Daily Archives: May 23, 2008

Clinton regrets RFK assassination remark

rfk

RFK bleeding to death from a gunshot wound to the back of the head (Sirhan Sirhan fired shots in front of him). Ambassador Hotel, in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles, June 5, 1968.

Associated Press | May 23, 2008

By DEVLIN BARRETT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton quickly apologized Friday after citing the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in defending her decision to keep running for the Democratic presidential nomination despite increasingly long odds.

“I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever,” the former first lady said.

The episode occurred as Clinton campaigned in advance of the June 3 South Dakota primary.

Responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don’t understand it,” she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race.

Clinton said she didn’t understand why, given this history, some Democrats were calling for her to quit.

Her remark about an assassination during a primary campaign drew a quick response from aides to Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama.

“Senator Clinton’s statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said the senator was only referring to her husband and Kennedy “as historical examples of the nominating process going well into the summer and any reading into it beyond that would be inaccurate and outrageous.”

She has said much the same thing before. In a March interview with Time magazine, she said: “Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn’t wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June, also in California. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual.”

Within a couple hours of the South Dakota remarks drawing attention, Clinton decided to make a personal apology.

“I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns of both my husband and Senator (Robert) Kennedy waged in California in June in 1992 and 1968 and I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That’s a historic fact,” she said.

“The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy,” she added, referring to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s recent diagnosis of a brain tumor. “I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.

“My view is that we have to look to the past to our leaders who have inspired us, give us a lot to live up to, and I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the Kennedy family,” she said.

In the same editorial board meeting, Clinton said “it is unprecedented in history” for political activists to urge a candidate to withdraw when his or her chances of winning the nomination appear remote. In fact, such events have happened several times.

Three months ago, Republican hopeful Mike Huckabee angered Sen. John McCain by lingering in the GOP race after McCain’s nomination seemed all but assured. “Of course I would like for him to withdraw today,” McCain said at the time. A McCain campaign memo, which was leaked to the media, said the campaign was being forced to spend money in upcoming primary states merely to avoid being embarrassed by the underfunded Huckabee.

Clinton also said her campaign has had no discussions with Obama’s aides about her possibly becoming his vice presidential pick.

“It is flatly untrue and it is not anything I’m entertaining. It is nothing I have planned and it is nothing I am prepared to engage in. I am still vigorously campaigning.”

The Obama campaign also dismissed reports that there were talks going on between the two campaigns about putting Clinton on the ticket.

Obama has an almost 200-delegate lead over Clinton and is just 56 delegates short of the number needed to clinch the nomination, making Clinton’s goal of catching him more difficult by the day. The primaries end June 3.

Clinton spent the day campaigning in South Dakota, which holds one of two June 3 primaries. At stake are 15 delegates.

Recent reports suggested she may be discussing ways to end her campaign by being offered the vice presidential slot underneath Obama, but she rejected that and said she suspected the talk was coming from Obama aides.

“I would look to the camp of my opponent for the source of these stories,” she said. “People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa.”

Two of those recent reports, however, were attributed by CNN and The New York Times to supporters of Clinton.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a staunch Clinton supporter, said Friday that she believes that if Obama becomes the nominee he should select Clinton as his running mate.

“I think as this race has emerged each one of them has garnered a different constituency and different states, and therefore when you put the two of them together it forms, I believe, the strongest ticket,” she told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

“Women feel very strongly about Hillary and African-Americans feel very strongly about Barack, and the election results show that, and the young versus old, the higher educated versus the working person. … All these things are sort of separated out into one or the other so there is a logic in combining the two constituencies.”

Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson is overseeing the early vetting of possible vice presidential running mates for Obama, Democratic officials say. He did the same job for Democratic nominees John Kerry in 2004 and Walter Mondale in 1984.

Polygamist sect children removed from Texas compound illegally

Texan authorities had no right to remove more than 400 children from a polygamist sect’s ranch, the state’s appeals court has ruled.

Telegraph | May 23, 2008

By Tom Leonard in New York

The ruling, which followed an appeal by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), could scupper one of the biggest child custody cases in US history.

The court decided that the state had not provided sufficient grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children, from babies to teenagers, from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado.

The sect’s children – the girls, like their mothers, wearing old-fashioned prairie dresses – were removed en masse by police during a raid that began on April 3.

It was prompted by anonymous phone calls to a domestic abuse hotline from a girl claiming to be a pregnant abused teenage wife. The girl has not been found and authorities are investigating whether the calls were a hoax.

According to the appeals court, the Texas authorities never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval.

