Dave Stancliff 2012-03-11 blogarama.com

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Growing global movement to legalize drugs faces uphill battle

                          Editor’s Note: Complete interview with Richard Van Wickler below               

                          By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
 The War on Drugs was lost a long time ago. The fact that most people don't see the relationship between the war on drugs and alcohol prohibition is one of the greatest marketing feats of the 20th century.

  Prohibition doesn’t work. Millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted every year arresting and imprisoning drug users. One of the results is this shameful statistic: The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population, but it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners, according to an article in the New York Times: (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/americas/23iht-23prison.12253738.html?pagewanted=all).
  Like some grim “Groundhog Day,” people are ignore the unpopular law (like the first prohibition) and become criminals. Jail follows. Soon the jails are overcrowded.
  Now, there’s a growing worldwide reform movement challenging current drug laws. Several countries are looking at drug legalization as an alternative to their failed drug policies, despite threats from the U.S. to retaliate.

The reason is no secret. America has been imposing its failed Drug War laws on the rest of the world through economic intimidation. Things are changing, however. Now, world leaders are speaking up to support legal control of all drugs.
Despite U.S. reprisals, some countries have been meeting more frequently, even looking at regional coalitions to strengthen their growing reform movement. Latin American and Caribbean leaders met last December and discussed a regional coalition for drug legalization in what is known as the Tuxtla System for Dialogue ( http://www.world-war-d.com/tag/tuxtla-system-for-dialogue/ ). 
  Last week, representatives from law enforcement agencies around the world met in Vienna at the 55th United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. (http://www.idpc.net/events/55-session-of-cnd-2012).

 
  The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global network promoting objective and open debates on drug policy has a web page (www.idpc.net) with information about last week’s events.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) - an American organization comprised of active and retired  police officers, judges, prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals - sent representatives Maria Lucia Karam, Jim Gierach, Annie Machon, and Richard Van Wickler, a currently-serving jail superintendent. 
  In an exclusive interview with Van Wickler ( http://www.leap.cc/some-of-our-speakers/richard-van-wickler-3/) I asked him a few questions about the meetings he attended and his impressions of what happened, or didn’t happen:

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                                                       READ ENTIRE INTERVIEW BELOW

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  Surprisingly, it’s not just liberals calling for an end to this losing war on drugs. Pat Robertson, a provocative voice of the right wing, recently said, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. This war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”
  As It Stands, the global war on drug prohibition is underway, but U.S. activists for legalization need to continue to lead the way by educating the public, and the rest of the world.

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         As It Stands interviews Richard Van Wickler (photo right)

“If prison-building is a national goal, then I suppose that would be a good reason to leave our drug use laws as they are; As a taxpayer and a professional, it is certainly not a goal of mine.” - Richard Van Wickler

As It Stands - “Can you tell me what significant recommendations came out of the March 11th meeting where a drug control framework was discussed?”

Van Wickler - “ Our sense is that every member state of the U.N. is calling for a continuation of the current path of drug-prohibition policy, evidenced by their bland and uninspired discussions of the U.S-introduced draft resolution that would reaffirm the three UN prohibition drug treaties and commemorate the centenary of the Hague Opium Convention. 
   “Proposed amendments to the US-sponsored resolution and the discussions regarding those amendments basically dealt with form rather than substance.
   “Disturbingly, the UN preaches and teaches the importance of a “single and unified voice” that operates to stifle thought, discussion and debate, making the process look more like a totalitarian process rather than a democratic one. A democratic process invites the expression of divergent opinions, beliefs and strategies, and does not dictate a ‘party line.’

 The core and threshold issue facing the delegates and the world is whether or not the world should continue the failed UN prohibition treaties and policies?  Woefully, that discussion was stymied and everything was discussed but the elephant in the room.

