Daily Archives: October 27, 2009

San Jose police first in US to get high definition head cameras to record interactions

San Jose police to get uniform camera

It will fit over an officer’s ear, like a Bluetooth device, and it will record an entire incident from the officer’s point of view in high definition.

KGO | Oct 26, 2009

By Amy Hollyfield

SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) — The recent cell phone video of San Jose police beating an unarmed suspect only tells part of the story, according to an officer’s lawyer and police say it underscores the need for a new piece of technology.

San Jose police are about to become the first in the nation to have HD cameras integrated with their uniforms.

The video of the arrest of a San Jose State University student shows enough, to make you want to look away. It shows police hitting the unarmed 20-year-old man with a baton more than 10 times, Tasing him, and you can hear his cries.

Still, it doesn’t show everything investigators would like to see.

“If you notice, it was grainy, it was from a long distance and that doesn’t give us the full picture of what was going on,” says Bobby Lopez, President of the San Jose Police Officers Association.

But San Jose police say they have an answer for the imperfect and incomplete cell phone video.

“We will be the first department in the nation to do this,” says San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis.

Chief Davis says he has been working with the Taser company to bring a new camera to San Jose police. It will fit over an officer’s ear, like a Bluetooth device, and it will record an entire incident from the officer’s point of view in high definition.

In the San Jose beating case, he says it would have made a huge difference.

“We would have had the video from the moment they walked in the house. So it would answer a lot of questions that we have,” says Chief Davis.

“This is big brother that has come to San Jose,” says Steven Clark, a defense attorney.

Clark says this raises a few privacy issues. He does like the idea of having concrete evidence to use in court, but he’s concerned about the side effects.

“What about children that may be present during an arrest? What about other innocent people who are now going to be videotaped every time the police have an arrest?” says Clark.

He’s not the only one with concerns; some of the officers are worried about their own privacy and that simple things like a personal phone call will be recorded.

“I think it’s a great idea,” says Lopez. Lopez hopes to persuade the rank and file that this technology is in their best interest. He also adds “It’s going to vindicate many officers.”

He wishes the cameras were in place for the SJSU arrest that has now generated a criminal investigation into the police officers’ actions.

Phuong Ho is the 20-year-old man seen beaten in the cell phone video. He is suing the police department for excessive force. The department’s investigation should be turned over to the district attorney by Friday and the officers involved are on paid leave. Regardless, the attorney for one of the officers told the San Jose Mercury News they did nothing wrong.

The attorney said the entire video shows Ho being combative and non-compliant which he says “raised the stakes of the game.”

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Fidel Castro’s sister was a CIA agent

Fidel-Castros-sister-Juanita Castro

Fidel Castro’s sister Juanita Castro. Photograph: AP

Memoir reveals details of secret messages and codes

guardian.co.uk | Oct 26, 2009

by Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent and Giles Tremlett in Madrid

To the CIA she was Donna: a Cuban spy who hid documents inside cans of food and sent secret messages via a clandestine radio and two tunes – a waltz and a song from the opera Madame Butterfly.

Today, Donna was revealed to the rest of the world as Juanita Castro – the sister of Fidel and Raúl, rulers of Cuba and legendary conquerors of US espionage efforts – when she blew the whistle on her career as a CIA agent.

The rogue sibling revealed extraordinary details of her hidden identity in a memoir, Fidel and Raúl, My Brothers: The Secret History, which could force a partial revision of the CIA’s role in Cuba. For half a century its efforts against Fidel were considered fiascos, prompting recrimination and ridicule. It tried and failed to kill him, tried and failed to invade Cuba, and tried and failed to foment revolt.

Cuba was just 90 miles off Florida, but its ruler was thought too wily and his regime too hermetic for the hapless American spies. Now, in what she describes as the family’s best-kept secret, Juanita has revealed that the CIA infiltrated the world’s most famous communist clan.

The 76-year-old Miami exile recounts how she sheltered government opponents in her Havana home, among other subversive acts, before leaving Cuba in 1964 and publicly denouncing Fidel and Raul as despots, a bombshell which damaged the revolution’s image in Latin America.

