Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ball and Chain= Cap and Trade

The biggest scam of all: Cap and Trade

Vincent Gioia
It is truly amazing that anyone really familiar with the so-called cap-and-trade bill could actually accept this legislation or in Congress, vote for it.

First, it is erroneous to think that it would have any effect on global warming because carbon dioxide is not the cause, it is the effect but unfortunately that battle won in the halls of science is lost in the halls of congress.

Second, it is also erroneous to say that the bill would cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions because most "greenhouse-gas emissions" are water vapor - carbon dioxide is a relatively small portion of such emissions.

The House bill is falsely alleged to cut U.S. greenhouse-gas 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. It would also establish a new Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would force utilities to supply a minimum amount of their electricity from renewable energy sources. The result will be: (1) everything used by the public will increase in price because of increased costs to producers from the need to acquire "carbon credits" for their operations will be passed on to consumers and, (2) requiring utilities to change their the means of power production from whatever is being used now to "renewable energy sources," however defined, will necessarily increase the cost of electricity to homeowners because new "sources" will be more expensive to use that currently used fossil fuels.

The bill supposed to result in achieving carbon-dioxide emission targets by establishing a cap-and-trade system, which would require heavy emitters of carbon dioxide, and the oil and gas industry, to buy annual emissions permits from the government or through a secondary market. It is not rocket science to understand that any money spent on acquiring "annual emissions permits" is simply another expense of utilities and by law and public utility regulations in all states public utilities are guaranteed to earn minimum profits since they are regulated monopolies. In order to "earn" their minimum profits, the cost of electricity to consumers, residential and commercial, has to be increased.

The plan, as written by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would auction a small percentage of the available permits, or allowances, directly to companies. The rest, more than 85 percent, would be given away to selected industries, local utility companies, states and Indian tribes. The idea itself is ludicrous but it would be nice if congress could explain why Indian tribes would be given available permits - surely casinos don't emit much "greenhouse gas", unless you consider cigarette smoke in that category.

Democrats and Republican supporters contended the legislation would help reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, increase the use of renewable energy such as solar and wind power and increase employment in clean energy industries. How ridiculous that is. Most oil is used to produce fuel for the transportation industry, cars for example. How will solar power and windmills power automobiles and trucks? Not only that, it has been established that production of renewable fuels such as ethanol consume more energy than produced by the products and also involve substantial emissions of "greenhouse gas," e.g. carbon dioxide. The claim of reducing either reliance on foreign oil or reduction of greenhouse gas is a plain lie.

Obama said "This is a jobs bill" and would increase employment in clean energy industries. There may well be new jobs created but they will be more than offset by the numbers of jobs lost. As manufacturing costs increase businesses will have no choice but to reduce employment as will businesses that depend on those manufactured products. Increased unemployment will also reduce consumer income thereby accelerating the downward spiral of our economy. House Republican Leader John A. Boehner said the bill will cost the economy up to 2.7 million jobs and he may be underestimating the effect.

"When it comes to energy, Washington Democrats, I think, are poised to make matters worse by imposing a job-killing energy tax, courtesy of Speaker Pelosi. This is going to force small businesses and their workers and families to pay more for electricity, gasoline, and other products that are made in America that have high energy content."

The basic idea behind cap-and-trade is simple: Government experts assess how much pollution can be "safely" put into the environment, then shares (sometimes called permits or allowances) equaling that amount are given or auctioned by the government to those who have historically emitted the pollutant. How do you suppose "safe" limits of carbon dioxide can be determined? Will continued emission of carbon dioxide exhaled by us be taken into account?

Polluters then must return to the government enough permits to cover their emissions every year. If they fall short of permits, emitters must buy them from those who have a surplus. The number of permits available decreases annually until a "safe" level of emissions level is reached.

The bill would direct 2 billion free allowances to domestic and international conservation, known as "offsets," which would allow companies to buy emissions permits by effectively paying farmers here and abroad to preserve trees and employ environmental planting practices. I would like to form a business to sell emissions permits by using the money to "preserve trees" by letting them continue to grow; would anyone like to join me?

The legislation would require utilities that provide more than 4 million megawatt hours of electricity a year to buy a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources; thus assuring the cost of electricity will increase.

The amount starts at just 6% in 2012 and gradually increases to 20% in 2020, although utilities could meet up to 8% of the mandate through reduced energy usage by their customers. In other words, the government will figure out some way to make us use less energy (a very broad term) other than by increasing the cost - I wonder what that may me, government controlled thermostats?

Right now renewable energy accounts for about 8.5% of domestic electricity generation, but the House bill's renewable mandate would not recognize all of that as renewable. Hydropower, for example, which makes up a large chunk of current electricity generation, is not all counted as renewable toward the new mandate, nor is geothermal energy.

A new amendment added by speaker Pelosi requires the president to impose trade tariffs on trade partners that do not limit their carbon-dioxide emissions by 2020. To get representatives farm states on board, provisions easing rules on corn-based ethanol production and putting the permit program under the Agriculture Department rather than the Environmental Protection Agency was included.

The bill would have far reaching effects on energy users at all levels of the economy, from giant manufacturers to utilities to individuals. For instance, new government imposed buildings standards would be mandated and some household items will be required to use less energy than they do now. These items include backyard spas, lamps located above art work, drinking-water dispensers and light bulbs in outdoor light fixtures. Are you prepared to live with that?

The bill would force companies to phase out allegedly inefficient products of the kinds described and replace them with allegedly more efficient - and more expensive and less desirable - versions. For example presently used incandescent light bulbs, now costing less than a dollar, will have to be replaced by required compact florescent light bulbs (those curly things), that already cost more and will cost still more in the future when they are the only light game in town.

The bill would also make changes to the government's Energy Star program, which recognizes dishwashers, refrigerators and other appliances that save energy. The tougher standards would mean these "energy saving" products would cost more than regular products and it would take longer for consumers to recoup the extra costs through savings on their energy bill.

"It doesn't do any good to have high-price, energy-efficient products if people will just pay to have their old appliances fixed," said Kevin Messner, vice president of government relations for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

If you think you can avoid this by repairing older appliances, think again, everything will wear out sooner or later.

Source: American Thinker

Talk Show Hosts May Be Accomplices Under ADL's Hate Bill

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act HR 1966 which has passed the Congress by overwhelming margins is now facing hearings in the Senate. There are already similar hate crime laws in place, however, this bill imposes much stronger federal enforcement, which is a clear violation of the Tenth Amendment. It grants greater power to federal prosecutors to prosecute hate crime laws by prosecuting those who have been found innocent by local or state courts. The current bill will extend special privileges to gays and transgender individuals that are currently only granted to ethnic and religious minorities. The most dangerous part of the Bill which is a direct assault against the First Amendment is that it allows for the prosecution as accomplices in a hate crime for talk show pundits that the person who commits the alleged crime claims to influence their actions.

Here is the essential text:

Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce [radio, TV, internet] any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. (HR 1966, SEC 3, Sec. 881a)

Reverend Ted Pike of the National Prayer Network says that "this means that if any pastor, talk show host or guest, or anyone communicating on radio or the internet is repeatedly “hostile” to the practice of homosexuality and “intends” to cause “substantial emotional distress” in homosexuals, leading to repentance, he is guilty. The speaker doesn’t even have to succeed in causing such conviction for sin, even though he will be especially guilty if he does. In either case, the federal government is empowered under this bill to invade any state to prosecute the “bully” of the airwaves."

