well really he is not President Bush, he is Emporor Bush and he thinks he can do anything he wants. the constitution is just a worthless piece of paper.




Resolution gave OK to eavesdrop, Bush says

Vast but vague powers listed


Eric Lichblau and David E. Sanger

Eric Lichblau and David E. Sanger New York Times

Dec. 20, 2005 12:00 AM


WASHINGTON - President Bush and two of his most senior aides argued Monday that the highly classified program to spy on suspected members of terrorist groups in the United States grew out of the president's constitutional authority.


At the heart of the debate over the legality of the program to eavesdrop on the international communications of American citizens without a court order is a resolution, passed a week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that authorized the president to use military force against those responsible for them.


Bush cited the resolution, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, on Monday at his news conference. So did Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who said in a separate session with reporters that the congressional measure, in addition to the president's inherent power as commander in chief, gave the government the power "to engage in this kind of signals intelligence."


The resolution itself is a single sentence, adopted unanimously by the Senate and with only one dissenting vote in the House of Representatives. It provides the president with sweeping but vaguely defined authority "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."


The resolution makes no mention of surveillance activity. Nor does it specify what is supposed to happen when American citizens, not themselves suspected of violating any law, come to the government's attention through actions taken under the resolution's terms.


"Nobody, nobody thought when we passed a resolution to invade Afghanistan and to fight the war on terror, including myself who voted for it, thought that this was an authorization to allow a wiretapping against the law of the United States," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., in an interview Monday on the NBC program Today.


Offering their most forceful and detailed defense of the program in a series of briefings, television interviews and a hastily called presidential news conference, administration officials argued that the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was not written for an age of modern terrorism.


In these times, Bush said, a "two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to al-Qaida here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives."


Bush strongly hinted that the government was beginning a leak investigation into how the existence of the program was disclosed. In the first of a series of appearances Monday to defend the intelligence operations, Gonzales told reporters that "this electronic surveillance is within the law, has been authorized (by Congress)."


Officials with knowledge of the program have said the Justice Department did two sets of classified legal reviews of the program and its legal rationale. Gonzales declined to release those opinions Monday.


Bush, Gonzales and Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, the nation's second-ranking intelligence official, stepped around questions Monday about why officials decided not to use emergency powers they have under existing law, which allows them to tap international communications of people in the United States and then go to a secret court up to 72 hours later for retroactive permission.


"The whole key here is agility," Hayden said, adding that the aim "is to detect and prevent."


Administration officials, speaking on background because of the sensitivity of the information, suggested that the speed with which the operation identifies "hot numbers," the telephone numbers of suspects, and then hooks into their conversations lay behind the need to operate outside the old law.


The precise limit on how much authority presidents can wield in a crisis has never been determined with absolute clarity, although there have been occasions when courts have served as referees in contests of wills between the executive branch and Congress.


This particular dispute is highly likely to remain in the political realm because it is difficult to imagine how a challenge to the monitoring program could make its way into federal court. Any challenge would have to be brought by a person who had been a subject of the secret monitoring.


The government's legal rationale for relying on the 2001 resolution is contained in classified legal opinions, but the thinking was outlined by Gonzales at his news conference Monday. He referred to the Supreme Court's 2004 decision in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American citizen who challenged his detention as an enemy combatant.


The government's primary argument in the case was that the president's inherent authority as commander in chief obviated the need for any authorization by Congress.




For 9 years in a row, auditors reported tha the nation's financial picture remained so muddled that they were unable even to say whether anyone could rely on their findings.


If the federal government were a public company, it would have been kicked off any stock exchange 9 years ago.


Further, the government's credit rating would be in the tank, which would make impossible to borrow money, and it would be on the brink of bankruptcy, if not already defunct


Total debt and projections of future obligations  totaled $46 trillion which is $153,333 for every man, woman, and child in the USA based on the current population of about 300 million people. ( i double checked my math and the $153,333 is correct)


And based on the national debt which was not quoted in this article but is about $4 to $7 trillion every man, woman, and childs share of the national debt is between $13333 and $23333. which means that a mythical family of 4 owes between $53332 to $93332 for its share of the national debt. if that debt were a home loan the family of 4 would have to pay rougly $500 to $900 a month in morgate payments to pay off the loan over 30. which means almost every low income family would be bankrupt.




Government finances still tied in knots, audit shows


Jon Kamman

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 20, 2005 12:00 AM


The federal government isn't sure what it owns, where to find it, what it cost or how much it's still worth, whether it was acquired properly, how much is owed on it or, perhaps most important, how to pay for it.


Says who?


Says the federal government itself, or at least its comptroller general, who is required by law to conduct an annual audit of the behemoth.


For the ninth consecutive year, auditors reported last week that major parts of the nation's financial picture in fiscal 2005 remained so muddled that they were unable even to say whether anyone could rely on their findings.


In a scathing assessment of rising expenditures and ballooning debt, the report said, "It seems clear that the nation's current fiscal path is unsustainable and that tough choices by the president and the Congress are necessary (to avert a financial meltdown)."


"What it's saying is that we're on the edge of the cliff now," said Elizabeth Eisenberg, a Scottsdale business accountant.


If the federal government were a public company with nine years of uncertainty about its financial condition, it would have been kicked off any stock exchange long ago, Eisenberg said.


Further, the company's credit rating would be in the tank, which would make borrowing more expensive or impossible, its share prices would plummet, and it would be on the brink of bankruptcy, if not already defunct, she said.


The federal audit emphasized two findings:


• Spending for government operations in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 increased 23 percent, to $760 billion from $616 billion in 2004.


• Total debt and projections of future obligations for such programs as Social Security totaled $46 trillion, more than double the $20 trillion in liabilities calculated in 2000.


Translating the fiscal problems to the individual level, Eisenberg likened the federal government to a family moving from a $200,000 home to a $400,000 home but having no additional income to cover the mortgage or higher expenses.


In the nation's case, revenue actually is decreasing because of tax cuts, she said.


"It's very alarming," she said of doubling the debt, "and it doesn't seem we're taking steps to show how we're going to pay this back."


The report, issued by Comptroller General David Walker, gave an "adverse opinion," in effect a failing grade, to the government's ability to monitor and record its transactions or demonstrate that it complied with budget laws.


These and other deficiencies have existed for years, the report said.


A chronic problem is that agencies file financial statements containing significant mistakes they have to correct the next year, it said.


Seven agencies did so in 2005, and the process "can undermine public trust and confidence in both the entity and all responsible parties," auditors wrote.


The Department of Defense was the least accountable of 24 agencies audited, but even the Treasury couldn't pass muster because it hadn't received crucial reports from other agencies, the audit said.


In contrast, the latest examination of Arizona's financial condition, conducted by the state Auditor General's Office, found no major defects and expressed unqualified confidence in the reliability of the report, said Dennis Mattheisen, director of financial auditing.


The federal picture is "pretty bad" and shows that "there are huge social issues that need to be addressed," but the report shouldn't be taken as evidence of massive mismanagement of funds, Mattheisen said.


Rather, he said, financial affairs in many departments may be in order, but accounting systems in an operation as enormous and complex as the federal government may be too weak to verify it.


"It may be small comfort, but it's no worse than it's ever been," Mattheisen said.




this has nothing to do with government thugs, pigs, crooked cops or shitty government but i thought it was interesting and included it.


The Urge to Splurge.

Bryner, Michelle

Psychology Today; Nov/Dec2005, Vol. 38 Issue 6, p34-35, 2p, 7c


The Urge to Splurge


PUTTY-COLORED MANNEQUINS and quaint window displays are so 1950s. Today's retail stores map out the shopping experience with a precision that starts the moment you walk through those double glass doors.


Can't help but reach for one of those V-neck sweaters so neatly stacked in the middle of The Gap? It may be the work of a savvy retail consultant like Paco Underhill, founder and CEO of Envirosell and author of the book Why We Buy.


PT investigates how retailers nudge you toward that cash register.


First Impressions




The first 10 feet inside a store are the "transition zone." Because most shoppers walk at a brisk clip from the parking lot, store designers seek to slow the shopper down, using a table of clothing, a sign or perhaps a salesperson "greeter" as a speed bump. Few retailers put important merchandise next to the entrance because most shoppers aren't yet in browsing mode.




Most shoppers turn right, probably because most are right-handed. The right-hand thoroughfare attracts the highest traffic anywhere in the store. It is the perfect location for high-profit merchandise.




Signs with just two or three words work best. At most, a sign registers for all of two seconds with a shopper.


The Hunt




Many shoppers shy away from mussing those expertly folded and stacked garments. So today's salespeople are trained to leave a few items unfolded, encouraging shoppers to look and touch.




Nothing sends a female shopper running for the exit like the dreaded "butt brush." While studying the New York City Bloomingdale's, Underhill discovered a jostle from behind in a narrow aisle ruins the shopping experience for women. Today's department stores know that middle-aged women are their best customers and opt for wide aisles.




Stores that provide a basket or bag to hold potential purchases--such as Old Navy and H&M--sell more merchandise than those that don't.




Victoria's Secret uses orchestral music to create a highbrow mood, says Rick Barrick, a vice president at DMX music, a firm that provides store soundtracks. The intended effect: "You're doing a classic, romantic thing buying lingerie there."


Reflections of Vanity




Makeup booths pop up in every corner of department stores because cosmetics are an impulse buy, at least for adult women.




"Shoppers tend to speed walk," says RoxAnna Sway, editor-in-chief of Display and Design Ideas magazine. Mirrors extend shopping trips because most people like to check out their hair as much as they do the clothes.




Some 25 percent of women purchase jeans after trying them on, while nearly 70 percent of men do.




Customers love the ubiquitous free gifts designed to lure buyers to the cosmetics counter. But a study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found free gifts leave customers with a lower opinion of the merchandise they did pay for.


Youth Gone Wild




Girls who shop in packs tend to buy more--feeding, perhaps, off one another's impulsivity--than teens who shop alone. The presence of family members squelches the urge to buy, according to a study.




Today's stores have ramped up their effort to attract the younger shopper with loud dance tunes, extreme lighting and music videos. Teenage girls tend to avoid department stores.




Girls with poor body images are more likely to buy their clothes on the Internet.




Teen boys also like to hang out at shopping centers. But they are more interested in the girls than in the merchandise.


Sight Lines




Spotlighting merchandise increases sales, studies show.




Why so few windows in department stores? Like casino architects, store designers traditionally avoid reminding customers of the time of day. However, a trend has emerged recently, says Ed Calabrese of Mancini Duffy Architectural Design in New York. Big stores today use natural light in the form of windows and especially skylights.


Footing the Bill




The ideal location for cosmetics? Across from the shoe department. Waiting for their size, shoppers are a captive audience.




Underhill charges that both shoe companies and retailers don't cater to their biggest market for sneakers: seniors. Innovative athletic shoewear is targeted at the young, but the elderly also want rubber soles and tend to have more cash to spend.


Sweet Talk




Many retailers instruct employees to greet shoppers within six seconds of entering the store. The practice deters shoplifters.




Perky salesclerks can be annoying, but studies show their attention increases the likelihood of a sale. Some stores, like Diesel jeans, deliberately baffle shoppers with their displays so they have no choice but to ask for help, says Underhill. "Smart retailers are always trying to get their employees to talk to customers," he says.




Many shoppers feel guilty if they receive help from a clerk but don't buy anything, according to one study.


By Michelle Bryner




Editorial the New York Times

  The Fog of False Choices

Published: December 20, 2005


After five years, we're used to President Bush throwing up false

choices to defend his policies. Americans were told, after all, that

there was a choice between invading Iraq and risking a terrorist

nuclear attack. So it was not a surprise that Mr. Bush's Oval Office

speech Sunday night and his news conference yesterday were thick with

Orwellian constructions: the policy debate on Iraq is between those who

support Mr. Bush and those who want to pull out right now, today;

fighting terrorists in Iraq means we're not fighting them here.


But none of these phony choices were as absurd as the one Mr. Bush

posed to justify his secret program of spying on Americans: save lives

or follow the law.


Mr. Bush said he thwarted terrorist plots by allowing the National

Security Agency to monitor Americans' international communications

without a warrant. We don't know if that is true because the

administration reverts to top-secret mode when pressed for details. But

we can reach a conclusion about Mr. Bush's assertion that obeying a

27-year-old law prevents swift and decisive action in a high-tech era.

It's a myth.


The 1978 law that regulates spying on Americans (remember Richard

Nixon's enemies lists?) does require a warrant to conduct that sort of

surveillance. It also created a special court that is capable of

responding within hours to warrant requests. If that is not fast

enough, the attorney general may authorize wiretaps and then seek a

warrant within 72 hours.


Mr. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales offered a whole bag of

logical pretzels yesterday to justify flouting this law. Most bizarre

was the assertion that Congress authorized the surveillance of American

citizens when it approved the use of "all necessary and appropriate

force" by the United States military to punish those responsible for

the 9/11 attacks or who aided or harbored the terrorists. This came as

a surprise to lawmakers, who thought they were voting for the invasion

of Afghanistan and the capture of Osama bin Laden.


This administration has a long record of expanding presidential powers

in dangerous ways; the indefinite detention of "unlawful enemy

combatants" comes to mind. So assurances that surveillance targets are

carefully selected with reasonable cause don't comfort. In a democracy

ruled by laws, investigators identify suspects and prosecutors obtain

warrants for searches by showing reasonable cause to a judge, who

decides if legal tests were met.


Chillingly, this is not the only time we've heard of this

administration using terrorism as an excuse to spy on Americans. NBC

News recently discovered a Pentagon database of 1,500 "suspicious

incidents" that included a Quaker meeting to plan an antiwar rally. And

Eric Lichtblau and James Risen write in today's Times that F.B.I.

counterterrorism squads have conducted numerous surveillance operations

since Sept. 11, 2001, on groups like People for the Ethical Treatment

of Animals, Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group.


Mr. Bush says Congress gave him the power to spy on Americans. Fine,

then Congress can just take it back.






Governments Tremble at Google's Bird's-Eye View



Published: December 20, 2005


When Google introduced Google Earth, free software that marries satellite and aerial images with mapping capabilities, the company emphasized its usefulness as a teaching and navigation tool, while advertising the pure entertainment value of high-resolution flyover images of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the pyramids.


DigitalGlobe, via Google Earth


Views of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower were part of the initial appeal of Google Earth. But its ability to show government buildings, military installations and other sites has alarmed officials in several nations.

