Saturday, September 12, 2009

Parents who ferry children to clubs face criminal record checks

Unregistered adults could be fined up to £5,000 under scheme to prevent paedophiles getting access to children

Parents who regularly ferry groups of children on behalf of sports or social clubs such as the Scouts will have to undergo criminal record checks — or face fines of up to £5,000, it was disclosed today.

They will fall under the scope of the government's new vetting and barring scheme, which is aimed at stopping paedophiles getting access to children.

Failure to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority, the Home Office agency that administers the scheme, could lead to criminal prosecution and a court fine.

The clubs themselves also face a £5,000 fine if they use volunteers who have not been cleared. Parents who host foreign pupils as part of school exchange trips will also have to be vetted.

A total of 11.3 million people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to register with the ISA.

All 300,000 school governors, as well as every doctor, nurse, teacher, dentist and prison officer will have to register because they come into contact with children or "vulnerable" adults at work.

The scheme was recommended by the Bichard report into the Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley, who was a school caretaker.

Huntley was given the job at a secondary school despite allegations of sex with underage girls in his past, which were not passed on.

The scheme will be the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world and involve unprecedented delving into the subject's personal and employment history.

Unlike previous lists of barred individuals, everyone registered with the agency will face continuing monitoring, with existing registrations reconsidered if new evidence is disclosed.

Its creators hope the scheme will reduce the risk of abusers gaining access to children.

A Home Office spokesman said "informal" arrangements between parents to offer lifts would not be covered.

Critics fear voluntary helpers will be alienated by the new rules. The author Philip Pullman said the database was "corrosive to healthy social interaction" and has pledged to stop visiting schools to carry out readings in protest.

Criminal penalties, including jail terms, for employers giving sensitive jobs to those who are already barred, come into force next month.

From November next year workers taking new jobs which qualify for the scheme must be registered. Any activity which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults three times in a one-month period, every month, or once overnight, qualifies, as do jobs in specified places such as schools, prisons and children's homes.

Registration will cost £64 in England and Wales, but unpaid volunteers will be exempt from the charge.

Officials predict nine out of 10 people who apply to register will have no additional information held on them by the ISA and so will not require more detailed checks.

"The vetting and barring scheme does not cover personal or family relationships, so parents making informal arrangements to give lifts to children will not have to be vetted," a Home Office spokesman said.

"However, anyone working or volunteering on behalf of a third party organisation — for example, a sports club or a charity — who has frequent or intensive access to children or vulnerable adults will have to be registered with the scheme. For volunteers, registration is free.

"We believe this is a commonsense approach, and what parents would rightly expect.

"The UK already has one of the most advanced systems in the world for carrying out checks on all those who work in positions of trust with children and vulnerable adults."

The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, said the system was a "disproportionate response" that risked deterring volunteers from coming forward.

"The worst unintended consequence would be if it stopped people and charities from volunteering with children because of the fear of draconian fines," he said.

The shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "We are going to drive away volunteers, we'll see clubs and activities close down and we'll end up with more bored young people on our streets. The government has really got to see sense."

The information commissioner's office said there were "inevitable" security risks of collecting large amounts of personal data.

Martin Narey, the Barnardo's chief executive and former director general of the Prison Service, said: "If the vetting and barring scheme stops just one child ending up a victim of a paedophile then it will be worth it."

Source: The Guardian

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This obsession with misery has turned us into a nation of whingers

A Martian listening to Radio 4 would have us all down as codeine addicts. The media have scarred our view of public life

An autumn sun was shining. A late rose bloomed in the garden. The blackbird was in song. Then the BBC did its bit. No sooner was the morning news over than the radio cried: "Now for rape … We should warn listeners that this programme contains explicit descriptions of rape." Just the thing for a nice cup of coffee.

A presumably female audience was then treated to a morning menu of unrelieved misery. After rape, Woman's Hour gave them codeine addicts, war widows, thigh-high boots and heroin-dosed children taken into care. A discussion on how to survive brain damage offered some light relief.

This fare was not exceptional. A Martian listening to Radio 4 today would assume that the females on planet Earth were a genus of raped, harassed, child-oppressed, drug-addicted, underpaid and joyless victims, living in a perpetual state of dependency and bowel cancer. Not since Genesis have women had a worse press.

Nor is it only women who live in this state of un-grace. A Sunday morning programme called Sunday goes out when church bells are ringing and breakfast is sizzling on the stove. To the BBC, the path to Sunday morning salvation is peopled only with homosexual priests, antisemites, Zionists, Muslim fanatics, creationists, ranters, crazies and child molesters. It is X-certificate religion.

Misery syndrome applies, of course, to all the mass media. News is by definition bad. As Lord Northcliffe said: "News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress." There is no news in a plane taking off safely or a bank standing secure. News is when they crash. All happy families resemble one another; it is the unhappy ones that grip the attention. Politicians are supposed to rule well; news is when they fail.

Even so, there used to be an editorial rule of thumb that bad news should be dosed with good. The news in brief column would alternate sad and happy items. This discipline has gone, along with discretion in the choice of pictures of the dead. Even the one-time jollity of feature pages has collapsed in a grim worthiness of global warming and swine flu. The media does not do joy any more. If a newspaper is the nation talking to itself, it is talking with a sob in its throat.

Media people are told that their duty is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Only the latter is observable. The comfortable are ruthlessly afflicted, but that is supposed to be enough to spread a sardonic smile across the face of the nation, the inverse of Gore Vidal's "Whenever a friend succeeds a little something in me dies". Amid a world of guns, knives and fallen celebrities, we are supposed to cheer that it is not us.

Does this matter? It certainly must have an effect. Last week the anti-drunkenness lobby demanded an end to all publicity for alcohol, in the belief that this would influence public behaviour. The same belief underlay the ban on cigarette advertising. Most people assume that advertising boosts sales, and hence an end to advertising reduces them. In both cases, public communication is regarded as influential and should therefore be regulated.

If this applies to advertising, it must surely apply to news. News informs, as does advertising, but it also subtly influences and persuades. It makes people feel good, bad or afraid. In 2006 the opposition leader, David Cameron, espoused the new economics of wellbeing in a speech to a Google conference. He declared, as if in a revelation, that there was "more to life than money … there is GWB, general wellbeing". Being a politician, he found it hard to put flesh on the platitude, other than that happiness lay in "belonging to someone and some place".

Other pundits have tried. We have had a Happy Planet Index, a Gross National Happiness target and National Accounts of Wellbeing. In all, the message is similar, that government should concern itself with more than prosperity. Money makes people moody, jealous and negative. But so does bad news.

This month's World Economic Forum report of global comparisons makes eerie reading. Whenever it moves from hard data to opinion surveys of what Britons think about their country, the rating plummets, especially in their regard for public services and institutions. The British are presented as hypercritical of their public realm.

Confidence in Britain in the judiciary is 16th, below Hong Kong and Israel. For the school system it is 28th, and for the police 33rd. In respect for politicians, Britain comes a lowly 41st, below Egypt and Uruguay. Respect for the banking system is 126th, behind Burundi and Tajikistan. In almost no category is Britain on a par with or above France, Germany, Spain or the Scandinavian states.

This tallies with the often noted British dissatisfaction with public services and with distrust of politicians and public figures. Britons whinge like no others in Europe. Yet the whingeing tends to be specific. Opinion polls show that people tend to be more negative about the national tier of public life than the local one. They like their GPs and local hospitals; they have lost faith in the NHS. They like their school, but not schools in general. Denmark's localised health service is among the most popular in Europe.

The public is more inclined to trust – and thus be happy with – rulers they know as opposed to those about whom they only read in the papers or see on television. They prefer local politicians to national ones and have more faith in local government than national. It is significant that local newspapers and radio stations tend to carry more positive stories than national ones. Familiarity breeds the opposite of contempt. It breeds trust.

As the political scientist David Marquand wrote of the Scandinavian move in the 1980s from nationalised to localised government, it followed "growing evidence during the 1970s of public disillusionment with the public sector … service was not close to the public and failed to involve them as citizens". Faced with similar disillusion, Britain was moving in the opposite direction, and has been ever since. The result is to make the public realm seem ever more distant and, it seems, ever more miserable.

I cannot imagine a programme of censorship that would require media organisations to watch their misery count or relay a positive image of public life. We know where that leads. Occasional attempts to launch "happy" newspapers end in tears, if only of hilarity. The fact that Cameron found it so hard to attach a happiness programme to his wellbeing agenda shows how vacuous is the task.