This Bill is the first major step to stripping away our rights to freedom of speech in the 1st amendment. Recently the Plains State ADL Director denounced the 1st Amendment by saying that "freedom of speech does not extend to racist groups, nor give their supporters the right to threaten and intimidate others or commit acts of violence."In many western nations, an individual can be prosecuted by the government for certain speech.

Though we still have the First Amendment we are headed in that direction of Europe and Canada where people can be prosecuted for thought crimes. Organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League have aggressively promoted hate crime legislation. These organizations have endorsed Europe and Canada's policies on prosecuting what they deem as hate speech. The ADL openly advocates for their model anti-hate law. In 1988 the ADL gave out an award to law student Joseph Ribikoff for writing a proposed hate crime bill that would criminalize hate speech against gays and minorities.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ADL Washington counsel Michael Lieberman spoke in support of the Hate Crimes Bill. "We have no illusions about this legislation," Lieberman testified. "We know that bigotry, racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism cannot be legislated out of existence. A new federal law that finally addresses all victims of hate crimes will not eliminate them."

Source: LA Ron Paul Examiner

ACLU threatens school dist. if students not forced to attend assembly

In the town of Big Bear Lake, CA, family advocates are crying foul over recent comments by a school superintendent who derided parents seeking to opt students out of a presentation orchestrated by the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The school assembly (presentation) was prompted by an incident last November when high school authorities asked a student to change her tie-dyed shirt that read "Prop 8 Equals Hate." After the ACLU threatened the school district, the Superintendent agreed to force high school students and teachers to attend a forum about student speech and "nondiscrimination." The ACLU then apparently enlisted the Anti-Defamation League to speak at the forum.

In an e-mail to attorneys at the ACLU, the Superintendent of Bear Valley Unified School District, Carole Ferraud, sought help to prevent a parent from opting his student out of a school assembly discussing, somewhat ironically, student free speech and name-calling. The ADL school assembly discussed a "Pyramid of Hate" that pointed to "non-inclusive language" as a precursor to genocide. The assembly also pushed acceptance of controversial hate crimes laws and other "anti-bias" efforts seen by many parents as a politically-correct cover for promotion of alternative lifestyles, especially homosexuality.

Superintendent Ferraud complained to the ACLU, "I have a parent who wants to opt his student out of the presentation. We explained that parents can only opt their children out of sex education and he is asking to see that in writing. Ugh .. small minds!"

The e-mail was unearthed by the Pacific Justice Institute as part of an ongoing investigation. PJI staff attorney Karen Milam, who heads PJI's Southern California office, commented,

"It's telling that school officials cozy with the ACLU preach tolerance for certain politically-correct groups but slam parents with religious or moral convictions. If free speech means anything, it is the right to dissent from government indoctrination. It sounds like school officials - not students - need a lesson in respect."

Source: The Examiner.Com

David Cameron: Giving power back to the people

I want to thank Imperial College London for inviting me to speak today.

This university has a remarkable history. In just a little over a century, you already have the discovery of penicillin, the development of fibre-optics and the foundations of the internet and fourteen Nobel Laureates to your name.

These innovations have put real power into people's hands and changed the world. That's what I want to talk about today - people power and the change we need.

After the political crisis this year, the consensus for change is overwhelming. But the reality has so far been distinctly underwhelming.

Blacked-out expense claims.

The announcement of a behind-closed-doors Iraq enquiry.

And a Prime Minister who talks about restoring the authority of Parliament but is still going around making policy announcements on the radio.

If you're serious about change, you need consistency of argument and clarity of purpose. That's what the Conservatives are offering.

We have a coherent programme to fix our broken politics and drag our democracy into the post-bureaucratic age. It involves a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power - from the political elite to the man and woman in the street. But before we deal with long-term plans, we have to deal with the expenses issue.

I set up a Scrutiny Panel to examine the claims of MPs and to examine whether these were reasonable, and whether, in retrospect, some money ought to be paid back. Conservative MPs have overwhelmingly responded in a positive way and shown a real desire to take the lead on this damaging issue. It is an effort - both collectively as a party and individually as Conservative MPs - to address the public's anger about what has happened.

Today, we are publishing a very full update.

Already Conservative MPs have paid back £125,000 - this adds another £125,000. This is not about MPs that broke the rules - we all know the rules weren't good enough. It's about understanding the level of public anger, about a system that was broken, and the part we played in it. It's not good enough just to sort out the rules for the future, we need to recognise the mistakes of the past. And these payments are an important part of that. This is just one step - of many - that needs to be taken to restore both some trust and some faith in the political system.

A month ago at the Open University I set out our plans to decentralise power. Today I want to take the next step and show how we will control the power of the state and make it more accountable to people.


The British state has developed over centuries into a powerful entity charged with delivering important goals.

To protect its citizens from internal and external threat.

To redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest.

To ensure public services - education, healthcare, welfare - are there for all who need them.

These things have helped make our country a place which is safer, fairer, and where opportunity is more equal. But the more the state does, the greater the risk that it gradually becomes master over the citizens it's meant to serve. That's why we have traditionally created checks to keep the right balance of power.

Checks to stop the state exerting too much power over us, in other words, protecting personal freedom. And checks to help us exert power over the state, in other words, ensuring political accountability. But the last twelve years of Labour Government have diminished personal freedom and diluted political accountability. Today, I want to talk about both.


Today we are in danger of living in a control state.

Almost a million innocent citizens are caught in the web of the biggest DNA database in the world - larger than that of any dictatorship. Hundreds of shadowy powers allow officials to force their way past your front door. And soon we will be forced to surrender our fingerprints, eye scans and personal information to intrusive compulsory ID cards.

Every month over a thousand surveillance operations are carried out, not just by law enforcement agencies but by other public bodies like councils and quangos. And the tentacles of the state can even rifle through your bins for juicy information.


How have we got ourselves into the position where there is such a marked imbalance of power between the citizen and the state?

We have to acknowledge that New Labour began with the right intentions.

In the Freedom of Information Act, data protection laws, Scottish and Welsh devolution, and even the attempt to invest citizens with fundamental human rights we can see concrete evidence of good intent. But this liberal strand in Labour has been crushed by the overwhelming dominance of the political authoritarians.

This authoritarian strand of the party was guided by two things: a political philosophy and a style of government. Their philosophy has at its heart a belief that the state is the answer to most problems. So Labour reached for more control over many areas of our lives - with endless laws, targets, and bureaucracy herding everyone into the net of the control state.

Their governing style, on the other hand, is all about presenting the government in the best possible light. They see it as vital to demonstrate that ministerial action leads directly to some beneficial result. And not just any result - but a fast and visible one.

The authoritarians are not interested in real and sustainable change in our country unless that change could be linked, directly, to their own actions.

So when crime rises, better to create another criminal offence and we've had over 3000 new ones since 1997, than it is to take the long-term action that would strengthen families. It's government of the short-term, by the short-term and for the short-term. A top-down philosophy together with a short-term governing style, this was an ideological and political recipe for creating a disastrous imbalance of power between the citizen and the state.

Labour's belief in the state led them to increase state power and thereby diminish personal freedom. And their reliance on spin made them hostile to scrutiny - which is why Labour ended up diluting political accountability.


It's because people have seen Labour's liberal intentions get crushed, twisted and lost that they legitimately ask of us: how will you be different?