But since its debut last summer, Google Earth has received attention of an unexpected sort. Officials of several nations have expressed alarm over its detailed display of government buildings, military installations and other important sites within their borders.


India, whose laws sharply restrict satellite and aerial photography, has been particularly outspoken. "It could severely compromise a country's security," V. S. Ramamurthy, secretary in India's federal Department of Science and Technology, said of Google Earth. And India's surveyor general, Maj. Gen. M. Gopal Rao, said, "They ought to have asked us."


Similar sentiments have surfaced in news reports from other countries. South Korean officials have said they fear that Google Earth lays bare details of military installations. Thai security officials said they intended to ask Google to block images of vulnerable government buildings. And Lt. Gen. Leonid Sazhin, an analyst for the Federal Security Service, the Russian security agency that succeeded the K.G.B., was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying: "Terrorists don't need to reconnoiter their target. Now an American company is working for them."


But there is little they can do, it seems, but protest.


Google Earth is the most conspicuous recent instance of increased openness in a digitally networked world, where information that was once carefully guarded is now widely available on personal computers. Many security experts agree that such increased transparency - and the discomfort that it produces - is an inevitable byproduct of the Internet's power and reach.


American experts in and outside government generally agree that the focus on Google Earth as a security threat appears misplaced, as the same images that Google acquires from a variety of sources are available directly from the imaging companies, as well as from other sources. Google Earth licenses most of the satellite images, for instance, from DigitalGlobe, an imaging company in Longmont, Colo.


"Google Earth is not acquiring new imagery," said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, which has an online repository of satellite imagery. "They are simply repurposing imagery that somebody else had already acquired. So if there was any harm that was going to be done by the imagery, it would already be done."


Google Earth was developed as a $79-a-year product by a small company called Keyhole that Google bought last year; it was reintroduced as a free downloadable desktop program in June. It consists of software that can be downloaded onto a personal computer and used to "fly over" city streets, landmarks, buildings, mountains, redwood forests and Gulf Stream waters. Type in any street address in the United States, Canada or Britain, or the longitude and latitude for any place - or even terms like "pyramids" or "Taj Mahal" - and the location quickly zooms into focus from outer space.


It was in the 1990's that the federal government started allowing commercial satellite companies to make and sell high-resolution images, to allow American companies to compete in a growing market.


But a number of security restrictions apply to those companies. For instance, United States law requires that images of Israel shot by American-licensed commercial satellites be made available only at a relatively low resolution. Also, the companies' operating licenses allow the United States government to put any area off limits in the interests of national security. A 24-hour delay is mandated for images of especially high resolution.


Vipin Gupta, a security analyst at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, said the time delays were crucial, saying that in the national security sphere much can change between the time an image is taken and when it is used by the public.


"You can get imagery to determine whether there is a military base or airfield, but if you want to count aircraft, or determine whether there are troops there at a particular time, it is very difficult to do," Mr. Gupta said. "It's not video."


Andrew McLaughlin, a senior policy counsel at Google, said the company had entered discussions with several countries over the last few months, including Thailand, South Korea and, most recently, India.


India may be particularly sensitive to security issues because of its long-running border disputes with Pakistan, its rival nuclear power, and recurring episodes of terrorism. Since 1967, it has forbidden aerial photographs of bridges, ports, refineries and military establishments, and outside companies and agencies are required to have those images evaluated by the government. High-resolution satellite photos face similar restrictions in India, which has its own sophisticated satellite imaging program.


Mr. Ramamurthy, the Indian science official, acknowledged that "there is very little we can do to a company based overseas and offering its service over the Internet." But General Rao, the Indian surveyor general, said the Indian government had sent a letter asking Google "to show sensitive sites, which we will list - areas such as the presidential residence and defense installations - in very low-resolution images."


Mr. McLaughlin said he had not yet seen such a letter; he said talks with India had centered specifically on images of the Kashmir border, long disputed by India and Pakistan.


Meetings with Indian officials or those from other nations have yet to result in a request that Google remove or downgrade any information, Mr. McLaughlin said. Nor, he said, has the United States government ever asked Google to remove information.


The same cannot be said for Mr. Pike, whose Web site has images of nuclear test sites and military bases in much sharper focus than can be found on Google Earth.


Last year, Mr. Pike said, he was asked by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, an arm of the Defense Department, to remove from his site some of the maps of cities in Iraq that the Coalition Provisional Authority had created for planning cellphone service.


Mr. Pike said he had complied, but added that the incident was a classic example of the futility of trying to control information. "To think that the same information couldn't be found elsewhere was not a very safe assumption," he said.


Dave Burpee, a spokesman for the agency, said that the incident was relatively isolated, and that Mr. Pike had been asked to remove the maps because they were marked "limited distribution." A service like Google Earth, on the other hand, contains nothing classified or restricted.


An outcry over security was the last thing John Hanke was thinking five years ago when he joined in founding Keyhole with the aim of using satellite and aerial photography to create a three-dimensional world map. The idea, said Mr. Hanke, an entrepreneur who founded two video game companies before starting Keyhole, was to make video games more interesting.


Now Mr. Hanke, as a general manager at Google in charge of Google Earth, finds himself in the thick of frequent discussions at Google and with outsiders about transparency. He speaks enthusiastically of the benefits of openness. "A lot of good things come out of making information available," he said, and proceeded to list a few: "disaster relief, land conservation and forest management for fighting wildfires."


The images, which Google Earth expects to update roughly every 18 months, are a patchwork of aerial and satellite photographs, and their relative sharpness varies. Blurriness is more often than not an indication of the best quality available for a location.


Chuck Herring, a spokesman for DigitalGlobe, said that to the best of his knowledge, the federal government had never asked his company to obscure or blur images. Similarly, Mr. Hanke said no specific areas on Google Earth lacked high-resolution data because of federal restrictions.


For a brief period, photos of the White House and adjacent buildings that the United States Geological Survey provided to Google Earth showed up with certain details obscured, because the government had decided that showing details like rooftop helicopter landing pads was a security risk. Google has since replaced those images with unaltered photographs of the area taken by Sanborn, a mapping and imagery company, further illustrating the difficulty of trying to control such information.


As for security issues raised by other countries, Mr. Hanke said, "When we reach out and engage with knowledgeable people, the concern tends to subside."


Still, imagery is growing harder than ever to control, especially as it makes its way around the Internet. Several countries, notably Nigeria, China and Brazil, have recently launched satellites, making it harder for any one government to impose restrictions.


"When you have multiple eyes in the sky, what you're doing is creating a transparent globe where anyone can get basic information about anyone else," said Mr. Gupta, the Sandia analyst. His recommendation to the Indian government, he said, would be to accept the new reality: "Times are changing, and the best thing to do is adapt to the advances in technology."


Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting for this article.




too bad..... but this still doesnt make up for the evils of laro and kevin being jailed unjustly




West Valley news briefs


Dec. 21, 2005 12:00 AM


Wounded Peoria officer paralyzed


PEORIA - A police officer who was shot and wounded Saturday is paralyzed from the chest down but has full use of his arms, authorities said Tuesday.


"The recovery process for such an injury is tremendous, and the family asks for the public's continued support and prayers," said Mike Tellef, a Peoria police spokesman. advertisement


Officer Bill Weigt, 31, remained in serious but stable condition at John C. Lincoln Hospital-North Mountain, Tellef said.


Earlier, police filed court papers showing marijuana has emerged as a motive in a Saturday slaying that led to a shootout in which Weigt suffered a chest wound. Other officers shot dead Damon Arthur Hicks, 27, in the early-morning gunbattle.


In booking documents, police said the confrontation occurred after Hicks and Hassain Hennix, 23, of Avondale, went to a Peoria home looking for marijuana.


Inside the home, Hicks fatally shot Ruben Cruz Hernandez Jr., 21, and fled in a car and later was killed, while Hennix fled from the neighborhood on foot, police said.


Hennix was arrested Monday on charges of murder, kidnapping and burglary. In court Tuesday, bail was set at $500,000.






Judge bars 'intelligent design' from Pa. classes


Michael Powell

Washington Post

Dec. 21, 2005 12:00 AM


A federal judge Tuesday blocked a Pennsylvania school district from mentioning "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolutionary theory in a scathing opinion that criticized School Board members for lying under oath and for their "breathtaking inanity" in trying to inject religion into science classes.


U.S. District Judge John Jones III, a Republican appointed by President Bush, explicitly sought to vanquish intelligent design, the argument that aspects of life are so complex as to require the hand of a supernatural creator. This theory, he said, relies on the unprovable existence of a Christian God and therefore is not science.


"The overwhelming evidence is that intelligent design is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism and not a scientific theory," Jones wrote in his decision. "It is an extension of the fundamentalists' view that one must either accept the literal interpretation of Genesis or else believe in the godless system of evolution."


In November, voters in Dover threw out eight of nine School Board members; the ninth was not up for re-election. The new School Board, which favors teaching evolution, will not appeal the ruling.


Jones' decision puts an exclamation mark on a battle hailed as the successor to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, when proponents of modern scientific methods first battled creationists in court over the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution. School boards from Kansas to Georgia and Florida have launched challenges to evolution.


If Tuesday's decision is any guide, opponents of evolution face a tough task, advocates on both sides agreed.


"The court has held that it's not a scientific theory," said Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "At a time when this country is lagging behind other countries, we can ill afford to shackle our children's minds with 15th-century science."


John West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture, a leading intelligent-design think tank in Seattle, said that the judge showed "egregious" judicial activism. But he agreed that the decision comes as a heavy blow.


"There's no doubt that people will trumpet this and that now they can say a federal judge agrees, and that doesn't help," West said. "His angry tone was not helpful."


This latest skirmish began when the School Board in Dover, a small Pennsylvania farm town, voted last year to require ninth-grade biology teachers to read a four-paragraph statement casting doubt on Darwin's theory of evolution.


The mandatory statement notes that intelligent design offers an alternative theory for the origin and evolution of life.


The board members made little secret of their own views, which hewed not so much to intelligent design as to Young Earth Creationism, the fundamentalist Christian belief that Noah's flood shaped the Earth.


One board member told a public meeting that the nation "was founded on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such." He later tried to deny the remark.


Eleven parents filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking to block the new policy on the grounds that intelligent design was but biblical creationism in the cloth of science. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1987 that nothing like creationism could be taught in public school science courses.


"The board was selfish," said Eric Rothschild, who represented the parents. "This was all about imposing their religious viewpoint on a diverse community."


Steve Fuller, a philosopher of science at the University of Warwick in England who testified for the defense, acknowledged that the School Board members undercut the case for a new theory.


"Intelligent design has to be de-theologized," Fuller said. "But it will be a shame if a result of this decision is that we can't question Darwinism, which is not just a theory but an entire secular world view that flattens the distinction between humans and other life."




Posted 12/21/2005 8:04 AM


U.S. judge rejects intelligent design

By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY


A federal judge dealt a major setback Tuesday to backers of the idea that some forms of life are so complex that they must be the product of an intelligent designer. Judge John Jones ruled that it is unconstitutional to teach the concept in public school science classes because it is "a religious view."


  Students head home in Dover, Pa. A federal judge barred the Dover school district from teaching "intelligent design" in biology class.

By Bradley C Bower, AP


The case, the first court test of intelligent design, or ID, was the latest in a series of challenges to evolution that go back to the 1925 Scopes trial, when a Tennessee high school science teacher was convicted of teaching Darwin's theory that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor.


Jones' ruling is not binding outside the Middle District of Pennsylvania, but attorneys and outside experts say it will have broad impact on judges, lawyers and school boards. (Related item: 'ID' ruling traces idea's problems, town's divisions)


"ID is an interesting theological argument, but ... it is not science," Jones wrote in a 139-page ruling. "Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution."




From the statement read to ninth-grade biology students at Dover High School:


"Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind."


Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago, cited Supreme Court rulings that teaching creationism — which holds that God created all life — violates the First Amendment wall between church and state. He said evidence at trial established that intelligent design is "a mere re-labeling of creationism."


Intelligent design theory does not answer the question of who or what is the designer. Jones said "no serious alternative to God as the designer" has been proposed by ID proponents.


Local parents sued the Dover, Pa., school board after the board required that ninth-grade biology students be read a statement critical of evolution. It suggested ID as an alternative and pointed students to a pro-ID book, Of Pandas and People. Jones found that several board members made clear they wanted to introduce religious content. He said they "testified inconsistently or lied outright under oath on several occasions" in trying to disguise their intent.


Jones admonished the board for dragging Dover residents "into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources." Eight of the board members who adopted the policy were on the ballot last month, and all eight lost. The new school board members have said they do not support the policy, so the case probably will go no further.


The school board members were represented by chief counsel Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. He called the decision a "troubling" display of censorship and predicted "it will be ignored" by other judges.


Eric Rothschild, an attorney for the families who challenged the policy, called the ruling "a real vindication for the parents who had the courage to stand up and say there was something wrong in their school district."


Richard Katskee, also part of the winning legal team, called the decision "a cautionary tale" for school officials elsewhere. Another team member, Steve Harvey, said it affirms that officials "should not use public office to impose their personal religious views on others."


Doug Laycock, a church-state expert at the University of Texas law school, said Jones based his decision on 21 days of testimony. "This is going to be enormously persuasive to other judges and lawyers as a prediction of what would happen if they slogged through the whole 21 days all over again," he said.


The case was the latest chapter in a debate over the teaching of evolution dating back to the Scopes trial, in which Tennessee biology teacher John T. Scopes was fined $100 for violating a state law against teaching evolution.


   Facts about the 'Intelligent design' trial


THE ISSUE: The Dover Area School Board voted in October 2004 to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design before learning about evolution. Eight families sued, saying it is biblical creationism in disguise and violates the constitutional separation of church and state.


WHAT IS INTELLIGENT DESIGN?: Intelligent design holds that Charles Darwin's theory cannot fully explain the emergence of highly complex life forms. It implies the existence of an unidentified intelligent force.

THE TRIAL: After a six-week trial that ended in early November, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled Tuesday that the district cannot mention the concept in classes.


Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in Georgia heard arguments over whether a suburban Atlanta school district had the right to put stickers on biology textbooks describing evolution as a theory, not fact. A federal judge last January ordered the stickers removed.


In November, state education officials in Kansas adopted new classroom science standards that call the theory of evolution into question.


President Bush also weighed in on the issue of intelligent design recently, saying schools should present the concept when teaching about the origins of life.


