Daily Archives: March 21, 2007

U.S. Govt. Fails To Deport Criminal Illegal Aliens

Corruption Chronicles | Mar 20, 2007

Criminal illegal aliens are often not deported or monitored when released within the United States because the Homeland Security agency responsible for doing it is understaffed and has poor record keeping.

The widespread negligence has created a substantial national security threat and the responsible agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), attributes the problem to a shortage of agents and an outdated database.

The damaging information was exposed during an in-depth investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General. In a recently released report the inspector general blasts ICE’s alien removal system, saying that cases are not prioritized to ensure that aliens who are dangerous or whose departure is in the national interest are removed. Those who are released in the U.S. are not adequately supervised, according to the report.

The in-depth audit was conducted to see if ICE was abiding by a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that says aliens with final deportation orders cannot be detained longer than six months. ICE complied in most cases, but failed in enough to cause alarm.

Surely, most Americans don’t know that their government often releases criminal illegal immigrants into their communities without further monitoring. Many of the aliens have been deemed “dangerous” by authorities.

Immigration officials say that many factors prevent them from promptly removing deported aliens. Among them is lack of cooperation from the detained alien and failure of a foreign government to issue travel documents that make deportation possible.

Prevalence of Alzheimer’s Rises 10% in 5 Years

New York Times | Mar 21, 2007

More than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a 10 percent increase from the last official tally five years ago, and a number expected to more than triple by 2050, absent a cure, as the 85-and-over population soars and the baby boomers move into their late 60s and 70s.

The updated estimates, based on the rising occurrences of the disease with age, not new disease research, were released yesterday by the Alzheimer’s Association, along with a compilation of other information about a progressive brain disease that afflicts 13 percent, or one in eight people 65 and over, and 42 percent of those past 85.

Much of the report is a synthesis of existing research on the prevalence and costs of the disease. But the report includes the startling finding that 200,000 to 500,000 people younger than 65 have some form of early onset form of dementia, including a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that strikes people in their 30s and 40s.

Mary Mittelman, an Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University, had mixed feelings about disproportionate attention to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. On the one hand, Dr. Mittelman said, these cases are such a small minority that she fears will take focus and resources “from the majority who are much older.” On the other, she said, “because of the ageism of this society” far too many people still believe dementia to be part of normal aging and attention to this younger group will clarify that it is a “real disease.”

Apart from early onset cases, the primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is age.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, affects memory, reasoning and communication. In the advanced stage, people need help dressing, using the bathroom and eating. In the final stages, they cannot speak or recognize family members. The disease is ultimately fatal.

Communist Party USA Gives Its History to N.Y.U.

New York Times | Mar 20, 2007

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The vast collection from the Communist Party USA includes personal letters, secret code words, smuggled directives from Moscow, stern commands about how good party members should behave and photographs.

The songwriter, labor organizer and folk hero Joe Hill has been the subject of poems, songs, an opera, books and movies. His will, written in verse the night before a Utah firing squad executed him in 1915 and later put to music, became part of the labor movement’s soundtrack. Now the original copy of that penciled will is among the unexpected historical gems unearthed from a vast collection of papers and photographs never before seen publicly that the Communist Party USA has donated to New York University.

The cache contains decades of party history including founding documents, secret code words, stacks of personal letters, smuggled directives from Moscow, Lenin buttons, photographs and stern commands about how good party members should behave (no charity work, for instance, to distract them from their revolutionary duties).

Liberal and conservative historians, told by The New York Times about the archives, were enthusiastic about the addition of so many original documents to the historical record. No one yet knows whether they can resolve the die-hard disputes about the extent of the links between American subversives and Moscow since, as Mr. Nash said, “it will take us years to catalog.” But what is most exciting, said Mr. Nash and other scholars, is the new areas it opens up for research beyond the homegrown threat to security during the cold war.