Officials also failed to provide any evidence that teenage girls were being sexually abused and never alleged any sexual or physical abuse against the other children, the court said.

The children are scattered around various foster homes and it was not immediately clear how long it would take to reunite them with their families.

Child protection officials have claimed that the sect pushed underage girls into marriage and sex, while grooming boys to become adult perpetrators.

However, the appeal court said in its ruling: “The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department’s witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger.”

The appeals court also said the state was wrong to consider the entire ranch as an individual household and that any abuse claims could apply only to individual households.

The authorities have 10 days to comply with the ruling.

The FLDS, which teaches that polygamy brings glorification in heaven, is a splinter of the Mormon church, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago. Members claim they are being persecuted by state officials for their religious beliefs.

Heart Doctors: No Question Tasers Cause Lethal Heart Attacks

Expert opinion contradicts Taser International training guidelines

Infowars.net | May 22, 2008

By Steve Watson

Two prominent heart doctors have told an ongoing Canadian inquiry that there is no doubt that Taser stun guns can cause heart problems and even induce sudden and lethal cardiac arrest.

A cardiologist and a heart surgeon both stated that based on their own studies of the literature on the weapons, it is clear that they can induce ventricular fibrillation.

As reported by the Canadian Press, Dr. Michael Janusz, a heart surgeon and professor of surgery at the University of British Columbia, told the Vancouver inquiry “almost all physicians would conclude that Tasers can induce ventricular fibrillation.”

Dr. Charles Kerr, another UBC professor and a heart surgeon also concluded that a Taser jolt could induce ventricular fibrillation.

“Whatever the cause of death in patients receiving Taser discharges, there does appear to be the potential of a cardiac arrest situation, as has been demonstrated on a number of occasions,” Kerr said.

Ventricular fibrillation is a condition in which there is uncoordinated contraction of the cardiac muscle of the ventricles in the heart, making them tremble rather than contract properly. If the arrhythmia continues for more than a few seconds, blood circulation ceases, and death occurs in a matter of minutes.

The two doctors also stressed that any form of underlying heart disease in addition to a general state of agitation undoubtedly increases the chance of the taser causing sudden death.

Dr. Kerr also said that police should routinely carry defibrillators if they plan to employ Tasers and should be trained to initiate resuscitation after using the Taser on someone who is then unresponsive.

“In summary, Tasers almost certainly can cause cardiac arrest in humans” Dr. Janusz said.

Despite these conclusions, according to a senior police officer, Taser International instructs that the exact opposite is true.

Staff Sgt. Joe Spindor, of the New Westminster Police Department, told the inquiry that he trains officers using Taser International guidelines and that he has never been informed of medical opinions on possible cardiac arrest.

“No. I’ve actually heard the opposite from Taser in my instruction.” Spindor said.

Earlier this month doctors condemned as corporate “intimidation” a court decision ordering a chief medical examiner to remove any reference to the use of a taser as an antecedent in the deaths of three men.

Taser International filed and won a civil suit, forcing deletion all mentions of the weapons in the autopsy reports and requiring the deaths be termed “accidental”.

The ongoing Vancouver inquiry into Taser use by municipal police, sheriffs and corrections officers comes in reponse to reports of hundreds of taser related deaths around the world, but was particularly spurred by the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport in October after police used a taser on the man several times before he died on the spot.

Women given right to have children without fathers

Single women and lesbian couples won landmark parental rights last night as MPs voted to remove the requirement that fertility clinics consider a child’s need for a father.

Times Online | May 20, 2008

By Mark Henderson, Francis Elliott, Ruth Gledhill and Sam Coates

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will replace the rule with a “need for supportive parenting” after opponents were defeated in two votes by unexpectedly wide margins.

The Government had been prepared for defeat but won the free votes by majorities of 75 and 68. The decisions mean that the legislation will grant the most significant extension to homosexual family rights since gay adoption was sanctioned.

It will stop fertility clinics turning away lesbians and single women because their children will not have a father or male role model. While the current law does not block such therapy, it is sometimes used to justify refusals.

In another landmark decision last night, MPs rejected moves to prevent women having abortions up to 24 weeks into pregnancy. In the first vote on the issue in 18 years, an attempt to reduce the limit to 22 weeks was rejected by 71 votes. An attempt to reduce the limit to 20 weeks was defeated by a majority of 142.

The defeat came despite a high-profile cross-party campaign and the decision by David Cameron, the Conservative leader, to back a reduction in the limit to 20 weeks. The Prime Minister voted to retain the existing limit.