   “These anemic discussions clearly foreshadow the conference conclusion that will reaffirm the status quo, despite the reports by the UN Secretariat reporting the deplorable world situation with regard to drug abuse and drug trafficking, and the UNODC Executive Director’s report detailing a myriad of expensive programs and anti-drug efforts made around the world. 
  * (1) The cost of those latter efforts were to cost 1.036 billion dollars for the biennium 2012-2013 budget period, or approximately $500 million per year. Drug prohibition is big business.
  “In ramming through the status quo drug policies, the discussion of the CND and UNODC officials, delegates and even some NGOs, often repeat the same party-line expressions such as the phrase  “evidenced-based treatment,” “evidenced-based incarceration alternatives,” and “evidenced-based drug solutions” but the evidence overwhelmingly indicts current drug policies with immunity.
 “The delegates rightly recognize the long-accepted pillars of drug policy reform that include a need for prevention, treatment, education and law enforcement, but continue to ignore the economic consequences of prohibition that make drugs the most valuable commodity on the face of the earth, which puts more dangerous drugs of every sort everywhere, uncontrolled and unregulated. The missing pillar of an effective drug policy for the world remains the economic pillar. By taking the profit out of the drug business, drug trafficking would be decimated, public health would improve, corruption would be ameliorated, respect for the rule of law and the justice system would be resurrected, and the world’s moral fabric would immediately begin to heal.
    “People will little note nor long remember what has been said in Vienna this week, because the thought and content of the conversation avoided the heart of the world’s drug policy problem – prohibition. Al Capone did and would support the United Nation’s prohibition treaties.
   “Today, the drug cartels also support the United Nation’s-Al Capone prohibition policies. If the delegates put on their thinking caps, they would immediately recognize that it makes no sense for the UN Member States to be on the same side as the cartels on the prohibition issue. Since the cartels are for prohibition, the ‘good guys’ should oppose it.
  “Seeing the United Nations and the Member States delegates in action for the first time, it is stunning to see the complete avoidance of the central issue of drug policy.
Not a single Member State has called for the legalization, control and regulation of the currently illicit drugs. Not a single Member State advocates taking the profit motivation out of the world drug business, which feeds the cartels and terrorists, and corrupts the police and the kids.
   “Current drug policy outlaws illicit drugs, but at the same time, by the same rule, tempts the people of the world to engage in the most lucrative business, the drug business. The temptation works and operates to debase society and mankind with devastating effects worldwide. Not only does the war on drugs not work for its intended purpose of saving people from themselves and drug use, but the war on drugs also exacerbates most world crisis.
“The world is fraught with too much violence, too much crime, too much addiction, too many overdose cases, too many prisons, too many bullet holes, too many AIDS cases, and too many bills related to prohibition.
“The war on drugs has proved to be public enemy number one, and yet comes and goes daily to Building M at the Vienna International Center, without the need for a badge, and without question or scrutiny.”
As It Stands - “Were any changes made to the IDPC Drug Policy Guide that you found to be particularly noteworthy?”
Van Wickler
- “Because these guides are so comprehensive I wanted to ask the question of Mike Trace who is the chair of the IDPC responsible for this annual report. Mike is also the former drug czar of the UK.
    “The 2010 report raised a lot of questions regarding the need for reform. Since the publication of that report, things are moving fast with respect to changes in the prohibition debate.
    “The 2012 report contains a lot of changes, most notably that it provides for specific and radical proposals and "steps to take" for member states to consider in the drug policy reform movement.”
As It Stands - “On a personal note, how much has your advocacy for drug legalization affected your       career?” 
Van Wickler
- “Since I have been a member of LEAP (Dec 2007), my advocacy for drug legalization and drug policy reform has enhanced my career.  Unlike most LEAP members, I am not retired, but still on the job.  I have been in corrections for 24 years, 19 as the superintendent of a NH County jail.  
   “My superiors are very supportive of my position with the need for drug policy reform.  The NH Association of Counties awarded me with the distinction of being the County Correctional Superintendent of the year for 2011 knowing full well my affiliation with LEAP.  My membership in LEAP contributes significantly to my on going education and enlightenment about National and Global Drug policy.  
    “My encounter with other law enforcement officers is always positive, and in fact many agree that the drug war is a failure.  Unfortunately they resist the concept, which I believe, is motivated by the "pack mentality" of law enforcement work.  
    “Not everyone is secure enough in their career or social setting to venture outside of the prescribed focus on current policy. I am. My mantra is ‘it only makes sense if you consider the facts and honor the evidence,’ which is what we in law enforcement are supposed to do.”

Footnotes:
* (1)
The 1.036 billion is a bullet by Jim Gierach who sat in on the budget presentation for the U.N. This is for a two year budget, allocating over one half billion to the UN for the next two years for just the office of drug control policy. Obviously there are several other tentacles to the UN which requires significantly more dollars. This figure does not include what will be spent by individual countries fighting the war on drugs.