But the media's tone of voice must have an effect. My old newspaper, north London's Ham & High, some years ago changed its policy from reporting news in the round to concentrating on crime. My image of my neighbourhood shifted abruptly from one of pride to one of grim fear, unrelated to any fact. I relate that directly to the press.

If we make ourselves miserable towards public life by what we hear, see and read, that life will not win our support. We shall become ever more inveterate complainers. If happiness really is what we seek, the media should censor itself – and cheer up a bit.

Source: The Guardian

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Surveillance cameras in Pennsylvania town prompt privacy concerns

A security camera is mounted on a utility pole in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

A security camera is mounted on a utility pole in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Horses drawing buggies regularly clop down the roads approaching Lancaster, Pennsylvania a peaceful city in the heart of Amish country that had only three murders last year and relatively low crime.

But if the community sounds reminiscent of the past, it also has some distinctly modern technology: 165 surveillance cameras that will keep watch over thousands of residents around the clock.

When it is complete, the surveillance system will be bigger than those in large cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston. And the fact that it will be monitored by ordinary citizens has raised privacy concerns.

"They are using fear to sell the cameras as much as possible," said Charlie Crystle, a member of a fledgling citizens group that opposes the cameras and is trying to raise public awareness about them. "There's just a huge potential for personal and political abuse."

Officials in the city of 54,000 say the cameras have deterred crimes and helped solve them.

The white, domed cameras sit atop utility poles in public spaces, business districts and some residential areas. They are monitored 18 to 24 hours a day by employees of the Lancaster Community Safety Coalition, a non-profit board with workers who report suspected crimes to police.

Lancaster is the seat of Lancaster county, a popular and peaceful tourist destination known for having one of the nation's largest Amish populations. Horses and buggies are common on surrounding roads.

The safety coalition, directed by city councilman Joseph Morales, screens prospective monitors and provides training about racial profiling and how to spot trouble. The group has seven monitors, all paid. The coalition does not release their names.

Monitors sit in a room with two large plasma screens and six smaller ones, each divided into views of different cameras. A joystick allows them to zoom in or move the cameras if they see something unusual. If they do, they call police.

"What they are typically seeing is people in their everyday life going through their business," Morales said. "They're looking for anything out of the ordinary."

A special commission recommended the $2.7m (£1.6m) camera system in 2001 in response to a spike in some crimes. Police chief Keith Sadler strongly supports having citizens monitor the cameras because he does not have the manpower to do it with a force of 159 officers, about 20 fewer than two years ago.

"In this economy, nobody has the luxury to take cops off the street," Sadler said. "You are probably watched more by non-police agencies than you are by us."

Lancaster has seen some declines in property crimes since the cameras went up, but those numbers have fluctuated — along with the totals for violent crimes.

Despite inconclusive statistical evidence, police and the commission say the cameras are providing officers with a new tool. Last year, commission workers called police 492 times and provided video to police 305 times. That work led to 82 arrests and 86 citations, as well as 18 charges pending.

Police also credit the cameras with helping to solve a murder in which a man was shot outside a restaurant and the shooting was caught on tape.

Other small cities have also invested in surveillance cameras, though not as heavily as Lancaster.

In Wilmington, Delaware, the city of about 73,000 developed a network of 21 publicly owned cameras and networked them with more than 200 private cameras owned by businesses.

That city also has 37 neighbourhood cameras, and the combined system is monitored by a non-profit group, which refers calls to the police.

Wilkes-Barre, a north-eastern Pennsylvania city even smaller than Lancaster, is planning to install 150 cameras this year, also monitored by a non-profit.

Some research has cast doubt on just how much surveillance systems reduce crime.

A January study by the University of California found that cameras did not reduce homicide in San Francisco but did help reduce the number of burglaries and some thefts. A New York University study found that cameras did not do much to deter crime in some public housing projects.

Those findings and others are part of why Crystle and other critics do not think the effort is worth the risk in a small town like Lancaster.

He also points to examples such as Cambridge, Massachusetts, where officials decided in February against adding surveillance cameras because of privacy concerns.

Crystle and others in Lancaster say they have done nothing to warrant being watched. Nick Boots, who owns a barber shop near a camera, said he thinks the city is using fear to gain support for the cameras.

"Through the fear of the perceived threat, people are willing to give up certain rights," Boots said. "You got to think of Lancaster now being like an open-air prison. Who's the warden?"

Others praise the project, including Francisco Cruz, 65, owner of Cruz Barber Shop, who said he's seen less drug dealing and fewer prostitutes outside his shop since cameras went up.

"I don't care if they put one right here in the shop," Cruz said.

The American Civil Liberties Union also objects to the project, especially since it covers the entire city — not just high-crime areas.

"When you have a blanket network of surveillance, you are no longer about solving crime," said ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper, citing studies that show cameras mainly help solve just small crimes. "Now you're talking about a surveillance community."

Source: The Guardian

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Traficant Lashes Israel Lobby On Fox News

In his first interview after being released from prison last week, former congressman James Traficant let the cat out of the bag about the strangle hold that the Pro Israel Lobby has over Washington DC. The interview took place last night with Fox News's Greta Van Susteren.

Susteren asked him if he has any grudges. Traficant says that he was the number one target of American Israeli Public Affairs Committee" and the Justice Department. He goes on to say that "he believes that Israel has a powerful stranglehold on the American government. They control both members of the House, the House and the Senate. They have us involved in wars in which we have little or no interest. Our children are coming back in body bags. Our nation is bankrupt over these wars. And if you open your mouth, you get targeted. And if they don't beat you at the poll, they'll put you in prison." He says "Israel gets approximately $15 billion a year from the American taxpayers. That $15 billion is $30,000 for every man, woman and child. And people in my district are losing their pension benefits."

Greta asks "Are you an antisemite," James replies, "what I am is an American. You see, I think America comes first. And we have a one-sided foreign policy in the Mideast, and we've alienated Arabs who have no way of fighting. So, what they've done -- and I predicted this on the House floor -- is they would export violence to America. And they have. They have no other way to fight.".

Traficant talked about his controversial defense of John Demanjuk, who was accused of Nazi war crimes, and was facing execution by Israel. Traficant's used the freedom of information act to prove he was innocent and who the real individual was. A rulling by Israel's supreme court released him but Traficant's role angered the Jewish Establishment in America. Demanjuk is now facing trial in Germany, despite being found innocent by Israel.

Unlike most convicted politicians who are sent to country club prisons, he was not given any special treatment. He said he spent time in solitary confinement and was put in danger in a prison full of many illegal immigrants, being a staunch opponent of illegal immigration. He talks about how his experience in prison has changed his entire outlook on the justice system and that he now believes no one should go to prison for non-violence offenses and that he wishes he did more to right the war on drugs when he was in congress.

Traficant expressed interest in running for congress again saying it is a 50/50% chance. Whether he gets back in office or not he is a needed Populist Constitutionalist voice against the powers that control our government.

The full transcript is here.

Interview with Traficant by Greta Van Susteren

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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Israel 'A Dangerous Sham' Says Prominent Jewish Historian

Israel: A Stalemated Action of History

In late 1949 I worked on a boat taking Jews from Marseilles to Haifa, Israel. Jews from Arab nations were in the front of the boat, Europeans in the rear. I was regarded by many of the Europeans as some sort of freak because I had a United States passport and so could stay in the land of milk and honey. One man wanted me to marry his daughter – which meant he too could live in the land of milk and honey. My Hebrew became quite respectable but the experience was radicalizing or, I should say, kept me radical, and I have stayed that way.

Later I learned from someone who ran a displaced persons camp in Germany that the large majority of Jews wanted to go anywhere but Palestine. They were compelled to state Palestine or else risk receiving no aid. I understood very early that there was much amiss in the countless Arab villages and homes I saw destroyed, and that the entire Zionist project – regardless of the often venal nature of the Arab opposition to it – was a dangerous sham.

The result of the creation of a state called Israel was abysmal. Jews from Poland have nothing in common with Germans and neither has anything to do with those from the Arab world. It is nationality, not religion, that counts most. Jews in Israel, especially the Germans, largely ghettoized themselves by their place of origin during the first generation, when a militarized culture produced the mixed new breed called sabras – an essentially anti-intellectual personality far different from the one the early Zionists, who were mostly socialists who preached the nobility of labor, expected to emerge. The large majority of Israelis are not in the least Jewish in the cultural sense, are scarcely socialist in any sense, and daily life and the way people live is no different in Israel than it is in Chicago or Amsterdam. There is simply no rational reason that justifies the state’s creation.