Hill’s last rhyme — which begins, “My Will is easy to decide/ For there is nothing to divide” — was discovered in one of the 12,000 cartons. (Hill was convicted, some thought wrongly, of murder.) In other boxes were drafts of the party’s programs with handwritten editing changes and a stapled copy of its first constitution. “The Communist Party is a fact,” C. E. Ruthenberg, the executive secretary wrote on Sept. 18, 1919, days after the founders met in Chicago. A 1920 document marks the merger of the Communist Party and the Workers Party. It lists “Dix” as the secret party name of Earl R. Browder, who would later become general secretary of the party, “L. C. Wheat” as Jay Lovestone, who later turned against communism and worked with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the C.I.A., and Alexander Trachtenberg as “one of the confidential agents of Lenin in America.”

Ruthenberg underscores the “secret manner in which the party is conducted.” The Los Angeles branch, known as “XO1XO5” uses the password “ ‘Kur-heiny,’ which means: ‘Are you advancing?,’ ” he writes. “The answer is: ‘Teip,’ meaning ‘yes.’ ”

He copies a letter signed by the Russians Nikolai Bukharin and Ian Berzin that he said was hidden in the coat lining of a Bolshevik about how the Americans should operate. The two order the party to urge soldiers and sailors to agitate “against officers” and to arm workers. They warn against allowing members to engage in philanthropic or educational activities, insisting that they form “FIGHTING ORGANIZATIONS FOR SEIZING CONTROL OF THE STATE, for the overthrow of government and the establishment of the workers’ dictatorship.”

Robert Minor, a cartoonist and radical who covered the Russian civil war, has a clear-eyed and lyrical account of an interview with Vladimir Lenin in Moscow, dated December 1918. Lenin was fascinated by America, calling it a “great country in some respects,” and shot question after question at Minor: “ ‘How soon will the revolution come in America?’ He did not ask me if it would come, but when it would come.” Minor, who had not yet joined the party, found Lenin a bewitching figure. “When he thunders his dogma, one sees the fighting Lenin. He is iron. He is political Calvin,” Minor says in his typewritten notes. “And yet, Calvin has his other side. During all the discussion he had been hitching his chair toward me,” he writes. “I felt myself queerly submerged by his personality. He filled the room.”

As he leaves the Kremlin, Minor notices two men drive up in limousines. “A few months ago they were ‘bloodthirsty minions of predatory capital,’ ” he writes, “But now they are ‘people’s commissaries’ and ride in the fine automobiles as before, live in the fine mansions.” They rule “under red silk flags to protect them from all disorders. They have learned the rose smells as sweetly under another name.”

Every box offers up a different morsel of history. One contains a 1940 newsletter from students at City College in New York criticizing Britain for betraying the Jews in Palestine; another has a 1964 flyer from the Metropolitan Council on Housing urging rent strikes “to oppose the decontrol of over-$250 apartments.” There are the handwritten lyrics to Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!”; a letter from W. E. B Du Bois in 1939 denying he took money from Japan for propagandizing on its behalf; and detailed complaints of police brutality against African-Americans.

The party started out as an underground revolutionary organization but achieved its greatest successes and popularity in the late 1930s as part of the Popular Front, which it joined at Moscow’s direction, said Maurice Isserman, a historian at Hamilton College who has written several books on American communism. At the same time, he said, some Communist Party members were recruited into an espionage network, which expanded tremendously during World War II, and ultimately infiltrated the team working on the atomic bomb.

Despite its devotion to the Soviet line, the party was still influential in left-wing and labor circles into the first few years of the cold war era. But in 1948 it suffered a triple whammy: the Progressives expelled the Communists; the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, which was backed by the Soviets, soured many of its members; and the Red Scare ravaged its ranks. Revelations about Stalin’s crimes in 1956 disillusioned many of those who remained and dealt the party a near-fatal blow.