WEBSITES CARRYING THIS COLUMN:    

1) Drug and Alcohol News

2) Generic Pills and Drugs

3) Generic Pills and Drugs

4) The Times of India

5) Prescription Search Engine

St. Patrick's Day 2012: Facts, Myths, and Traditions

A performer in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in London, United Kingdom.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day To Ya

             Humboldt County!

 Our path today is lined with three-leaf clovers, good old Irish blarney, and bit of history. Gather round lads and lassies..tis a fine day to be happy!

Few St. Patrick's Day revelers have a clue about St. Patrick, the historical figure, according to the author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography.

"The modern celebration of St. Patrick's Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man," said classics professor Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa. (Take an Ireland quiz.)

                                                                                             Who Was the Man Behind St. Patrick's Day?

For starters, the real St. Patrick wasn't even Irish. He was born in Britain around A.D. 390 to an aristocratic Christian family with a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves.

What's more, Patrick professed no interest in Christianity as a young boy, Freeman noted. At 16, Patrick's world turned: He was kidnapped and sent overseas to tend sheep as a slave in the chilly, mountainous countryside of Ireland for seven years. (See Ireland pictures.)

"It was just horrible for him," Freeman said. "But he got a religious conversion while he was there and became a very deeply believing Christian." According to St. Patrick's Day lore, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Today, St. Patrick's Day revelers wear a shamrock. Trifolium dubium, the wild-growing, three-leaf clover that some botanists consider the official shamrock, is an annual plant that germinates in the spring. Other three-leaf clovers, such as the perennials Trifolium repens and Medicago lupulina, are "bogus shamrocks," according to the Irish Times.

John Parnell, a botanist at Trinity College Dublin, said that Trifolium dubium is the most commonly used shamrock today, which lends credence to the claims of authenticity. However, he added, the custom of wearing a shamrock dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and "I know of no evidence to say what people then used. I think the argument on authenticity is purely academic—basically I'd guess they used anything clover like then."

   No Snakes in Ireland                                     

Another St. Patrick myth is the claim that he banished snakes from Ireland. It's true no snakes exist on the island today, Luther College's Freeman said—but they never did.

Ireland, after all, is surrounded by icy waters—much too cold to allow snakes to migrate from Britain or anywhere else. Since snakes often represent evil in literature, "when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age," Freeman said.

The snake myth, the shamrock story, and other tales were likely spread by well-meaning monks centuries after St. Patrick's death, Freeman said. (source)

(Related: "Snakeless in Ireland: Blame Ice Age, Not St. Patrick.")

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Mỹ Lai Massacre hastened the end of the Vietnam War - Will the massacre near Kandahar, Afghanistan have the same effect?

             

                By Dave Stancliff
 Forty-four years ago today, marks the mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians (no one knows for sure what the exact count was) in Mỹ Lai, Vietnam, by soldiers from "Charlie" Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division. 
  Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company was convicted of killing 22 of the villagers in the course of the massacre. While 26 US soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at Mỹ Lai, Calley was singled out as the poster boy for his part in the senseless slaughter.
   Most of the victims were women, children (including babies), and elderly people. Some of the bodies were later found to be mutilated. A year later, in May 1969, the story of the mass murders hit the national and international press, stunning the world.

  I was in the Army at the time of the announcement, and remember having confused feelings when I heard he was up for the death penalty. His sentence was later reduced to three and a half years under house arrest.
  I couldn’t understand why just one person had been selected to answer for the atrocities when a whole company was involved? In retrospect, I can see the military needed someone to blame, but didn’t want to go after the entire unit. 
  The massacre increased domestic opposition to our involvement in the Vietnam War. You might call it a turning point. The three US servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and protect the wounded were later denounced by several US Congressmen. They received hate mail and death threats and found mutilated animals on their doorsteps.
    Hugh Clowers Thompson, Jr., and his crew, Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn, were recognized and decorated 30 years later for their heroism at My Lai. Andreotta had died in combat three weeks after the massacre, and so was honored posthumously.
   The fact that the massacre was successfully covered up for 18 months was seen as a prime example of the Pentagon's "Culture of Concealment.” Hiding war atrocities is impossible nowadays thanks to worldwide instant communications and the internet.

  The most recent example is the American soldier who is accused of massacring 16 villagers (mostly women and children) near Kandahar, Afghanistan. I read where he’s up for the death penalty. I also read where U.S. officials said that only one soldier, from the Stryker brigade, is being tried for leaving his base in southern Afghanistan and opening fire on the sleeping families.
   I bet that he had help. There were reports of a group of Americans in the village and elders the next day testified to multiple attacks. But only one soldier has been charged. With U.S.-Afghanistan relations in crisis, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday openly doubted the American account of the March 12 massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by one U.S. soldier. And Karzai told President Barack Obama by telephone that it was time to pull NATO forces from Afghan villages, the Associated Press reported.