The outcome is a small state with a military ethos that pervades all aspects of Israel’s culture, its politics and, above all, its response to the existence of Arabs in its midst and at its borders. From its inception, the ideology of the early Zionists – of Labor Zionism as well as the rightist Revisionism that Vladimir Jabotinsky produced – embodied a commitment to violence, erroneously called self-defense, and a virtual hysteria. As a transcendent idea, Zionism has no validity because the national differences between Jews are overwhelming.

What Zionism confirmed, if any confirmation were needed, is that accidents are more important in shaping history than is all too often allowed. Here was the intellectual café, which existed in key cities – Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century or the Lower East Side of New York before World War I – filled with immensely creative people full of ideas and longing for a golden era to come. Ideas – good, bad, and indifferent – flourished. In this heady atmosphere, Zionism was born.

But Zionism has produced a Sparta that traumatized an already artificially divided region partitioned after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during World War I led to the Versailles Treaty and the creation of the modern Middle East. The state of Israel has always relied on military solutions to political and sociological problems with the Arabs. The result is constant mobilization.

Even more troublesome for peace and stability in the vast Middle East, Zionism has always been symbiotic on some great power for the security of its national project, realized in a state called Israel. Before 1939 it was the British; during the 1950s it was France. Israel has survived since the late 1960s on the influx of US arms and money, and this has allowed it to encourage its fears of annihilation – a fate its possession of nuclear weapons makes most unlikely. But Israel also has an importance far beyond the fantasies of a few confused literati. Today its significance for American foreign policy is far greater because the Soviet Union no longer exists and the Middle East provokes the fear so essential to mobilizing Congress and the US public. “The best hopes and the worst fears of the planet are invested in that relatively small patch of earth” – as George Tenet, the former head of the CIA, put it in his memoir – and so understanding how and why that patch came into being, and the grave limits of the martial course it is following, has a very great, even transcendent value.

In July 2003 Foreign Minister Shalom predicted that Iran would have nuclear bomb capability by 2006. It did not have nuclear weapons in 2006, though in fact a successful strike by conventional missiles on Dimona, Israel’s nuclear facility, would radioactivate a good part of Israel – and both Iran and Syria have such missiles. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, during Vice-President Dick Cheney’s visit in late March 2008, stated that “Iran’s weapons program threatens not only the stability of the region, but of the whole world,” and he did not rule out a war with it. By spring 2008 Israel was also very concerned about the growing ascendancy of Hizbollah in Lebanon and its greatly increased firepower – mainly in the form of rockets capable of striking much of Israel. It regards Hizbollah as a tool of Iran, and its focus on Iran concerns its control over Hizbollah as well as its ability to challenge Israel’s nuclear monopoly. But there can be no doubt that Hizbollah’s strength has only grown since Israel attacked it in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Israel now has an enemy that can inflict immense damage on it, probably resulting in highly skilled Jews migrating far faster than they already are at present – even now, more Jews are leaving Israel than migrating to it.

The existence of Israel is scarcely the only reason American policy in the region is as bad as it is. After all, it did not take Zionism to encourage Washington to seek the elimination of British influence in the region, and today no one can tell how long the US will remain mired in the affairs of the Middle East. But Israel is now a vital factor. While the extent of its role can be debated, without it the politics of the entire Middle East would be different – troubled but very different.

At least equally nefarious in the long run, Israel’s existence has radicalized – but in a negative sense – the Arab world, distracting it from natural class differences that often overcome religious and tribal ties. It has fanned Arab nationalism abysmally and given it a transcendent negative identity.

I am very realistic – and pessimistic – about an eventual negotiated solution to the crisis that has surrounded Palestine and Israel. Given the magnitude of the changes needed, the present situation justifies the most dismal conclusions. After all, the Arabs that live under Israeli control will quite soon outnumber the Jewish population, leaving a de facto Jewish state in which Jews are a minority! This fact is becoming deeply troublesome within Israeli politics today, causing former expansionists to reverse their position and leading to more and more internal controversy. Nor will there ever be an administration in Washington ready to do diplomatically what none has ever dared do since 1947, namely compel Israel to make an equitable peace with the Arabs.

Neither a one- nor two-state solution will come to pass. But the Jewish population is very likely to decline, and if it falls sufficiently then demography may prove to be a crucial factor. The ratio of Jews to Arabs would then become highly significant. The Jews in Israel are highly skilled and many have gotten out, migrating abroad. The Israeli military is the most powerful in the region because it has been deluged with American equipment, which it has learned to service. But US forces need repairmen to service the very same equipment, more than ever because recruitment into the American military is now lower than it has been in a quarter-century (not to mention its astronomical suicide rate), and skilled Israelis can take jobs with America’s armed forces that they are eminently qualified to fill. Moreover, Iran and the other Arab states will eventually develop or acquire nuclear weapons, making Israel incredibly insecure for its highly mobile Jewish population – one exhausted by regular service in compulsory reserves. And as already suggested, destroying Dimona with conventional missiles or mortars would be a cheap way to radioactivate a good part of Israel. Even worse, Osama bin Laden, or someone like him, may acquire a nuclear device, and one nuclear bomb detonated in or near Israel will effectively destroy what is a tiny area. Whoever destroys Israel will be proclaimed a hero in the Arab world. To those with skills, the answer is clear: get out. And getting out they are.

There are also Orthodox Jews in Israel but Israeli mass culture is now virtually indistinguishable from consumerism anywhere – in many crucial respects, there is more Judaism in parts of Brooklyn or Toronto than in most of Israel. The Orthodox too may be ready to leave behind the insecurity and troubles confronting those who live in a nation that is, after all, a part of a highly unstable region.

Sober and quite rational Israelis exist, of course, and I cite them often enough, but American policy will be determined by factors having nothing to do with them. Unfortunately, rational Israelis are an all too small minority.

Gabriel Kolko is the leading historian of modern warfare. He is the author of the classic Century of War: Politics, Conflicts and Society Since 1914, Another Century of War? and The Age of War: the US Confronts the World and After Socialism. He has also written the best history of the Vietnam War, Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the US and the Modern Historical Experience. His latest book is World in Crisis, from which this essay has been excerpted.

Source: Counter Punch

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The End Of The Nation States Of Europe:The Irish Referendum On The Lisbon Treaty October 2nd 2009