In his ruling, Jones said intelligent design "violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation"; it relies on "flawed and illogical" arguments; and its attacks on evolution "have been refuted by the scientific community."


The judge also said: "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."


Former school board member William Buckingham, who advanced the policy, said from his new home in Mount Airy, N.C., that he still feels the board did the right thing.


"I'm still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me anywhere in the Constitution where there's a separation of church and state," he told The Associated Press. "We didn't lose; we were robbed."


In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require public schools to balance evolution lessons by teaching creationism.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.




Judge Rejects Teaching Intelligent Design



Published: December 21, 2005

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 20 - A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that it was unconstitutional for a Pennsylvania school district to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in high school biology courses because it is a religious viewpoint that advances "a particular version of Christianity."


Judge Jones also excoriated members of the Dover, Pa., school board, who he said lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of "breathtaking inanity" and "dragged" their community into "this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."


Eleven parents in Dover, a growing suburb about 20 miles south of Harrisburg, sued their school board a year ago after it voted to have teachers read students a brief statement introducing intelligent design in ninth-grade biology class.


The statement said that there were "gaps in the theory" of evolution and that intelligent design was another explanation they should examine.


Judge Jones, a Republican appointed by President Bush, concluded that intelligent design was not science, and that in order to claim that it is, its proponents admit they must change the very definition of science to include supernatural explanations.


Judge Jones said that teaching intelligent design as science in public school violated the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits public officials from using their positions to impose or establish a particular religion.


"To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect," Judge Jones wrote. "However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions."


The six-week trial in Federal District Court in Harrisburg gave intelligent design the most thorough academic and legal airing since the movement's inception about 15 years ago, and was often likened to the momentous Scopes case that put evolution on trial 80 years earlier.


Intelligent design posits that biological life is so complex that it must have been designed by an intelligent source. Its adherents say that they refrain from identifying the designer, and that it could even be aliens or a time traveler.


But Judge Jones said the evidence in the trial proved that intelligent design was "creationism relabeled."


The Supreme Court has already ruled that creationism, which relies on the biblical account of the creation of life, cannot be taught as science in a public school.


Judge Jones's decision is legally binding only for school districts in the middle district of Pennsylvania. It is unlikely to be appealed because the school board members who supported intelligent design were unseated in elections in November and replaced with a slate that opposes the intelligent design policy and said it would abide by the judge's decision.


Lawyers for the plaintiffs said at a news conference in Harrisburg that the judge's decision should serve as a deterrent to other school boards and teachers considering teaching intelligent design.


"It's a carefully reasoned, highly detailed opinion," said Richard Katskee, assistant legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, "that goes through all of the issues that would be raised in any other school district."


Richard Thompson, the lead defense lawyer for the school board, derided the judge for issuing a sweeping judgment in a case that Mr. Thompson said merely involved a "one-minute statement" being read to students. He acknowledged that his side, too, had asked the judge to rule on the scientific merits of intelligent design, but only because it had to respond to the plaintiffs' arguments.


"A thousand opinions by a court that a particular scientific theory is invalid will not make that scientific theory invalid," said Mr. Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., that says it promotes Christian values. "It is going to be up to the scientists who are going to continue to do research in their labs that will ultimately determine that."


"That was a real drag," said Michael J. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University who was the star witness for the intelligent design side. "I think he really went way over what he as a judge is entitled to say."


Dr. Behe added: "He talks about the ground rules of science. What has a judge to do with the ground rules of science? I think he just chose sides and echoed the arguments and just made assertions about our arguments."


William A. Dembski, a mathematician who argues that mathematics can show the presence of design in the development of life, predicted that intelligent design would become much stronger within 5 to 10 years.


Both Dr. Behe and Dr. Dembski are fellows with the Discovery Institute, a leading proponent of intelligent design.


"I think the big lesson is, let's go to work and really develop this theory and not try to win this in the court of public opinion," Dr. Dembski said. "The burden is on us to produce."


Mainstream scientists who have maintained that no controversy exists in the scientific community over evolution were elated by Judge Jones's ruling.


"Jubilation," said Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University who has actively sparred with intelligent design proponents and testified in the Dover case. "I think the judge nailed it."


Dr. Miller said he was glad that the judge did not just rule narrowly.


Jason D. Rosenhouse, a professor of mathematics at James Madison University in Virginia and a fervent pro-evolution blogger said: "I was laughing as I read it because I don't think a scientist could explain it any better. His logic is flawless, and he hit all of the points that scientists have been making for years."


Before the start of a celebratory news conference in Harrisburg, Tammy Kitzmiller, a parent of two daughters in the Dover district and the named plaintiff in the case, Kitzmiller et al v. Dover, joked with other plaintiffs that she had an idea for a new bumper sticker: "Judge Jones for President."


Christy Rehm, another plaintiff, said to the others, "We've done something amazing here, not only with this decision, but with the election."


Last month, Dover, which usually votes majority Republican, ousted eight school board members who had backed intelligent design and elected the opposition that ran on a Democratic ticket.


Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, who helped to argue the case, said, "We sincerely hope that other school districts who may have been thinking about intelligent design will pause, they will read Judge Jones's erudite opinion and they will look at what happened in the Dover community in this battle, pitting neighbor against neighbor."


The judge's ruling said that two of the most outspoken proponents of intelligent design on the Dover school board, William Buckingham and Alan Bonsell, lied in their depositions about how they raised money in a church to buy copies of an intelligent design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," to put in the school library.


Both men, according to testimony, had repeatedly said at school board meetings that they objected to evolution for religious reasons and wanted to see creationism taught on equal footing.


Judge Jones wrote, "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the I.D. policy."


Mr. Bonsell did not respond to a telephone message on Tuesday. Mr. Buckingham, a retired police officer who has moved to Mount Airy, N.C., said, "If the judge called me a liar, then he's a liar."


Mr. Buckingham said he "answered the questions the way they asked them." He called the decision "ludicrous" and said, "I think Judge Jones ought to be ashamed of himself."


The Constitution, he said, does not call for the separation of church and state.


In his opinion, Judge Jones traced the history of the intelligent design movement to what he said were its roots in Christian fundamentalism. He seemed especially convinced by the testimony of Barbara Forrest, a historian of science, that the authors of the "Pandas" textbook had removed the word "creationism" from an earlier draft and substituted it with "intelligent design" after the Supreme Court's ruling in 1987.


"We conclude that the religious nature of intelligent design would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child," the judge said. "The writings of leading I.D. proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity."


Opponents of intelligent design said Judge Jones's ruling would not put an end to the movement, and predicted that intelligent design would take on various guises.


The Kansas Board of Education voted in November to adopt standards that call into question the theory of evolution, but never explicitly mention intelligent design.


Eugenie Scott, executive director, National Center for Science Education, an advocacy group in Oakland, Calif., that promotes teaching evolution, said in an interview, "I predict that another school board down the line will try to bring intelligent design into the curriculum like the Dover group did, and they'll be a lot smarter about concealing their religious intent."


Even after courts ruled against teaching creationism and creation science, Ms. Scott said, "for several years afterward, school districts were still contemplating teaching creation science."




this little piggy got busted for stealing money from the sheriff's office.




State alleges embezzling by ex-sheriff's employee


Associated Press

Dec. 21, 2005 12:00 AM


A former Pinal County jail detention officer faces felony charges accusing her of embezzling about $12,000 from sheriff's accounts and tampering with official records to cover up the reputed thefts, authorities said Tuesday.


A Dec. 14 state grand jury indictment obtained by the Attorney General's Office charged Sylvia Martinez with two counts of theft and one count each of fraud, misuse of public money and tampering with sheriff's accounts for bonds and deposits made on behalf of inmates.


Also, Cynthia MacDonald, a sister of Martinez, was charged with one count of theft accusing her of depositing a $2,500 check reputedly delivered to her by Martinez.


The state Auditor General's Office said in an investigative audit report released Tuesday that it was asked by Pinal County administrators in October 2003 to investigate allegations of financial misconduct by Martinez.


According to the report, sheriff's officials learned of discrepancies in the deposit process in September 2003.




Government spying on its own citizens is far more dangerous to the security of our republic than any terrorist organization.




Government spying slashes at freedom


Dec. 21, 2005 12:00 AM


This past weekend, we learned that our executive branch has been spying on Americans without due legal process. That fact, and the fact that our chief executive freely admits it, is simply chilling.


It matters not one bit where in the political spectrum one is; our government spying on its own citizens is far more dangerous to the security of our republic than any terrorist organization.


We fought this type of totalitarian nonsense during the Cold War. Now it rises again, but this time from within. Saying it's for our own protection, President Bush has pointed a gun at the heart of our republic and smiles as he threatens to pull the trigger.


John Nagy

Mesa, Arizona




"Smitty" Smith -  a wannabe cop who gets his thrills writing tickets!!!! but don't tell him that he is too stupid to understand it.




Watchdog keeps parking lots in order


John Faherty

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 21, 2005 12:00 AM


For ethical and moral reasons too numerous to list, you should not park in a parking spot saved for people with disabilities unless you need it.


If those reasons aren't good enough for you, there is "Smitty" Smith.


Smith, who prefers to be called "Smitty," volunteers with the city of Phoenix's Accessibility Compliance Enforcement (ACE) program. That means that he makes sure those parking spots are being used only by people who should be in there.


Smith, 59, walks and talks like the veteran he is. He served in the Army between 1964 and 1968, doing time in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.


He later worked as a site manager for a large AT&T facility in the Valley.


Last January, he joined the ACE program, which means he patrols parking lots and writes tickets when he sees an infraction. The "job" has been more rewarding than he anticipated and not because he likes writing the $125 tickets.


"I do not get a thrill when I write a ticket. And I'm not a wannabe cop. It's rewarding in that I'm helping people who could use a break by making sure they have access to the places where they want to go," Smith said.


On a recent day in a huge parking lot in northeast Phoenix, Smith drove from cluster to cluster reserved for people with disabilities.


He checked each car to make sure it had a current parking placard. Each did.


Connie Mitchell of Scottsdale approached her car as Smith was looking at her placard. Was she glad to see him?


"Absolutely. I see people parking in these spots all the time when they shouldn't," Mitchell said.


She then spoke of one her pet peeves: people who sit in their car and idle even if they have no right to be in the spot.


"They think it is perfectly fine if they are in the car. Or they'll say, 'I'll just be a minute.' "


Obviously, that is not true.


Detective Walter Olsen oversees the program for the Phoenix Police Department. Since the Police Department took over enforcement from the Fire Department in 2000, volunteers with the ACE program have written 4,000 to 5,000 tickets each year.


"We have an obligation to make sure these spaces are available. It's the right thing to do," Olsen said.


"As our population grows older, there is going to be even more of a demand for these parking spots."


Being vigilant about parking is particularly important now, when parking lots fill up with holiday shoppers.


One of the volunteers who started the ACE program with the Police Department is Olsen's father, David Olsen.


"He loves doing it, he's a great guy," Olsen said.


The elder Olsen, who turns 80 on Thursday, trained Smith.


On a four-hour shift, Smith will write three to five tickets, on average.


"A real good day is when you don't write any tickets," he said. "I've only had two of those."


Have a story that needs to be told? Know about a person doing something incredible? Contact the reporter at (602) 444-4803 or john.faherty@arizonarepublic.com.




i like that word "impeachable act" even though   Sen. Barbara Boxer is a gun grabber!




Senators call for spy inquiry

2 in GOP, 3 Dems target Bush's domestic surveillance


Ron Hutcheson and James Kuhnhenn

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Dec. 21, 2005 12:00 AM


WASHINGTON - Senators of both parties on Tuesday demanded a congressional investigation into President Bush's domestic-surveillance program, even as Vice President Dick Cheney warned that the president's critics could face political repercussions.


Five members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, two Republicans and three Democrats, called for a joint investigation by their panel and the Senate's Judiciary Committee, saying revelations that Bush authorized spying on U.S. residents without court approval "require immediate inquiry and action by the Senate."


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he was discussing the possibility of hearings with various committee chairmen, but he didn't pledge to hold any. Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he preferred that each committee conduct independent inquiries. advertisement


Signing the letter requesting an inquiry were Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Dianne Feinstein of California.


"It is critical that Congress determine, as quickly as possible, exactly what collection activities were authorized, what were actually undertaken, how many names and numbers were involved over what period, and what was the asserted legal authority for such activities," the five wrote.


Separately, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., had said previously that his panel would conduct hearings into the matter next month.


Cheney forcefully defended the previously secret spying program, disclosed last Friday by the New York Times, and said that Bush's critics could pay a political price.


"Either we're serious about fighting the war on terror or we're not," Cheney told reporters during a visit to Pakistan.


But most criticism so far has been directed at Bush. Lawmakers from both parties question the eavesdropping program's legality. By setting it up, Bush bypassed a federal law that requires court approval for domestic surveillance.


The spying program targeted suspected terrorists and their supporters communicating between the United States and foreign countries.


The clamor over the spying came as the Senate debated renewal of the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism law that expanded police powers. Democrats and a handful of Republicans have asked for a three-month extension of the law to add more civil liberties protections. But the law expires Dec. 31, and Bush and Frist have refused to accept the extension.


Specter on Tuesday challenged Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' defense of the spying operation. Gonzales had said Monday that the administration hadn't sought to change existing law to permit such spying because it feared Congress wouldn't approve. But he also said that Congress' 2001 resolution authorizing force to prevent another terrorist attack gave the president implicit authority to order the plan.


"If he didn't think he could get Congress to act, why does he think Congress intended to give those broad powers in the force resolution?" Specter asked.


Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she had asked presidential scholars to determine whether the spying program could be deemed an impeachable act.




U.S. judge quits court over domestic-spy program


Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer

Washington Post

Dec. 21, 2005 12:00 AM


WASHINGTON - A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic-spying program, according to two sources.


U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.


Two associates familiar with his decision said Tuesday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 is legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.


Robertson, who was appointed to the federal bench in Washington by President Clinton in 1994, , declined to comment Tuesday.


Since the program was made public last week by the New York Times, the White House has sparred publicly with key Democrats over whether Congress was fully informed and allowed to conduct oversight of the operation.


The news also spurred considerable debate among federal judges, including some who serve on the secret FISA court. For more than a quarter-century, that court had been seen as the only body that could legally authorize secret surveillance of espionage and terrorism suspects and only when the Justice Department could show probable cause that its targets were foreign governments or their agents.