The primary source of American party documents available to the public has been the Library of Congress, which microfilmed a batch of Communist Party USA records in Soviet archives that had been shipped there 50 years earlier for safekeeping. John Earl Haynes, a historian at the Library of Congress who was the first American to examine the Soviet files, said that since N.Y.U. has a copy of the Library of Congress material, “This will give Tamiment the enviable position of being able to offer researchers access to what is in Moscow as well as the new C.P.U.S.A. collection.”

When the collection opened in 2000, the Library of Congress said, “the C.P.U.S.A. has always been a secretive organization,” and “the previous paucity of the archival record has been a major obstacle to scholarship on the history of the American Communist movement,” and a reason for “highly contentious” debates.

Foster mother inflicted 20 years of sadistic abuse on three children

The Guardian | Mar 21, 2007

Two girls and a boy were treated as slaves

A “sadistic” foster mother was found guilty yesterday of subjecting three children in her care to a horrifying catalogue of physical and mental abuse over 20 years.

Eunice Spry, 62, beat the children with sticks and metal bars, scrubbed their skin with sandpaper and forced them to eat lard, bleach, vomit and even their own faeces.

She treated the children, two girls and a boy, as if they were her slaves, ordering one of them to stay in a wheelchair for four years even though she could walk so Spry could claim benefits for her.

Spry, a Jehovah’s Witness and a pillar of her local community, would punish the children because she thought they were possessed by the devil. Once she kept two of them imprisoned, naked and starving, in a room for a month.

She forced them to run up and down the stairs and “tortured” them by making them take part in the “invisible chair” game, squatting for hours on end until they collapsed – then they were beaten.

The abuse, which lasted from 1986 to 2005, was not spotted by the authorities and last night the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board (GSCB), the body now responsible for monitoring organisations in charge of children’s welfare in the county, admitted mistakes were made.

GSCB chair Jo Grills said the children were seen by “many different people” but few were a “consistent presence”.

The statement added that information was not shared, one of the failings which led to the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié.

Spry was convicted of 26 charges, including child cruelty, unlawful wounding, actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation. During the five-week trial she had denied any wrongdoing, insisting she had simply tried to instil Christian values into them.

Bristol crown court was told how the children, now young adults, were placed with Spry as infants by social services.

One of the young women, who came into her care aged five, told how the children were treated as “slaves”, rarely allowed out of the house and told to lie about their bruises and scars.

Victim A, now 21, said: “We were regularly beaten. We were starved or made to eat blocks of lard, drowned in the bath and kicked down the stairs.

“Mum had an array of sticks and would beat us with them and kick us until we were bruised and collapsing with pain. If we screamed, she would push the sticks down our throats. The pain was unbearable.”

She told the court her earliest memory was of Spry forcing her to eat a can of dog food as a punishment, and when she was sick, to eat the vomit.

Victim A was confined to a wheelchair following a car accident in 2000. She could have left the chair after six months but Spry kept her in it for four years so she could collect compensation.

The young woman said: “I knew I could walk, but she would have killed me. When I tried, she clobbered me and said I was being selfish.”

One regular punishment was starvation. On one occasion Victims A and C, then 10 and eight, were locked naked in a bedroom for a month and denied food.

Victim C told the court: “If we wanted to go to the toilet we had to do it in the corner. I remember being made to eat my own excrement off the floor.”

The abuse came to light in December 2004 when Victim A confided in a family friend, who took her to the police.

Kerry Barker, prosecuting, said: “What came out is a horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment of these three children, both physical and psychological.”

The family home was infested with rats and the children – who did not attend school – would often sleep on the floor without a mattress.

Lawmakers Warn FBI Over Spy Power Abuse

Guardian | Mar 21, 2007

Republicans and Democrats alike sternly warned the FBI on Tuesday that it risks losing its broad power to collect telephone, e-mail and financial records to hunt terrorists because of rampant abuses of the authority.

The threats were the latest blow to the embattled Justice Department and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is already on the defensive and fighting to keep his job over the firings of federal prosecutors.

The warnings came as the department’s chief watchdog, inspector general Glenn A. Fine, told the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority to issue national security letters, which resulted in illegally collecting data from Americans and foreigners.