  The shooter has been identified as a staff sergeant on his fourth combat tour. He faces an Article 32 investigation which will be conducted before any court-martial proceedings. If there is a conviction at court-martial with the death penalty imposed and all appeals exhausted, the president of the United States himself would have to sign the death warrant for the soldier's execution. 
  John Bennett was the last U.S. soldier to be executed by the military. He was hanged in 1961 after being convicted of the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.
  I’m just guessing, but if I were to bet, this staff sergeant won’t be executed. If convicted, he’ll be pardoned. It is an election year. The conditions in the military haven’t changed that much since Vietnam. It looks like his lawyer will be using a PTSD defence, according to NBC News. 
  It’s a legitimate defense  (anyone with four combat tours has to have PTSD). The real issue here is the culture of war demands that warriors go unpunished for atrocities committed in combat zones. The pack mentality demands closing ranks whenever possible. I doubt if any civilian could even begin to understand this mentality. It’s not about right or wrong. 
  As It Stands, the one thing a combat veteran knows is he’s supposed to kill the enemy whenever possible. That mentality warps into a twisted reality sometimes and civilians look like the enemy, becoming acceptable collateral damage.

Scientists say sex-starved flies drown their woes in alcohol just like men!

Image: Feeding fly

                 Good Day Humboldt County!

  Sometimes the road to romance meets with obstacles. Ask any guy. There are times when your sweetheart says, “I’ll pass,” or, “I have a headache” (an ancient dodge).

  The reaction to this rejection sometimes leads to sucking up booze in great quantities to drown one’s sorrows. A new study claims flies react like men in this respect.

“In Friday’s issue of the journal Science, researchers propose a biological explanation for why “Not tonight, dear” may lead to “Gimme another beer.” If it proves true in people, it may help scientists find new medications to fight alcoholism.”

I’m not ready yet to thank thousands of flies for fighting alcoholism. Frankly, I resent being compared to an insect – and especially a filthy fly! I’m calling bull shit on this study, but in the name of fairness, here’s some more information:

“One by one, these eager Lotharios were put into a container with a female that had just mated. So she was really, really not interested in doing it again anytime soon. She would run away. She would kick the male. She would stick out her egg-laying organ to hold him at bay.

The male flies went through three hour long sessions of this every day for four days, enough rejection to discourage them from trying any more.

After that experience, rejected flies were put in vials and given a choice of regular food or alcohol-laced food. They consistently went for the alcohol more than did the male flies that had just mated. In fact, they evidently got plastered.”

I try hard not to envision the detailed observation of flies part – but I keep seeing a couple of researchers bent over a glass cage holding hands and taking notes!

“Some rejected males were moved to a different environment, where groups of guys mingled with receptive females. After the guys had sex, their yen for alcohol declined.

The researchers also paired thousands of other male flies with dead virgin females, so that they didn’t experience rejection but didn’t have sex either. They still hit the sauce.”

Well, I bet they did! There was no way they wanted to hump corpses! This is just all too weird. To think someone paid for this research. I sure hope it wasn’t tax-payers.

“I think it’s a pretty good bet that it will translate to humans,” said Ulrike Heberlein of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the research. If so, “one can say we could now understand why a negative experience, such as a sexual rejection, could drive somebody to drink.”

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Outdoor Adventure: Find The Hidden Black Bears!

 

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I’m a fan of finding hidden objects and one of the best artists I’ve seen over the years who does this is Seven M. Gardner .

He loves nature and animals so much, he constantly comes up with new illusions.

Your assignment is to find all of the hidden animals this card holds, and to help you just a bit – all of them are bears, black bears to be exact.

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USPS tries to surpress research paper that shows its mail processing centers closures will not save money

                  Good Day Humboldt County!

It’s just as I suspected – the Post Office’s claims that shutting down mail processing plants will save money – is bogus! Research is starting to trump rhetoric, but the USPS is not giving up without a fight.

The USPS supposedly lost a research paper that would have exposed the fact that there were no calculations on lost volume, and revenues in the decision process to shut down the mail processing centers.