Robertson indicated privately to colleagues in recent conversations that he was concerned that information gained from warrantless NSA surveillance could have then been used to obtain FISA warrants. FISA court Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who had been briefed on the spying program by the administration, raised the same concern in 2004 and insisted that the Justice Department certify that it was not occurring.




i bet its snowing in hell today. two cops actually got fired for a crime they committed.




Dec 21, 3:30 PM EST


Two New Orleans cops axed in taped assault


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Two of the officers videotaped by the Associated Press beating a man in the French Quarter shortly after Hurricane Katrina were fired Tuesday. A third oficer was suspended.


Officers Robert Evangelist and Lance Shilling were fired for their role in the beating of 64-year-old Robert Davis.


Officer Stuart Smith was suspended for 120 days.


Davis is black; the three officers are white.


Evangelist and Schilling were accused of battery on Davis. Smith was accused of battery of a reporter.


All three officers had been suspended without pay since the Oct. 8 incident. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and face trial Jan. 11.


Davis, a retired elementary school teacher who returned to the storm-struck city to check on his properties, said he was searching for cigarettes in the French Quarter when police grabbed him.


The Associated Press Television News tape shows an officer hitting Davis at least four times on the head. Davis appeared to resist, twisting and flailing as he was dragged to the ground by four officers.


One of the officers kneed Davis and punched him twice. Davis was face-down on the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm and into the gutter.


A fifth officer ordered APTN producer Rich Matthews and the cameraman to stop recording. When Matthews held up his credentials, the officer grabbed the producer, leaned him backward over a car, jabbed him in the stomach and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade.


Davis later pleaded not guilty to charges of public intoxication, resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and public intimidation.




are sheriff joe and maricopa county attorney andrew thomas out to get the new times??? i bet they are!




Legislator’s tie to New Times paper questioned

By Dennis Welch, Tribune

December 21, 2005


A state senator could be illegally misusing his powers by allowing a weekly newspaper to pay for an investigation into the results of a 2004 election, the Maricopa County attorney said Tuesday.


Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, agreed to allow Phoenix New Times to pay up to $3,000 for an election consultant after he could not get the money from Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott.


Harper, chairman of the Government Accountability and Reform Committee, said he wants to find out why an additional 489 votes turned up during a recount of a District 20 House primary race.


The recount overturned the election in that district, which covers parts of Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix.


Some state and county officials are concerned that the relationship between the senator and the newspaper could be unethical, if not illegal.


Bennett, who said he never authorized Harper to investigate the election results, called the entire process "troubling."


"What’s being done is un- der the powers of a committee chair," he said, adding that committee chairmen have the authority to issue subpoenas.


"We should remain as true to that as possible," Bennett said, adding that he is powerless to stop Harper’s action.


Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, in a letter to Bennett, stated that he is concerned whether "Senator Harper is misusing his committee’s subpoena and police powers at the service of this (New Times) private, nonlegislative organization."


The letter went on to say that there were serious questions about legality and the ethics regarding the relationship between the New Times and Harper.


However, Harper said there’s nothing wrong or illegal about using an outside source to pay for a Senate investigation.


He referred to the 2000 presidential election in which a consortium of media outlets paid for a recount of the disputed ballots in Florida.


However, in that case, those media outlets had sued for access to the ballots and paid a private company to recount them without government involvement.


Harper dodged questions regarding the ethical issue of allowing the New Times to buy access to the results of the investigation before anyone else.


He said he would release the results as soon as he received them, but said he could not control whether the New Times would receive them first.


In dispute is the 2004 primary election involving Rep. John McComish, R-Ahwatukee Foothills, and Anton Orlich as well as three other candidates.


The election came into question after a recount overturned original results and gave McComish the victory.


Harper wants an explanation as to why the recount turned up the additional 489 ballots not originally counted.


On Tuesday, Douglas Jones, a computer expert from the University of Iowa, began examining the voting machines at a county building in downtown Phoenix.


Jones, who has worked as a election observer in Eastern Europe, said it was too early to say what or if anything is wrong with the voting machines.


Karen Osborn, county elections director, said the additional votes were counted after they were run through a more sensitive counting machine.


She said that some voters do not use the right kind of pen to mark their votes, which would cause some machines to skip counting those ballots.


However Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert ignored Harper’s subpoena and did not release the actual ballots for examination.


Schweikert, a former state lawmaker, said he would not release the ballots until there was an official court order.


While ignoring a legislative subpoena is a misdemeanor, releasing ballots without a court order is a class five felony, he said.


Contact Dennis Welch by email, or phone (480) 898-6573






U.S. bid to shift terror suspect Padilla's detention status fails


Neil A. Lewis

New York Times

Dec. 22, 2005 12:00 AM


WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court delivered a sharp rebuke to the Bush administration Wednesday, refusing to allow the transfer of Jose Padilla from military custody to civilian law enforcement authorities to face terrorism charges.


In denying the administration's request, the three-judge panel issued a strongly worded opinion that said the Justice Department's attempt to transfer Padilla gave the appearance that the government was trying to manipulate the court system to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing the case. The judges warned that the administration's behavior in the Padilla case could jeopardize its credibility before the courts in other terrorism cases.


What made Wednesday's action by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond so startling, lawyers and others said, was that it came from a panel of judges who had in September provided the administration with a sweeping court victory, saying that President Bush had the authority to detain Padilla, a U.S. citizen, indefinitely without trial as an enemy combatant.


Judges angered


But the judges were clearly angered when the administration suddenly shifted course on Nov. 22, saying it no longer needed that authority because it now wanted to try Padilla in a civilian court.


The government said that as a result of the shift, the Supreme Court should no longer consider reviewing the issue of whether Bush could detain a U.S. citizen indefinitely as an enemy combatant.


Many legal analysts speculated at the time that the administration's sudden change in approach was an effort to avoid Supreme Court review of the 4th Circuit ruling.


In the Wednesday opinion, written by Judge J. Michael Luttig, the court said that the panel was denying permission to transfer Padilla as well as the government's suggestion that it vacate the September decision upholding the detention of Padilla for more than three years in a military brig as an enemy combatant.


Luttig is a strong conservative judicial voice who has been considered by Bush for the Supreme Court.


He said the panel would not agree to the government's requests because that would compound what is "at least an appearance that the government may be attempting to avoid consideration of our decision by the Supreme Court, and also because we believe that this case presents an issue of such especial national importance as to warrant final consideration by that court."




DPS Motorcycle cop injured in I-10 crash

by n Thursday December 22, 2005 at 09:49 AM


A motorcycle officer for the Arizona Department of Public Safety was injured Wednesday morning in a crash on Interstate 10 near 63rd Avenue


Motorcycle officer injured in I-10 crash


Brent Whiting

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 21, 2005 11:36 AM


A motorcycle officer for the Arizona Department of Public Safety was injured Wednesday morning in a crash on Interstate 10 near 63rd Avenue.


James Fleming, a four-year DPS member, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, where he was admitted for observation.


Rick Knight, a DPS spokesman, said Fleming was knocked unconscious in the crash, but regained consciousness after paramedics arrived.


Knight said the accident took shortly before 8 a.m. in the eastbound lanes after the driver of a yellow Jeep took evasive action to avoid a vehicle that cut in front of the Jeep.


The Jeep pulled in front of Fleming's motorcycle, resulting in a collsion, he said.


The Jeep driver stopped to render help, Knight said.


The other driver also stopped, but later took off, apparently after seeing that a DPS officer was down, he said.


A license number was obtained for the other vehicle and investigators are doing follow-up work, Knight added.


Reach the reporter at brent.whiting@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8637.




DPS officer in hospital after crash


WEST PHOENIX - A motorcycle officer for the Arizona Department of Public Safety was injured Wednesday morning in a crash on Interstate 10 near 63rd Avenue.


James Fleming, a four-year DPS worker, was taken to a Phoenix hospital, where he was admitted for observation, authorities said.








Britain will be first country to monitor every car journey


From 2006 Britain will be the first country where every journey by every car will be monitored


By Steve Connor, Science Editor


Published: 22 December 2005


Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.


Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.


The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.


By next March a central database installed alongside the Police National Computer in Hendon, north London, will store the details of 35 million number-plate "reads" per day. These will include time, date and precise location, with camera sites monitored by global positioning satellites.


Already there are plans to extend the database by increasing the storage period to five years and by linking thousands of additional cameras so that details of up to 100 million number plates can be fed each day into the central databank.


Senior police officers have described the surveillance network as possibly the biggest advance in the technology of crime detection and prevention since the introduction of DNA fingerprinting.


But others concerned about civil liberties will be worried that the movements of millions of law-abiding people will soon be routinely recorded and kept on a central computer database for years.


The new national data centre of vehicle movements will form the basis of a sophisticated surveillance tool that lies at the heart of an operation designed to drive criminals off the road.


In the process, the data centre will provide unrivalled opportunities to gather intelligence data on the movements and associations of organised gangs and terrorist suspects whenever they use cars, vans or motorcycles.


The scheme is being orchestrated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and has the full backing of ministers who have sanctioned the spending of £24m this year on equipment.


More than 50 local authorities have signed agreements to allow the police to convert thousands of existing traffic cameras so they can read number plates automatically. The data will then be transmitted to Hendon via a secure police communications network.


Chief constables are also on the verge of brokering agreements with the Highways Agency, supermarkets and petrol station owners to incorporate their own CCTV cameras into the network. In addition to cross-checking each number plate against stolen and suspect vehicles held on the Police National Computer, the national data centre will also check whether each vehicle is lawfully licensed, insured and has a valid MoT test certificate.


"Every time you make a car journey already, you'll be on CCTV somewhere. The difference is that, in future, the car's index plates will be read as well," said Frank Whiteley, Chief Constable of Hertfordshire and chairman of the Acpo steering committee on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).


"What the data centre should be able to tell you is where a vehicle was in the past and where it is now, whether it was or wasn't at a particular location, and the routes taken to and from those crime scenes. Particularly important are associated vehicles," Mr Whiteley said.


The term "associated vehicles" means analysing convoys of cars, vans or trucks to see who is driving alongside a vehicle that is already known to be of interest to the police. Criminals, for instance, will drive somewhere in a lawful vehicle, steal a car and then drive back in convoy to commit further crimes "You're not necessarily interested in the stolen vehicle. You're interested in what's moving with the stolen vehicle," Mr Whiteley explained.


According to a strategy document drawn up by Acpo, the national data centre in Hendon will be at the heart of a surveillance operation that should deny criminals the use of the roads.


"The intention is to create a comprehensive ANPR camera and reader infrastructure across the country to stop displacement of crime from area to area and to allow a comprehensive picture of vehicle movements to be captured," the Acpo strategy says.


"This development forms the basis of a 24/7 vehicle movement database that will revolutionise arrest, intelligence and crime investigation opportunities on a national basis," it says.


Mr Whiteley said MI5 will also use the database. "Clearly there are values for this in counter-terrorism," he said.


"The security services will use it for purposes that I frankly don't have access to. It's part of public protection. If the security services did not have access to this, we'd be negligent."


Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.


Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.


The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.


By next March a central database installed alongside the Police National Computer in Hendon, north London, will store the details of 35 million number-plate "reads" per day. These will include time, date and precise location, with camera sites monitored by global positioning satellites.


Already there are plans to extend the database by increasing the storage period to five years and by linking thousands of additional cameras so that details of up to 100 million number plates can be fed each day into the central databank.


Senior police officers have described the surveillance network as possibly the biggest advance in the technology of crime detection and prevention since the introduction of DNA fingerprinting.


But others concerned about civil liberties will be worried that the movements of millions of law-abiding people will soon be routinely recorded and kept on a central computer database for years.


The new national data centre of vehicle movements will form the basis of a sophisticated surveillance tool that lies at the heart of an operation designed to drive criminals off the road.


In the process, the data centre will provide unrivalled opportunities to gather intelligence data on the movements and associations of organised gangs and terrorist suspects whenever they use cars, vans or motorcycles.


The scheme is being orchestrated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and has the full backing of ministers who have sanctioned the spending of £24m this year on equipment.


More than 50 local authorities have signed agreements to allow the police to convert thousands of existing traffic cameras so they can read number plates automatically. The data will then be transmitted to Hendon via a secure police communications network.

Chief constables are also on the verge of brokering agreements with the Highways Agency, supermarkets and petrol station owners to incorporate their own CCTV cameras into the network. In addition to cross-checking each number plate against stolen and suspect vehicles held on the Police National Computer, the national data centre will also check whether each vehicle is lawfully licensed, insured and has a valid MoT test certificate.


"Every time you make a car journey already, you'll be on CCTV somewhere. The difference is that, in future, the car's index plates will be read as well," said Frank Whiteley, Chief Constable of Hertfordshire and chairman of the Acpo steering committee on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).


"What the data centre should be able to tell you is where a vehicle was in the past and where it is now, whether it was or wasn't at a particular location, and the routes taken to and from those crime scenes. Particularly important are associated vehicles," Mr Whiteley said.


The term "associated vehicles" means analysing convoys of cars, vans or trucks to see who is driving alongside a vehicle that is already known to be of interest to the police. Criminals, for instance, will drive somewhere in a lawful vehicle, steal a car and then drive back in convoy to commit further crimes "You're not necessarily interested in the stolen vehicle. You're interested in what's moving with the stolen vehicle," Mr Whiteley explained.


According to a strategy document drawn up by Acpo, the national data centre in Hendon will be at the heart of a surveillance operation that should deny criminals the use of the roads.


"The intention is to create a comprehensive ANPR camera and reader infrastructure across the country to stop displacement of crime from area to area and to allow a comprehensive picture of vehicle movements to be captured," the Acpo strategy says.


"This development forms the basis of a 24/7 vehicle movement database that will revolutionise arrest, intelligence and crime investigation opportunities on a national basis," it says.


Mr Whiteley said MI5 will also use the database. "Clearly there are values for this in counter-terrorism," he said.


"The security services will use it for purposes that I frankly don't have access to. It's part of public protection. If the security services did not have access to this, we'd be negligent."






Police Infiltrate Protests, Videotapes Show




Published: December 22, 2005


Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show.


Police Video Caught a Couple's Intimate Moment on a Manhattan Rooftop (December 22, 2005) In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004.


The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, "I am a shameless agitator." She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.


Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.


Until Sept. 11, the secret monitoring of events where people expressed their opinions was among the most tightly limited of police powers.


Provided with images from the tape, the Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, did not dispute that they showed officers at work but said that disguised officers had always attended such gatherings - not to investigate political activities but to keep order and protect free speech. Activists, however, say that police officers masquerading as protesters and bicycle riders distort their messages and provoke trouble.


