it needed to be reported.

    Luckily, that shocking example of police brutality was caught on surveillance cameras.

    The cop who did this was fired, but that’s not enough. She should be arrested, and charged with felony assault upon a disabled person.

    The cop who laughed about it should be fired, along with all the other cops and jail employees who witnessed it but did nothing to help Sterner, and did not report the incident; and they should all also be charged with being an accessory to felony assault upon a disabled person.

    Hat tip to The DeeZone

    Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

    And the propaganda machine keeps spinning …..

    In Corruption, Crazy Claims, George Bush, Guantanamo, Human Rights Abuses, Military, Terrorism, Torture, War on July 20, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Road To GuantanamoAccording to this article, we’re supposed to believe that prisoners being held at Gitmo are being treated as if they’re merely guests of the goverment, while the only real abuse is directed at the guards.

    However, it’s far more likely that the government is sending military members back to the states with strict orders to report that all is well at Gitmo. It’s easy to get them to do that, after all, especially if the person in question is an officer with a pension on the line, as with the person who gave the information for this story. It’s even easier when the military member knows that they, too, can be declared an enemy combatant and simply disappear if they dare to speak the truth about the atrocities they have witnessed. There is also the fear that they will be discharged due to a nonexistent “personality disorder”, and thus shamed and stripped of the civilian benefits of having served voluntarily and honorably in the armed forces.

    That’s nothing new, incidentally. The military was discharging soldiers on the basis of alleged preexisting personality disorders in the early 1980s, when I served in Air Force Intelligence Operations. Those airmen were not mentally ill, and in fact were extraordinarily good at their specialties; however, they had committed the unspeakable crime of not remaining silent against what they perceived to be wrong, and branding them mentally deficient is the military’s way of silencing them. Once they are so categorized, the military can easily discount anything they may later say against the military’s interest. But, I digress.

    Like so many in the current administration, this Brigadier General (for those unfamiliar with military ranks, that’s a one-star General) believes it’s acceptable to hold people in a lawless prison environment long-term with no charges, and no hearing, because they’re “enemy combatants” …… and he really and truly thinks there’s a difference between enemy combatants and prisoners of war, which causes Geneva Convention protections to not apply to enemy combatants. Yet the only real difference is that prisoners of war are captured while engaging in war, while enemy combatants are, for all intents and purposes, kidnapped. In other words, while he is willing to toe the military line and is quite successful in that position, in the civilian world his brainwashing would render him, for all intents and purposes, useless.

    If prisoners at Gitmo are specifically classified as not being prisoners of war, for whom torture is forbidden under the Geneva Convention, does the government actually expect us to believe that these men are not being tortured? It’s quite obvious that the only reason to classify them differently is so that they can be tortured without violating the Convention.

    What’s most sickening about this particular article, beyond the brainwashing aspect, is that it is being distributed and touted as truth on a discussion list for paralegals, who should definitely know better than to mindlessly accept what the government says. Or maybe, just maybe, these particular paralegals know just enough to be dangerous. Read the rest of this entry »

    Marine testifies that he sees nothing wrong with executing Iraqi civilians

    In Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Military, Terrorism, War on July 15, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    From ABC News:

    A Marine corporal testifying in a court-martial said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to “crank up the violence level.”

    Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo testified Saturday at the murder trial of Cpl. Trent D. Thomas.

    “We were told to crank up the violence level,” said Lopezromo, testifying for the defense.

    When a juror asked for further explanation, Lopezromo said: “We beat people, sir.”

    Within weeks of allegedly being scolded, seven Marines and a Navy corpsman went out late one night to find and kill a suspected insurgent in the village of Hamandiya near the Abu Ghraib prison. The Marines and corpsman were from 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment.

    Lopezromo said the suspected insurgent was known to his neighbors as the “prince of jihad,” and had been arrested several times and later released by the Iraqi legal system.

    Unable to find him, the Marines and corpsman dragged another man from his house, fatally shot him, and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle near the body to make it appear he had been killed in a shootout, according to court testimony.

    Four Marines and the corpsman, initially charged with murder in the April 2006 killing, have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and been given jail sentences ranging from 10 months to eight years. Thomas, 25, from St. Louis, pleaded guilty but withdrew his plea and is the first defendant to go to court-martial.

    Lopezromo, who was not part of the squad on its late-night mission, said he saw nothing wrong with what Thomas did.

    “I don’t see it as an execution, sir,” he told the judge. “I see it as killing the enemy.”

    Read the rest of this disturbing story here.

    Happy Bastille Day. We need a new one.

    In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Human Rights Abuses, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Protest, Second Amendment, Terrorism, War on July 15, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Originally posted yesterday on my blog for Bastille day. Forgot to transfer it over til today. Oh well, better late than never…

    According to wikipedia,

    On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were clergy and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly. On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing not to separate until a Constitution had been established. They were gradually joined by delegates of the other estates; Louis started to recognize their validity on 27 June. The Assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and began to function as a legislature and to draft a constitution.

    The blue-blooded Chimperror, Cesar Potus George Dubai-ya Bushitler II, has brung back the clergy and the nobility back to a level of undue influence in civic life. Perhaps we need a new storming of the Bastille?

    In the wake of the 11 July dismissal of the royal finance minister Jacques Necker, the people of Paris, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal military, and seeking to gain arms for the general populace, stormed the Bastille, a prison which had often held people arbitrarily jailed on the basis of lettre de cachet. Besides holding a large cache of arms, the Bastille had long been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. The general populace being increasingly outgunned by regime agents? Check. People jailed arbitrarily? Check. Political prisoners? Check. Absolutist, hereditary rulers? Check.

    The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance.

    Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on 4 August feudalism was abolished and on 26 August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was proclaimed.

    Ending feudalism and having citizens rights? Yeah, we kinda need that again. Check!