I know one thing, no one will ever be able to convince me that when I send a letter to someone local and it’s re-routed to Medford, Oregon, it’s going to be a cost-saving measure! Anyone with a dose of common sense can see that the USPS is trying to pull a fast one, while slowing down service!

Snippet: 

“The Postal Service’s Big Hurry to consolidate 223 mail processing plants may be running into serious speed bumps.  The AMP studies don’t add up to anything like what the Postal Service says it will save nor do they reveal where most of the 35,000 eliminated positions will come from.

Now there’s news of a market research study on potential revenue losses the downsizing initiatives may cause that the Postal Service chose not to tell anyone about — and that it still wants to keep under wraps.

News of this other research was first revealed back in February, in testimony by one of the Postal Service witnesses for the Advisory Opinion on the Network Rationalization plan being conducted by the Postal Regulatory Commission.  Last week the Postal Service gave the PRC the data from this market research, along with a request to keep the materials “non-public.”  The Postal Service is also saying that because the research was “abandoned” before completion, there are no calculations on lost volume and revenues to look at.That's not sitting well with the participants in the Advisory Opinion process, and we're going to be hearing a lot more about this missing market research study.  Next week, witnesses for the Postal Service will be cross-examined before the Commissioners, and the market survey is sure to come up.”

Go here to read the entire article.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smorgasbord of Silliness: Irrational exuberance on Pi Day

The most famous irrational number, pi, is being factored into a whole smorgasbord of silliness on 3/14.

On one level, today’s date is just an excuse for high geekery, ranging from eating mathematically meaningful pies to marching in a circular pi procession. On a deeper level ... well, who needs an excuse to celebrate one of nature's most mysterious numbers?

In differently curved universes, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter might be something other than 3.14159 and some change. But in our universe, the digits that describe that ratio have never come to an end or shown a repeating pattern, even though pi's value has been computed to a length of 10 trillion digits. The irrationality of pi has popped up as a theme in a goodly number of books and movies through the years, including "Contact" (the book) and "Pi" (the movie). Pi's continuing hold on our imagination is definitely something worth celebrating.

Here are a few ways to mark the day:

  • Tune into the Exploratorium's webcast of its Pi Day ceremonies, starting at 1 p.m. PT and climaxing at 3/14, 1:59 p.m. The Exploratorium in San Francisco is where it all began in 1988, when physicist Larry Shaw organized the first public celebration of Pi Day. There'll also be a Pi Day party at the Exploratorium's Pi-arama Space Dome in Second Life, starting at 7 p.m. PT / SLT.
  • Send a Pi Day e-card, courtesy of PiDay.org. The Web site also offers discussions and videos about pi, books and merchandise to buy, suggested activities and information about the why of pi.
  • Click on over to the Reddit website, where Ford engineers will be posting a different math equation every 3 minutes and 14 seconds. The first person to provide the correct answer to one of the 42 equations due to be posted will receive "Reddit Gold" for use in their account.
  • Look around for local events, such as Pi Day Princeton or the Maryland Science Center's Pi Day party. Chances are that your local science center is doing something to celebrate the day ... and if not, maybe you can convince the ticket-takers to reduce the cost of admission to $3.14, just this once.
  • Celebrate Albert Einstein's birthday, which also falls on March 14. Our "Century of Einstein" special report is just as insightful today as it was when we published it in 2005 to mark the centennial of the great physicist's "miracle year."
  • Make your plans for Tau Day, the holiday for people who think pi is passé. Tau is twice the value of pi, and some mathematicians say that makes their equations easier to juggle. If you're a tau touter, June 28 (6/28) is your special day. And if you don't follow the American style of stating dates, you might be more comfortable celebrating pi on July 22 (22/7), a date that evokes a fraction close to the irrational value of pi. (source)

Stay tuned: reality series features Clint Eastwood’s family - will it make viewer’s day?

One of my favorite actors is Clint Eastwood. As a devoted fan of his Westerns, and later Dirty Harry, and other memorable movies, I was intrigued by a new reality show staring his family.

I would have called the new show “Go Ahead – Make My Day” but the producers are reportedly taking a milder approach.

Clint Eastwood's family will be the focus at the legendary actor and filmmaker's home in Carmel, California. "Mrs. Eastwood & Company," a 10-part series that centers on Eastwood's wife, Dina, and daughters Morgan and Francesca (her mom is Frances Fisher, but she also calls Dina "Mom"), premieres on E! on May 20.