By Philip Jones
"Europe's nations should be guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation." Jean Monnet (Founding Father Of The EU in a letter to a friend 30th April 1952).).
On June 12th 2008, the proud and independent minded Irish screamed a loud and clear NO to the treacherous Lisbon Treaty and to further integration into the EU Superstate being constructed around the hopes, dreams and lives of the peoples of Europe. Typically, arrogantly and not surprisingly, the Euro Fascists, whose credentials are appearing ever more Totalitarian in structure and ruthless in application, simply ignored the voice of the Irish voter, demanding there be a another vote, and this time, the rebellious Irish would have to get it right, or else.
On October 2nd this year, once again, the fate of nearly 500 million people will be decided by a country whose population totals only 4.2 million. The people of the Republic Of Ireland will now for a second time, have been the only `citizens` of the European Union given the opportunity to have their say on what is potentially the most fundamental piece of legislation in the history of the `Old Continent.` All the other member states have simply ignored the wishes of their people and left ratification to be `rubber stamped` by their respective parliaments. However, it is necessary, at least at the moment, for all twenty seven member states to complete ratification before the `Treaty` becomes legally binding.
So, if the Irish vote is `NO` for a second time, then legally, according to its own rules, Brussels will not be able to implement the Treaty. However, if the Irish people this time around swallow the massive `Pro Treaty` propaganda and vote `Yes,` then the fate of, and inevitable demise of the Nation States of Europe will be sealed. There will be no more serious obstacles left to Federalisation. The long dreamed of (by the Federalists that is) a United States Of Europe will inevitably become a reality.
Many, if not the majority of people on both sides of the Atlantic have been `duped` for decades into believing that the EEC/EU is about a `free trade` zone. This is not at all the case, as the above quote by Monsieur Monet illustrates very clearly. So what are the ramifications of a `Yes` vote by the Irish.
The European Union was founded on lies and deceit at the very highest levels of government. This trail of deception has continued since, and on Thursday 13th December 2007 stopped momentarily in Lisbon Portugal, where the `dignitaries` of the member states of this `trading bloc` signed the `EU Reform Treaty`.
This `Treaty` replaces the EU Constitution rejected in 2005 by both France and the Netherlands. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and the former French President `Giscard D`Estaing are among many European ministers who have confirmed that the `Treaty` is but the Constitution by another name. The only differentials being the dropping from the new document those articles relating to the EU Flag, Anthem and Motto. Yet only two days prior to the `Historic event` in Lisbon, sixteen member states `broke cover` and called for an amendment to the `Treaty `and the reinstatement of these three articles, thereby transforming the `Treaty` into the original Constitution. They also want to impose the `single currency` on all those member states still retaining their `indigenous` currencies and are suggesting that a `Europe Day` become a holiday for celebration.
The leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party `Nigel Farage` said, "The full treachery being imposed is at last fully out in the open. The pathetic attempts claiming this wasn't the Constitution are now blown out of the water. Back comes the flag, the anthem and the motto. It means that what was 96% of the original constitution is now 100%. Let's not hear any more of the `Reform Treaty`. This is the rejected EU Constitution brought back in all it's pomp."
Whilst still in office, the former Danish Prime Minister and current Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, decided against any referendum on the Treaty, leaving it's ratification to Danish MPs. Since then, nothing has changed here in the `Old Kingdom,` where it's business as usual as far as the Lisbon Treaty is concerned.
Last year, Mr Fogh Rasmussen stated that the "Treaty` was 'Good For Denmark." Denmark had planned to hold a referendum on the Constitution back in 2005, but following the `NO` votes in France and Holland, the vote was dropped. The Danish Justice Ministry have concluded that the `Treaty` does not threaten Danish Sovereignty. Mr Fogh Rasmussen was quoted as saying, " When sovereignty is relinquished, a referendum is needed, but when no sovereignty is relinquished, Parliament will ratify the text."
He also confirmed plans to hold another referendum on the `Single Currency` (EURO) and whether to end the `opt outs` agreed at Maastricht relating to defence, justice and home affairs.
So, no threat to sovereignty ? Well let's consider the implications: If a Sovereign Nation State no longer controls it's own Economy, Defence, Justice System and Home Affairs, can it truly be called a `Sovereign Nation State` any longer ? The answer is quite simply NO.
The Political and Financial Elite of Europe have been working towards this moment since the end of World War Two. In every member state, the personalities might differ, but the rhetoric is always the same; "No Loss Of Sovereignty, good for the people, good for the economy and so on.".
So let us take a look at what this `Treaty` is really about. What is the difference between this document and the original Constitution ? German Lawyer, Klaus Heeger, a researcher and legal advisor to the Independent Democratic group in the EU Parliament has drawn the following conclusions regarding the two documents:
According to his analysis, the Constitution granted the EU 105 new `competences`. The `Treaty` also grants 105 new areas of competence. Out goes the EU symbols (Flag, Anthem, Motto) in comes Climate Change. The remaining 104 areas remain the same.
Decision making by qualified majority replaces `unanimity` in 62 new areas in the Reform Treaty. One more than in the Constitution. Out goes `Intellectual property rights`, in comes energy and climate change. The other 60 stay the same.
His conclusion; The EU Constitution by another name.
This sixth and final `Treaty` is the `death knell` for the sovereignty of the member states of the EU. Do not be mistaken about this, and no matter what your `elected` leaders are telling you to the contrary, this is it. This is the culmination of years of plotting, deception and conspiring against the people of Europe. So what's the big deal many will ask ? Read on and find out.
This `Treaty` is the EU's most secret and quickest drafted document yet. Opposition to and recognition that the EU is a Police State in the making is growing and they (the conspirators) know that speed is vital. Tony Blair agreed to it in June 2007 as his final `Stab in Britain's Back.` Foreign Ministers agreed it's terms in September 2007 and on 13th December two months later, the representatives of each member state signed the document, and now, all that remains is ratification, and the deed will be done.
So, if the result of the Irish vote is a `Yes` and all other member states do as indicated, ratify this treasonous piece of infamy, how will our lives be affected ?
Our National Parliaments will become redundant as all power that still remains will transfer to Brussels. It will mean the formal end of those Historic Nations of Europe who are member states of the EU. National Embassies around the world will come under the auspices of EU bureaucrats. The ancient counties and provinces will be merged and combined into `EU Administrative Regions`. (The amalgamations of Kommunes in Denmark is a pre-emptive example of this, along with the `devolved` parliaments of Scotland and Wales, to be soon joined by the eradication of `England` and the setting up of similar regional assemblies there).
The EU will take ownership of Police, Military, Nuclear Weapons, Currency Reserves and North Sea Oil as outlined in the Treaty document. Serving members of our Police and Armed Forces will be required to take an oath of loyalty to the EU. Refusal will result in dismissal. The EU will have complete control of all military matters, equipment and facilities.
Political parties will be abolished, phased out or realigned. Only Pan European parties will be allowed. Independence parties will effectively be outlawed as under the 1999 ruling of the European Court Of Justice (case 274/99), it is illegal to criticize the EU. (Even before the Irish Vote, News from Brussels indicates that plans are afoot already to eliminate any `Euro-sceptic groups within the EU Parliament). The EU will have the legal right to close National Parliaments and Assemblies.
Many people will be made unemployed as the EU rule of `retraining` at a citizens own expense becomes universal (including the purchase of a Certificate confirming said retraining). Hundreds of thousands of small businesses will be forced to close due to the enforcement of endless numbers of impracticable and unworkable EU regulations.
Around 107,000 EU laws will criminalise many, as adherence to this amount of legislation is impossible. We will be subject to frequent fines and even arrest as a result of what will be our inevitable ignorance. Take the following as examples: From January 2006, it became illegal to repair your own domestic plumbing, electrics or even your own car. If you buy a boat over six feet long, built after 1999, you will be required to pay the equivalent in Euros of £4000, or face six months in prison. As the EU `Police State` flexes it's muscles ever more, each of us will live under the fear and threat of arrest or prosecution for any one of a myriad of offences, even minor ones.
The Large Corporations will do well of course, utilising massive immigration from within and without the EU, paying minimum wages to immigrants at the expense of the indigenous population, thus forcing salaries downwards. Furthermore, these Corporations will have a near Monopoly on employment (along with Government), and will be able to dictate conditions and terms of employment without fear of contradiction.
Top Government Jobs and the inevitable corruption which will accompany this monopoly, will create a new `Class Divide` ensuring the rich and their `fellow travellers` get richer, whilst the majority decline into poverty. Taxes will increase in order to pay for the massive growth in bureaucracy.
There will be no `redress of grievance` through local `democratic` channels because there won't be any local democracy. Or any democracy at all for that matter. The `EU Administrative Regional Governments` will be unelected (See the EU Regionalisation plan on the EU Website). Our only vote will be to the powerless EU Parliament. We will be ruled by the unelected EU Commissioners, who have no `accountability to the people` at any level.
If we demonstrate or protest, we can be seized and relocated to another EU Region. The EU Arrest Warrant and the various legislation introduced across the EU since 9/11 will give the Authorities absolute power over us. The shootings of innocents `Philip Prout` and `Jean de Menezes` were entirely legal under EU Law. The intimidation and growing `Anti Muslim` vitriol across the EU is becoming reminiscent of the treatment of Jews in pre-war Germany. A Federal European State will become a very unpleasant place to be.
Following Federation, in and around 15 years hence, Europe could collapse under the weight of it's own Bureaucracy and Corruption. There will be so little production, that no amount of taxation will be able to support the vast, inept, corrupt and wasteful government machinery. Many will be reduced to poverty on the brink of starvation. The complete lack of any `checks and balances` will leave the door open for any would be dictatorship.
The EU as monstrous as it is, is nothing more than a `stepping stone` to `World Government`. Before you dismiss this article as `Scare Mongering` or `Conspiracy Theory`, find out how many of your own country's leading politicians are members of such `Secret Organisations` as the Bilderbergers, Trilateral Commission, Club Of Rome, and the Royal Institute For International Affairs.
Each and every one of the above are totally dedicated to a `One World` Government and see a Federal Europe as a necessary evolution towards that goal. Their memberships read like a who's who of the planet's `power players`. Danish readers for example, might be very surprised to discover which of their country's Political and Financial Elites attend the Bilderberger meetings, which has been in the forefront of machinations to further European Federalisation. To find out which of your elected representatives are members of any of the above groups, just type in the organisation's name on any recognised search engine. Then sit back and prepare to be shocked.
We live in an age where people seem to have abdicated all responsibility for their own lives to Government. This has been going on since the end of World War Two, but has accelerated markedly since the 1980's. This `social irresponsibility` led us to Lisbon on 13th December 2007, where our so called leaders signed away our ancient rights and freedoms in the name of their `great plan`. If we sit back and do nothing, the rest of our lives will become a nightmare of our own making, because in the final analysis, it is we who will have handed over our rights and liberties into the hands of `wolves.`
The future well being of a whole continent lies in the hands of the Brave and Heroic Irish people. They need our support. They need to know they are not alone. It's time to start writing to your `elected` representatives, time to find the time to research what the EU `Beast` is really about. It's time to switch off the TV and pick up a book about the EU, or check out the many Internet sites relating to this Totalitarian `Super-State in the making.`
Do something, speak to your friends, neighbours, family; just do something before it is too late, and if the Irish vote yes, it is.
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Will Baltimore prosecute other journalists, too?