Conservatives start with an instinctive desire to give people more power and control over their lives.
But we're not naïve. We know the state cannot let go completely.

The right power balance is something that must be constantly negotiated and adjusted, through ongoing judgements. But we will always be aware that those judgements - however small or insignificant they may seem in isolation - can together change the character of our country.

So a Conservative government would constantly ask two essential questions:
Does this action enhance personal freedom?
And does it advance political accountability?

And at the heart of our programme for government will be our intention to change fundamentally the balance of power between the citizen and the state so that ultimately it's people in control of their government, not the other way round.


We'll start by putting back in place the protections of personal freedom that Labour have taken away.

Today in Britain - not in some foreign dictatorship, not in a bygone age, you can wake up in the morning, in your own bed, in your own home to hear a knock on the door from an official with one of over a thousand powers that now allow the state to enter your home.

You don't have to be a terrorist or a criminal fugitive. The authorities have the right to come into your home to inspect potted plants for pests or to check the regulation of hedgerows. More than half of these new powers have been introduced in the past twelve years. But Labour's control state can not only enter your home. They can snoop on you as you walk down the street.

Not just the sort of spies you see in primetime dramas but Labour's new spooks: council officials and quango workers, using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, or RIPA. This was supposedly introduced to help fight terrorism. But Poole council used it to spy for nearly three weeks on a young family who had applied to a local primary school to see if they lived in the right catchment area. And councils in Derby and Gateshead used RIPA to snoop on dog foulers.

Then there is the misuse of the Terrorist legislation. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act gives the police power to stop and search any person on the street. Last year, it was used over 120,000 times - a three-fold increase on the year before. That's one person stopped every four minutes. Yet only one percent of these searches led to arrest, let alone charges or convictions.

Instead, we see a woman in her thirties held for walking on a cycle path. And parents, and their twelve year old disabled son, detained for two hours and by ten officers on suspicion of people-trafficking.

But let's say you were charged. There are now serious questions about the quality of justice in Britain. Since 2003, Labour has repeatedly tried to remove the role of juries in fraud trials, coroners' inquests and other criminal trials. And they haven't just eroded justice at home - they've surrendered to a further attack from abroad. Britain now allows extradition to a range of countries without that country having to produce proper evidence that the person in question has committed a crime.

In all these ways, our personal freedom has been diminished. The balance of power in our country has shifted away from the individual - just trying to live their life and towards the state and its agencies - constantly probing, prying and picking on people.

So we will make some important changes. The next Conservative government will revoke the unjustified and unreasonable powers that let people enter your home without your permission.

We will change the law that allows councils to snoop on people for trivial matters.

We will review the use of the Terrorism Act's Section 44, and the stop and search powers contained within it.

We will change the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to strengthen the right to trial by jury.

And we will review the operation of the Extradition Act - and the US/UK extradition treaty - to make sure it is even-handed and works both ways.


But stopping the state from exerting too much power over us demands another big change. This Government is running not just a control state, but a surveillance state. In 2007, Privacy International ranked Britain's privacy protections joint 43rd out of 47 countries surveyed - with the worst record in Europe, and only marginally better than Russia and China.

Faced with any problem, any crisis - given any excuse - Labour grasp for more information, pulling more and more people into the clutches of state data capture.

Contact Point is a vast database that holds the details of everyone under the age of eighteen in England, their name, address, gender, date of birth, school and health provider. And the Government doesn't want to stop with the basic information. They want the most complex, important, personal information there is.

Nearly five million people are on Labour's DNA database. The Government says it's to help fight crime. But almost a million of the people on it are completely innocent. And tens of thousands of those innocent people are children. It's a situation that would cause concern under the most oppressive regimes in the world, but it's happening right here, right now in Britain.

This in itself bad enough - our most personal information stored in labs and state data vaults. But Labour want to go even further. They want every single person in this country to walk around with an ID card. With that card over fifty pieces of personal information will have been transferred from your private control to state control. Not just your name and address and place of birth but your image, signature, fingerprints - maybe even iris scans and a facial measurement template.

For those who don't get a card there is talk of fines, enforced registration and penalties in public service provision. Scare tactics to herd more disempowered citizens into the clutches of officialdom, as people surrender more and more information about their lives, giving the state more and more power over their lives.

If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.

So the next Conservative Government will scrap the Contact Point database of children's details.

We will scrap the ID Card scheme.

And we will remove innocent people's records from the DNA database.


The action we take to rein in Labour's control state and confront Labour's surveillance state will help rebalance power in one direction by enhancing personal freedom and limiting the state's power over us.

But a radical redistribution of power also means increasing our power over the state, which means advancing political accountability. And just as information plays a massive part in the argument about personal freedom, as what I've said about Labour's surveillance state databases demonstrates, so too is information central to the argument about political accountability.

Information is power - because information allows people to hold the powerful to account. This has never been more true than today, in the information age. The internet is an amazing pollinator, spreading ideas and information all over the globe in minutes. It turns lonely fights into mass campaigns; transforms moans into movements; excites the attention of hundreds, thousands, millions of people and stirs them to action. And constantly accelerating technology makes information infinitely more powerful.

We see the power of this information in Iran. Every time the Iranian state has tried to choke the flow of information to dampen down the protests, people have turned to technology to share and access information. When the state cut off text messages to stop people coordinating their protests, the protesters switched to social media like Twitter and Facebook. When foreign journalists had their visas taken off them, people on the streets started uploading video clips onto YouTube. And when the government tried to monitor internet traffic and ban popular websites, people outside Iran set up proxy internet servers so Iranians could continue to access information anonymously.

Information is critical in the balance of power today. That's why the US administration asked Twitter to postpone its website maintenance work so Iranians could continue to use the site. That's foreign policy in the post-bureaucratic age - enabling the free flow of information to give people power so they can use that power to demand change. And we've seen the dramatic power of information to shape events at home, too.

Last month, the Daily Telegraph published receipts and expense claims that had previously been kept secret, information that the authorities, to their shame, have even now only released in a half-hearted way, thick with black ink. But what the Daily Telegraph did - the simple act of providing information to the public - has triggered the biggest shake-up in our political system for years. Information alone has been more powerful than years of traditional politics. Of course it has been a painful time for politics and for individual politicians - but let us be clear, it is without question a positive development for the country.

It is information - not a new law, not some regulation - just the provision of information that has enabled people to take on the political class, question them, demand answers, and get those answers.

That's exactly as it should be. That is real accountability. That is people power, and we need more of it not less.

Whether it's for freedom abroad, or fighting corruption at home, we have seen how information can put power in people's hands and make the political elite answer to them.


We have already announced some of the ways in which we will put information - and thereby power - in people's hands.

We will publish every item of government spending over £25,000.

It will all be there for an army of armchair auditors to go through, line by line, pound by pound, to hold wasteful government to account.

We will require the publication of crime data online in an open way so that communities can build their own crime maps, see what crimes are being committed, where and at what time and hold their local police to account if they're not doing something about it. And we will require all local councils to publish information like meeting minutes and local service data in a standardised format.

This will give people the power to hold local government to account, and to develop new public services like a local version of TheyWorkForYou, or Bebo applications that tell teenagers when the local sports centre is open as well as the power to see which councils are providing the best value for money, so residents can demand the same from their own. But today we're announcing further steps towards true freedom of information.


In Britain today, there are over 100,000 public bodies producing a huge amount of information.