The Government has now won all four of the measures on which it agreed to grant Labour MPs a free vote. Moves to allow the creation of hybrid embryos for medical research, and “saviour siblings” screened as suitable tissue donors for sick children, were passed by large majorities on Monday.

MPs who backed the fatherhood amendments said the traditional family would be undermined. Iain Duncan Smith, who proposed enshrining the importance of a father and mother, said that the new law would amount to telling couples that “fathers are not important, or are less important than mothers”.

The former Tory leader said there was overwhelming evidence that children without fathers were more likely to have problems at school and with drink and drugs. He also questioned whether the existing law led to genuine discrimination, as many IVF clinics already treated lesbians and single women.

His criticisms were backed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’ Connor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, in an interview with The Times. “I think it strange that the Government should want to take away not just the need for a father but the right for a father,” he said.

The law will now be brought into line with the Human Rights Act. The Bill will also allow both partners to be recognised as parents when lesbian couples conceive with donated sperm, or gay men use surrogacy. At present, only the natural mother or father is automatically considered to be a parent when gay couples have fertility treatment.

A Times/Populus poll last month found that 40 per cent of people were against the Government’s proposals and 32 per cent in favour. It also revealed a generational divide: while over-55s were strongly opposed, 18 to 34-year-olds were strongly in favour of reform.

Indiana Jones makes communists see red

Reuters | May 23, 2008

by Denis Pinchuk

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – Russian Communist party members condemned the new Indiana Jones’ film on Friday as crude anti-Soviet propaganda that distorted history and called for it to be banned from Russian screens.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” stars Harrison Ford as an archeologist in 1957 competing with an evil KGB agent, played by Cate Blanchett, to find a skull endowed with mystic powers.

“What galls is how together with America we defeated Hitler, and how we sympathized when Bin Laden hit them. But they go ahead and scare kids with Communists. These people have no shame,” said Viktor Perov, a Communist Party member in Russia’s second city of St Petersburg.

The comments were made at a local Communist party meeting and posted on its Internet site http://www.kplo.ru.

The film, the fourth in the hugely successful Indiana Jones series, went on release in Russian cinemas on Thursday. Russian media said it was being shown on 808 screens, the widest ever release for a Hollywood movie.

In past episodes Indiana Jones has escaped from Nazi soldiers, an Egyptian snake pit, a Bedouin swordsman and a child-enslaving Indian demigod.

RUNNING DOGS

“Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett (are) second-rate actors, serving as the running dogs of the CIA. We need to deprive these people of the right of entering the country,” said another party member, Andrei Gindos.

Though the ranks of the once all-powerful Communist Party have dwindled since Soviet times, its members see themselves as the defenders of the achievements of the old Soviet Union.

Other communists said the generation born after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union were being fed revisionist, Hollywood history. They advocated banning the Indiana Jones outright to prevent “ideological sabotage.”

“Our movie-goers are teenagers who are completely unaware of what happened in 1957,” St Peterburg Communist Party chief Sergei Malinkovich told Reuters.

“They will go to the cinema and will be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war.”

“It’s rubbish … In 1957 the communists did not run with crystal skulls throughout the U.S. Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?”

Vladimir Mukhin, another member of the local Communist Party, said in comments posted on the Internet site that he would ask Russia’s Culture Ministry to ban the film for its “anti-Soviet propaganda.”

The Indiana Jones film is not the first Hollywood production to offend Russian sensibilities.

In 1998 the Russian parliament demanded the government explain why the Hollywood film “Armageddon” – which depicted a dilapidated Russian space station that blows apart because of a leaky pipe – was allowed onto Russian cinema screens.

A government official at the time said the film, starring Bruce Willis as the leader of a team of astronauts sent to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, “mocked the achievements of Soviet and Russian technology.”

Oil price inflation mostly due to pure speculation, instead of demand

60% of oil price inflation due to pure speculation

Global Research | May 2, 2008

by F. William Engdahl

The price of crude oil today is not made according to any traditional relation of supply to demand. It’s controlled by an elaborate financial market system as well as by the four major Anglo-American oil companies. As much as 60% of today’s crude oil price is pure speculation driven by large trader banks and hedge funds. It has nothing to do with the convenient myths of Peak Oil. It has to do with control of oil and its price. How?

First, the crucial role of the international oil exchanges in London and New York is crucial to the game. Nymex in New York and the ICE Futures in London today control global benchmark oil prices which in turn set most of the freely traded oil cargo. They do so via oil futures contracts on two grades of crude oil—West Texas Intermediate and North Sea Brent.

