Daily Archives: May 16, 2007

Audience Applauds As Giuliani, Tancredo Endorse Waterboarding Torture

Think Progress | May 16, 2007 

During tonight’s presidential debates, candidates were asked whether they would support the use of waterboarding — a technique, defined as torture by the Justice Department, that simulates drowning and makes the subject “believe his death is imminent while ideally not causing permanent physical damage.”

Both former mayor Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) suggested they would support using the technique. Specifically asked about waterboarding, Giuliani said he would allow “every method [interrogators] could think of and I would support them in doing it.” Tancredo later added, “I’m looking for Jack Bauer,” referencing the television character who has used torture techniques such as suffocation and electrocution on prisoners.

The audience applauded loudly after both statements.

Ron Paul Upsets Controlled-Media Debate as Clear Winner

Jones Report | May 15, 2007

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPaFWUaF-uA]

Ron Paul’s performance in his second debate victory– as moderators repeatedly suggest he doesn’t belong in the Republican party  

Pundits & Candidates Seek to Exile Statesman from Republican Party– In Spite of Leading Poll Numbers– Over His Anti-Torture, Anti-War and Anti-Tax Standpoint

Congressman Ron Paul shook the establishment in last night’s second round of 2008 Republican debates for the Presidency. Not only did his anti-war, anti-torture and pro-liberty platform stand glaring in the face of those political whores dubbed as “top-tier” but he managed to catch the ire of 9/11 criminal Rudy Giuliani for daring to suggest aggressive foreign policy would stir up blowback.

What’s worse, Ron Paul interrupted the worship of establishment-selected candidates by winning the debate’s own poll and forcing FOX to cover the mere “second-tier” candidate– a distinction mainstream media have been using to marginalize those outside of direct control.

Ron Paul garnered approximately 20 minutes of air-time on Fox alone last night– including about 10 minutes of debate questions and another 10 minutes composed of attacks and dismissals by pundits, other candidates and an interview with Hannity & Colmes.

Sean Hannity stated his “surprise” that Ron Paul was leading with 30% of the FOX News text-message poll vote, despite that fact that he also won the Republican debates on MSNBC — a fact which the media under-reported and even censored .

At the time of press, Ron Paul also had a distinct lead– by a huge margin– in the MSNBC poll regarding the South Carolina Republican debate .

Alan Colmes probed to understand how Ron Paul could emerge the decisive leader in an otherwise revolting adherence to policies advocating war expansion and unrestrained use of “extreme interrogation tactics” which skirt the damning name of “torture.”

Fellow “second-tier” candidate Duncan Hunter attributed Ron Paul’s dominance in the FOX text-message poll to his “entertainment value,” insinuating that his policies and views (including the controversy generated over 9/11 comments) could not be taken seriously.

GOPAC chairman Michael Steele went so far as to suggest that Ron Paul should not belong to the Republican party, stating that he was “done” with Paul and did not care what the results of the FOX poll were.

Debate moderators pointed out Congressman Paul’s distinction as the only Republican candidate who voted against military action in Iraq as they repeatedly demanded that he answer to being in the ‘wrong party’ or ‘not fitting in with the Republican party.’ Ron Paul answered smartly– pointing out that he wanted to lead the country, not the party, and that 65-70% of the country was against the Iraq war and long for an end to the mired conflict.

Regardless, he was attacked for his adherence to non-interventionist philosophy and defamed as some kind of 9/11 heretic– as various pundits pretended he had faltered in the debates and claimed that anonymous South Carolina Republicans had reached consensus on the idea that Ron Paul “did not acquit himself” and must be discarded.

One pundit even goes so far to suggest that Ron Paul’s success in the poll was due primarily to attention won after Giuliani attacked him on 9/11 statements, as well as organizational prowess amongst text-messaging voters.

Sean Hannity refused to believe Ron Paul won the debate, claiming he didn’t have the opportunity to text in his vote.

Yet, as Ron Paul continued to win the debate poll, the live-results format pigeonholed FOX News into ongoing coverage of the winner– as his only competition in poll results came from Mitt Romney, who briefly led the poll with 27% when Ron Paul had only 26%.

It is continually suggested that “second-tier” candidates such drop from the race and make way for the “first-tier” candidates to shine, though the only vote process at this stage– polls– all indicate Ron Paul as a likely winner and certainly a top contender.

During a post-debate interview with Hannity & Colmes, Ron Paul discusses his differences in foreign policy and much more. Giuliani elaborates on his reaction to Ron Paul’s unsettling statements.  