This ranges from school league tables to train timetables; from health outcomes to public sector job vacancies. Most of this information is kept locked up by the state. And what is published is mostly released in formats that mean the information can't be searched or used with other applications, like online maps. his stands in the way of accountability.

Let me give you just two examples.

Today, many central government and quango job adverts are placed in a select few newspapers.

Some national, some regional. Some daily, some weekly.

But all of them in a variety of different publications - meaning it's almost impossible to find out how many vacancies there are across the public sector, what kind of salaries are being offered, how these vary from public sector body to public sector body and whether functions are being duplicated.

Remember this is your money being put forward to give someone a job - and you have little way of finding out why, what for and for how much.

Now imagine if they were all published online and in a standardised way. Not only could you find out about vacancies for yourself, you could cross-reference what jobs are on offer and make sure your money is being put to proper use. Or what about patient outcomes in the NHS?

Some of the most important information you'll ever need to know, how long your Dad will survive if he gets cancer, your chances of a good life if you have a stroke, all this is out of your hands.

Now, again, imagine if this information was in your hands. You'd be able to compare your local hospital with others, and do something about it if it wasn't good enough.

Choose another hospital. Voice your complaint to a patient group. Make change happen.

All this data which would help people in this country hold the powerful to account - it's all locked away in some vault. And it's only getting worse.

Next week Ed Balls will publish proposals for a new report card, replacing league tables. That will reduce the amount of information being published, and reduce parent power to hold their school to account.

We're going to set this data free. In the first year of the next Conservative Government, we will find the most useful information in twenty different areas ranging from information about the NHS to information about schools and road traffic and publish it so people can use it.

This information will be published proactively and regularly - and in a standardised format so that it can be 'mashed up' and interacted with.

What's more, because there is no complete list that can tell us exactly what data the government collects, we will create a new 'right to data' so that further datasets can be requested by the public.

By harnessing the wisdom of the crowd, we can find out what information individuals think will be important in holding the state to account.

And to avoid bureaucrats blocking these requests, we will introduce a rule that any request will be successful unless it can be proved that it would lead to overwhelming costs or demonstrable personal privacy or national security concerns.

If we are serious about helping people exert more power over the state, we need to give them the information to do it. And as part of that process, we will review the role of the Information Commissioner to make sure that it is designed to maximise political accountability in our country.


But as I said in my speech to the Open University, to get real accountability we need to draw upon traditional means as well as modern.

That means strengthening Parliament so it holds the executive to account. That's why we will give the House of Commons more control over its own timetable limit the use of the Royal Prerogative and reduce the power of the party Whips.

It means reining in and reversing the regulation of our lives by unaccountable judges who are changing Britain's legal landscape with their judgments in the courtroom.

That's why we will introduce a British Bill of Rights - not only to strengthen our liberties, but to ensure greater democratic accountability over the creation of any new rights. And it means strengthening the line of accountability that runs through our local politics.

That's why we will have more directly-elected Mayors, and will legislate to create Citizens' Initiatives giving people a new power to get local referendums on issues they feel strongly about.


So here is the next stage in our radical redistribution of power.

Stopping the state from exerting too much power over us by enhancing personal freedom.
So you will not be followed or have you home entered for no good reason.

You will be tried by your peers, protected from unjust prosecution abroad. And your identity will be freed from the chains of state databases.

We will also help people exert more power over the state by advancing political accountability.

So we will open up information that will help people hold the powerful to account. And we will strengthen the chain of accountability throughout our politics.

This is progressive Conservatism in action, a traditional suspicion of state power combined with a clear grasp of the modern world producing the right approach, and the right plan of action to increase personal freedom and political accountability, restore trust, and help bring about the new politics we need so badly.

Source: The Conservative Party News

More Nonsense From The PC Police

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The country's smallest state has the longest official name: "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

A push to drop "Providence Plantations" from that name advanced farther than ever on Thursday when House lawmakers voted 70-3 to let residents decide whether their home should simply be called the "State of Rhode Island." It's an encouraging sign for those who believe the formal name conjures up images of slavery, while opponents argue it's an unnecessary rewriting of history that ignores Rhode Island's tradition of religious liberty and tolerance.

The bill permitting a statewide referendum on the issue next year now heads to the state Senate.

"It's high time for us to recognize that slavery happened on plantations in Rhode Island and decide that we don't want that chapter of our history to be a proud part of our name," said Rep. Joseph Almeida, an African-American lawmaker who sponsored the bill.

Rhode Island's unwieldy name reflects its turbulent colonial history, a state that consisted of multiple and sometimes rival settlements populated by dissidents.

Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his unorthodox religious views, minister Roger Williams set out in 1636 and settled at the northern tip of Narragansett Bay, which he called Providence Plantations. Williams founded the first Baptist church in America and became famous for embracing the separation of church and state, a legal principle enshrined in the Bill of Rights a century later.

Other settlers made their homes in modern-day Portsmouth and Newport on Aquidneck Island, then known as the Isle of Rhodes.

In 1663, English King Charles II granted a royal charter joining all the settlements into a single colony called "The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." The name stuck. Rhode Island used that royal charter as its governing document until 1843.

Opponents of the name charge argue that "plantations" was used at the time to describe any farming settlements, regardless of slavery.

Rhode Island merchants did, however, make their fortunes off the slave trade. Slaves helped construct Brown University in Providence, and a prominent slave trader paid half the cost of its first library.

Still, Stanley Lemons, a professor emeritus of history at Rhode Island College, said changing the state's name ignores the accomplishments of Williams, whose government passed laws trying to prevent the permanent servitude of whites, blacks and American Indians.

"There are different meanings for this word," Lemons said. "To try to impose their experience on everyone else wipes out Roger Williams."

Source: Yahoo News

How About Some Diversity For The Chosen In The UK: Jewish school admissions unlawful

Jewish schools may have to change admissions rules after the Appeal Court held that ethnic tests of Jewishness amount to racial discrimination.

A London school, the JFS, rejected a boy whose mother's conversion to Judaism it did not recognise.

Faith schools may discriminate on religious grounds but the Court of Appeal held that this involved a test of ethnicity - which is unlawful.

The United Synagogue says this will have "a very serious effect".

In future schools would need to adopt a test of religious practice and guidance would be issued on this - pending a successful appeal or change in the law.

Range of pupils

The state-funded JFS, formerly the Jews' Free School, is heavily over-subscribed.

It gives preference to applicants whose "Jewish status" is confirmed by the United Synagogue - which requires that the mother be Jewish.

It has pupils from a wide range of religious and cultural backgrounds including from atheist, Catholic or Muslim families - but whose mothers are, in its terms, Jewish.

The boy - named in court only as M - has a Jewish father. His mother converted to the Jewish faith before he was born but had been a Roman Catholic.

But the conversion was not recognised because it was conducted in a Progressive not an Orthodox synagogue.


The three judges - Lords Justice Sedley and Rimer, and Lady Justice Smith - said it was clear that Jews constituted a racial group defined principally by ethnic origin and additionally by conversion.

To discriminate against a person on the ground that they were or were not Jewish was therefore to discriminate on racial grounds.

"The motive for the discrimination, whether benign or malign, theological or supremacist, makes it no less and no more unlawful."

They said: "The refusal of JFS to admit M was accordingly, in our judgment, less favourable treatment of him on racial grounds.