The pictures of the undercover officers were culled from an unofficial archive of civilian and police videotapes by Eileen Clancy, a forensic video analyst who is critical of the tactics. She gave the tapes to The New York Times. Based on what the individuals said, the equipment they carried and their almost immediate release after they had been arrested amid protesters or bicycle riders, The Times concluded that at least 10 officers were incognito at the events.


After the 2001 terrorist attacks, officials at all levels of government considered major changes in various police powers. President Bush acknowledged last Saturday that he has secretly permitted the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a warrant on international telephone calls and e-mail messages in terror investigations.


In New York, the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg persuaded a federal judge in 2003 to enlarge the Police Department's authority to conduct investigations of political, social and religious groups. "We live in a more dangerous, constantly changing world," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.


Before then, very few political organizations or activities were secretly investigated by the Police Department, the result of a 1971 class-action lawsuit that charged the city with abuses in surveillance during the 1960's. Now the standard for opening inquiries into political activity has been relaxed, full authority to begin surveillance has been restored to the police and federal courts no longer require a special panel to oversee the tactics.


Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, said the department did not increase its surveillance of political groups when the restrictions were eased. The powers obtained after Sept. 11 have been used exclusively "to investigate and thwart terrorists," Mr. Browne said. He would not answer specific questions about the disguised officers or describe any limits the department placed on surveillance at public events.


Jethro M. Eisenstein, one of the lawyers who brought the lawsuit 34 years ago, said: "This is a level-headed Police Department, led by a level-headed police commissioner. What in the world are they doing?"


For nearly four decades, civil liberty advocates and police officials have fought over the kinds of procedures needed to avoid excessive intrusion on people expressing their views, to provide accountability in secret police operations and to assure public safety for a city that has been the leading American target of terrorists.


To date, officials say no one has complained of personal damage from the information collected over recent months, but participants in the protests, rallies and other gatherings say the police have been a disruptive presence.


Ryan Kuonen, 32, who took part in a "ride of silence" in memory of a dead cyclist, said that two undercover officers - one with a camera - subverted the event. "They were just in your face," she said. "It made what was a really solemn event into something that seemed wrong. It made you feel like you were a criminal. It was grotesque."


Police Video Caught a Couple's Intimate Moment on a Manhattan Rooftop (December 22, 2005) Ms. Clancy, a founder of I-Witness Video, a project that collected hundreds of videotapes during the Republican National Convention that were used in the successful defense of people arrested that week, has assembled videotape of other public events made by legal observers, activists, bystanders and police officers.


She presented examples in October at a conference of defense lawyers. "What has to go on is an informed discussion of policing tactics at public demonstrations, and these images offer a window into the issues and allow the public to make up their own mind," Ms. Clancy said. "How is it possible for police to be accountable when they infiltrate events and dress in the garb of protesters?"


The videotapes that most clearly disclosed the presence of the disguised officers began in August 2004. What happened before that is unclear.


Among the events that have drawn surveillance is a monthly bicycle ride called Critical Mass. The Critical Mass rides, which have no acknowledged leadership, take place in many cities around the world on the last Friday of the month, with bicycle riders rolling through the streets to promote bicycle transportation. Relations between the riders and the police soured last year after thousands of cyclists flooded the streets on the Friday before the Republican National Convention. Officials say the rides cause havoc because the participants refuse to obtain a permit. The riders say they can use public streets without permission from the government.


In a tape made at the April 29 Critical Mass ride, a man in a football jersey is seen riding along West 19th Street with a group of bicycle riders to a police blockade at 10th Avenue. As the police begin to handcuff the bicyclists, the man in the jersey drops to one knee. He tells a uniformed officer, "I'm on the job." The officer in uniform calls to a colleague, "Louie - he's under." A second officer arrives and leads the man in the jersey - hands clasped behind his back - one block away, where the man gets back on his bicycle and rides off.


That videotape was made by a police officer and was recently turned over by prosecutors to Gideon Oliver, a lawyer representing bicycle riders arrested that night.


Another arrest that appeared to be a sham changed the dynamics of a demonstration. On Aug. 30, 2004, during the Republican National Convention, a man with vivid blond hair was filmed as he stood on 23rd Street, holding a sign at a march of homeless and poor people. A police lieutenant suddenly moved to arrest him. Onlookers protested, shouting, "Let him go." In response, police officers in helmets and with batons pushed against the crowd, and at least two other people were arrested.


The videotape shows the blond-haired man speaking calmly with the lieutenant. When the lieutenant unzipped the man's backpack, a two-way radio could be seen. Then the man was briskly escorted away, unlike others who were put on the ground, plastic restraints around their wrists. And while the blond-haired man kept his hands clasped behind his back, the tape shows that he was not handcuffed or restrained.


The same man was videotaped a day earlier, observing the actress Rosario Dawson as she and others were arrested on 35th Street and Eighth Avenue as they filmed "This Revolution," a movie that used actual street demonstrations as a backdrop. At one point, the blond-haired man seemed to try to rile bystanders.


After Ms. Dawson and another actress were placed into a police van, the blond-haired man can be seen peering in the window. According to Charles Maol, who was working on the film, the blond-haired man is the source of a voice that is heard calling: "Hey, that's my brother in there. What do you got my brother in there for?"


After Mr. Browne was sent photographs of the people involved in the convention incidents and the bicycle arrests, he said, "I am not commenting on descriptions of purported or imagined officers."


The federal courts have long held that undercover officers can monitor political activities for a "legitimate law enforcement purpose." While the police routinely conduct undercover operations in plainly criminal circumstances - the illegal sale of weapons, for example - surveillance at political events is laden with ambiguity. To retain cover in those settings, officers might take part in public dialogue, debate and demonstration, at the risk of influencing others to alter opinions or behavior.


Police Video Caught a Couple's Intimate Moment on a Manhattan Rooftop (December 22, 2005) The authority of the police to conduct surveillance of First Amendment activities has been shaped over the years not only by the law but also by the politics of the moment and the perception of public safety needs.


In the 1971 class-action lawsuit, the city acknowledged that the Police Department had used infiltrators, undercover agents and fake news reporters to spy on yippies, civil rights advocates, antiwar activists, labor organizers and black power groups.


A former police chief said the department's intelligence files contained a million names of groups and individuals - more in just the New York files than were collected for the entire country in a now-discontinued program of domestic spying by the United States Army around the same time. In its legal filings, the city said any excesses were aberrational acts.


The case, known as Handschu for the lead plaintiff, was settled in 1985 when the city agreed to extraordinary new limits in the investigation of political organizations, among them the creation of an oversight panel that included a civilian appointed by the mayor. The police were required to have "specific information" that a crime was in the works before investigating such groups.


The Handschu settlement also limited the number of police officers who could take part in such investigations and restricted sharing information with other agencies.


Over the years, police officials made no secret of their belief that the city had surrendered too much power. Some community affairs officers were told they could not collect newspaper articles about political gatherings in their precincts, said John F. Timoney, a former first deputy commissioner who is now the chief of police in Miami.


The lawyers who brought the Handschu lawsuit say that such concerns were exaggerated to make limits on police behavior seem unreasonable. The city's concessions in the Handschu settlement, while similar to those enacted during that era in other states and by the federal government, surpassed the ordinary limits on police actions.


"It was to remedy what was a very egregious violation of people's First Amendment rights to free speech and assemble," said Jeremy Travis, the deputy police commissioner for legal affairs from 1990 to 1994.


At both the local and federal level, many of these reforms effectively discouraged many worthy investigations, Chief Timoney said. "The police departments screw up and we go to extremes to fix it," Chief Timoney said. "In going to extremes, we leave ourselves vulnerable."


Mr. Travis, who was on the Handschu oversight panel, said that intelligence officers understood they could collect information, provided they had good reason.


"A number of courts decided there should be some mechanism set up to make sure the police didn't overstep the boundary," said Mr. Travis, who is now the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "It was complicated finding that boundary." The authority to determine the boundary would be handed back to the Police Department after the Sept. 11 attacks.


On Sept. 12, 2002, the deputy police commissioner for intelligence, David Cohen, wrote in an affidavit that the police should not be required to have a "specific indication" of a crime before investigating. "In the case of terrorism, to wait for an indication of crime before investigating is to wait far too long," he wrote.


Mr. Cohen also took strong exception to limits on police surveillance of public events.


In granting the city's request, Charles S. Haight, a federal judge in Manhattan, ruled that the dangers of terrorism were "perils sufficient to outweigh any First Amendment cost."


New guidelines say undercover agents may be used to investigate "information indicating the possibility of unlawful activity"- but also say that commanders should consider whether the tactics are "warranted in light of the seriousness of the crime."


Ms. Clancy said those guidelines offered no clear limits on intrusiveness at political or social events. Could police officers take part in pot-luck suppers of antiwar groups, buy drinks for activists? Could they offer political opinions for broadcast or publication while on duty but disguised as civilians?


Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, declined to answer those questions. Nor would he say how often - if ever - covert surveillance at public events has been approved by the deputy commissioner for intelligence, as the new guidelines require.




i made a freedom of information request to mccain asking for a copy of the letter president bush sent to the onion newspaper demanding that they stop using the presidential seal on their web site.


asshole mccain instead of sending off the FOIA request to the correct people he sent it to the onion.


i was suprized to get a letter from the onion about it.


the first letter was handwritten and said:




   Senator McCain asked us to send you a

   copy of the letter the office of the

   W.H. counsel sent us. Here’s the text of

   it; the letter itself is framed and

   would be hard to photocopy.




   Peter Koechley

   The Onion

   America’s finest news source


he also included a letter with the printed copy of the text bush's lawyer thug sent the onion. it said:


   September 28, 2005


   To whom it may concern:


   It has come to my attention that

   The Onion is using the Presidential

   Seal on its website



   I write to inform you that use of

   the Presidential Seal is governed by

   Section 713 of Title 18, United States

   Code and Executive Order 11649. In

   accordance with these authorities, the

   Presidential Seal is not to be used in

   connection with commercial ventures or

   products in any that suggests Presidential

   support or endorsement. While certain

   exceptions are applicable to these

   policies, an organization must seek

   approval from the Office of Counsel to

   the President. We have no record of your

   company seeking such approval.


   Therefore, please remove the

   Presidential Seal from the website

   immediately. Thank you for your

   attention to this matter.


   Grant Dixton

   Associate Counsel to the President


the folks at the onion have not removed the presidential seal from their web site which i think is good.




keivn, laro:


i sent both of you guys an article from the alantic mag or something like that called "why iraq has no army". although the article seemed a little bit pro-war it seemed to point out that the american empire invasion of iraq is doomed to fail.


the article mentioned a book called "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice" which was written 40 years ago by David Galula. do either of you know anything about it.


im not sure if it told the guerillas how to defeat the american invaders or how for the american invaders to defeat the gurillas.






Evidence — or a trophy shot?

By Mark Flatten, Tribune

December 23, 2005

The photograph of Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies looks like a team picture, with grinning officers showing off their guns and gear in front of the agency’s armored personnel carrier.


Except for the lanky Hispanic man in the middle with his arms handcuffed behind his back. Sheriff’s officers call the picture evidence. But others outside the agency describe it as a "trophy" shot that has no place in law enforcement. Other Valley agencies contacted by the Tribune said they do not take similar photographs with SWAT officers and suspects posing together.


"It appeared to me to be nothing more than a trophy photo by an unprofessional group of amateurs," said Keith Frakes, former commander of the sheriff’s SWAT team who retired in April 2004. "The nonuniformity of their equipment, ‘cool guy’ sunglasses and ‘posing their prize’ all point to a lack of discipline, bearing, maturity and, of course, proper supervision. Silly stunts such as those invite scrutiny and expose the agency to potential liability."


The photo was obtained by the Tribune from sources who said it depicts an arrest by members of the new SWAT team put in place earlier this year.


Capt. George Hawthorne, who heads the sheriff’s narcotics bureau, confirmed the picture’s authenticity, but said it shows both SWAT and narcotics officers after a drug arrest in September in Avondale.


Hawthorne said such pictures are routine for both the sheriff’s office and other police agencies around the country.


They are taken for two reasons, Hawthorne said.


After an arrest, a suspect might claim he did not know it was police officers breaking into his house, Hawthorne said.


Suspects also might claim to have been abused by police, he said.


The photographs document how the officers were dressed, and whether the suspect was injured in the arrest.


The armored vehicle is in the photo because it was used in the raid, Hawthorne said.


"It’s not a trophy photo," Hawthorne said. "If somebody wants to make it out to be a trophy photo, so be it."


"My guys take them to protect themselves against false claims of abuse," Hawthorne said. "Also, against the guy claiming we weren’t cladded up. This clearly shows that we were clad in sheriff’s gear and it should have been clear to any person looking on that we were police officers."




At the Tribune’s request, Hawthorne produced about a half-dozen similar photos taken by the agency. Those pictures showed different suspects, and officers dressed in outfits ranging from tactical gear to street clothes.


Hawthorne said the suspect in the photograph obtained by the Tribune, Guillermo Romero, was arrested on drug charges involving methamphetamines and cocaine.


Frakes said that when he ran the sheriff’s SWAT team, there were times when separate photographs were taken to show injuries to the suspect, damage to a building, or the clothing and gear used by officers. Staged group photos of the officers with the suspect were never taken, he said.


Other Valley police agencies described a different approach as well.


Lt. Bob Gervasi, a Mesa SWAT commander, said videotapes are sometimes made of the house where an arrest was made to document property damage. Often photographs of officers are taken after an arrest, Gervasi said. But they are photographed individually and not with the suspect, he said.


"As far as posing with the suspect . . . it’s not a matter of routine and I don’t ever recall posing where we set it up afterwards," Gervasi said.


Cmdr. Angel Carbajal, a member of the Tempe police SWAT team, said that agency does not take pictures of its officers with suspects. If the issue of whether officers were clearly identified as police is likely to arise, a description of their clothing will be made in written reports, and photographs may be taken of individual officers.


Sgt. Lauri Williams of the Phoenix Police Department said there is no reason to photograph tactical officers with a suspect after a raid. The department has written regulations describing what officers should wear that are so detailed that they specify the size of the lettering in the word "police." If the issue of whether officers were clearly identified arises in court, those regulations can be submitted and officers can show up to describe their clothing.


If a photograph showing officers’ clothing is taken, "you wouldn’t need to do it with the suspect," Williams said. "If there’s not a reason to take a photograph of the suspect, we don’t take one, especially with our SWAT team."


A spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety refused to discuss whether that agency takes staged photographs of its officers with suspects after an arrest.


John Gnagey, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, which sets training guidelines for police tactical units, said he knows of no other agency that poses for pictures with a suspect after an arrest.


"When I was running a team, that would not be an accepted practice," said Gnagey, who spent 30 years as a police officer in Illinois.




Barnett Lotstein, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, said taking posed photos of officers with a suspect is "not illegitimate." Lotstein cited the same reasons as Hawthorne, but said he does not know of any specific case in which a such a picture was used in court.


However, defense lawyers with law enforcement backgrounds said posed photos of a suspect surrounded by SWAT officers have no value as evidence.


"It’s just a trophy for these guys to put in their scrapbooks," defense lawyer Robert Kavanaugh, a former Phoenix police officer, said of the photograph. "I can’t imagine it having any relevance in a criminal trial."


Larry Debus, also a defense attorney and former Phoenix police officer, said forcing a suspect to be photographed while surrounded by police in full tactical gear is unprofessional and could jeopardize the criminal case. Any statements made by the defendant after the picture was taken would probably not be admissible in court, Debus said.


"Sitting him in front of a tank with 12 guys that were masked and armed, would be such intimidation that no statement that followed that photograph could ever be admissible," Debus said. "What that photograph is is unconscionable. It denigrates law enforcement. It’s embarrassing for a real law-enforcement officer and a real law-enforcement tactical group."


The sheriff’s SWAT team was thrown into turmoil in November 2004 after its top two commanders were abruptly replaced. Less than a month later, two SWAT deputies were shot while serving a search warrant in a murder investigation in east Mesa.


The old full-time SWAT team was replaced by new officers a short time later. New officers were appointed to the squad on a part-time basis.


The old SWAT team has been under internal investigation for nearly a year. The investigation was launched a day after the two wounded officers spoke critically of their new commanders in separate interviews with the Tribune.


Contact Mark Flatten by email, or phone (602) 542-5813




dont these pigs have any real criminals to hunt down. this guy was stopped by sheriff joes goons and written a ticket for taking pictures of fully clothed woman in a food court in a chandler mall. and the pig are asking the public for information about this guy.




Mesa man cited for taking pictures of female shoppers


The Arizona Republic

Dec. 22, 2005 05:40 PM


Maricopa County sheriff's deputies cited a man for harassment after authorities said he was caught taking pictures of young women's pelvises and buttocks as the women shopped at Chandler Fashion Center.


Matthew Zeiner, 27, of Mesa, was cited and released by deputies about 9 p.m. Saturday after a security guard and two mall patrons said they saw him taking the pictures near the mall food court. When deputies confronted him outside, he voluntarily showed the pictures on his camera, according to a draft incident report.


Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Paul Chagolla said two women reported the incident to deputies, who were at the mall in connection with a Sheriff's Posse patrol working security.


According to the sheriff's report, Zeiner said he took the pictures for his own pleasure and that he has done the same at other Valley malls.


- Ty Young




Man cited for mall photos

Took shots of young women, deputies say


Ty Young

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 23, 2005 12:00 AM


Maricopa County sheriff's deputies cited a man for harassment after authorities said he was caught taking pictures of young women's pelvis and buttocks as the women shopped at Chandler Fashion Center.


Matthew Zeiner, 27, of Mesa, was cited and released by deputies about 9 p.m. Saturday after a security guard and two mall patrons said they saw him taking the pictures near the mall food court. When deputies confronted him outside, he voluntarily showed the pictures on his camera, according to a draft incident report by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.


Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Paul Chagolla said two women witnessed Zeiner taking pictures. They watched him for five minutes and said he tried to hide the camera in his jacket while taking pictures. They reported the incident to deputies, who were at the mall in connection with a posse patrol working parking lot security.


According to the mall security report, a security guard also watched Zeiner taking pictures. He followed Zeiner into the food court where he asked him to put the camera away.


The guard said that when Zeiner refused, he called a deputy for assistance.


Taking pictures in the mall is against mall policy, said Dee Ross, senior property manager for Chandler Fashion Center. She said Zeiner was stopped because he had a camera, not because he was taking pictures of women.


"There is nothing in (the security guard's report) about him taking pictures of women," she said.


According to the Sheriff's Office report, however, after deputies stopped Zeiner he admitted to taking the pictures of the women and said he did not know the subjects. He said he took the pictures for his own pleasure and that he has done the same at other Valley malls.


"We are investigating the incident and suspicious behavior and the alleged behavior by photographing these women and young girls," Chagolla said.


Zeiner also was cited for possessing a revoked driver's license. He could not be reached for comment.


Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (602) 876-1011.




hmmmm..... do we know this eric guy???? i hope not!!!!!




Homeless man arrested in burglary, carjacking


MESA - Police arrested a 40-year-old man who entered a resident's home armed with a toy gun and a mask and carjacked a sports utility vehicle Thursday afternoon, officials said. Officers booked Eric Young, a transient, on suspicion of first-degree burglary, robbery, auto theft and kidnapping.


Police received a 911 call at 12:25 p.m. that a man wearing a ski mask entered a home in the 2800 block of East Huber Street armed with what residents believed was a black gun demanding the keys to their car, Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani said.


The residents handed over the keys and the man stole the gray Chevrolet Suburban and rear-ended the resident's other vehicle parked in the driveway, police said.


Mesa police's air unit found the suspect near Country Club Road and McKellips Drive. Police attempted to stop the car going south on Westwood. Police say the suspect jumped out of the vehicle but they recovered the ski mask and a black plastic toy gun that fell to the ground. Police chased the suspect on foot and took him into custody. "It was good teamwork for everyone involved," Trapani said.




DNA tests may prove Roger Coleman is innocent of murder. The bad news is it won't help Roger Coleman because the state of Virginia executed him 13 years ago for the murder and rape.




Posted 12/22/2005 10:36 PM     Updated 12/22/2005 10:41 PM


DNA tests could show if Va. executed innocent man

By Richard Willing, USA TODAY


Virginia's governor is preparing to order DNA tests that could show that a coal miner executed for a rape-murder in 1992 did not commit the crime.

If the tests, which Democratic Gov. Mark Warner is expected to order before he leaves office in mid-January, clear Roger Coleman, death penalty opponents say it would be the first time in the history of the American death penalty that an executed convict is scientifically shown to be innocent.


"The final argument (of death penalty advocates) is that no innocent person has been executed," said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C., group that seeks to end capital punishment.


"If you find an innocent man who has been executed, that's a final nail through that," Dieter said.


Ellen Qualls, a spokeswoman for Warner, said the governor's office has "basically worked out" details of how tests will be conducted with Coleman's representatives and with a California lab that has held evidence from the crime scene for about 15 years.


She said a decision on testing will be made shortly.


Forensic Science Associates of Richmond, Calif., performed DNA analysis before Coleman's execution, using a now-obsolete technique. The tests could not exclude Coleman as the killer, but could not say definitively that he committed the crime.


DNA tests developed since that time could exonerate Coleman or confirm his guilt.


Coleman, a coal miner in Grundy, in southwest Virginia, was convicted of the 1981 rape-murder of Wanda McCoy, his sister-in-law.


He claimed innocence from the start, testifying at his trial that he was elsewhere at the time the crime occurred.


Several witnesses gave evidence that tended to support his alibi.


Because Coleman's lawyers missed a filing deadline, appeals court judges did not see additional evidence suggesting that another man raped and murdered McCoy.


Coleman's execution was opposed by Pope John Paul II. Coleman protested his innocence to the end, and predicted that he would "eventually" be exonerated.


Michael McGlothlin, a Grundy lawyer who prosecuted the case, remains convinced of his guilt.


McGlothlin's version: The miner was a likely suspect, having been convicted four years earlier for an attempted rape. Coleman's alibi was countered by other witnesses. The other man Coleman's supporters say could have been the killer was investigated and found to have a different blood type than the rapist.


"I'm in favor of testing which can resolve difficult matters, but I'm also in favor of facts," McGlothlin said."


"Because the facts are inconvenient for Mr. Coleman, that doesn't make them any less factual," he said.


John McAdams, a political science professor at Marquette University and death penalty supporter, says opponents will incur a "major hit to their credibility" if DNA tests confirm Coleman's guilt.




DNA test could show executed man innocent

RICHMOND, Va., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Virginia Gov. Mark Warner plans to order DNA tests that reportedly could show a man executed for rape and murder in 1992 was innocent.


If the tests, which Warner is expected to order before he leaves office in mid-January, clear Roger Coleman, death penalty opponents say it would be the first time an executed convict is scientifically shown to be innocent.


"The final argument (of death penalty advocates) is that no innocent person has been executed," Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington group that seeks to end capital punishment, told USA Today.


"If you find an innocent man who has been executed, that's a final nail through that," Dieter said.


Forensic Science Associates of Richmond, Calif., performed DNA analysis before Coleman's execution, using a now-obsolete technique that could not exclude Coleman or say definitely that he did it.




This is the next installment in a series of messages I've been posting about my experiences in New Zealand since we arrived here last September.  For those who have asked, YES I am finally thinking of turning this series into a blog...perhaps as soon as next week.  If and when I do I will of course send out the link.


We went out last night for a nice dinner at a restaurant that serves Stonegrills.  I have mentioned the Stonegrills to a couple of family members on the phone but this time I thought it was worth writing about.  Here's what a Stonegrill is:  They heat up a big square stone, and when I say "heat" it, I mean this thing comes out to your table at over 700 degrees Fahrenheit!  They put the heated stone in a plate designed to hold it, cut a big slab of raw meat, slap the raw meat on the stone and bring it to your table just like that.  You cook the meat and eat it right off the stone at your table.  This turns out to taste amazingly good.  You can see what I'm talking about at this web site: http://www.stonegrill.com


Now, this method of dining quite obviously carries certain risks.  You could touch the stone, either on purpose or accidentally.  It's sitting there on your plate, the meat is sizzling, you can feel enormous waves of heat coming off the thing and they do tell you how hot it is (in Celsius it's 400 degrees) so you'd have to be pretty dense to do it, but people still do touch the stones.  When we had Stonegrills on a riverboat cruise we took a few weeks ago, we were chatting with our waitress and she told us about a time someone there touched the stone and their finger actually stuck to it and was cooking along with the meat, customer screaming...sounded like something right out of a nightmare or a Hollywood horror movie. Fortunately we were done eating when she told us this. :)  Anyway, aside from touching the stone there's also the fact that you have a big slab of (initially) totally raw meat, a fork, a knife, and you just move the meat around on the stone until you think it's cooked enough to eat.  This can include meats like chicken and pork which need to be thoroughly cooked before eating.  With the stone at 700 degrees it doesn't take too long to cook but I'm sure some people don't wait long enough, or don't flip the meat in which case the other side won't get cooked at all, or other such things and thereby get food borne illnesses.  And these are just the most immediate risks...it's not impossible to imagine scenarios with people pulling the hot stones into their laps or starting something particularly volatile they might be carrying or wearing on fire (paper ignites at 450 degrees Fahrenheit...250 degrees LESS than the temperature of the stones).


Anyway, I relate all of the above because our 7 year old wondered why we haven't ever seen these Stonegrills in the US.  I told him that from what I could tell it basically comes down to the legal system. It seems that in New Zealand, if you touch the stone or don't cook your food enough the attitude of the legal system is going to be that it's your own fault for touching the stone or not cooking your food enough.  This is as it should be; the expression "duh" comes to mind. :)  Unfortunately in the US, the legal system would probably decide that it was the restaurant's fault for bringing you the hot stone or the raw meat -- you could sue them for lots of money and as a result they'd go out of business.  Or the legal expenses of proving that it's not the restaurant's fault would have the same result.  Someone who spilled 180 degrees Fahrenheit coffee on themselves won hundreds of thousands of dollars from McDonald's in the US; I can only imagine what kind of damage award a 700 degree stone could generate.  A restaurant would probably have to make you sign a waiver before serving these things.  Legal liability aside, there's probably also local or state regulations in most places about bringing raw meat to the customer, especially chicken and pork.


So, Stonegrills aren't just an interesting and tasty way to dine; I think they're a good example of the effects of a different general mindset and legal system here in New Zealand in regard to personal risks and liabilities.  There seems to be a basic assumption that you will use common sense and be responsible for your own safety.  If you aren't, the legal system won't make whatever business or person merely enabled you to exercise your own stupidity pay for it.  It's really quite refreshing to see businesses going about their business without having to treat all their customers like idiots in order not to get sued.


One other thing from last night that we never saw in the states is Pumpkin Soup.  We first saw Pumpkin Soup in cans in the grocery store here shortly after we arrived.  We tried some and it was good, but not really outstanding (soup in a can never is).  Last night was the first time I'd had it in a restaurant and it _was_ outstanding.  It's kind of the consistency of potato soup only without the chunks of potatoes, and not as sweet as pumpkin pie filling but with some of the same basic flavors.  Why they don't have this stuff in the US is beyond me...I'm certain it would be a big hit.


--Jason A.

Waiwera, North Auckland, New Zealand




Corrections Director Dora Schriro doesnt really care about seperating religion and state - she said that incorporating religion into prison life is part of the department's "parallel universe" approach of fostering inmate involvement in activities that mirror life outside prison.




Bishop to deliver Christmas Mass at prison


Associated Press

Dec. 23, 2005 12:10 PM


The bishop for the Roman Catholic Church's Phoenix Diocese will celebrate Christmas Mass at a state prison.


The Department of Corrections says the Reverend Thomas J. Olmstead will deliver Mass at the Santa Cruz Unit of the Perryvile prison complex in Buckeye west of Phoenix to invited inmates and assigned staff.


Olmstead said in a statement released by the department that he wants to be with inmates at a difficult time and to show the inmates that God loves them.


Corrections Director Dora Schriro said that incorporating religion into prison life is part of the department's "parallel universe" approach of fostering inmate involvement in activities that mirror life outside prison.


Schriro said she feels the presence of religion encourages inmates as well as promotes a redemptive and productive lifestyle.


Chaplain Maria Powers of the Buckeye prison complex said that attendance at the Mass is considered an enormous privilege for both inmates and staff and that those who've been invited have told her they're excited about it.




sure they have free elections in iraq. you can vote for anybody that george w. bush and his iraqi puppet government approves!