Before we answer that question, we first have to know the person making the decisions about prosecutions in Maryland. Who exactly is Patricia Jessamy, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney whose office threatened to prosecute the undercover reporters that exposed ACORN’s pimp-protecting and tax-evasion operation? Chris at HAP does a lot of legwork on Jessamy — and finds a partisan Democrat who has invested both time and money in supporting Barack Obama:

Chris also has links to Jessamy’s personal contribution to Obama’s campaign, as well as her position on a steering committee for his campaign. Jessamy isn’t exactly an uninterested party when it comes to Obama and those organizations that support him. That explains the odd decision by the prosecutor to consider charges against the people who uncovered a conspiracy to evade taxes and shield pimps, rather than the conspirators themselves.

But what else has Jessamy done while in office? Mark Tapscott points out that Jessamy likes to highlight her connection to a local children’s shelter:

Jessamy, a Democrat, was appointed to the State’s Prosecutor position in 1995 and has since been re-elected to the job three times. Among the items listed on Jessamy’s extensive resume of accomplishments is that she is president of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. She also lists her prior membership on the Governor’s Council on Child Abuse and Neglect from 1995 to 1998!

Let’s be clear about what is happening here: O’Keefe and Giles dressed up as a pimp and prostitute and walked into the Baltimore ACORN office seeking “tax advice” for a brothel that would include the use of 13-year-old sex slaves from San Salvador. Two ACORN advisors happily provided all kinds of advice about how to deceive federal and state tax authorities about the true nature of the “business,” and how to insure that the prostitutes “keep their mouths shut.”

In other words, two ACORN employees appear to have voluntarily become accessories to multiple federal, state and local crimes, including child abuse, interstate transportation for purposes of prostitution, tax evasion, and immigration law violations. The two ACORN employees may also have thus provided hard evidence that their employer should be prosecuted as a criminal enterprise under the RICO statutes.

And the Baltimore City State’s Attorney may prosecute the two people responsible for exposing this heinous operation!

On one hand, Jessamy brags about helping children who are abused or neglected. On the other hand, when she discovers evidence that the local ACORN office helps abusers evade detection and protect their child-prostitution rings, she aims her prosecutorial guns at — the people who expose them. Does that help children or hurt them?

Let’s get back to the original question about Jessamy’s roundup of undercover journalists. Jessamy has been in office since 1995. Has she ever pursued this kind of prosecution of undercover journalists in Baltimore before going after the people who went after ACORN? Hot Air reader Carrie W notes at least two times when a local Baltimore TV station used undercover journalists with cameras to record people without their knowledge, and won awards for their efforts. Did Jessamy go after WMAR in 2000?

Baltimore’s Beggars
WMAR-TV, Baltimore
Anchor Stan Stovall went “undercover” as a vagrant to experience what life is like for Baltimore’s beggars. For two days, Stovall wore a disguise–donning makeup and a scraggly beard–and roamed the popular tourist areas of Charm City. “I had to admit I had some reservations about getting made up as a homeless person,” Stovall says. “I could tell you how people would treat me without getting [a disguise.]” But he did it anyway, panhandling during the day and returning to the station for the nightly newscast. “It was one of the ideas that was submitted to look at the issue of panhandling–of whether those people were really homeless and needed the money,” says WMAR News Director Sandra McKeller. “We decided to do it for [the May sweeps] and add a twist by adding our anchor dressed up and actually get the perspective of being a panhandler.” McKeller said the piece tried to examine the plight of homelessness. The burning question Stovall wanted to answer: Should you give panhandlers money? “Some of the research I found in talking with homeless advocates…and even homeless people themselves was you should not give them cash,” he says.

Now, this description doesn’t make clear that WMAR had a hidden camera and mike on Stovall, but that’s certainly the implication. Would a local TV station go to that much trouble and not get the interactions on camera? If that isn’t quite clear enough, though, WMAR’s award-winning effort in 2006 is explicit:


First Place: Tisha Thompson, John Anglim, Susan Kirkwood

(WMAR-TV) “The US Rental Network”

Judges’ Comments: This is just darn good journalism. We didn’t hear enough about the conversation your producer had in the hidden camera part of the story. We loved the MySpace connection & the thoughtfulness of the other people involved in a past scheme. Excellent.

Hidden cameras? Darn good journalism … for WMAR, and apparently not anything in which Jessamy was interested. In 2009, when those hidden cameras go after a group supporting Barack Obama and his policies — well, that’s a different matter altogether. It shows that Jessamy is less interested in enforcing the law and helping children than she is in abusing her power to attack critics who threaten Obama’s power and policies.

How about it, Baltimore? Time for Jessamy to retire, and to find a City State’s Attorney who goes after criminals rather than the people who expose them? And will Maryland journalists take a stand on behalf of Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe?

Source: Hot Air

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Post-Modern American Honor

James Bowman is a stereotypical modern-day conservative. The only exception is that he’s not only very smart, but his take on mass media and present-day culture is thought-provoking and poignant. I very much enjoy reading his movie reviews. He’s definitely a throw-back to a previous era. One of the main ideas with which he is concerned is the loss in today’s culture of what is generally referred to as “honor.” If I understand the essence of his argument, the loss of an ancient phenomenon such as honor corresponds to the degradation of modern living, and the emasculation of men. Furthermore, honor is not defined in purely righteous terms, but is instead oftentimes, and most certainly in “post-modern” times, associated with attitude, reputation, or what could be considered a façade. Therefore, this phenomenon can be exhibited by both God-fearing Christians and street thugs. He even goes so far as to say, “Honor is not one among the other virtues,” and that it has the tendency to be “hypocritical.” In fact, there is so much of this in his many other articles on honor, that the reader begins to wonder whether such a phenomenon is good, right, or necessary any longer.

Until I encountered Bowman’s writings on the subject, I had always thought that honor, having the same Latin root as “honesty,” was about something more than just saving face among the clan to which one belongs. I’ve always seen it the way it is portrayed in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, where at the end of the first film, Samwise tells Frodo that he made a promise to look after him, and he intends to keep it. Honor was as simple as that. It is because of the influence of this phenomenon in the story that Bowman reluctantly gave the movie a higher rating (one star out of a possible two) than he originally did (no stars). The best part of the film, in my opinion, has to do with unquestioning loyalty and trust, aspects of honor for which Bowman grieves. After Sam and Frodo encounter Merry and Pippin, they are sought after by one of the Ringwraiths. As they make a quick escape, Frodo tells Merry, “I have to leave the Shire. Sam and I must get to Bree.” It is in this moment that the viewer learns everything he needs to know about Merry, and about whatever inherent virtue there is in honor. With hardly a thought about the strangeness of what has just transpired, about Frodo’s cryptic plea, or about any future dangers that might follow from providing Frodo and Sam with assistance, the camera closes in on Merry’s thoughtful face as he calmly replies, “Right. Bucklebury Ferry. Follow me.” This is a moment of pure gold, and I’m glad to see that it forces an old codger like Bowman to admit there’s more to the film than outstanding visual sweep and technical brilliance.

But Bowman is also correct that we live in a culture that no longer understands this phenomenon, nor celebrates it. He also points out that much of the rest of the world persists in ancient honor cultures. It is one of these cultures of lost honor against which the government of the United States initiated aggression eight years ago. This is where I have to part company with Bowman, the old ideas of conservatism to which I subscribed, and perhaps with the true meaning of honor.