"This does not mean ... that no Jewish faith school can ever give preference to Jewish children. It means that, as one would expect, eligibility must depend on faith, however defined, and not on ethnicity."


The United Synagogue said the decision affected any branch of Judaism that defines who is a Jew on the basis of descent (whether matrilineal or patrilineal).

It said Jewish schools of any sort - Reform, Liberal, Masorti, Charedi, Orthodox, Federation and so on - would be prohibited from giving priority to applicants who were a member of the Jewish faith.

It added: "In future, all Jewish schools (whether state or independent) will need to adopt a religious practice test, until such time as the Court of Appeal's ruling is successfully overturned or a legislative amendment is made."

"Unless the Court of Appeal decision is overturned on appeal it will have a very serious effect on all Jewish schools and on many of our communal organisations."

So it strongly supported the decision of the governors of JFS to seek leave to appeal and was consulting its own advisers on what else might be done.

Source: BBC

Obama Revises Campaign Promise Of 'Change' To 'Relatively Minor Readjustments In Certain Favorable Policy Areas'

WASHINGTON—In a slight shift from his campaign trail promise, President Obama announced Monday that his administration's message of "Change" has been modified to the somewhat more restrained slogan "Relatively Minor Readjustments in Certain Favorable Policy Areas." "Today, Americans face a great many challenges, and I hear your desperate calls for barely measurable and largely symbolic improvements in the status quo," said Obama, who vowed never to waver in his fight for every last infinitesimal nudge forward on the controversial issues of torture and the military ban on homosexuals. "Remember: Yes we can, if by that you mean tiptoeing around potentially unpopular decisions that could alienate a large segment of the populace." Washington insiders said that, while the new mottos are certainly in keeping with Obama's pledge of government transparency, they are significantly less catchy.

Source: The Onion

Americans Love Government

Philosopher Bertrand Russell suggested that "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education." And, it was Albert Einstein who explained, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So which is it -- stupidity, ignorance or insanity -- that explains the behavior of my fellow Americans who call for greater government involvement in our lives?

According to latest Rasmussen Reports, 30 percent of Americans believe congressmen are corrupt. Last year, Congress' approval rating fell to 9 percent, its lowest in history. If the average American were asked his opinion of congressmen, among the more polite terms you'll hear are thieves and crooks, liars and manipulators, hustlers and quacks. But what do the same people say when our nation faces a major problem? "Government ought to do something!" When people call for government to do something, it is as if they've been befallen by amnesia and forgotten just who is running government. It's the very people whom they have labeled as thieves and crooks, liars and manipulators, hustlers and quacks.

Aside from the general level of disgust that Americans have for congressmen, there's the question of whether there is anything that Congress does well. What about Social Security and Medicare? Congress has allowed Social Security and Medicare to accumulate an unfunded liability of $101 trillion. That means in order to pay promised elderly entitlement benefits, Congress would have to put trillions in the bank today earning interest. Congressional efforts to create "affordable housing" have created today's financial calamity. Congress props up failed enterprises such as Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service with huge cash subsidies, and subsidies in the forms of special tax treatment and monopoly rights. I can't think of anything that Congress does well yet we Americans call for them to take greater control over important areas of our lives.

I don't think that stupidity, ignorance or insanity explains the love that many Americans hold for government; it's far more sinister and perhaps hopeless. I'll give a few examples to make my case. Many Americans want money they don't personally own to be used for what they see as good causes such as handouts to farmers, poor people, college students, senior citizens and businesses. If they privately took someone's earnings to give to a farmer, college student or senior citizen, they would be hunted down as thieves and carted off to jail. However, they get Congress to do the identical thing, through its taxing power, and they are seen as compassionate and caring. In other words, people love government because government, while having neither moral nor constitutional authority, has the legal and physical might to take the property of one American and give it to another.

The unanticipated problem with this agenda is that as Congress uses its might to take what belongs to one American to give to another, what President Obama calls "spreading the wealth around," more and more Americans will want to participate in the looting. It will ultimately produce something none of us wants: absolute control over our lives.

The path we're embarked upon, in the name of good, is a familiar one. The unspeakable horrors of Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism did not begin in the '30s and '40s with the men usually associated with those names. Those horrors were simply the end result of a long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the name of "social justice." In Germany, it led to the Enabling Act of 1933: Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation and, after all, who could be against a remedy to relieve distress? Decent but misguided Germans, who would have cringed at the thought of what Nazi Germany would become, succumbed to Hitler's charisma.

Today's Americans, enticed, perhaps enchanted, by charismatic speeches, are ceding so much power to Washington, and like yesteryear's Germans are building the Trojan Horse for a future tyrant.

Source: George Mason University

Author Naomi Klein Calls for Boycott of Israel

[Bestselling Canadian author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters. 'Boycott is a tactic . . . we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa,' she said. (Photograph by: John Kenney, National Post)]Bestselling Canadian author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters. 'Boycott is a tactic . . . we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa,' she said. (Photograph by: John Kenney, National Post)

BILIN , West Bank - Bestselling author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters.

"It's a boycott of Israeli institutions, it's a boycott of the Israeli economy," the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel's controversial separation wall.

"Boycott is a tactic . . . we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa," said Klein, the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

"It's an extraordinarily important part of Israel's identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy," the Canadian writer and activist said.

"When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don't come, when the symphonies don't come, when a film you really want to see doesn't play at the Jerusalem film festival . . . then it starts to threaten the very idea of what the Israeli state is."

She briefly joined about 200 villagers and foreign activists protesting the barrier which Israel says it needs to prevent attacks, but which Palestinians say aims at grabbing their land and undermining the viability of their promised state.

She then watched from a safe distance as the protesters reached the fence, where Israeli forces fired teargas and some youths responded by throwing stones at the army.

"This apartheid, this is absolutely a system of segregation," Klein said adding that Israeli troops would never crack down as violently against Jewish protesters.

She pointed out that her visit coincided with court hearings in Quebec in a case where the villagers of Bilin are suing two Canadian companies, accusing them of illegally building and selling homes to Israelis on land that belongs to the village.

The plaintiffs claim that by building in the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit, near Bilin, Green Park International and Green Mount International are in violation of international laws that prohibit an occupying power from transferring some of its population to the lands it occupies.

"I'm hoping and praying that Canadian courts will bring some justice to the people of Bilin," Klein said.

Her visit was also part of a promotional tour in Israel and the West Bank for "The Shock Doctrine" which has recently been translated into Hebrew and Arabic. Klein said she would get no royalties from sales of the Hebrew version and that the proceeds would go instead to an activist group.

Source: Common Dreams.Org

SAY WHAT???? Constitution rEVOLlution coming your way.

Our Political Prisoners

By David Swanson

Did you know the United States has in recent years prosecuted hundreds of people for political reasons? This is a crime, or rather a crime wave, that has thus far been addressed primarily by ignoring it. You can read a lot about it from bloggers like Larisa Alexandrovna or Scott Horton. But you won't hear the president mention it on TV.

In an attempt to convince the corporate media that this issue ranked right up there with governors' sex lives and celebrities' deaths, a group of notable speakers, judges, attorneys, victims, and witnesses, gathered and spoke on Friday morning at the National Press Club. You can watch the whole forum on C-Span. You won't find it anywhere else. Below is what I blogged from the event:

8:00 a.m. Don Siegelman (former governor of Alabama and victim of a politically motivated prosecution) had to go back to Alabama and won't be here. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers may not make it either. But everybody else is milling and chatting. Some people, I'm not supposed to say are here. I spoke with Scott Horton about Spain. He thinks they're going to spend 1.5 years on the 6 lawyers and prosecute and convict 'em. He also thinks Italy will soon convict the CIA agents and report them to Interpol and end their traveling.