If the FBI doesn’t move swiftly to correct the mistakes and problems revealed last week in Fine’s 130-page report, “you probably won’t have NSL authority,” said Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., a supporter of the power, referring to the data requests by their initials.

“I hope that this would be a lesson to the FBI that they can’t get away with this and expect to maintain public support for the tools that they need to combat terrorism,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the former Judiciary chairman, who called the abuses “a gross overreach.”

“Let this be a warning,” Sensenbrenner said.

Fine, who called the problems he uncovered inexcusable, said he did not believe they were intentional. Most involved information that could have been legally obtained if proper procedures had been followed, he said.

“We believe the misuses and the problems we found generally were the product of mistakes, carelessness, confusion, sloppiness, lack of training, lack of adequate guidance, and lack of adequate oversight,” Fine said.

Still, the FBI’s failure to control and monitor how it collected the information constituted “serious and unacceptable” lapses, Fine told the committee. He was to appear Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary panel.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., called the abuses part of a disturbing pattern of misconduct at the Justice Department.

“This was a serious breach of trust,” Conyers said. “The department had converted this tool into a handy shortcut to illegally gather vast amounts of private information while at the same time significantly underreporting its activities to Congress.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Congress should revise the USA Patriot Act, which substantially loosened controls over the letters.

“We do not trust government always to be run by angels, especially not this administration,” Nadler said. “It is not enough to mandate that the FBI fix internal management problems and record keeping, because the statute itself authorizes the unchecked collection of information on innocent Americans.”

Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s general counsel, testified that steps were already being taken to rectify the problems, which she called “a colossal failure on our part.”

“We’re going to have to work to get the trust of this committee back, and we know that’s what we have to do, and we’re going to do it,” Caproni said.

That did little to appease lawmakers who said they had fought hard to give the Justice Department wide latitude to chase terrorists in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“From the attorney general on down, you should be ashamed of yourself,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. “We stretched to try to give you the tools necessary to make America safe, and it is very, very clear that you’ve abused that trust.”

Some Republicans, however, said the FBI’s expanded spying powers were vital to tracking terrorists.

“The problem is enforcement of the law, not the law itself,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the panel’s senior GOP member. “We need to be vigilant to make sure these problems are fixed.”

Both Caproni and Fine said national security letters were an indispensable tool in terrorism investigations.

In a review of headquarters files and a sampling of just four of the FBI’s 56 field offices, Fine found 48 violations of law or presidential directives from 2003 through 2005, including failure to get proper authorization, making improper requests and unauthorized collection of telephone or Internet e-mail records. He estimated that many violations hadn’t been found or reported.

The bureau has launched an audit of all 56 field offices to determine the full extent of the problem. Members of the Senate panel will likely demand answers about the matter from FBI Director Robert Mueller at a broader hearing next week.

In 1986, Congress first authorized FBI agents to obtain electronic records without approval from a judge using national security letters. In 2001, the Patriot Act eliminated any requirement that the records belong to someone under suspicion. Now an innocent person’s records can be obtained if FBI agents consider them merely relevant to an ongoing terrorism or spying investigation.

Fine’s review, authorized by Congress over Bush administration objections, found that the number of national security letters requested by the FBI skyrocketed after the Patriot Act became law.

He also found more than 700 cases in which FBI agents obtained telephone records through “exigent letters” which asserted that grand jury subpoenas had been requested for the data, when in fact such subpoenas never been sought. He called those instances “the most troubling aspect of this.”

UK ‘PM-in-waiting’ branded ruthless ‘Stalinist’

Middle East Times | Mar 20, 2007

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‘STALINIST’: UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and likely next prime minister Gordon Brown (R), was labeled ‘Stalinist’ by a former top civil servant March 20.

The UK’s finance minister and likely next prime minister, Gordon Brown, was labeled “Stalinist” by a former top civil servant Tuesday, a day before he delivers a key budget speech.