I don’t know much about post-modernism, other than that it is mostly used these days to describe the “unprincipled” Left: feminism, nihilism, hippies, black supremacy, queer theory, etc.; in other words, everything Bowman despises about his own generation. Having come from a conservative background like Bowman, I understand to a much greater degree the significance and importance placed upon tradition and heritage. To Bowman and other conservatives, honor would appear to be something we ought not to lose, for no other reason than that we’ve always had it, in one form or another. It may also be his belief that we can’t actually dispense with this phenomenon, as it is perhaps ingrained in our physiology somehow, that honor is something that separates us from all else in the animal kingdom. Therefore, if we ignore it, or refuse to recognize our innate possession of it, we will be unable to direct it in the proper fashion, and at some point in American history, we may see families slaughtering women for minor sexual offences, something that still happens to this day in other parts of the world. Post-modernism, in the nihilist sense of the term, doesn’t recognize honor as having any value, because nothing, including post-modernism, has any value either. There is indeed danger in nihilist thought.

There is also danger, and a considerable amount at that, in Bowman’s views of honor, however. Just read “The Worth of National Honor” to understand what I mean. At some point, to Bowman anyway, we owe so much to honor that “we” should have stopped the debate on the morality of the killing “we” were about to do (in the First Gulf War) to focus on the honor of what “we” were doing. If his argument is taken to its extreme, it is as if he is saying that “we” need to follow through on “our” word, for the sake of “our” word. Of course, when he says “our,” he means “the government,” which, naturally, he expects us all to support. Reflect for a while on the nature of what transpired in those few months in the Middle East in 1991, and what it has now led to. When truth, critical thinking, and bravery (and I’m thinking here of standing up for truth and critical thinking, not the bravery of running into an exchange of gunfire for whatever honorable reason) are swept aside so that a pampered elitist like George H.W. Bush can do the bidding of his pampered elitist friends, perhaps it’s time to go back on “our” word and reconsider what it is that “we” are giving “our” word to, rather than continue the bloodletting. We do not need to follow through on bad decisions. We need the humility to understand what Captain Robert Lewis at least briefly understood in the cockpit of the Enola Gay over Hiroshima , after he did his part in incinerating thousands of people at once: “My God, what have we done?”

This is what honor, be it socially invented or biologically induced, routinely does. (Think of the absurdity of a duel, usually brought about by nothing more than an insult.) If Captain Lewis had had the capacity to think more critically beforehand; if he had displayed that ability early in life; if his mother and father had encouraged that, along with the importance of being honest and cultivating a love of truth; if all the men who were assigned to fly that day had “honored” their abilities to question authority and challenge information given to them, to apply their innate abilities for rational thought; then perhaps the war would have ended sooner, or never involved the United States at all. Instead, the more pathetic conception of honor, tied to old traditions of meritorious advancement, romanticization of violence, a strange, American-Christian God who frequently gives sanction to war, and unquestioning socially dictated behavior, produced men who could listen intently to another man who informed them, “We think [the bomb you’ll drop] will knock out almost everything within a three-mile area,” and continue with their plans to do just that. The Japs had it coming, you see. Besides, our honor was at stake. Ten paces, gentlemen.

In the balance of such bloody nonsense, regurgitated for future generations to digest, is the future of the human race. Lewis’s complicit behavior in dropping that bomb did more than “knock out almost everything within a three-mile area.” It altered human history, and mostly for the worse. The only bright spot is that it forced much of humanity out of part of its stupor of conventional honor. It made us question, in a way so many did after the First World War, what the hell they were doing. That question is a good ten times more important in my mind than any question of honor.

When writers and thinkers like Bowman ruminate on The Great War, they merely lament the unfortunate effect it had on the idea of honor in Western culture. Perhaps the final meaning of World War I is that man’s technological ability to wage war has finally outstripped man’s ability to honorably wage it at all. In much the same way that mass, instant, global, digital communication has shrunk the world and aided us in seeing the essential humanity in every human face and the fact that this humanity existed long before to our ability to grasp it, technology in its most horrendous forms has shown us what we ought not to do to one another and what we always ought not to have done. The one who for centuries kept telling millions in the Western World not to do it was ignored, right up until the moment that it became impossible to follow the admonition, in the advance of a hideous yellow cloud that turned men’s bodies into torture chambers: “Love one another.” Bowman himself admits that Jesus was challenging the honor culture built up in ancient Judaism. Since this is the guy Bowman worships, you would think our shared knowledge of the increasingly torturous and shockingly instantaneous instruments of war, coupled with God’s word, would be enough to reassess the need for honor, or what honor should have been about all along.

If honor cannot contend with the truth we are learning about our obsession with using force and violence on our enemies, the only way for it to save face is to bow out gracefully, forever. If we as a culture do not learn to honor love, freedom, peace, and truth above all else, then I doubt it will matter very much what we do honor, if we honor anything at all.
I would urge Bowman to go back and watch “The Lord of the Rings,” only this time, sit through the entire trilogy. He would see that the only truly honorable actions were performed by those who did their part in helping to destroy The Ring, the symbol of power, or the desire and ability to use force and violence to control the outcome. Perhaps there’s hope when an intellectual like Bowman, who normally despises such Hollywood flummery, can see through it to find the hidden jewel of honor, and perhaps in the future he’ll see the inherent good in putting away any further ideas of honorably waging war. Perhaps someday there will be another Captain Robert Lewis who has the courage to eliminate the “we,” and ask himself, “My God, what have I done?”, and to do so before the atrocity is committed. Perhaps that day is sooner than we think.

Source: Strike at the Root

Stop the Slippery Slope of Speech Bans

Under campaign finance law, corporations are prevented from spending their own money to advocate the election or defeat of political candidates. Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a second round of arguments in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to consider righting this First Amendment wrong by overturning two prior rulings.

Supporters of campaign finance laws are predicting a disaster for democracy from the influence of corporate funds. But the truth is that campaign finance "reformers" do not care about corporate speech itself; they want to clamp down on all speech during elections.

Take Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, who says that only individuals vote for candidates, so "only individuals should provide the private financing to elect these officeholders, not corporations or other artificial entities."

If true, Wertheimer and his outfit should welcome and more groups like it to the political debate. is a group of individuals who want to pool their money to buy ads opposing candidates who do not support freedom of speech and supporting those who do. The group is not a corporation and will accept no corporate or union funds. Nor will it contribute any money to candidates. In fact, its bylaws require it to be completely independent of candidates and political parties. It is a group of individuals who simply want to spend their own money on their own speech.

Nonetheless, Democracy 21 filed a brief in federal court opposing is challenging federal campaign finance laws that require it to register as a "political committee" and bar it from accepting any more than $5,000 from any donor each year. Television and radio ads are not cheap, so these limits make it impossible for to function. As a result, it sued the FEC, claiming the contribution limits violate its rights to freedom of speech and association.

According to Democracy 21, lifting contribution limits for would allow "wealthy donors" to "contribute hundreds of thousands" of dollars to "sophisticated committees often run by Washington political operatives."

The FEC takes the same position and has even claimed that unincorporated nonprofit association-should be treated exactly like a business corporation.

So much for the claim that only individuals should be allowed to fund political advocacy.

This should not surprise anyone. For over three decades, campaign finance reformers have been advocating draconian restrictions on all spending for speech during elections.

In the early 1970s, they passed restrictions on individual spending for speech during elections. The Supreme Court struck these down in Buckley v. Valeo, but they resurfaced again years later in a case out of Vermont that campaign reformers cheered.

In Buckley, the Supreme Court upheld restrictions on so-called express advocacy-that is, speech calling for the election or defeat of candidates-but not on issue advocacy. When speakers flocked to issue advocacy, reformers claimed that it was all a "sham" and passed McCain-Feingold's electioneering communications ban.

When reformers restricted donations to political parties, donors gave more to independent groups, so reformers are now claiming that independent groups, too, must be restricted.

The fact is, to campaign finance reformers, there is always too much money in elections. They oppose the very idea that individuals should be permitted to spend as much money on their own speech as they want. If it is not corporations spending too much money, then it is independent groups. If it is not them, then it is wealthy people and so on.

There is no end to this argument. If the government can ban ads that say the wrong thing during an election-as it does under McCain-Feingold-then it can ban films like Hillary: The Movie, the film at the heart of the Citizens United case. If it can ban films, then it can ban books, as the government admitted during the first oral argument in the case. If it can ban books, then it can ban newspapers, magazines and Internet commentary.