There had been widespread speculation for many years about Juanita’s recruitment, said Brian Latell, a former CIA analyst who is now a senior researcher in Cuba studies at the University of Miami, and author of the book After Fidel. “She was considered a success by the CIA. It was very pleased with her, especially after she left Cuba. She was very outspoken and played a critical propaganda role in travelling around Latin America. She had quite an impact in Chile’s 1964 election.”

Juanita initially hailed the revolution’s 1959 triumph over the US-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista, and supported its social programmes by working in health clinics. But executions of opponents and the squelching of democratic hopes disillusioned her. She was already discreetly aiding dissidents when, according to her book, the wife of the Brazilian ambassador in Havana, Virginia Leitao da Cunha, asked her to meet a CIA agent, Tony Sforza. Sforza had previously worked on a Cuba-related CIA project known as Operation Mangosta.

“Many of our men are working there [in Cuba] and run the risk of being discovered,” Sforza told her at the Hotel Camino Real in Mexico City. “The mission involves protecting them and helping them move from one place to another with as much security as possible, finding them places to stay in houses that are safe.” Her family links gave her invaluable access to prisons, he added.

Juanita agreed to take on the code name Donna and gave Sforza two tunes that, when played over a clandestine radio, would signify that she had, “or did not have”, a message. One of them was Madame Butterfly; the other was a waltz, Fascinación.

Her first mission was to take money, messages and documents back to Cuba from Mexico, hidden inside cans of food. She also carried a codebook back with her and, after receiving a shortwave radio, persuaded two former school friends to aid her. She says she refused to take part in anything that would cause bloodshed and refused payment for her services.

Her cooperation was a rare cold war success for spymasters tasked with toppling the Soviet Union’s tropical ally. The Kennedy White House authorised many CIA assassination attempts – ensuing decades racked up 638 efforts, according to one estimate – as well as the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion by exiles.

Juanita held no senior government rank and was not thought to be privy to official secrets, but her enlistment by the US, if verified, dents the reputation of Cuba’s formidable intelligence service.

Raúl, the then defence minister and now president in place of the ailing Fidel, knew of their sister’s wayward political views in 1964, but still approved her trip to Mexico, where she defected.

The revelation that the CIA appeared to have been pulling strings, and not simply applauding, is likely to annoy Cuba’s government, even though the events were so long ago, said one western diplomat in Havana. “Under Obama, relations between the US and Cuba are going in a slightly better direction. This won’t help that process.”

State media will report the news if authorities calculate they can turn the story to their advantage, said the diplomat. “Even if the media here ignore it, the story will do the rounds among the public. But it’s history, and Cubans are used to not being surprised by anything.”

This week the UN will take its annual vote against the US embargo of the island, a 49-year-old policy widely deemed anachronistic and unjustified.

It is unclear why Juanita, who spent the past two decades quietly working in a pharmacy in Miami, waited until now to tell her story. She began working on the book, published by Santillana, with her co-author, the journalist Maria Antonieta Collins, in 1999, but then stopped and resumed only this year.

Published simultaneously in the US, Mexico, Colombia and Spain, the memoir had Harry Potter-style secrecy and was kept in sealed boxes and secured pallets to avoid leaks.

Family business

• “Fidel always had a strong personality … He was always the leader of the brothers. He got on well with all his siblings, though he was never as affectionate, attentive or kissy as the others.”

• “Ramon, Fidel and Raul were all very independent and different to each other. Raul was mother’s favourite, perhaps because he was the youngest. She called him “my little muse” and he, in turn, was always very close to her.”

• “Fidel’s radical conversion to communism was not made from political conviction but simply because he needed power, which is the only thing that he has ever cared about. Without the Russians he would not have been able to carry on.”

• Juanita believes, however, that Eisenhower missed a chance to change the history of Cuba by failing to meet Fidel Castro when he visited the US shortly after the revolution in April 1959. Eisenhower instead sent his vice-president, Richard Nixon. “That was taken in Cuba as if they had turned their back on Fidel,” she explains.

“The polls at that time showed that 90% of Americans supported Fidel,” she continues.

“That decision put an end to any chance of reconciliation. If things had not happened that way Fidel might not have turned to the Soviet Union.”

______

William A. Wieland, who led the State Department’s Caribbean office in Washington, told Earl Smith, who was ambassador to Havana in 1957: “Cuba has been assigned to you to oversee the fall of Batista. The decision has been made: Batista must go.”

rockefeller castro

nixon-castroCuban dictator Fidel Castro with Vice President Nixon at The White House in April 1959 following his takeover of Havana earlier that year.