A third rather new oil exchange, the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME), trading Dubai crude, is more or less a daughter of Nymex, with Nymex President, James Newsome, sitting on the board of DME and most key personnel British or American citizens.

Brent is used in spot and long-term contracts to value as much of crude oil produced in global oil markets each day. The Brent price is published by a private oil industry publication, Platt’s. Major oil producers including Russia and Nigeria use Brent as a benchmark for pricing the crude they produce. Brent is a key crude blend for the European market and, to some extent, for Asia.

WTI has historically been more of a US crude oil basket. Not only is it used as the basis for US-traded oil futures, but it’s also a key benchmark for US production.

‘The tail that wags the dog’

All this is well and official. But how today’s oil prices are really determined is done by a process so opaque only a handful of major oil trading banks such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley have any idea who is buying and who selling oil futures or derivative contracts that set physical oil prices in this strange new world of “paper oil.”

With the development of unregulated international derivatives trading in oil futures over the past decade or more, the way has opened for the present speculative bubble in oil prices.

Since the advent of oil futures trading and the two major London and New York oil futures contracts, control of oil prices has left OPEC and gone to Wall Street. It is a classic case of the “tail that wags the dog.”

A June 2006 US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on “The Role of Market Speculation in rising oil and gas prices,” noted, “…there is substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that the large amount of speculation in the current market has significantly increased prices.”

What the Senate committee staff documented in the report was a gaping loophole in US Government regulation of oil derivatives trading so huge a herd of elephants could walk through it. That seems precisely what they have been doing in ramping oil prices through the roof in recent months.

The Senate report was ignored in the media and in the Congress.

The report pointed out that the Commodity Futures Trading Trading Commission, a financial futures regulator, had been mandated by Congress to ensure that prices on the futures market reflect the laws of supply and demand rather than manipulative practices or excessive speculation. The US Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) states, “Excessive speculation in any commodity under contracts of sale of such commodity for future delivery . . . causing sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in the price of such commodity, is an undue and unnecessary burden on interstate commerce in such commodity.”

Further, the CEA directs the CFTC to establish such trading limits “as the Commission finds are necessary to diminish, eliminate, or prevent such burden.” Where is the CFTC now that we need such limits?

They seem to have deliberately walked away from their mandated oversight responsibilities in the world’s most important traded commodity, oil.
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“Superbugs” killing record numbers of patients in hospitals and nursing homes

Record number of patients are dying in hospitals and nursing homes after contracting superbugs, new figures show.

Telegraph | May 23, 2008

By Kate Devlin

MRSA and Clostridium difficile were linked to more than 8,000 deaths in England and Wales in 2006, up from 5,300 the previous year.

The first ever breakdown of deaths from both infections by location released by the Office for National Statistics shows that the vast majority of patients died from the bugs in hospital.

The deadly infections also killed small numbers of patients in nursing homes and hospices.

MRSA and Clostridium difficile were linked to more than 8,000 deaths in England and Wales in 2006, up from 5,300 the previous year.

The first ever breakdown of deaths from both infections by location released by the Office for National Statistics shows that the vast majority of patients died from the bugs in hospital.

The deadly infections also killed small numbers of patients in nursing homes and hospices.

In total there were 6,424 deaths from C difficile in all three locations in 2006, almost double the 3,719 deaths caused by the infection in 2005.

MRSA was responsible for 1,625 deaths, up from 1,621 the previous year.

The worst hospital for C difficile deaths in England or Wales was the Royal United Hospital in Bath, which had 268 deaths from the infection between 2002 and 2006.

The George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry and the Royal Infirmary in Leicester all had more than 200 deaths caused by the infection over the same period.

Maidstone hospital in Kent, which was part of one of the worst outbreaks of the infection in the country when more than 90 patients died at three hospitals run by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust died from the bug, had 113 cases over the same period.

With 94 deaths Derriford Hospital in Plymouth had the highest number of deaths from MRSA cases between 2002 and 2006.

Over the same period, The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth recorded 81 deaths from MRSA, Maelor Hospital Wrexham 79 deaths and the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset 77 deaths.

More than 1,100 hospitals, hospices and nursing homes had at least one death from C difficile in the last five years and more than 900 had at least one death from MRSA.

The Office for National Statistics cautioned that many of the hospitals who recorded large numbers of deaths from both infections were also more likely to have high patient numbers generally. The data, collected from death certificates, also shows only where patients died, not where they acquired the infections initially or where they received other treatment before their death.

A spokesman for Help the Aged said he was “concerned” at the wide variation between hospitals.

He added: “We know that older people are at greater risk of hospital acquired infections, so any rise will affect them more heavily.”