Though they would like to exclude him from future debates, his back-to-back debate victory may force moderators into a position of having to invite Ron Paul– for the time being.

Queen could be forced to give evidence at Diana inquest

Daily Mail | May 15, 2007

queen

Conversation claim: The Queen allegedly spoke to Paul Burrell

Mohamed Al Fayed wants the Queen to be questioned as part of the Princess Diana inquest, it has emerged.

The Harrods owner has already demanded that Prince Charles and Prince Philip give evidence to the full inquest, which starts in October.

Now he wants the Queen to be “directly approached” and questioned over her private conversations with Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell.

Mr Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died alongside the princess in the Paris car crash in 1997, believes they were murdered in an establishment conspiracy.

His lawyers made their request in the High Court, in the final preliminary hearing with Baroness Butler-Sloss as coroner.

In 2002, evidence from the monarch helped clear Mr Burrell of the theft of scores of the princess’s personal treasures.

While he was on trial at the Old Bailey, the Queen remembered a conversation they had a few weeks after the crash, in which he told her he had taken some papers for safekeeping.

She confided in Prince Charles, who informed the police, and the trial collapsed. Mr Burrell subsequently claimed the Queen had told him: “There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge.”

The Al Fayed legal team received 11,000 pages of evidence last week from Lord Stevens’s Operation Paget inquiry into the deaths.

But Mr Al Fayed’s barrister Michael Mansfield QC told the coroner that any references to Mr Burrell and “any conversations with Her Majesty in various statements” had been edited.

He said: “No one appears to have approached Her Majesty about the contents of these conversations.

“The inquiries which we suggest should be made…is Her Majesty being directly approached to see if there was evidence of conversations as alleged by Mr Burrell.”

Baroness Butler-Sloss said she had ordered all references to the Queen to be blacked out. She told the hearing: “So far as Her Majesty is concerned I don’t know what the protocol is and I think that it is important that whatever the protocol may be should be observed.

“Therefore I have redacted the conversation that Her Majesty is supposed to have said.
“Her Majesty to be approached – I think that is probably unheard of.

“I think we have to tread very carefully in relation to the sovereign because she is going to be in a different position from everyone else.”

The decision on which witnesses will be called will be made by her successor, Lord Justice Scott Baker.

Lady Butler-Sloss’s appearance ended on a sour note, as she accused Mr Mansfield and other lawyers of dictating terms of the inquest.

She also complained of “dversarial and quite aggressive letters” she had received from solicitors for the Harrods boss, the Ritz hotel and Henri Paul, the driver of Diana and Dodi’s limousine, who also died in the crash.

“I do feel a little bit as if I am the one in the dock,” she told Mr Mansfield.

The 73-year-old, the former head of the High Court’s family division, stood down because she felt she was not up to the task of handling the case.

There are fears this could further hamper the much delayed inquest.

Targets ‘force police to make ludicrous arrests’

Independent | May 15, 2007

Frontline police called on the Government today to reverse the target-driven culture that has forced them to make “ludicrous” decisions such as arresting a child for throwing cream buns.

The Police Federation annual conference in Blackpool will debate today whether judging officers purely on how many arrests, cautions or on-the-spot fines they can deliver is making a mockery of the criminal justice system.

The federation said the drive to meet Whitehall performance targets was compelling officers to criminalise middle England.

The organisation published a dossier of ridiculous cases they claimed resulted from Home Office targets placed on beat bobbies.

The cases included:

* A Cheshire man who was cautioned by police for being “found in possession of an egg with intent to throw”;

* A child in Kent who removed a slice of cucumber from a tuna mayonnaise sandwich and threw it at another youngster and was arrested because the other child’s parents claimed it was an assault;

* A West Midlands woman arrested on her wedding day for criminal damage to a car park barrier when her foot slipped on her accelerator pedal;

* A Kent child who was arrested for throwing cream buns at a bus;

* A 70-year-old Cheshire pensioner – who had never been in trouble with the law – who was arrested for criminal damage after cutting back a neighbour’s conifers too vigorously;

* One West Midlands officer who was told to caution a man for throwing a glass of water over his girlfriend;

* Two Manchester children who were arrested under firearms laws for being in possession of a plastic toy pistol.

A spokesman for the federation, which represents 130,000 rank-and-file officers in England and Wales, said the power to use discretion should be returned to the bobby on the beat.