Related

Fidel Castro Supermole

In his well read column Drew Pearson revealed, on May 23, 1961, that persistent rumors in the diplomatic corps indicated that the CIA had been helping to put Castro in power for years. The rumors had further stated that the CIA agents, in their efforts to get rid of President Batista, had supplied arms and ammunitions to Castro during his guerrilla war in the mountains.

There are more reasons to believe that the CIA, in fact, delivered weapons to Fidel. When he was in the Sierra Maestra fighting Batista’s troops. Castro received some weapons delivered by the International Armaments Corporation, the company that sent weapons to Guatemala, under the CIA’s orders, to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz’s government, and also because the Company was organized by Samuel Cummings, a former CIA operative.26 Also, there is evidence, that between October 1957 and the middle of 1958, the CIA gave no less than fifty thousand dollars to Castro’s men in Santiago de Cuba.

Architects of Deception

Robert Hill, US ambassador to Mexico, said under oath in a Senate hearing: “Individuals in the State Department, and individuals in The New York Times, put Castro in power.” These individuals included Robert McNamara, Theodore C. Sorenson, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, Roy Rubottom, McGeorge Bundy, J. William Fulbright, Herbert Mattews, and Roger Hilsman.

The afore-mentioned William A. Wieland claimed that the authorities and the military intelligence knew in advance of Castro’s plans to enforce communism. Even so, the American press portrayed him as a patriotic and benevolent leader. Several observers were of the opinion that the Bay of Pigs operation on 17 April 1961 intended to get rid of Castro, was a deliberate failure.

Earl Smith, 87, Ambassador to Cuba in the 1950’s

Sent by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as Ambassador to Havana in 1957, Mr. Smith resigned in 1959, soon after the fall of the Government of Fulgencio Batista. He contended that Mr. Castro could not have come to power without the aid of the United States.

His account of the Communist revolution in Cuba appeared in his 1962 book, “The Fourth Floor,” which is to be published again next month by the Selous Foundation Press of Washington. His main theme was that Mr. Castro’s victory was a disaster for both Cuba and the United States and could have been avoided.

Earl T. Smith

If we are to intervene sufficiently to bring about the overthrow of dictatorships, then we should intervene to whatever extent is required to fulfill our purpose. Otherwise, in my opinion, we must wait for the normal self-development of a people and not assist revolution. And we must be prepared to receive the criticism of supporting friendly governments recognized by the United States, although they have been labeled dictatorships. To make my point more clear, let me say that, we helped to overthrow the Batista dictatorship which was pro-American only to install the Castro dictatorship which is pro-Russian.

Castro’s Cuba: A Testing Ground for the NWO?

There is the possibility that Castro’s Cuba is a large scale experiment in social engineering, a test run of the New World Order[8] before its implementation worldwide.

This perhaps explains why some people at the State Department, the CIA, and at the highest levels of the American society, helped Castro to come to power in Cuba. It may also explain why President Kennedy changed the original invasion plans and sent the Cuban patriots to die at the Bay of Pigs and why Castro, unchallenged by the U. S., has been in power in Cuba for more than forty years creating havoc all around the world.

Skull and Bones Fostered Russian Communism

William Bundy’s brother McGeorge Bundy (CFR) (Skull& Bones) was National Security advisor during the Vietnam War where he practiced the “no win” strategies of George Kennan. Like a loyal Illuminati “wise man” Bundy screened all material that went to the President. The installation of Castro’s Communism in Cuba can be laid at his feet. McGeorge Bundy was President of the Ford Foundation. Another former president of the Ford Foundation, H. Rowan Gaither Jr., said the Ford Foundation’s …”purpose was to so alter the United States that it would comfortably merge with the Soviet Union.”

Rockefeller & Global Mind Control

“For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

David Rockefeller

In his extensive world travels, flying from country to country in his private jet, he has met a vast range of world leaders, including Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, Mikhail Gorbachev and, notably, Saddam Hussein. Other notable figures whom he has counted amongst his personal friends include members of the Rothschild, Henry Ford and Dulles families, along with such high profile individuals as Katharine Graham, of the Washington Post, Brooke Astor, Nelson Mandela and Peter G. Peterson, chairman of the Blackstone Group, who succeeded Rockefeller as chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations in 1985.