8:11 John Edward Hurley, President, Sarah McClendon Group, opening, welcoming.

8:31 Andrew Kreig, journalist, author & attorney, says Siegelman was here yesterday but had to get back to Alabama for a filing of new evidence with his attorney.

8:36 Kreig says the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined an invitation to participate in today's forum.

8:37 Scott Horton: prosecutorial misconduct is the topic. Prosecutors wield incredible powers. Abuse must be held in check by Justice Dept itself. [Isn't that a weakness?] Horton quotes Robert Jackson on danger of targeting people rather than taking up important cases, of picking individuals to find a crime for rather than picking crimes and finding the guilty parties.

8:42 Horton notes that as attorney general, Michael Mukasey gave one speech on corruption and claimed to know of none, at the same time that stories of former attorney general John Ashcroft's corruption were in the news. Mukasey claimed that for the 14 months he headed DOJ there was no evidence of politically motivated prosecutions. Yeah? What about Don Siegelman, Sen Walker, Paul Minor, and many others? And what about all of the cases of refusing to prosecute Republicans or sabotaging possible prosecutions of Republicans, like Renzi, as exemplified by yesterday's report by Murray Waas -- a story documenting sabotage of a case by a man then appointed as director of public affairs by Mukasey? Mukasey repeatedly promised in Congress to look into the Siegelman case but never did. The current DOJ says it has inherited a mess (detentions, torture, etc.) but there is another mess. Holder did the right thing in the Stevens case. But what about all of these other cases?

8:51 Nan Aron, President, Legal Director, Alliance for Justice, introduces Elliot Mincberg, Head Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, speaking in place of Chairman Conyers who has to stay on the hill and vote this morning. Mincberg refers to reports like this one and this one. Committee is still investigating 2006 firing of US attorneys and has already demonstrated clear political motivation in firings, based on which prosecutors were too aggressive or insufficiently aggressive in going after Republicans or Democrats respectively. Mincberg recounts holding Miers and Bolten in contempt, and says settlement has given the committee more White House documents and that the terms of the settlement will be revealed after interviews, and there may be hearings. Second, the political hiring and firing, the testimony of Monica Goodling ... but we now have a new AG. [So what?] Holder might reconsider prosecuting Brad Schlossman. Third, the torture [he doesn't use the word]. Mincberg stresses the importance of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) report, and says Conyers will hold hearings with Yoo, Bybee, Bradbury, and "hopefully a representative of the DOJ" after that report is released? [Why must this town shut down until that report is released? Who will enforce the subpoenas? Will Conyers use the Capitol Police? Why can they not subpoena a representative from DOJ?] Fourth, the warrantless spying (also waiting for a report). Fifth, today's topic: selective prosecution. We held LOTS of hearings, claims Mincberg and found extensive evidence of political prosecutions. Just the percentage of prosecutions of elected officials that were against Democrats had a 1 in 10,000 chance of being coincidence. A couple of cases in WI and PA have now been thrown out. But what about all the troubling activity by Republicans not prosecuted, such as the Republican voter registration firm in Nevada tearing up registrations of Democrats. See report on HJC website. Sixth, deferred prosecutions - Ashcroft. Seventh, abuse by FBI of Natl Security Letters (warrantless search warrants). Eighth, state secrets abuse. This is area where Mincberg admits great disappointment with the current DOJ and cites its sovereign immunity claim. Says committees in House and Senate are waiting [absurdly] for the DOJ's statement prior to marking up the State Secrets Protection Act. Ninth, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) had been turned into an office that told the White House what it wanted to hear. Tenth and final, voting rights was dealt with politically -- we held hearings, John Tanner - chief of civil rights division - resigned. [To Mincberg's credit he says a lot more a lot faster than Conyers would have.]

9:14 Q&A: Scott Horton asks Mincberg about settlement but he says he can't give details but that they have received new documents and that the White House continues to claim privilege to withhold other documents.

Go to 1:06:12 in the C-Span video, and watch what I ask Mincberg and how he answers. The camera is on me when I'm asking the question, and I wish it had been on him. Another camera in the room may have been on him. You'll notice that partway through my question I stop and ask him what he thinks is funny. What had happened was that I had asked whether the House Judiciary Committee would ever use the Capitol Police to enforce its subpoenas. The very idea of thus defending the powers of the first branch of our government made Mincberg giggle nervously. The notion that one might assert such power completely apart from the decrees of the emperor always disturbs congress members and their staffers.

9:20 I asked Mincberg why in the world his committee would delay subpoenaing Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury until the OPR report and whether they would use inherent contempt if subpoenas are violated, and why in the world not impeach Bybee. He said he really does believe that the OPR report will be out soon, although Holder recently said otherwise if you use the word "soon" the way I do. Mincberg also said that every subject of every OPR report is permitted to submit comments, even though Senator Whitehouse has said this is unprecedented - allowing Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury to submit edits. Mincberg thought that inherent contempt was funny and claimed that they had done better going through the courts, a claim that the public cannot judge except by saying there have been no hearings and no public satisfaction, and it's hard to imagine what secret outcome could have been BETTER than compelling all the recalcitrant witnesses to appear and testify. Mincberg said the House had just impeached Kent and probably would impeach another judge soon, and so was very busy, apparently too busy to impeach Bybee.

9:21 Mincberg says an interview with Rove has been scheduled but not occurred. No straight answer as to whether Rove will be put under oath. But every word will be transcribed and made public and under 18 US Code Section 1001 Rove cannot legally lie. In other words, the BETTER outcome than locking Rove up until he testified is this: he will testify in secret and not under oath, and he has still, years later, not yet done so.

9:28 End of Q&A. And speaking of abuses of justice, check this out: Proposal Offers Specifics On Preventive Detention.

9:30 We're running 30 mins behind schedule. Kreig introduces Hon. U.W. Clemon, Shareholder, White, Arnold & Dowd, former Chief U.S. District Judge, Alabama’s Northern District (1981-2009). He says Siegelman case in May of 2004 didn't just spring up, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes it had an earlier existence. Two years earlier Dr Phillip Bobo convicted of Medicaid fraud and narrowly defeated in reelection. Siegelman was leading in polls for his reelection. 11th Circuit Appeals reversed conviction of Bobo. But Bobo was reindicted with Siegelman and an aide to him added as part of a conspiracy. And prosecutors were already shopping for a Republican judge and had requested a Judge Johnson to recuse herself. Then a Bush Sr.-appointed judge recused himself. Then a Clinton-appointed judge Smith was lobbied to recuse himself although Siegelman had no complaint and he saw no reason to recuse himself - but he did so. Then a Bush Jr.-appointed judge got the case and Bobo was doctor to this judge's children. Siegelman objected. So then the case came to Judge U.W. Clemon. A dishonest campaign in the media sought to disqualify Clemon. Clemon denied double jeopardy claim by Bobo but granted motion to disqualify Siegelman's lawyers. Justice Dept still sought to have Clemon removed and sought to poison the jury pool through the media. Clemon found no conspiracy. Government moved to dismiss and Clemon granted. Prosecutor said she was untroubled because a new indictment of Siegelman would come in a different district. DOJ was focused on the man, not the crime. It was the most unfounded case Clemon ever saw. (Of course, that new indictment did come.)