All of this speech must be funded by someone, and most of it is funded by corporations. Speech costs money, so restricting the money that anyone can raise or spend-whether corporations, wealthy people or anyone else-is censorship, pure and simple.

The only way to avoid this slippery slope is to start treating freedom of speech as an inalienable right, not a privilege that the government can restrict as it sees fit. The Supreme Court can take a critical step in the right direction by overturning bans on corporate speech.

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Toronto International Film Festival: Stand Up Against the Lies

Toronto International Film Festival: Stand Up Against the Lies
JVP supports the 1,000 plus signers of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) protest letter, "The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation,” including Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Danny Glover, Naomi Klein, Eve Ensler, and many Palestinians and Israelis. The letter does not call for boycott. The signers believe the festival's choice of celebrating Tel Aviv is inappropriate given Israel’s nearly 42-year occupation of the Palestinian Territories, the recent assault and continuing siege on Gaza, and the history of and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians in Tel Aviv-Jaffa itself. We agree. Learn about the smear campaign, and get the accurate history of the region here.

Source: Jewish Voice For Peace
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Regression Depression

I’ve been feeling a little discouraged about the nation’s direction lately.

Maybe it’s just me.

Then again, maybe not. Everywhere I go, the sense of impending doom about what’s happening in (and to) our country is palpable. ‘Course, there’s hope: just look at how the country’s come together over the national healthcare issue. With fellowship like that, how long can it be before we’re all debating excitedly ‘round city-sized bonfires, our animated dialogue punctuated by periodic AK47 bursts designed to drive (hollow) points home?

You know we’re firmly ensconced in bizarro world when America’s rulers can prosecute illegal warfare, torture people, shred the Constitution, steal us blind, out secret agents, strong-arm massive corporate welfare and let an entire city drown, yet it’s not until affordable universal healthcare is (ostensibly) proposed that that is the moment herds of screaming, puerile, manipulated-to-the-max neo-brownshirts decide their beloved America — the one that’s only truly ever existed in John Wayne movies, by the way — is under socialistic siege, subsequently demonstrating their suddenly-uncontainable umbrage by throwing big-time, small-minded pissy fits at faux town hall meetings.

The brandishing of firearms outside such events is an especially nice touch. I can only guess what would have happened at an anti-war march had any of us toted an assault rifle. Prior to a U.S. government-sponsored Frankenfoods conference here in Sacramento six years back, our scared witless shitty council (“Remember Seattle!” they were warned constantly by cops and funds-bearing feds) hastily passed a raft of anti-constitutional local ordinances, one of which authorized the arrest of any persons in town (like, say, dissenters, maybe?) found with dirtballs in their pockets.

That’s what I said: dirtballs in people’s pockets.

Speaking of Congress, I’m now convinced a poll could show 137% of Americans strongly favoring something and yet if their desire didn’t happen to coincide with the wishes of Big Business (as, you know, it so often does), then once again out would pop the corporatocracy’s jump-puppets — also known in some circles as “representatives” and “senators” — to engage in so many contortions explaining why they couldn’t give us what we wanted they’d make Russian gymnasts proud. My suggestion? Replace them with Russian gymnasts. We still wouldn’t get what we wanted but at least the back flips would be more expertly done.

Impotence is another thing that’s got me, uh, down. (No, not that kind of impotence — not that I would even know what that’s like. Ever. OK, mostly. All right, then, fine, but at least I still have my memories. Er…what was I saying?) And not that you’ve ever asked yourself this question, but: Just what the hell are we supposed to do to change things?

Vote? (For those who deem this a viable solution, please see jump-puppets reference.)

Protest? Please don’t tell my longtime activist girlfriend this, but while she and I are out there standing on the street corner with seventeen other diehards holding signs and hooting and hollering against the latest outrage, I often feel like the powers-that-be are laughing at us, mocking us. Ignoring us. (Imagine how much worse it would be if they really were!) Actually, I’m not sure which is more deflating: Bush declaring us a focus group, or Obama proving it.

Another bummer is seeing the classic tactics of misdirection and scapegoating being employed to perfection. Sure, the great unwashed (and unemployed) expressed righteous anger when the corporatists in charge tanked the global economy only to be given no-strings-attached trillions more, but their nastiest vitriol has nonetheless been loosed on folks who are blameless (but far more accessible): those fortunate enough to still have jobs and/or houses, including relatives, neighbors and (former) friends.

I should know: I work for California’s teacher licensing agency (no doubt created by Marxist infiltrators who decided our state’s educators should be, well, educated; can you imagine?). Collectively, my fellow (unionized) government employees and I are now public enemy numero uno, personally responsible for everything from massive budget deficits to women with loose morals (actually, that’s one I wouldn’t mind taking credit for… if only I could remember how to go about it). We’re being furloughed three days monthly at fourteen percent less pay but that still isn’t enough: our pitchfork-bearing detractors want all of our heads, regardless the disastrous impact on public services.

That cackling you hear is from the über-corporatists who know full well that envy is a terrible thing to waste and thus play on this natural human frailty to convince millions that if their houses have burned down, the solution is not to go after who set them afire in the first place but demand that others run out and torch theirs, too.

Normally, I’d wrap things up here with some pithy suggestion, but I’m afraid I’m plain pithed off, uh, out. However, I will say, upon further reflection, there actually may be some merit to that whole setting-things-ablaze idea.

Especially if the flash point were centered, you know, somewhere on Wall Street.

Source: Dissident Voice

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Czech Town Divided over How to Commemorate 1945 Massacre: Revenge on Ethnic Germans

By Hans-Ulrich Stoldt

More than six decades after the end of World War II, long-suppressed information about a massacre of around 2,000 Sudeten Germans in June 1945 is dividing the Czech town of Postoloprty. Supporters of a memorial to the incident are clashing with those who want to forget all about the murders.

Nobody could really say why the five boys had joined the fatigue party of men on that fateful summer's day in 1945. Some thought they were hungry, others that they were trying to flee the wrath of the Czechoslovakian army.

Hundreds of Germans had been herded together on the parade ground in the Czech town of Postoloprty (known in German as Postelberg) on June 6, 1945, just a month after the end of World War II in Europe. They could clearly see the fatigue party heading off. The five boys who had hidden among the men were discovered and led back.

"Mr Marek wanted the boys to be flogged," recalls 81-year-old Peter Klepsch, an eye-witness. "But Captain Cerny, the commander of the Czech troops, said the boys should be shot."

The boys' names were Horst, Eduard, Hans, Walter, and Heinz. The oldest was 15, the youngest 12. They were flogged and then shot dead -- in full view of the others, who were held back at gunpoint. The Czechs didn't use machine guns, but their rifles, so it took a long time to kill all five. "One of the boys who hadn't been mortally wounded by the gunfire ran up to the marksmen begging to be allowed to go to his mother," recalls 80-year-old Heinrich Giebitz. "They just carried on shooting."

A Series of Tragic Events

Fully 64 years later, Czech prosecutors have now pinned the blame for this terrible atrocity on policeman Bohuslav Marek and Vojtech Cerny, an army captain. The two men are long dead, so the boys' murders will remain unpunished. And yet this was only one chapter in the brutal massacre of some 2,000 Sudeten Germans in the space of a few days in 1945 in Postoloprty and nearby Zatec, about 60 kilometers northwest of the capital, Prague. "This was undoubtedly the worst in a series of tragic events that took part in Bohemia in May and June 1945," wrote Czech historian Tomas Stanek in the mid-1990s.

The truth was long in coming to light, and even cautious attempts to look into the crimes by legal means proved fruitless. The matter was only addressed in earnest in 2007 when prosecutors in the Bavarian town of Hof asked their Czech colleagues for assistance in investigating the killing of the five boys.

Survivors, bereaved family members, and conscientious Czechs now want to erect a monument to the victims of this post-war massacre -- but are meeting stiff resistance from many of Postoloprty's 5,000 inhabitants. "Most of the locals are completely opposed to it," says historian Michal Pehr, a member of a German-Czech committee set up by the municipal authorities. The committee was supposed to put forward its suggestions for a compromise this week. "The entire story was taboo for many people for decades," Pehr says.