“We have got into the situation where everyone is so busy chasing targets and securing ticks in boxes we are on the verge of distancing ourselves from middle England,” he said.

“The cases we have compiled show incidents where an officer has been under such pressure to deliver it has resulted in an arrest or caution when even the officer themselves thinks it is ludicrous.

“Understandably, when the public hears about this, they ask ‘What the hell is going on?’.”

He added: “It is a Government agenda that is going down this avenue.

“Officers are saying they are forced to make arrests or cautions for this lunacy because the Government believes they should be judged by what can be counted.”

Federation chairman Jan Berry said: “We have police officers who are considering leaving the service over this because it is not the job they signed up to do.

“These examples we have compiled are ludicrous but when people are being pushed to show results, they will use anything they can to demonstrate they are doing a good job.”

Mrs Berry said she would raise the issue with Home Secretary John Reid when he attends the conference later in the week.

Pesticides may be making kids sick at school

MSNBC | May 15, 2007

pesticides_schools

Domitila Lemus, left, and her granddaughter Ashley are shown in front of Sunnyside Union Elementary School in Strathmore, Calif. When foul clouds wafted onto the playground from the adjacent orange groves in November, two children collapsed in spasm, vomiting on the blacktop.

Regulations are ‘inadequate’ and don’t protect children, advocates say

On Grandparents Day, Domitila Lemus accompanied her 8-year-old granddaughter to school. As the girls lined up behind Sunnyside Union Elementary, a foul mist drifted onto the playground from the adjacent orange groves, witnesses say.

Lemus started coughing, and two children collapsed in spasms, vomiting on the blacktop.

She and the little girls have since recovered without apparent lasting effects.

But an Associated Press investigation has found that over the past decade, hundreds, possibly thousands, of schoolchildren in California and other agricultural states have been exposed to farm chemicals linked to sickness, brain damage and birth defects. The family of at least one California teenager suspects pesticides caused her death.

There are no federal laws specifically against spraying near schools, and advocates say California and the seven other states that have laws or policies creating buffer zones around schools to protect them from pesticides don’t do enough to enforce them.

There are no federal laws specifically against spraying near schools, and activists say California and the few other states that do have such laws don’t do enough to enforce them.

“The regulations are inadequate. In the vast majority of cases, people who didn’t follow the laws received at best a $400 fine,” said Margaret Reeves, a scientist with the Pesticide Action Network, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco.

pesticide_spray_drift

The pesticide industry says it is committed to safety, and regulators say they are doing their best to enforce the laws.

“Everyone wants to protect children,” said California Department of Pesticide Regulation spokesman Glenn Brank. He said his agency is doing what it can to enforce the law with a shortage of agricultural inspectors.

In the Strathmore incident last November, grandparents said the spraying was being done less than 150 feet from the children. Tulare County authorities fined an unlicensed pest removal company $1,100 for spraying a restricted weed killer that morning. But no action was taken over what witnesses said happened to the children.

Because no one reported the incident as a case of pesticide drift, county agricultural inspectors never swabbed the jungle gym or took grass samples, making it impossible to establish whether pesticide had, in fact, drifted onto the playground.

The Environmental Protection Agency does not keep comprehensive national figures on students and teachers sickened by drifting pesticide.

In California, the No. 1 farm states and the one with the best records, there were 590 pesticide-related illnesses at schools from 1996 to 2005, according to figures given to the AP by the state. More than a third of those were due to pesticide drift, the figures show. Activists say that those numbers are low and that many cases are never even reported.

Japan Extends Iraq Mission for Two Years Despite Public Opposition

NewsMax | May 15, 2007

A poll by public broadcaster NHK released Monday found only 17 percent of respondents supported an extension of Japan’s mission to Iraq, while 40 percent were opposed. About 38 percent were unsure.

Japan’s lower house of parliament approved a two-year extension of the country’s air force transport mission in Iraq on Tuesday, overcoming criticism of Tokyo’s involvement in the increasingly unpopular war.

The measure was easily passed in the chamber, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc holds a majority. The government has argued that the mission is needed to help stabilize Iraq and prevent the spread of terrorism.

Japan backed the U.S.-led Iraq invasion and provided troops for a non-combat, humanitarian mission in southern Iraq in 2004-2006. Last year it expanded its Kuwait-based operations to airlift U.N. and coalition personnel and supplies into Baghdad.

In late March, the Cabinet approved extending the mission, which expires on July 31. But the plan still requires legislative approval. Lower house approval sent the legislation to the upper house, which is also dominated by the ruling bloc.

