Daily Archives: December 11, 2006

U.S. has most prisoners in world due to tough laws

Reuters | Dec 9, 2006 

Communist China ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 870,000.

Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts.

A U.S. Justice Department report released on November 30 showed that a record 7 million people — or one in every 32 American adults — were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of last year. Of the total, 2.2 million were in prison or jail.

According to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College in London, more people are behind bars in the United States than in any other country. China ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 870,000.

One Third of Jailed Journalists Are Bloggers

Prison Planet | December 7, 2006  

Increasing authoritarian trends as governments target Internet for regulation, censorship, control

A new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists warns of increasing authoritarian attitudes towards the free flow of information on the Internet as statistics reveal that of the estimated 134 journalists jailed for their work worldwide, a full third are Internet writers and bloggers.

Reuters reports:

“We’re at a crucial juncture in the fight for press freedom because authoritarian states have made the Internet a major front in their effort to control information,” Committee Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement.

“China is challenging the notion that the Internet is impossible to control or censor, and if it succeeds there will be far-ranging implications, not only for the medium but for press freedom all over the world.”

Meth ‘superlabs’ outsourced to Mexico

Daily Press | Dec 10, 2006 

Even criminal enterprises are outsourcing jobs to Mexico.

As a mark of success for the Methamphetamine Interdiction Team, it seems the push to shut down “superlabs” within San Bernardino County — capable of creating dozens of pounds of meth per batch — has created a booming industry just south of the border.

Meth labs have all but left the county, once seen as a production capital, but the demand seems to be going nowhere fast.

There are laws in the works in Mexico to try to limit that amount to 70 tons per year, but that amount would still yield a staggering 50 tons of methamphetamine, most of which comes right back into the United States.

While large-scale labs have virtually been eradicated from the area — a mere 40 were shut down in 2006 compared to some 700 in 1993 — law enforcement teams have had to shift their focus from finding and shutting down labs to the arduous task of stopping drug runners.

U.S.-issued Iraqi army and police weapons sold off to Sunnis and Shias on black market

Seattle Times | Dec 10, 2006 

“Every type of gun that the Americans give comes to the market,” said Brig. Hassan Nour

“Almost all of the weapons come from the Iraqi police and army,” he said. “They are our best suppliers.”

Rising prices, in turn, have encouraged an insidious form of Iraqi corruption — the migration of army and police weapons from Iraqi state armories to black-market sales.

All manner of infantry arms, from rocket-propelled grenade launchers to weathered and dented Kalashnikovs, have circulated within Iraq for decades.

But three types of American-issued weapons are now readily visible in shops and bazaars here as well: Glock and Walther 9 mm pistols, and unused Kalashnikovs from post-Soviet Eastern European countries. These are three of the principal types of the 370,000 weapons purchased by the United States for Iraq’s security forces, a program that was criticized by a special inspector-general this fall for, among other things, failing to properly account for the arms.

The weapons are easy to find, resting among others in the semihidden street markets here, where weapons are sold in tea houses, the back rooms of grocery kiosks, cosmetic stores and rug shops or from the trunks of cars.

“Every type of gun that the Americans give comes to the market,” said Brig. Hassan Nouri, chief of the political investigations bureau for the Sulaimaniya district. “They go from the U.S. Army to the Iraqi army to the smugglers. I have captured many of these guns that the terrorists bought.”

Scientist Said Agent Orange Was Safe While Being Paid By the Manufacturer

Short News | Dec 10, 2006  

It has been revealed that British cancer expert Richard Doll was being paid $1500 per day by Monsanto, the manufacturer of Agent Orange, at the time he told an Australian royal commission that the pesticide had no real link to cancer.  

 In a letter Doll said that Agent Orange “is at most, only weakly and inconsistently carcinogenic in animal experiments.” Despite other evidence contradicting this claim the commission found that Agent Orange did not cause health problems in veterans.  

 The payment was discovered when somebody found the contract in his effects following his death. Some have defended the researcher, saying disclosure was not standard practice back then. Doll was famous for linking smoking to lung cancer.

Maoist Victims Threaten Armed Struggle

HIMALAYAN TIMES |  Dec 11, 2006

Victims of Maoist atrocities would rather burn themselves along with their family members instead of being ruled by the Maoists.

At the time when the Maoists have put down their guns and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) limited within cantonments, victims of Maoist atrocities are preparing to launch an armed struggle.

“Some of our central committee members have gone underground and some to different districts to make preparations,” said Dharma Raj Neupane, the president of the Association of Victims of Maoist Atrocities. He said they suffered much during the peaceful protests. Many agitators could have died on the road but the government turned deaf ears to their demands. According to him, they have a record of over 2,00,000 victims from 27,000 households in 72 districts, excluding Manang and Mustang.

“We are given assurances at times, but in vain,” said Bhojraj Timilsina, spokesperson of the association. According to him, the victims of Maoist atrocities in villages would rather burn themselves along with their family members instead of being ruled by the Maoists. “This is not a fiction. One has to go through the situation, we have been through the bloodshed to feel it,” he said.

Neupane said they were forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind, while the ministers obtained compensation and built buildings in the capital by burning down their huts in villages. The real victims are left high and dry. “We are to be considered not consoled,” Neupane said.

The victims have forwarded the demand of representation in the interim legislature and interim government along with providing compensation to them, employment for the youths, education for their children and return of all property that they have lost.

“We are left with no option but to launch an organised armed struggle for justice,” Neupane said. He said they saw no change in the government’s attitude in dealing with their problems even after the Jana Andolan. “It has already been two months, we were assured temporary compensation by ministers Ram Saran Mahat, Pradip Gyawali and Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, however, the government is still indifferent.”

“We have now decided to take back our rights with force as the government is not giving them to us by peaceful demands,” he added.

NZ scientist disputes Diana accident findings

Stuff.co.nz | Dec 11, 2006   

Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed has an ally in New Zealand scientist Jim Sprott over the death of his son Dodi and Princess Diana.

Mr al Fayed has repeatedly said Diana and his son were murdered as their relationship was embarrassing to the Royal family.

He and Paul’s parents said the driver was sober. They have suggested blood tests might have been swapped to pin the blame on him.

Dr Sprott yesterday wrote to Mr Al Fayed to reiterate his belief that blood alcohol analyses carried out on a person who has suffered a violent death is unreliable.

“It is well known that post mortem generation of alcohol by microbiological activity can form ethanol (alcohol) from sugars in the blood, and therefore no meaningful evidence can be drawn,” he wrote.

Visual evidence of Paul immediately prior to the tragic accident were in marked contrast to the allegations of intoxication, Dr Sprott said.

Dr Sprott wrote to The Royal coroner in 2004 with his findings.