Iraqi court disqualifies some Sunni candidates


Nancy A. Youssef and Huda Ahmed

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Dec. 24, 2005 12:00 AM


BAGHDAD - An Iraqi court has ruled that some of the most prominent Sunni Muslims who were elected to parliament last week won't be allowed to serve because officials suspect that they were high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.


Knight Ridder has obtained a copy of the court ruling, which has yet to be circulated to the public.


The ruling is likely to dampen Bush administration hopes that the election would bring more of the disaffected Sunni minority into Iraq's political process and undermine Sunni support for the insurgency. Instead, the decision is likely to stoke fears of widening sectarian divisions in a nation already in danger of descending into civil war.


Adil al-Lami, the chief electoral official of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, said that he would honor the court's decision and that none of the accused Sunnis would appear on the final list of parliament members.


The commission is still counting ballots and said it would have the final list of winners sometime next month.


But preliminary results showed that some of the prominent Sunni politicians on the list had likely won seats. Among those who could lose their seats are: Adnan al-Janabi, the second-highest ranking member of the constitutional committee and a top candidate on U.S.-backed former prime minister Ayad Allawi's slate, and Rasem al-Awadi, a National Assembly member and also on Allawi's slate. Five members of the Iraqi Accord Front, the principal Sunni electoral slate, also were on the list.


Saleh Mutlaq, a prominent Sunni politician, said that the ruling would agitate already frustrated Sunnis who are questioning the validity of the elections.


"The streets will tell you their reaction," Mutlaq said.


On Friday, thousands of Sunnis demonstrated in Baghdad, charging that the election was rigged in favor of the majority Shiite Muslims. The demonstration wasn't a reaction to the court decision because the Iraqi people hadn't learned of it.


"I came to protest against the fraud. There are some Shiites in my neighborhood who told me that they voted twice," said Omar al-Samaraee, a 25-year-old taxi driver who marched in the demonstration. "Should a government be formed based on the current results of the elections, then I think it will be illegitimate."




the only terrorists here are the american CIA terrorists!!!!




European arrest warrants issued for 22 CIA operatives


Los Angeles Times

Dec. 24, 2005 12:00 AM


ROME - An Italian court has issued European arrest warrants for 22 CIA operatives accused of kidnapping a radical imam in Milan, a prosecutor said Friday.


The abduction is one of several cases causing a furor in Europe in which U.S. agencies are suspected of using European soil and airspace to imprison or to transport terrorist suspects to third countries without judicial authorization.


In the Italian case, the 22 CIA operatives are accused of snatching Hassan Osama Nasr as he walked to a mosque in Milan nearly three years ago. He was taken to his native Egypt, where he was imprisoned and tortured, he later told friends.


Italian prosecutors have been trying to bring the operatives to trial since June, when they first obtained arrest warrants for some of the suspects. Those warrants, however, covered only Italy. Lead prosecutor Armando Spataro said Friday that a court earlier this week issued the European arrest warrants, which means that the suspects can now be arrested in any of the European Union's 25 member states.


Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made it clear that he does not want the case to advance.


The matter has been embarrassing for Berlusconi, who supports Bush administration policies but has had to publicly deny Italian involvement in the abduction, even as CIA officers in the U.S. said that they were acting with Italian permission.


Berlusconi said that although he did not believe the CIA had kidnapped Abu Omar, he thought such an operation was justifiable.


"You can't tackle terrorism with a law book in your hand," Berlusconi said.




does this mean bush will pretend we won the iraq war and get the f*ck out like we did in vietnam??? i hope so.




Hope rises for more troop cuts

General: 'Less is better because it doesn't feed notion of occupation'


Robert Burns

Associated Press

Dec. 24, 2005 12:00 AM


FALLAJAH, Iraq - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's rationale for starting to shrink the U.S. military force in Iraq, even the setting of his announcement in this former insurgent stronghold, suggests U.S. officials foresee more cuts in coming months.


Those reductions, along with plans to shift some American troops to support roles like training Iraqi security forces, raise the possibility that U.S. losses may decline as well.


Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters after Rumsfeld announced the troops cuts Friday that he hopes to recommend more reductions as early as next spring, assuming progress such as formation of an Iraqi government.


But he added, "I don't have a goal for the end of 2006."


Casey said that with Rumsfeld's announced canceling of the deployment to Iraq of two Army brigades - one from the 1st Infantry Division in Kansas and the other from the 1st Armored Division now in Kuwait - the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq will drop by about 7,000, to about 130,000 by March. This year's base level has been about 138,000.


"In this kind of war that we're fighting, more is not necessarily better," Casey said. "In fact, in Iraq, less coalition at this point in time is better. Less is better because it doesn't feed the notion of occupation" or further deepen the Iraqis' dependence on American firepower.


In remarks to U.S. troops here and to Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad, Rumsfeld made similar points. He said the U.S. "footprint" must not be so large or intrusive as to "antagonize a proud and patriotic people or to discourage the Iraqi people from taking initiative to run their own country."


Those remarks echoed the argument by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a leading advocate of a quick U.S. pullout, who says the presence of American forces is helping fuel the insurgency.


Congressional Democrats praised the announcement and urged President Bush to go even further. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she hopes the reduction "will quickly be followed by others that will result in all U.S. combat forces being redeployed from Iraq next year."


Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he still wants Bush to "level with the American people" about the conditions he wants before more troops can be brought home.


Besides the force reduction, American officials have begun talking about shifting the roles of some U.S. combat troops to more behind-the-scenes tasks, such as advising Iraqi units.


"The coalition will continue to transfer responsibility for security operations to the Iraqi security force and place more emphasis on supporting Iraqi forces through training, support activities and counter- terrorist operations," Rumsfeld said in a speech to several hundred soldiers, sailors and Marines in a hall decorated with trappings of Christmas.


At the Pentagon on Thursday, Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "You're going to read increasingly about Iraqi units" doing combat tasks as some American fighting units are replaced by technical-support teams.


Some officials believe that could reduce U.S. casualties, which have surpassed 2,100 dead.


Others caution that it will take time for the U.S. to cede its combat role to the Iraqis.


"I think we should be braced for it to be quite slow," said Brookings Institution foreign policy analyst Michael O'Hanlon, "and 2006 will still be a bloody year in Iraq."




the police love to lie and say they have a very dangerous jobs and risk their lives fearing that criminals will kill them. here proof that that is a lie.


the real stats show that being a cop is about as dangerous as being a truck driver. and cops have about the same chance of dying on the job as a truck driver does.


this year in arizona 5 cops died on the job. only one of them was killed by a criminal. the others died in traffic accident, one had a heart attack, and one died thru his own stupidity.




Police groups say 153 officers died in line of duty in '05; 4 were women


Associated Press

Dec. 24, 2005 12:00 AM


WASHINGTON - Two law-enforcement groups said Friday that 153 officers have died in the line of duty so far in 2005, with the majority killed in traffic accidents and shootings.


In Arizona, five officers, including a prison worker, have lost their lives this year, one more than in 2004. Included are David Uribe, a Phoenix police officer, who was shot dead May 10 during a traffic stop in north Phoenix, and Ramon Rios, a Douglas police officer, who died of a heart attack Sept. 4 while struggling with three juveniles.


The other deaths are Gabriel Saucedo, a corrections officer at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Safford, whose service weapon accidentally discharged June 3; Timothy Graham, a Pima County sheriff's deputy who was struck by a vehicle Aug. 10; and Paul Salmon, a Phoenix police officer who was killed in an automobile crash Nov. 29.


The national number, just one below the 154 reported killed in 2004, marks a continued downward trend over the past 30 years, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Concerns of Police Survivors. The groups compiled the deaths from reports through Thursday.


Traffic-related accidents claimed the lives of 62 officers in 2005. The ranks of officers killed in traffic accidents has risen 40 percent in the past 30 years, according to the groups.


An additional 60 died in 2005 in shootings, including firearms training accidents. Physical-related incidents, including heart attacks and heat stroke, accounted for 20 more deaths.


Other deaths included two fatalities in a helicopter crash, one in a bomb-related incident, one in a stabbing, two in drownings and three in falls.


"The increased use of body armor, better training and, more recently, the advent of less-lethal weaponry have all played a role in bringing these numbers down," said Craig W. Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.


Excluding the 234 officers killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, 160 officers have been killed each year on average over the past decade, the groups said. The annual average was 220 through the 1970s.


California still had the most officers killed in the line of duty, with 17. Texas, with 14, and Georgia, with 10, followed. Nine federal officers died.


Just four of the overall deaths involved women officers.


The groups plan to add the 153 names over the next few months to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial lists the names of more than 17,000 officers killed in the line of duty since 1792.




a place to get a drivers license and social security card???




Visa 'overstays' often blend in


Daniel González

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 24, 2005 12:00 AM


Kathleen Chouinor got up from the sofa and returned from her bedroom clutching an Arizona driver's license and a Social Security card.


Both documents were forgeries, Chouinor said, purchased on the black market in Phoenix for $150.


"I went to the guy's house. He took my picture, and within two hours, I had my driver's license and Social," she said.


The documents looked authentic enough to fool the manager of a large retail store in the northeast Valley. Chouinor had no trouble landing a job a year ago making $10 an hour as a salesperson.


But she had something more going for her than just fake documents. With strawberry-blond hair, blue eyes and the ability to speak English like an American, few would suspect the 39-year-old Canadian is an undocumented immigrant, especially in Arizona, where the overwhelming majority of unauthorized immigrants are Mexicans who crossed the border illegally through the desert.


Chouinor flew on a jetliner from Winnipeg to Phoenix as a tourist more than two years ago, needing only a Canadian driver's license to enter the United States. She hasn't gone back since.


Chouinor represents the millions of undocumented immigrants, many from Canada, Mexico and Europe, who have entered the United States legally with student, work or tourism visas and then remained after their visas expired.


Known as "overstays," they have received scant attention in the contentious debate over immigration reform and homeland security, even though the government estimates overstays make up at least a third of the nation's total undocumented population of about 11 million people.


Though most legal visitors from other countries return home, many decide to remain here illegally primarily because of better economic opportunities or family ties. Any attempt by Congress to create a large-scale guest-worker program or seal the border will have to take overstays into account.


The large number of overstays in the country also reveals weaknesses in the nation's immigration system beyond border enforcement. The 19 Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers are believed to have entered the country with student or other visas. At least three overstayed.


"The more you do focus on the border and the more successful you are at the border without focusing elsewhere, the more you exacerbate the problem of overstayers," said U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a proponent of immigration reform that includes greater enforcement at the border and the workplace, along with a guest-worker program.


Chouinor asked that her full identity not be published out of fear of losing her job or being deported. But she asked to be interviewed in hopes that Congress will adopt a guest-worker program that allows undocumented immigrants like her to legalize their status.


Entered legally


The information-technology boom of the 1990s was still going strong in early 2000 when Chouinor posted her resume on an Internet job bulletin board.


At the time, Chouinor was divorced and living in Winnipeg, a city in central Canada, with her two children. She was barely making ends meet as a computer mainframe administrator. She hoped to land a better-paying job in the United States with one of the many companies hiring foreign workers with computer backgrounds.


Within three months, a financial services company in Phoenix saw Chouinor's resume. After a series of interviews, Chouinor said, the company offered her an information-security job making $75,000 a year, triple what she was earning in Winnipeg, plus $5,000 for moving expenses.


Chouinor packed her bags.


With the company's help, she applied for a TN visa, a special temporary-worker permit created under the North American Free Trade Agreement that allows Canadian and Mexican professionals to work in the United States.


Chouinor's loved her new life in Phoenix. She moved her children into a nice apartment building in Ahwatukee with a pool and tennis courts. She bought a car, settled into her job and made new friends. One day, a co-worker and his daughter showed up unexpectedly at her door bearing a Christmas tree and gifts.


"They just said they wanted to make sure our first Christmas in the United States was one to remember," Chouinor said.


By the end of 2002, the information-technology boom had collapsed. In the wake of 9/11, many companies were skittish about hiring foreign workers. Chouinor was told that her TN visa would not be renewed. Her job in Phoenix ended.


Chouinor sent her children back to Canada. She moved in with her boyfriend, an American, while she hunted, without success, for another IT job.


In April 2003, she rejoined her children in Winnipeg and job-hunted there. Chouinor discovered jobs were scarce, and her U.S. work experience had tainted her in Canada.


Most companies wouldn't interview her.


"They knew I had been making a lot more money here (Phoenix), and they assumed my expectations were going to be a lot more than they could pay me," Chouinor said.


Lied at the airport


Chouinor missed Phoenix. She found people friendlier and more accepting here than in Winnipeg. Her boyfriend offered her a place to stay if she came back.


Because she is Canadian, Chouinor had no trouble re-entering the country. Canadians and visitors from 26 other countries, mostly European, are allowed to enter the United States for brief visits as tourists or for business purposes without visas. The only documents Chouinor needed: her birth certificate and a Canadian driver's license.


In August 2003, Chouinor bought two round-trip plane tickets from Winnipeg to Phoenix for herself and her son, 11-year-old Frank (his middle name). Her daughter remained in Canada with her father. Passing through a U.S. customs and immigration screening process at the Winnipeg airport, Chouinor lied and told the inspectors they were coming for only a two-week visit. She failed to arouse suspicion even though she was carrying four suitcases and a garment bag, far more luggage than needed for a two-week visit.


No one has a good handle on how many overstays there are in the United States or which countries they are from. The majority of undocumented immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexican border illegally are from Mexico and Central America. Overstays, on the other hand, tend to come from all over the world and tend to be better educated and financially better off, experts say.


The Department of Homeland Security estimates the overstay population at 2.3 million as of January 2000, according to congressional auditors. Most overstays came on student, work or tourism visas. In 2000, they accounted for about a third of the total undocumented population, auditors said.


The 2.3 million estimate, however, did not include overstays from Canada and other visa-exempt countries who entered legally without visas, or overstays from Mexico who entered legally with border crossing cards.


Earlier reports by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated overstays accounted for as much as 40 to 50 percent of the nation's undocumented population, auditors noted.


For months after returning to Phoenix, Chouinor lived in fear of being deported. With her TN visa expired, she no longer was authorized to work legally in the United States. She had a Social Security card, but it said "unauthorized to work" without approval printed on the front.


Marrying her boyfriend could have provided a way to legalize her immigration status. But the relationship fizzled.


A scary phone call


Then one day she had a scare. Her daughter, Amber, was coming from Winnipeg for a visit. Chouinor received a telephone call from a U.S. immigration officer at the airport wanting to verify her visit.