If hot dogs do cause butt cancer…what’s next? Mom’s Apple Pie?

    Good Day Humboldt County!

In our walk through life we often get warnings of danger. Some are credible, some are not.

When it comes to the medical world I have my doubts at times. For example, I know two doctors with opposite views on the benefits of taking massive does of Vitamin D.

  One swears by it, the other says it doesn’t have any value at all. Which one should I believe? It’s time like this we have to take the bull by the horns and go with our gut feelings on how safe things are. That includes food. Like hot dogs for example. I’ve been eating them most of my life and I don’t have “butt cancer” (thank God!). Yet, there are legitimate concerns about those favorite baseball park “foot longs” associated with America’s pastime.  

The billboard above is one of a series of ads being put up in major cities by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), urging people to stop eating hot dogs, which it says is a leading cause of colon and other cancers. Needless to say, the hot dog industry is burned about the bad publicity.

The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council - hot-dog.org — reacted immediately to this billboard, which went up recently on the Eisenhower Expressway. Calling the ad "outrageous" and "inflammatory," the trade group dismissed the PCRM as a "pseudo-medical animal rights group" bent on turning all Americans into vegans.

Frankly (pun intended) I don’t know who to believe in this great hot dog debate! Meanwhile, I’ll still have one on occasion and take my chances. As for you dear reader, eat them at your own risk.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did the FBI lie about homegrown 9/11 connections?

At least one man believes the 9/11 hijackers had help in the U.S., and he’s called for an investigation into two classified documents that link Saudis living in Sarasota, Florida to the 9/11 hijackers. For years, conspiracy theorists have claimed Saudis organized 9/11. With 15 of the 19 hijackers being Saudis, this seemed to further bolster the claim.

And why was the FBI instructed to not say anything to embarrass the Saudis directly after 9/11? There’s a lot of questions about what happened that terrible day. Here is the latest news on the subject:

“Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who co-chaired Congress’ Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has seen two classified FBI documents that he says are at odds with the bureau’s public statements that there was no connection between the hijackers and Saudis then living in Sarasota, Fla.

“There are significant inconsistencies between the public statements of the FBI in September and what I read in the classified documents,” Graham said. “One document adds to the evidence that the investigation was not the robust inquiry claimed by the FBI,” Graham said. “An important investigative lead was not pursued and unsubstantiated statements were accepted as truth.”

Whether the 9/11 hijackers acted alone, or whether they had support within the U.S., remains an unanswered question -- one that began to be asked as soon as it became known that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. It was underlined when Congress’s bipartisan inquiry released its public report in July 2003. The final 28 pages, regarding possible foreign support for the terrorists, were censored in their entirety -- on President George W. Bush’s instructions.

Analysis of Prestancia gatehouse visitor logs and photographs of license tags showed that vehicles driven by several of the future hijackers had visited the al-Hijji home at 4224 Escondito Circle, according to a counterterrorism officer and former Prestancia administrator Larry Berberich. If that did occur, it will feed into suspicions that the hijackers had Saudi support -- a suspicion held by some official investigators but played down by the 9/11 Commission.

Newly released Florida Department of Law Enforcement documents, however, state that an informant told the FBI in 2004 that al-Hijji had considered Osama bin Laden a “hero” and may have known some of the hijackers. The informant, Wissam Hammoud, also said al-Hijji once introduced him to Adnan El Shukrijumah, an ex-Broward County resident and suspected al-Qaida operative on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

Last September, FBI spokesmen also disputed Graham’s assertion that Congress was never told about the Sarasota investigation. Graham sees what he believes to be the suppression of evidence pointing to Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers as arising from the perceived advantages to the West, at the time and now, of keeping Saudi Arabia happy. In late December, the U.S. announced a new $30 billion defense deal with the Saudis.

“I think that in the period immediately after 9/11 the FBI was under instructions from the Bush White House not to discuss anything that could be embarrassing to the Saudis,” Graham said. It is inexplicable why the Obama administration has been reticent to pursue the question of Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attack.”

 article source

Vigilantes haven’t disappeared – they just don’t wear scarves on their faces anymore

                              Good Day Humboldt County!

  Once upon a time, vigilantes wore scarves over their faces in the Old West. They weren’t interested in a prolonged trial for a cattle thief, so they took justice into their own hands.

This twisted road led to the death of more than one innocent man, left swinging from his neck on a tree limb thanks to these vigilantes. They wore scarves to hide their identities in case an investigation later proved the dead man was innocent.