Abbey Rockefeller (b. 1943) — The eldest and most rebellious daughter, she was drawn to Marxism, was an ardent admirer of Fidel Castro and a late 60’s/early 70’s radical feminist who belonged to the organization Female Liberation, later forming a splinter group called Cell 16. An environmentalist and ecologist, and an active supporter of the Women’s Liberation movement, she also funded Ramparts, a left-wing magazine.

The Cuban Coverup

In Germany, A Better H1N1 Vaccine For Politicians?

Time | Oct 27, 2009

By Tristana Moore / Berlin

Critics are calling it a two-tier health system — one for the politically well-connected, another for the hoi polloi. As Germany launched its mass vaccination program against the H1N1 flu virus on Monday, the government found itself fending off accusations of favoritism by offering one vaccine believed to have fewer side effects to civil servants, politicians and soldiers, and another potentially riskier vaccine to everyone else. The government had hoped that Germans would rush to health clinics to receive vaccinations against the rapidly spreading disease, but the rising anger over the different doses may now cause many people to shy away.

Amid growing fears over a possible global flu pandemic, the German government prepared for its mass vaccination campaign earlier this year by ordering 50 million doses of the Pandemrix vaccine, which would be enough for a double dose for 25 million people, around a third of the population. The vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, contains an immune-enhancing chemical compound, known as an adjuvant, whose side effects are not yet entirely known. Then, after a report was leaked to the German media last week, the Interior Ministry confirmed that it had ordered a different vaccine, Celvapan, for government officials and the military. Celvapan, which is made by the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Baxter, does not contain an adjuvant and is believed to have fewer side effects than Pandemrix. (See how not to get the H1N1 flu.)

Anger at the news was widespread in Germany. “If mass vaccination is considered to be necessary, then everyone should be treated the same way,” says Birgitt Bender, the health spokeswoman for the Green Party. Ulrike Mascher, head of the VdK social welfare association, said giving government officials a different vaccine from the rest of the population sent the “wrong signal” and gave many people “the impression that they are second-class patients.” A story on the front page of the mass-circulation Bild newspaper accused the government of giving “second-class medicine” to regular Germans.

Doctors and medical experts are divided over the safety of Pandemrix. While some say it’s the best vaccine available, others have serious misgivings about it. “The Pandemrix vaccine can’t be recommended for pregnant women or young children because it has an increased risk of side effects. Pandemrix has an adjuvant which hasn’t been tested sufficiently up until now,” Alexander Kekulé, a virologist at the University of Halle, tells TIME. “Celvapan is a whole virus vaccine, which has fewer side effects than Pandemrix, but it leads more often to fever or local swelling when compared with the normal seasonal flu vaccine,” he adds. Although Kekulé called the government’s handling of the vaccination program a “scandal,” he said government officials and soldiers are not necessarily getting a better deal with Celvapan. “Neither Celvapan nor Pandemrix are ideal,” he says. (See what you need to know about the H1N1 vaccine.)

The Interior Ministry hit back at suggestions of preferential treatment, saying that it had ordered around 200,000 doses of the Celvapan vaccine from Baxter before the differences between the two vaccines were documented, and the government was bound by the terms of its contract. The government also points out that both Pandemrix and Celvapan have been approved by the European Union, and that other countries such as Britain and Sweden are using the Pandemrix vaccine. In an attempt to put a lid on the simmering controversy, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, said that the German leader would consult with her doctor in the next few days and if she decided to receive a jab, it would be Pandemrix. (See pictures of thermal scanners hunting for swine flu.)

At least 26,000 people have been infected with swine flu in Germany, resulting in three deaths. Although the majority of patients have experienced only mild flu-like symptoms, a steady increase in the number of cases of H1N1 in recent months has raised alarm across the nation. In its latest report, the Robert Koch Institute, the federal agency for infectious diseases, said that new cases in Germany have jumped to around 1,600 each week, double the 700-800 weekly cases reported in early autumn. With the onset of winter, when seasonal flu infections typically peak, many experts are concerned that H1N1 infections will spike dramatically. Klaus Osterrieder, a virologist at the Free University of Berlin, now fears that with the worries over the possible risks associated with Pandemrix, many people will avoid getting a vaccine altogether. According to a survey conducted on Oct. 23 by the Emnid Institute, only 13% of Germans said they wanted to receive a swine flu vaccine this winter. (Read “Child-Care Centers and Parents Brace for Flu Season.”)