Q&A: Clemon answered a question by saying that Holder last week told him the DOJ was looking into Siegelman case. [Believable?]

9:59 Charles “Champ” Walker, Jr., business executive and son of imprisoned former George State Sen. Majority Leader Charles Walker, Sr., owner of the Walker Group and Augusta Focus newspaper. Describes a "war against Democrats," hundreds of cases around the country of local prosecutions of Democrats, people like Paul Minor. Prosecutor Richard Thompson investigated on behalf of a Republican politician (who has since made him a judge) four top Democrats in Georgia, including Walker Sr. Numerous attempts to charge Walker Sr. with made-up crimes failed. Judge with conflicts of interest refused to allow defense to raise prosecutorial misconduct, and removed black jurors, changed jury from 65% urban black to 65% rural white with jurors from outside district. Walker had led the fight to take Confederate flag out of state flag. See:

10:22 Bruce Fein, author of “Constitutional Peril,” and former Reagan Administration Associate General Counsel of the Justice Department and General Counsel of Federal Communications Commission: Fein denounces corruption of our system in recent years. No principles. Partisan loyalty. Assumption of guilt. Destruction of lives with baseless public accusation. Complete immunity for prosecutors. Culture must change. Education must change. And Congress must step up and create statutes.

10:31 Bill Yeomans, Legal Director, Alliance for Justice, worked 26 years at DOJ and 3 years at Senate Judiciary Committee for Kennedy. He notes accurately that we seem to be concluding each discussion by deferring to a pending report by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). This is the office through with the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates itself. Alberto Gonzales began the practice of sending really big projects to OPR, knowing it did not have the resources. The OPR investigation of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos on torture is five years old. The OPR shared responsibility with Inspector General (IG) for report on US Attorney firings, and that report got done. OPR is overtaxed and also NOT independent. OPR answers to attorney general who can approve an investigation or its results, or not. So we should stop accepting that sending a problem to OPR takes care of it. We should question how and whether OPR should exist. -- Then Horton said that on April 21 Holder met with chief judges from around the country who all raised impassioned complaints about failures of OPR.

10:36 Cliff Arnebeck, Chair, Legal Affairs Committee, Common Cause Ohio, National Co-Chair, Alliance for Democracy and 2004 Ohio election voting litigation expert: Ohio was ground zero in 2000 for judicial independence on state supreme court. $7 million of illegal corporate money ran ads attacking Justice Alice Robie Resnick. Whole court now Republican. Arnebeck and others litigated successfully. FBI investigated, but in 2004 DOJ dropped prosecution just before election -- did not want to prosecute Republicans, a nationwide pattern. Arnebeck also recounted election fraud investigations closed down. These investigations should be reopened.

10:44 Former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver E. Diaz, Jr., acquitted, had -- according to Horton -- been prosecuted for purely political reasons. There are many hundreds of these cases around the country, Diaz says, and people falsely convicted. Project Save Justice took report by U of Missouri on prosecutions of Democrats. Gail Sistrunk, Executive Director, Project Save Justice (Producers of the video, “Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove”) has interviewed these people who have never heard of each other all tell the exact same story, and the video is stunning, Diaz says rightly.

Sistrunk described the video and hands them out. See:

She describes prosecuting grown children and elderly parents, investigating clients to destroy businesses, and other abuses used rampantly. She calls OPR the Bates Motel: cases go in and never come out. And the statistics show improbably high rates of prosecution for moderate Republicans as well as Democrats. This is not a Republican crime wave but a Federalist Society crime wave.

Diaz points out Paul Minor's daughter here, Kathryn. He also credits Harper's and Raw Story (Scott Horton and Larisa Alexandrovna) for their reporting on these stories.

10:58 Diaz describes Paul Minor's father Bill Minor a newspaper man who spoke up for civil rights in Mississippi in the 1950s. As a child, Paul Minor saw crosses burned on his lawn. He went and killed Asians in Vietnam. He came back and took an interest in politics. (All of this is told as if it's good, including the fighting in Vietnam.) Paul Minor gave money to candidates. He was the single largest contributor to Democrats in Mississippi and one of the biggest nationally. Diaz served in the Mississippi legislature as a Republican and knew Minor as a friend and ally. Minor supported Diaz in campaigns for judgeships including for the Mississippi Supreme Court. The US Chamber of Commerce spent millions against Diaz. So, Minor contributed and raised contributions from others for Diaz. A US attorney indicted Minor and Diaz for bribery. But Diaz had refused to vote on a single case brought by Minor. That, he says, is why he's free to stand here today. Yet, there is almost always a conflict in every case and he could very well have voted on some of those cases. Diaz was dragged through a 3-month prosecution. His wife Jennifer who is here was indicted too. For what, it was not clear. They faced over 30 years in prison. DOJ told wife she could plead guilty to an unrelated tax charge and stay home with her children if she turned evidence against her husband. He told her she had to do it and should give them every scrap of info. But there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. So she was not called as a witness.

Diaz refers to Paul Minor's case as the Ted Stevens case on steroids. Prosecutor Welch is now appropriately the target of a criminal investigation at the instigation of a federal judge. He withheld evidence from the defendants, known as Brady violations. Diaz was acquitted. Others got hung juries. Minor was re-indicted. Diaz points out that everyone accepts that prosecutors were fired for not bringing political prosecutions, but not enough attention is paid to the fact that some prosecutors were not fired, because they DID bring political prosecutions. Paul Minor has been in prison these past 3 years. He was denied the right to visit his wife as she fought cancer and died a couple of months ago. He is a political prisoner. DOJ refused to allow him to attend his wife's funeral. We need investigations and we need them now. Very well said.

11:12 Puerto Rico State Senator & Minority Whip Eduardo Bhatia (D), representing former Gov. Anibal Acivedo, acquitted. Another similar story of abuses, bogus charges, leaks manipulating the press to damage a public figure, a trial with no evidence, immediate acquittal, and $3 million in legal fees still unpaid by innocent defendant.

If any of this disturbs you, please click the links in this blog, learn more, and make your opinions known to Attorney General Eric Holder 202-514-2001, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers 202-225-5126, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy 202-224-4242.

Source: After Downing Street

White House Weighs Order on Detention Officials: Move Would Reassert Power To Hold Terror Suspects Indefinitely

Obama administration officials, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, are crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that an order, which would bypass Congress, could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.

After months of internal debate over how to close the military facility in Cuba, White House officials are increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may be impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the prison by the president's January deadline.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said that there is no executive order and that the administration has not decided whether to issue one. But one administration official suggested that the White House is already trying to build support for an order.

"Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order," the official said. Such an order could be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should be prosecuted or released.

The Justice Department has declined to comment on the prospects for a long-term detention system while internal reviews of Guantanamo detainees' cases are underway. One task force, which is assessing detainee policy, is expected to complete its work by July 21.

In a May speech, President Obama broached the need for a system of long-term detention and suggested that it would include congressional and judicial oversight. "We must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can't be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone," he said.

Some of Obama's top legal advisers, along with a handful of influential Republican and Democratic lawmakers, have pushed for the creation of a "national security court" to supervise the incarceration of detainees deemed too dangerous to release but who cannot be charged or tried.