  There are still vigilantes today. They don’t wear scarves. As a matter of fact, they form neighborhood watches. Most of these loose groups do a great job of looking out for their neighbors and are a benefit to their communities. Gated communities often have these groups. Some of these groups have gun-bearing members and are ready to use them.

The story below is about an armed member of a neighborhood watch for “The Retreat at Twin Lakes,” who shot a 17-year old Florida high school student (Trayvon Martin) because “he looked suspicious.” The student had a bag of Skittles (a candy-coated treat) and an iced-tea, which apparently spooked George Zimmerman, who shot him dead with a 9 mm pistol.

Zimmerman wasn’t wearing a scarf, but he’s no different than the vigilantes of the Old West. Judge, jury, and executioner. Interestingly enough, he was arrested in 2005 for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. Kinda makes you wonder about this vigilante with a history of violence doesn’t it?

But the police are saying there’s no evidence to challenge the shooter’s story. In their minds, a deadly bag of Skittles warranted a response from a 9 mm pistol. Maybe the kid threw them at Zimmerman? Now, there’s a reason to kill him. Don’t you think? Or, worse yet, was he murdered because he was an African-American?

The family and friends are trying to seek justice, but face an uphill battle. To read the whole story and view videos go to 6 NBC Miami

Time for me to walk on down the road…

 

  

       

“The parents of a 17-year-old Florida high school student killed last month in Sanford by a neighborhood watch representative gathered Sunday night at a Miami Gardens church to demand justice in their son's shooting.

Family and friends said a prayer and read a poem for the teen, who was visiting his father and step mom in the central Florida town in February when he was gunned down by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch representative for The Retreat at Twin Lakes.

Zimmerman had called police and reported Martin as a suspicious person in the neighborhood, before following Martin from his car, police said.When officers arrived, Martin, who had gone to a nearby store for a bag of Skittles and an iced tea, was dead.

Police said Zimmerman told them that he shot Martin in self-defense.

"George Michael Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter gun, Trayvon Martin had a bag of Skittles, how can he claim self defense?" the Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said.

A records search revealed an arrest record for Zimmerman, including an arrest in 2005 for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. The Martin family and their attorney, disputed the self defense claim.

"The police lied to this family, and told them he was squeaky clean and that was one of the reasons why they weren't arresting George Michael Zimmerman," Crump said.” (NBC 6 – Miami)

Monday, March 12, 2012

FaceBook Fails: Does any of this stuff ring a bell with you?

There’s more stuff like this here.

By The Oatmeal

Middle school coach can’t handle loss and bites off other coach’s ear!

I remember when I coached my three sons in soccer, basketball, and baseball. There was always an irate parent, or coach, who gave each sport a bad name. Adults often get too carried away living vicariously through their children. This is nothing new.

The irony is these kids get the wrong message early – win at all costs! Do whatever it takes. Just bring home a title. I’ve seen and heard of some extreme cases of mayhem by both parents and coaches but was surprised to see the bar is still going up. 

Memories of Iron Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear came back to me when I read this article today:

“A middle school basketball rivalry took a violent turn on Friday, after one losing coach bit off part of another coach’s ear, police said. Police said the assistant coach of the losing team, Timothy Lee Forbes, 34, of Springfield, assaulted the coach of the winning team after a championship tournament game and bit off part of his ear.

Police received a report of a disturbance at the Holy Name School in Springfield during a sixth-grade boys' basketball game.

People at the game pulled Forbes off the coach, police said, and Forbes ran out of the gym before police arrived. The victim, a 34-year-old Springfield man, was rushed to the Baystate Medical Center in an ambulance to have his ear reattached. He has been released.

Forbes has been charged with mayhem, assault and battery and other charges. He will be arraigned on Monday afternoon in Springfield District Court.” (Read NBCConnecticut.com's story on biting coach's ear)

Things people say: Ordinary people can be drop dead funny

                 Good Day Humboldt County!

Are you ready to walk down a road that will leave you laughing every step of the way? Do you want an infusion of humor to set the tone for the paths you must pursue today?