“The public debate is bad because it raises questions about the whole vaccination program,” Osterrieder says. If the government doesn’t find some way to remedy the current public relations disaster and clear up the confusion over the different swine flu vaccines, it could be faced with an even greater emergency if the country’s hospital wards start overflowing with flu patients in the coming months.

Remote-Control Drone Attacks Risk Losing ‘Hearts and Minds’ of Civilians in Pakistan

The civilian casualties resulting from the use of Predator drones have long been a subject of fierce criticism, particularly from local governments and from the media in Pakistan.

FOXNews.com | Oct 26, 2009

predator_droneAs the Obama administration considers relying more heavily on remote-controlled drones to attack militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, there are increasing concerns that the military will risk losing the hearts and minds of civilians along the way.

The civilian casualties resulting from the use of unmanned Predator aircraft have long been a subject of fierce criticism, particularly from local governments and from the media in Pakistan. But the Taliban and other militants have also used them to rally support for their attacks and drive up popular outrage and distrust against Pakistan’s government and Western forces.

“It’s a delicate balance, without question,” said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who sits on the House Armed Services Committee.

While the drones have killed a number of top terrorist targets — most recently Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud — some worry that an over-reliance on the air strikes will steadily alienate the population and hand devastating propaganda victories to the enemy. The civilian casualties, combined with the lack of a substantive U.S. presence on the ground in Pakistan, make it hard to compete with the Taliban media operation.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, where such strikes are far less common, seemed to hint at this in his August assessment of the war. McChrystal has argued for a troop-heavy counterinsurgency strategy to build an alliance with the population.

“Pre-occupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us — physically and psychologically — from the people we seek to protect,” he wrote. “In addition, we run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves.”

David Kilcullen, one of the architects of Gen. David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, was so concerned about popular backlash that he told a House committee in April that the drone program should be ended.

Far from it, the program has been expanded.

The drones, which allow U.S. forces to take out sought-after targets from remote locations thousands of miles away, are considered a priceless tool — in May, CIA Director Leon Panetta called them the “the only game in town” for going after Al Qaeda’s leadership.

A new study from the New America Foundation found that with 41 drone strikes under his watch in Pakistan, President Obama has “dramatically increased” the number of drone attacks. Various estimates show these attacks have taken out more than a dozen top terrorist leaders. But the New America Foundation study showed that since 2006, more than 30 percent of the total number killed — between 750 and 1,000 people — were civilians. One Pakistani journalist in April put that number at nearly 700.

The New America Foundation report said “militants have used them as an excuse” to hit government targets.

“Drone strikes will remain an important tool to disrupt Al Qaeda and Taliban operations and to kill the leaders of these organizations, but they also consistently kill Pakistani civilians, angering the population and prompting violent acts of revenge from the Pakistani Taliban,” the report said.

Bruce Hoffman, a Georgetown University professor who specializes in terrorism and insurgency studies, said the Taliban have flexed their propaganda strength by drawing attention to such collateral damage. He said the drone program should be continued, but only if complemented by a serious “hearts and minds” effort.

“Every Predator strike, even if it just takes out a militant, is always portrayed in the Taliban’s propaganda … as causing untold calamities on innocent women and children,” he said. “I think it has a place but we shouldn’t be under the impression that we can kill our way to victory with remote-control drones. … You need to have forces on the ground, whether it’s in Pakistan or Afghanistan.”

Smith, who supports the drone program, said the hope is that the Pakistani military can eventually take on such high-level militant targets on its own without the aid of U.S. drones, while the emphasis in Afghanistan can be on protecting the population. He acknowledged the obvious “downside” of losing popular support due to civilian casualties.

He said the successful strike on Mehsud in August helped win civilian support in Pakistan.

“They still resent the violation of their sovereignty, but when we hit Mehsud we showed this wasn’t just America’s war,” he said.

According to the New America Foundation report, it took 15 separate drone strikes to wipe out Mehsud. But the Pakistani press did react positively when he finally was killed.