But the three senior government officials said the White House has turned away from that option, at least for now, because legislation establishing a special court would be difficult to pass and likely to fracture Obama's party. These officials, as well as others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations.

On the day Obama took office, 242 men were imprisoned at Guantanamo. In his May speech, the president outlined five strategies the administration would use to deal with them: criminal trials, revamped military tribunals, transfers to other countries, releases and continued detention.

Since the inauguration, 11 detainees have been released or transferred, one prisoner committed suicide, and one was moved to New York to face terrorism charges in federal court.

Administration officials said the cases of about half of the remaining 229 detainees have been reviewed for prosecution or release. Two officials involved in a Justice Department review of possible prosecutions said the administration is strongly considering criminal charges in federal court for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other detainees accused of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The other half of the cases, the officials said, present the greatest difficulty because these detainees cannot be prosecuted in federal court or military commissions. In many cases the evidence against them is classified, has been provided by foreign intelligence services or has been tainted by the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. agreed with an assessment offered during congressional testimony this month that fewer than 25 percent of the detainees would be charged in criminal courts and that 50 others have been approved for transfer or release. One official said the administration is hoping that as many as 70 Yemeni citizens will be moved, in stages, into a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia.

Three months into the Justice Department's reviews, several officials involved said they have found themselves agreeing with conclusions reached years earlier by the Bush administration: As many as 90 detainees cannot be charged or released.

The White House has spent months meeting with key congressional leaders in the hope of reaching agreement on long-term detention, although public support for such a plan has wavered as lawmakers have sought to prevent detainees from being transferred to their constituencies.

Lawyers for the administration are now in negotiations with Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) over separate legislation that would revamp military commissions. A senior Republican staff member said that senators have yet to see "a comprehensive, detailed policy" on long-term detention from the administration.

"They can do it without congressional backing, but I think there would be very strong concerns," the staff member said, adding that "Congress could cut off funding" for any detention system established in the United States.

Concerns are growing among Obama's advisers that Congress may try to assert too much control over the process. This week Obama signed an appropriations bill that forces the administration to report to Congress before moving any detainee out of Guantanamo and prevents the White House from using available funds to move detainees onto U.S. soil.

"Legislation could kill Obama's plans," said one government official involved. The official said an executive order could be the best option for the president at this juncture.

Under one White House draft that was being discussed this month, according to administration officials, detainees would be imprisoned at a military facility on U.S. soil, but their ongoing detention would be subject to annual presidential review. U.S. citizens would not be held in the system.

Such detainees -- those at Guantanamo and those who may be captured in the future -- would also have the right to legal representation during confinement and access to some of the information that is being used to keep them behind bars. Anyone detained under this order would have a right to challenge his detention before a judge.

Officials say the plan would give detainees more rights and allow them a better chance than they have now at Guantanamo to one day end their indefinite incarceration.

But some senior Democrats see long-term detention as tantamount to reestablishing the Guantanamo system on U.S. soil. "I think this could be a very big mistake, because of how such a system could be perceived throughout the world," Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) told Holder.

One administration official said future transfers to the United States for long-term detention would be rare. Al-Qaeda operatives captured on the battlefield, which the official defined as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and possibly the Horn of Africa, would be held in battlefield facilities. Suspects captured elsewhere in the world could be transferred to the United States for federal prosecution, turned over to local authorities or returned to their home countries.

"Going forward, unless it's an extraordinary case, you will not see new transfers to the U.S. for indefinite detention," the official said.

Instituting long-term detention through an executive order would leave Obama vulnerable to charges that he is willing to forsake the legislative branch of government, as his predecessor often did. Bush's detention policies suffered defeats in the courts in part because they lacked congressional approval and tried to exclude judicial oversight.

"There is no statute prohibiting the president from doing this through executive order, and so far courts have not ruled in ways that would bar him from doing so," said Matthew Waxman, who worked on detainee issues at the Defense Department during Bush's first term. But Waxman, who waged a battle inside the Bush administration for more congressional cooperation, said that the "courts are more likely to defer to the president and legislative branch when they speak with one voice on these issues."

Tawfiq bin Attash, who is accused of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and who was held at a secret CIA prison, could be among those subject to long-term detention, according to one senior official.

Little information on bin Attash's case has been made public, but officials who have reviewed his file said the Justice Department has concluded that none of the three witnesses against him can be brought to testify in court. One witness, who was jailed in Yemen, escaped several years ago. A second witness remains incarcerated, but the government of Yemen will not allow him to testify.

Administration officials believe that testimony from the only witness in U.S. custody, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, may be inadmissible because he was subjected to harsh interrogation while in CIA custody.

"These issues haven't morphed simply because the administration changed," said Juan Zarate, who served as Bush's deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"The challenge for the new administration is how to solve these legal questions of preventive detention in a way that is consistent with the Constitution, legitimate in the eyes of the world and doesn't create security loopholes that cause Congress to worry," Zarate said.

Source: The Washington Post

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (S. 773) grants Obama power to shut down internet, ignore laws

A new Cybersecurity bill would grant the President unprecedented power to shut down the internet and ignore privacy laws. Learn more:


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Source: Byte Style TV

Cameron renounces the 'control state'

News of the extraordinary state that Britain has got itself into has taken a long time to percolate to the outside world, but when people abroad begin to understand the extent to which the British have been robbed of their freedoms by the Labour government, they are astonished by the lack of reaction in parliament and from the people.

In New York, where I am now, there is only a vague understanding of the way in which the British state has moved into the personal sphere and is claiming, for itself, a near total access to people's personal data, but when it is explained Americans ask "how could this happen with a free press and a people famous for their truculent respect for liberty and privacy." The answer is complicated but essentially it is because we weren't paying attention and we have one of the most indolent parliaments in history.

But it is also the case that Labour has pursued this part of its agenda with great dispatch and subtlety while the opposition did not find a voice to resist what was an extensive programme of attack. That has now been corrected in a welcome speech from David Cameron. I will write more thoroughly about this next week but the important point is that he has confirmed that if elected, the Conservatives will roll back the attack on privacy and restore some of the rights we have lost.

After pleading with the Conservatives to do this for so long, I have to say I was more than pleased when I read passages like this.

The next Conservative government will revoke the unjustified and unreasonable powers that let people enter your home without your permission.

We will change the law that allows councils to snoop on people for trivial matters.

We will review the use of the Terrorism Act's section 44, and the stop and search powers contained within it.

We will change the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to strengthen the right to trial by jury.

And we will review the operation of the Extradition Act – and the US/UK extradition treaty – to make sure it is even-handed and works both ways.

But stopping the state from exerting too much power over us demands another big change. This government is running not just a control state, but a surveillance state. In 2007, Privacy International ranked Britain's privacy protections joint 43rd out of 47 countries surveyed – with the worst record in Europe, and only marginally better than Russia and China.

Many of those who have simply given up trusting politicians of any colour, will say that the Tories are taking advantage of an obvious weakness in Labour's record, and that we should treat this as a piece of campaign rhetoric. But Cameron's very caution on these matters in the past persuades me that he means what he says, and that some serious thinking has been done about the relationship between state and individual, which Tony Blair, whom, by the way, I talked to in New York this week, did so much to alter.

We should trust what the Conservatives, seek to extend their commitment to the cause of liberty and hold them to their word. This is a welcome speech which has been long awaited.

Source: The Guardian