Approval would give a boost to Abe as he tries to raise Japan’s military profile internationally.

On Monday, the parliament passed guidelines for amending the pacifist constitution. Abe wants to change the charter to allow Japan’s military greater freedom to join peacekeeping missions and possibly come to the aid of an ally under attack.

The Iraq mission is part of that attempted shift to a more assertive foreign policy. Still, some Japanese say any overseas military operations violate the spirit of the post-World War II constitution, which prohibits using force to settle international disputes.

Daizo Kusuda, an opposition Democratic Party lawmaker, accused the government of compounding its mistake of supporting the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“Weapons of mass destruction … were never found and the link between the (Saddam) Hussein’s administration and terrorism organizations are still unclear today,” he said.

The public has also increasingly criticized U.S. policy in Iraq, while critics warn Tokyo’s support of Washington has made Japan a terrorist target.

A poll by public broadcaster NHK released Monday found only 17 percent of respondents supported an extension of Japan’s mission to Iraq, while 40 percent were opposed. About 38 percent were unsure.

NHK polled 2,030 adults by telephone from May 11-13, receiving responses from 1,184 people. No margin of error was given.

Ron Paul gains support in second GOP debate

Homeland Stupidity | May 16, 2007

I have to say one thing about Ron Paul. I believe he is the ONLY true constitutionalist running who has a chance of winning not only the Republican nomination, but also the election. And I support him 100% even though I don’t agree with everything he says. However, I would like to see him eventually grapple with the fact that 9/11 was an inside job.

The first reason is the most basic. He simply must be informed on this issue and have the courage not to care what the pundits and the dumbed-down masses think of him and move with the truth of what really happened on that day of deceit. It is no good going around mouthing safe missives about “blowback” and “failed policies” when in reality 9/11 was a successfully orchestrated coup staged by criminals in our own government for a number of sinister motives.

Secondly, he must come to terms with the fact that a very large contingent of his supporters are fervent members of what is called the “9/11 Truth Movement”. If he continues to claim that Arab terrorists from foreign lands hit us on 9/11 because they hate our foreign policies, then he appears to be saying that the 9/11 Truth Movement means nothing to him. He sounds like he is agreeing with those liberals who contend that 9/11 happened “because they hate our foreign policies.” But this is a fabrication and he needs to realize that the blowback theory does not jibe with reality. I do not think he can continue to try to take the safe liberal establishment view regarding 9/11 and keep “truthers” happy at the same time. We will soon tire of hearing about “blowback” and start demanding that he at least questions what really happened in public.

Yes, I understand the logic of those who believe that him saying “9/11 was an inside job” would be “political suicide”, but look at the facts. Ron Paul is already considered by the establishment to be an outsider, a troublemaker, a radical and “out of step” with the Republican party. Even so, he gets up there on national television and is brave enough to stand alone on his principles. To the horror of his opponents, he rightly says he is against not only the war in Iraq, but against all foreign entanglements. He rightly says that he will get us out of the North American Union and the UN. He rightly says that he will dismantle Homeland Security, the IRS and the Federal Reserve. To globalist ears, this is a huge threat and it almost can’t get any more under their skin than this. So what I am saying is that his suggesting that we investigate the anomalies of 9/11 would not be much more of a challenge to the establishment than he has already thrown down. I really doubt that it would hurt him any more than what he has said so far, and what’s more, it would be more honest than what he has said so far regarding 9/11. And I have faith that the people will respond positively as they have already in the first two debates.

If you consider yourself to be a truther, I encourage you to call or write to Ron Paul and let him know that eventually he needs to get straight on this pivotal issue and start telling it like it is. We cannot afford to be safe. We are standing on the brink of catastrophe brought about by design to destroy America and freedom itself around the world. Now is the time to start telling the truth in open public debate.

Ron Paul, it’s time to follow Rosie O’Donnell’s lead on this one.

PW

For those who doubted that Rep. Ron Paul was a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, the debate Tuesday night in South Carolina put all doubts to rest. Paul stirred up a firestorm of controversy for suggesting that the Department of Homeland Security made national security even more inefficient after September 11 than before, and especially for his assertion that U.S. foreign policy over the past several decades contributed to the rise of Islamic terrorism.

But viewers at home responded, putting Ron Paul in second place in FOX’s own tamper-proof viewer poll.

As opposed to the largely conservative FOX viewers, MSNBC’s interactive post-debate poll, with more moderate viewers, puts Ron Paul squarely at the top of the heap among that network’s viewers.