For the most part, the humor is unrehearsed and unintentional. Hundreds of quotations are listed below. There are lines spoken by people intending to say something else. There are lines spoken by people who misunderstood something or other. They may or may not have known any better. The intricacies of human language may have fouled them up, or perhaps unfortunate slips of the tongue led them to ignominy. Whatever the case, there's a lot to laugh at:

                                                           Slips and Gaffes
  • Accident Reports -- Descriptions of accidents as written on insurance claim forms.
  • Excuse Letters -- Letters from parents to teachers, excusing their children from school.
  • Courtroom Quotations -- Lawyers take ridiculous steps to be thorough.
  • Patient Charts -- Doctors' remarks on patient charts.
  • Church Bulletins -- Unfortunately phrased announcements in church bulletins.
  • Classified Ads -- Classified ads that don't necessarily say what they were intended to.
  •  News Reports -- Newspapers, radio, and television garble news reports.
                                                               Things Kids Say
                                                                     Stupidity
                                                               Famous People
  • Yogi Berra -- Verbal blunders from one of baseball's legends.
  • Samuel Goldwyn -- Verbal blunders from the famous movie mogul.
  • Eugene Ormandy -- Verbal blunders from the famous orchestra conductor.
  • Murray Walker -- Verbal blunders from the famous motor racing commentator.
  • John Madden -- Verbal blunders from the famous football commentator.
  • Dan Quayle -- Verbal blunders from a notorious former Vice President.
  • Other Famous People -- Verbal blunders from an assortment of other celebrities and political figures.

                             Source: “Things People Said” is a RinkWorks production.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, March 11, 2012

As It Stands: Smile, ‘They’ only want to get to know you

This is our land. A land of peace and of plenty. A land of harmony and hope. This is our land. Oceania. These are our people. The workers, the strivers, the builders. These are our people. The builders of our world, struggling, fighting, bleeding, dying. On the streets of our cities and on the far-flung battlefields. Fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams. Who are they?” --   Nineteen Eighty-Four

                   By Dave Stancliff/For the Times Standard
   “They” just want to get to know you.
   “They” have been around since the day you were born, watching your progress and taking extensive notes about things you like and don’t like.
   “They” have many faces that have changed over the decades, but their mission is still to document your life. “They” aren’t doing that to write your biography and make it a best seller. Actually, “They” jealously guard whatever they find out about you, because you are a cash cow.
   The statistics change over the years as you grow older. “They” have the option of selling your likes and dislikes to the highest bidder, or keeping that information stored in their vast data banks for other uses.
   By now, you may have guessed who “They” are. Marketers, advertisers, retailers, pollsters, mobile phone companies, social media like FaceBook, Path, and Twitter, internet investors, and other services that depend upon the ability to personalize for profit.

  “They” really want to get to know you without being too overt. That’s not always possible however. Recent revelations that Google Inc, Twitter and other popular Internet companies have been taking liberties with customer data, are only the tip of the iceberg.
    Privacy advocates and lawmakers are critical of these companies, but nothing ever gets done about them. The companies involved quickly apologize and say they were only doing it to help their customers and their intentions were pure as the driven snow. Or something like that in lawyer talk.
   When you have business models that depend on increasing their ability to target a marketing pitch to an individual, your privacy takes a back seat. Their intentions are pure all right; to make money.

   Millions of times each day, the right to advertise to a specific user is auctioned off in a fraction of a second by computers talking to one another. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google was tweaking ads on Apple's Safari Web browser to install tracking cookies. 
   Here’s what happens; a company over-reaches, gets caught, and promises to do better. If their promises are not enough to reassure a greater than usual display of outrage and public demands for new legislation, then the industry will counter with a new plan for self regulation.
   This self regulation usually means something like publishing privacy policies that users seldom read. In other words, “They” have the game down. “They” invented the game. “They” have evolved with modern technology, but their mission remains pure; to learn all they can about you.
    Facebook and Google both agreed to 20 years of privacy audits by the Federal Trade Commission after they were caught using customer information that had been considered private. Don’t expect much action from these audits however, when there are few restrictions on data collection.

   I’m sorry to report that privacy advocates say they do not expect big changes any time soon. "Trying to pass a bill through Congress that's actually going to safeguard user records, especially when you've got huge advertiser lobbies trying to defang that law, is an incredible challenge," said Rainey Reitman, activism director with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a interview with Reuters on February 19th.
   Internet companies have faced little punishment for pushing privacy boundaries. Those boundaries are more extensive than most consumers understand. Practically every key stroke you make, each visit to a website, generate new information about your interests.
   For people who already have privacy concerns with laws like the Patriot Act, this is just another example of how they’re monitored by Big Brother. A Big Brother with many faces.
   As It Stands, from the Feds to FaceBook, they all just want to get to know you.