Lord Andrew Turnbull said that Brown had showed a “Stalinist ruthlessness” and had a “very cynical view of mankind and his colleagues” in an unprecedented attack by such a senior figure.

Turnbull, who as Cabinet Secretary was the UK’s most senior civil servant between 2002 and 2005 after a stint as the chief mandarin in Brown’s Treasury, added that the chancellor’s style impeded good government.

“He cannot allow them any serious discussion about priorities. His view is that it is just not worth it and they will ‘get what I decide,'” Turnbull said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“It has enhanced Treasury control but at the expense of any government cohesion and any assessment of strategy.

“You can choose whether you are impressed or depressed by that, but you cannot help admire the sheer Stalinist ruthlessness of it all.”

The damaging attack, which echoes previous criticisms of Brown as a “control freak” and “psychologically flawed,” came as the finance minister prepares to woo voters with what is his likely to be his last budget Wednesday.

Commentators predict that Brown will unveil a series of environmentally-friendly measures in what will be seen as a trailer for his intentions if he moves into 10 Downing Street.

But despite the seeming inevitability of his accession, many within Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labor Party, plus a large chunk of UK voters, have misgivings about Brown.

Blair and Brown were close friends in the 1980s and early 1990s, but they fell out after Blair failed to follow through on a reported 1994 deal to hand over to Brown as prime minister after a few years in office.

Blair celebrates his 10th anniversary in Downing Street May 1, despite an attempted coup by Brown supporters last year after which he pledged to step down by September.

The premier smiled but made no comment when asked by reporters about the remarks, while his spokesman voiced Blair’s “admiration for the chancellor’s record” and said that civil servants “should not become the story.”

Constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman, a deputy leadership candidate when Blair steps down, defended Brown Tuesday.

“He is demanding of colleagues but he is also demanding of himself because he is in politics to change things for the better,” she told BBC radio. “All I can conclude is not all civil servants admire strong political leadership.”

UK voters seem uninspired by Brown – an ICM poll published in The Guardian Tuesday said the main opposition Conservatives under David Cameron would have a 15-point lead over Labor led by Brown.

Turnbull later issued a statement saying that the comments published by the paper did not give a “balanced” account of his views.

“My remarks to the Financial Times about the way government business is transacted were not made with the intention or expectation that they would be quoted verbatim nor, I acknowledge, were they expressed in language appropriate for that purpose,” he said.

But another former top civil servant echoed his comments on the record.

Sir Stephen Wall, a former advisor to Blair on Europe, said that Brown had not operated with “the trust and transparence that is necessary for good Cabinet government” while at the Treasury.

“I cannot recall a time … when there has been such a lack of open communication between the Treasury and the rest of Whitehall, and that is not good for government,” he added.

Huge rise in income tax takings boosts British Prime-Minister-in-Waiting

The Guardian | Mar 21, 2007

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Brown will announce a sharp slowdown in spending over the coming four years, with only education spared the hair shirt.

A second month of bumper income tax takings and a sharp slowdown in spending are likely to save Gordon Brown’s blushes today, after figures yesterday showed the chancellor was more or less on course to meet his public finance forecasts this year. He should also be spared having to break his cherished “golden rule”, under which he must balance receipts and spending over the economic cycle.

Income tax receipts shot up by 13% in February, compared with the same month last year, the Office for National Statistics said. The rise was due mainly to record City bonuses and all-time highs in employment. Taking January and February together, income tax revenues were up almost 15%.

Mr Brown presents his 11th, and probably last, budget at 12.30pm today. It comes against a background of years of large deficits that need now to be reined in to stabilise public finances. Mr Brown will announce a sharp slowdown in spending over the coming four years, with only education spared the hair shirt.

As income tax receipts are easily the biggest source of government revenue, the good February figures outweighed another poor month for corporation tax, which continues to be hit by a drop in revenues from North Sea oil. Receipts in the first 11 months of the year were up only 7%, half the government’s forecast.