And his assertions are not without merit.

Last week, the Government Accountability Office reported (PDF) that DHS “lacks a comprehensive integration strategy with overall goals, a timeline, appropriate responsibility and accountability determinations, and a dedicated team to support its efforts.” DHS still doesn’t have a plan to “deal with its many management challenges . . . could have serious consequences for our homeland security.”

Paul said during the debate that we had all the dots to put together the 9/11 plot and stop the attackers, but the bureaucracy was too inefficient to connect the dots. So in response, the government created even more inefficient bureaucracy.

Indeed, sharing of intelligence even between federal agencies, let alone with state and local agencies, still hasn’t improved that much since 9/11. Another GAO audit (PDF) last week found that the Homeland Security Information Network, meant to share intelligence with state and local officials, is doing a poor job and is largely redundant, since states and localities have already set up information-sharing networks, which DHS has failed to plug into. We’re little closer to being able to connect the dots, and all we have is a new “giant bureaucracy” eating up billions of taxpayer dollars to show for it.

That’s right, instead of real security, we’ve gotten real incompetence.

Citing the Central Intelligence Agency’s “blowback” principle, Paul explained that U.S. intervention in Middle Eastern affairs over the past several decades contributed to anti-American sentiment and helped create enemies, some of whom are today’s terrorists. This didn’t go over too well with Rudy Giuliani, who seems to know little about U.S. foreign policy for someone who supposedly led his city through the worst international terrorist attack in U.S. history.

“They attack us because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. … We’ve been in the Middle East,” Paul said in explaining his opposition to going to war in Iraq. “Right now, we’re building an embassy in Iraq that is bigger than the Vatican. We’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting.

“They are delighted that we’re over there because Usama bin Laden has said, ‘I’m glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.’ They have already now since that time they’ve killed 3,400 of our men and I don’t think it was necessary,” he continued.

“That’s really an extraordinary statement,” Giuliani said, interrupting FOX News panelist Wendell Goler. “That’s really an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of Sept. 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I have ever heard that before and I have heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11. I would ask the congressman withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean that.” — FOX News

It goes back far before Desert Storm, as Paul pointed out, citing Reagan sending the Marines into Lebanon in 1983, saying “I will never turn tail and run,” and then pulling them back out after realizing just how “irrational” they are over there.

The only people who really reacted negatively to this were the handpicked debate audience, who applauded Giuliani for his ridiculous outburst and poor understanding of just what it is we’re up against.

While I rarely write about it, I follow the war in Iraq and other U.S. counterterrorism activities very closely. Ronald Reagan was right when he called them “irrational,” and so is Ron Paul. Indulge me for a moment while I quote from possibly the greatest military strategist of all time:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sound familiar? The reason we’re suffering so badly in Iraq is that we’ve failed to know and truly understand our enemy. We failed in 1967, we failed in 1983, we failed in 2001, and we have failed today. The party line is that the Islamic jihadists hate us and our freedom and want to establish a global Islamic caliphate, dominating the world under Sharia law. Some loonies in this country claim that every Muslim wants this. (This is kind of like saying that the Church of Scientology represents all of Christendom.) The reality is quite a bit more complex than that.

Speaking of which, it’s probably more accurate to think of Al Qaeda and their associated jihadists as a religious cult. This is, after all, exactly how they act. We already know how to deal with religious cults, and it doesn’t involve long, protracted wars in the desert halfway around the world.

One last thing Ron Paul has been at pains to point out is that it’s left-leaning Democrats who have gotten us into the vast majority of conflicts in the last century, and conservative Republicans who have gotten us out of the vast majority of them. We must certainly be ready to defend ourselves from those who would attack us and have attacked us. If I’m around when somebody starts shooting people in a shopping mall, he’s getting two to the chest and one to the head. But we should not be picking fights, especially with people we don’t understand. We should instead open commerce and trade and let other countries sort out their own problems. That’s been the American way since the beginning, and it’s about time conservatives started being conservative again.

I’m apparently not the only person who thinks so; Ron Paul gained 25% of the vote in FOX’s more secure viewer poll of largely conservative viewers, coming in just behind Mitt Romney at 29% and far ahead of Guiliani at 19%. Supposed first tier candidate John McCain has fallen to the back of the pack with the rest of the second-tier candidates. It’s going to be much more difficult for the mainstream media to keep up their blissful, deliberate ignorance now.