'Let Nobody Survive'

It all began in the weeks and months after the end of the war. It was the time of the so-called "wild expulsions," when ethnic Germans were being hunted down in various parts of Czechoslovakia. The fascists had been beaten. Now the Czechs wanted to rid themselves of their despised countrymen as quickly as possible. Though most of the Nazi perpetrators had long-since fled, the rage and the lust for revenge knew no bounds.

Ethnic Germans had lived on the Czech side of the border for centuries, so when Hitler annexed the area in 1938, they had lined the streets to cheer the soldiers. The rest of Bohemia and Moravia was soon a brutal Nazi protectorate, and in the years that followed more than 300,000 Czechs died at the hands of their German overlords. Theresienstadt concentration camp and the village of Lidice, which was burnt down by the SS, will forever serve as symbols of Nazi barbarism.

At the Potsdam conference in August 1945, the Allies authorized the expulsion of more than 3 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, albeit on the proviso that "any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner." But by that time people had already taken matters into their own hands in many areas.

As early as October 1943, Edvard Benes, who would become the president of Czechoslovakia after the war, had threatened from exile in London that "what the Germans have done in our lands since 1938 will be revenged on them multifold and mercilessly." And speaking during a radio broadcast in November 1944, Sergej Ingr, the commander-in-chief of Czech forces in England, issued his fellow countrymen with the following order: "Beat them, kill them, let nobody survive."

Forced to Run and Sing

Demands such as these were eagerly received in places like Postoloprty and Zatec. When the Soviet army pulled out of the newly-liberated area, soldiers of the 1st Czechoslovakian Corps moved in and immediately set about "concentrating" the region's ethnic German population.

On Sunday June 3, 1945 the army ordered some 5,000 ethnic German men in Zatec to assemble on the market square, from where they were marched the 15 kilometers to Postoloprty to a hail of threats, beatings, and gunfire.

"On Monday evening we were all forced to run around the square and sing Nazi songs or whatever passed as such," Peter Klepsch recalls. "All those who didn't run or sing right were flogged."

The next night he saw a group of men being led off for execution. It wasn't to be the last. He also repeatedly heard volleys of gunfire during the day.

Part 2: Made to Dig Their Own Graves

Klepsch, who had opposed the Nazis and finished the war in prison for trying to help three Frenchman flee, was eventually permitted to leave the scene of the atrocity on the fifth day. An unknown number of men remained behind. Most were methodically and systematically shot dead, many near the barracks, others by the local school.

The largest mass grave, containing almost 500 bodies, was later discovered in the Pheasant Garden, a former pheasant farm out of town.

"Two hundred and fifty men were taken one day, another 250 the next, and a layer of earth was thrown in between," a policeman told a parliamentary inquiry in 1947. "They weren't all executed in a single night, but rather in stages." Often enough the condemned men were given a pick and shovel, and made to dig their own graves.

The perpetrators didn't have many scruples. After all, they were sure they had high-level military backing. Jan Cupka, the head of the defense intelligence service, remembers General Spaniel, the commander of the 1st Czechoslovakian Division, recommending they "clean" the region of its ethnic Germans. "The general told us, 'The fewer of them that remain, the fewer enemies we'll have.'"

'I Gave the Order'

But enough people survived to tell the world about the massacre. Survivors exiled to Germany reported what they had witnessed, and even in Postoloprty and Zatec the stories and rumors about the horrific goings-on refused to go away.

In July 1947 the Czech parliament in Prague felt obliged to launch an official inquiry into the matter. Countless soldiers and local residents were interviewed, including Captain Vojtech Cerny, who immediately assumed responsibility for the killing of the five boys on the parade ground. "I gave the order for their execution," he declared.

The statements from witnesses were all documented together with the findings of an Interior Ministry delegation, which investigated on site and promptly declared that "members of the army were primarily to blame for this bestiality and these executions." However it added that the soldiers' actions had met with widespread approval from the local population, who considered them "justified retribution for German brutality."

The officials sent a report back to their minister recommending that the bodies be exhumed and burnt so that "Germans should have no memorials to which they could point as a source of suffering by their people."

In a top-secret operation in August 1947, several mass graves were dug up, and 763 bodies were removed, most of which were then cremated. There is little doubt that there were more victims whose bodies were never found.

Asked to Drop the Story

Meanwhile, the official documents about "the events in Postoloprty" were classified as confidential and disappeared into the Interior Ministry archives.

That suited the postwar residents of Postoloprty and Zatec, who now lived in the houses of the killed or displaced former inhabitants. They weren't the only ones who feared a reassessment of the past. Quite a few non-Germans first willingly collaborated with the occupying forces, only to then reinvent themselves as the great avengers of Czech maltreatment when the time was right. Silence therefore became the order of the day.

As a result, it was only by chance that Czech reporter David Hertl stumbled upon the crime in the mid-90s when he and a colleague were putting together a series of portraits of local towns for his regional newspaper. The plan was to write about past and present-day life in these communities, but when they got to Postoloprty, they hit a brick wall.

"People either didn't know anything about their past or didn't want to talk about it," Hertl says. "And when we asked them about the Germans, they simply said they'd ended up in the Pheasant Garden."

Their suspicions aroused, the two reporters began investigating -- and met mainly with opposition. "If at all, people would only speak to us anonymously," Hertl says. "They were afraid, and asked us to drop the story."

'You're Going to Hang for This'

When the regional newspaper printed a couple of articles on the matter, with headlines such as "Where are the thousands of Germans from Zatec and Postoloprty?" and "We know the names of the murderers," the threats started pouring in. Anonymous letters with swastikas scrawled across them arrived at the editorial offices, and every morning the answering machine was full of insults like "You're going to hang for this, you swine."

Some things have changed in the time since then, Hertl says today. "More people now know that this crime really took place. Nonetheless most still believe the Germans deserved it."

People would prefer this dark chapter of their past to finally be forgotten once and for all. After all, what if the former inhabitants began returning and claiming their houses back? Hertl calls this fear "a kind of paranoia." Yet it persists -- which is why the project to erect a monument is such a touchy issue.

Split over Wording

"We already decided against building a monument four years ago," says Ludvik Mlcuch, a communist member of the Postoloprty town council. "I see no reason to change our minds. End of story."

Petr Riha runs a small electrical goods store in Postoloprty. He has nothing against a monument. "The important thing is what's on the inscription," he says. Riha would like a memorial to all the victims of the Nazi era and its aftermath, not just to the Germans.

"That wouldn't be enough for me," says Walter Urban, who was born in Postoloprty in 1942 and is one of the few ethnic Germans still living there. His house is in the side street on the edge of town that leads toward the Pheasant Garden. Urban doesn't know whether his father was killed there, by the barracks or by the school. All he wants is a memorial where he can lay some flowers. And that's what he's been doggedly promoting in the small committee that must now present its proposed compromise to the municipal authorities in Postoloprty.

Everyone agrees that the town needs a monument. But the committee is split on the wording for the plaque.

Opponents of a memorial to the murdered Germans always point to the context, namely that the postwar excesses would not have happened were it not for the Nazi terror that preceded them.

"That may be true, but every crime has its origins and its causality," says Otokar Löbl, president of Friends of the Town of Saaz/Zatec, a Frankfurt-based association that has long campaigned for an investigation of the crime. "However it's also true that most of the Germans living in Zatec at the time supported the Nazis." Even so, their murder was a crime that should not only be acknowledged as such but for which people must also accept responsibility.

'A Mental Balancing Act'

Löbl comes from a Jewish German-Czech family. His father's family was killed in a concentration camp. Löbl was born in Zatec in 1950, but left the country in 1970 following the Soviet Union's crushing of the Prague Spring. He has long campaigned for better understanding between Germans and Czechs, and he is the initiator of the "Saaz Way," a declaration of reconciliation signed by people from both sides.

"No future without the past" is the motto of the Saaz Way. It's a statement that Peter Klepsch wholeheartedly agrees with. Klepsch now lives in Spalt near Nuremberg, where he chairs the Heimatkreis Saaz, an association for Sudeten Germans from Zatec. The association's Web site contains the formerly confidential reports and statements of the 1947 parliamentary inquiry.

Once or twice a year the Czech exile travels to his former home, an activity he describes as "a mental balancing act." "People often ask me if we've come to take their houses away from them," Klepsch says. "But I could never expect anyone to leave their home."

His family's former home is now used by the criminal investigation bureau; the same police department that has now finally solved the case of the murder of Horst, Eduard, Hans, Walter, and Heinz on the parade ground in Postoloprty on June 6, 1945.

Source: Spiegel Online

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