"He asked me point blank, "Are you here legally?' " Chouinor recalled.


Chouinor told him the truth. No.


"He said it would be in my best interest to leave the country immediately, and it was up to him whether he was going to file a report about my status," Chouinor said.


Chouinor was surprised by what happened next. Her daughter, who was 16 at the time, was allowed to enter the country for a three-week visit, even though Chouinor was living in the United States illegally. Her daughter returned to Canada at the end of the three weeks. But she could have easily stayed.


After her daughter's visit, Chouinor waited for immigration officials to contact her again. They didn't.


A friend who owns a business knew someone in an industrial area of Phoenix who sold fake documents to undocumented workers from his home. The man created a false Arizona driver's license for her and a new Social Security card.


The fake documents helped Chouinor rent an apartment and get hired in retail. When filling out job applications, Chouinor checks the box for U.S. citizen.


Most undocumented immigrants work in construction, agriculture and manufacturing. But Chouinor said her fair skin and American accent have made it easy to blend in.


"I've never had an employer even blink when I presented my documents," she said.


Working retail, Chouinor struggles to pay her bills. Her son needs dental work, but she has no health insurance and can't afford a dentist.


To save money, in November she moved in with a sympathetic couple, the parents of her son's best friend who own a large home.


"It doesn't matter if she is here legally or not. She's a human being, and she needs help," said Kevin, 45, who asked that his last name be withheld.


Deportation unlikely


U.S. officials say they are doing a better job of tracking and deporting foreign visitors, especially those who pose a national-security threat.


In June 2003, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement created a special unit to investigate foreign visitors who violate the terms of their visas. Since then, the agency says, it has arrested more than 1,417 overstays nationwide, a small fraction of the total.


The government also is phasing in an automated tracking system that collects digitized fingerprints and other data from foreign visitors at U.S. consulates abroad and at the border. The US-VISIT Program is designed to help inspectors screen out potential terrorists and criminals and determine whether foreign visitors overstay.


The system has been implemented at airports, seaports and 50 of the largest land ports, including five ports in Arizona.


A June 2005 study by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., however, said the US-VISIT Program is riddled with holes. Less than 2 percent of the 360 million entries through land ports annually are currently tracked by the system, the report said.


Most Canadians and 7 million Mexicans with border crossing cards are exempt from the program. Together, they account for about 155 million entries through land ports a year. Visitors who enter the country by air but leave by land also are not tracked.


The government is "only scratching the surface," said the study's author, Rey Koslowski, a political science professor at the University at Albany in New York.


Tracking overstays still won't significantly slow illegal immigration.


"Even if you (identify) an overstay, then what? How do you find that person and deport them?" Koslowski added.


Chouinor doesn't know how much longer she will remain illegally in the United States. She is waiting to see if Congress adopts a guest-worker program that could give her a shot at a legal immigration status.


She doesn't worry much anymore about deportation. Overstays who otherwise abide by the law are a low priority for immigration agents busy trying to root out foreign terrorists and criminals.


"The longer I'm here, and the more I come to know how the whole immigration system works, I've come to be less afraid," Chouinor said. "I realize there is no such thing as the immigration police who are going to come and kick my door down and take me away."


Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8312.




Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito supports the police state wiretaps???????




Alito endorsed legal shield for wiretaps

Attorney general shouldn't be sued, 1984 memo said

Jo Becker, Christopher Lee, Washington Post


Saturday, December 24, 2005


Washington -- Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito once argued that the nation's top law enforcement official deserved blanket protection from lawsuits when acting in the name of national security, even when those actions involve the illegal wiretapping of American citizens, documents released Friday show.


As a Justice Department lawyer during President Ronald Reagan's administration, Alito said the U.S. attorney general must be free to take steps to protect the country from threats such as terrorism and espionage without fear of personal liability. But in a 1984 memo involving a case that dated to President Richard Nixon's administration, Alito also cautioned his superiors that the time might not be right to make that argument and urged a more incremental approach.


"I do not question that the attorney general should have this immunity," Alito wrote. "But for tactical reasons, I would not raise the issue here."


To date, much of the debate about Alito's nomination has centered on his opposition to Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that declared constitutional protections for abortion. The latest of Alito's memos to be disclosed opens a window on his thinking about national security, an issue now under considerable scrutiny.


The release of the memo comes as President Bush is under attack for creating a secret National Security Agency program to bypass the courts and eavesdrop on the overseas telephone calls and e-mail of U.S. citizens with suspected ties to terrorists. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has said he will press Alito for his views on the subject when the panel opens confirmation hearings on his nomination Jan. 9.


Democrats were quick to link the issues Friday, saying Alito's memo raised questions about his commitment to protecting civil liberties by checking executive power. The type of absolute immunity that Alito discussed would have shielded attorneys general even when their actions violated constitutional rights.


"At a time when the nation is faced with revelations that the administration has been wiretapping American citizens, we find that we have a nominee who believes that officials who order warrantless wiretaps of Americans should be immune from legal accountability," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.


The memo was among more than 700 pages released by the National Archives on Friday in response to a public records request from the Washington Post.


The 1984 wiretapping memo involved a lawsuit filed against John Mitchell, Nixon's attorney general, who had ordered wiretaps of anti-war activists in 1970. The FBI suspected the activists of plotting to blow up Washington utility tunnels and kidnap Henry Kissinger, then Nixon's national security adviser. The case had been in the courts for years, and it fell to Alito to prepare a memo on whether the government should ask the Supreme Court to review an adverse lower court decision.


The government, Alito said, should stick to a less sweeping defense of Mitchell: that the law was not clear at the time he authorized the wiretaps and therefore he could not be sued, because he did not act in willful disregard of the law. As it turns out, Alito was right.


The Reagan administration pressed ahead with its argument of absolute immunity, with Alito as co-author of the brief. The Supreme Court quashed the lawsuit against Mitchell, but it rejected a blanket shield for illegal conduct.


"The label of 'national security' may cover a multitude of sins," then-Justice Byron White wrote for the majority in 1985. "The danger that high federal officials will disregard constitutional rights in their zeal to protect the national security is sufficiently real to counsel against affording such officials an absolute immunity."




December 24, 2005


In memo, Alito defended warrantless wiretaps


By Donna Cassata

Associated Press


WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order warrantless domestic wiretaps for national security when he worked at the Reagan Justice Department, an echo of President Bush's rationale for spying on U.S. residents in the war on terror.


Then an assistant to the solicitor general, Alito wrote a 1984 memo that provided insights on his views of government powers and legal recourse, as well as clues to the judge's understanding of how the Supreme Court operates.


The National Archives released the memo and scores of other documents related to Alito on Friday; The Associated Press had requested the material under the Freedom of Information Act. The memo comes as Bush is under fire for secretly ordering domestic spying on suspected terrorists without a warrant.


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Monday he would ask Alito about the president's authority at confirmation hearings beginning Jan. 9.


The memo dealt with whether government officials should have blanket protection from lawsuits when authorizing wiretaps.


"I do not question that the attorney general should have this immunity," Alito wrote. "But for tactical reasons, I would not raise the issue here."


Despite Alito's warning that the government would lose, the Reagan administration took the fight to the Supreme Court in the case of whether President Richard Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, could be sued for authorizing a warrantless domestic wiretap to gather information about a suspected terrorist plot.

The FBI had information about a conspiracy to destroy utility tunnels in Washington and to kidnap Henry Kissinger, then national security adviser, to protest the Vietnam War.


The case led to a 1985 ruling by the Supreme Court that the attorney general and other executive officials could be sued for violating people's rights, in the name of national security, with such actions as domestic wiretaps.


Copyright 2005 IndyStar.com. All rights reserved




To: lpaz-discuss@yahoogroups.com

From: "auvenj" auvenj@gmail.com

Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 00:58:09 -0000

Subject: [lpaz-discuss] New Zealand: Twelve Endless Summer Days of Christmas


Understanding what Christmas in New Zealand was like from my perspective requires me to first explain my perspective on Christmas itself.  Those of you who know me or remember from my first message know that I'm an atheist.  I also happen to celebrate Christmas.  By that I do *not* mean that I celebrate the generic and politically correct "holidays".  Nor do I mean that I celebrate that holiday touted by many atheists and pagans but unknown to virtually everyone else, solstice.  I don't mean that I celebrate Chanukah or Kwanza either.  I mean that I celebrate the same blinking light, decorated tree, gift exchanging, tinsel hanging, sappy music playing, Santa Clause, Jesus Mary and Joseph Christmas hodgepodge that most other people in western countries celebrate.  I don't celebrate Christmas nearly as much as some people do, to be sure.  I've never had the most

decorations in my neighborhood or thrown a serious Christmas party or anything like that.  I grumble about Christmas stuff in November (too early) and obnoxious decorations (too loud/too much).  But I *do* observe the holiday, as opposed to totally ignoring it or actively trying to replace it with something else as most of my atheist friends do.


I have a very specific reason for celebrating Christmas.  Christmas day isn't important per se -- the twelve days caroled about is closer to my actual experience.  For me Christmas has no more to do with Santa Clause and the elves than it does with Jesus in the manger -- two legends that I regard as equally fantastical.  It certainly has nothing to do with the crass shop till you drop Christmas commercialism that is simultaneously generated and lamented by the general public every year and covered by the news media ad nauseum. It's not a political statement about peace on Earth and goodwill to men either -- though that's a good idea at any time.  Neither is Christmas just an excuse for getting together with extended family, although that is at least a nice and enjoyable aspect of the holiday I did miss this year.  The real reason that I celebrate Christmas is that Christmas is like a time machine -- a mental express train linking the present with an unbroken chain of Christmases stretching back through my entire life.  For me, Christmas functions as a potent associative mental shortcut, not just to memories but to entire states of mind.  I can experience 15 Christmases ago in a way that I can never experience anything else that happened 15 years ago.  This is valuable because I also do my future planning every New Years Eve, and celebrating Christmas helps me get my mind into a long term planning mode.


At least it did until this year.


I really had no idea what Christmas would be like in New Zealand.  I didn't think it would really be much different from Tucson, since Tucson doesn't have snow and isn't ever very cold at Christmas.  In fact, from what people tell me the high temps right now in Tucson aren't much different from what they are here in North Auckland even though I know at night it gets quite a bit colder there than here. But Christmas in New Zealand IS really very different, because even in Tucson Christmas comes in winter; the air is dry and crisp even if it's not very cold, and it gets dark early in the evening.  It's summer time here in New Zealand and it feels like summer in every way -- which my brain steadfastly refuses to associate with Christmas. It's warm (though certainly not hot by Tucson standards) with that summertime kind of humidity and buzz about.  It smells like summer and we're getting summer thunderstorms now and then.


They play the same Christmas music in stores in New Zealand, and I have all my usual Christmas music from home too, on a little portable hard drive along with all my other music.  Stores and people decorate pretty much the same way, perhaps not as much as I'm used to seeing but still plenty.  It all just seems out of place though, with people walking around in shorts, tanktops and bare feet or flip-flops ("Jandals" here).


The biggest thing I think keeping it from feeling like Christmas here is the daylight.  It's light out from about 5:30 am to 9:30pm.  The long daylight is made even more pronounced by my work schedule which guarantees I see all of the daylight and none of the darkness in the evening.  Since I start work at 5am, we go to bed around 9pm.  That means we're never awake in the evening when it's dark.  We got a Christmas tree and some Christmas lights...but when the heck do you turn them on with it light whenever you're awake?  It always seems rather pointless.  I never realized just how much of Christmas is associated in my mind with twinkling lights in the crisp (even if not freezing cold) darkness, and how much the holiday just feels out of place in the endless light of a warm summer day.  New Zealanders who have traveled have told us they find it hard to celebrate Christmas in the northern hemisphere since they associate Christmas with summer time and lots of bright sunshine, even though the words of the songs are of course all about winter.


For me, the Christmas time train just wouldn't run in New Zealand this year.  Some may conclude that means I was really celebrating winter solstice all along, but I strongly suspect winter without Christmas would be just as useless in this regard as Christmas without winter has proven to be.  The Christmas train runs on the totality of the Christmas experience, not on any one part of it.  I'll have to wait until next year to find out whether or not my brain is building a new summer Christmas track for me.  One thing that may help is if next year we have some of our old Christmas ornaments here with us -- this year we left them all back in Tucson as the focus was on bringing what we needed to get a household up and running immediately.


I hope everyone had a good time, however you may choose to mark this time of year.


--Jason A.

Waiwera, North Auckland, New Zealand




December 25, 2005


On Gulf Coast, Big Difference Between Corps and Private Cleanups



PASCAGOULA, Miss. - There is an eerie stillness here on Edgewood

Avenue. Toys, broken glass and random pieces of furniture are strewn

across yards. Not a single person is in sight. The only movement,

nearly four months after the passing of Hurricane Katrina, comes from the stray cats that jump in and out of the ripped-open homes.


Just west down the Gulf Coast, on Oak Street in Biloxi, the ground vibrates and the air is filled with the smell of diesel exhaust as laborers, on excavators, clean up after the storm, leaving behind empty lots, ripe for redevelopment.


  There are many reasons for the difference between the lack of progress in Pascagoula and the quick cleanup in the Biloxi area. But officials here point fingers at what they consider the No. 1 culprit: the federal government and, in particular, the Army Corps of Engineers.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Harrison County, the home of Biloxi, and Jackson County, where Pascagoula is located, each had about 10 million cubic yards of debris to clean up. Both counties took up the federal government on its offer to foot the bill.


But while Harrison County and all but one of its cities hired contractors on their own, Jackson County and its cities, at the urging of the federal government, asked the Army Corps to take on the task. Officials in Jackson County said it was a choice they had regretted ever since.


The cleanup in Jackson County and its municipalities has not only cost millions of dollars more than in neighboring counties, but it is also taking longer. The latest available figures show that 39 percent of the work was complete in Jackson County, while 57 percent was done in Harrison County and its cities that are managing the job on their own, according to federal records.


"Something is very wrong here," said Frank Leach, a Jackson County supervisor. "Our federal government is paying an extraordinary amount of money for services that are not being performed adequately."


The same appeared to hold true in Louisiana: The cleanup from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was 45 percent finished in jurisdictions that called in the corps, and nearly 70 percent complete in communities that employed private contractors, state records showed. The imbalance remained even when New Orleans, where the cleanup has been particularly complex and slow, was removed from the tally. Across the Gulf Coast, the cleanup was, on average, about 60 percent done, records showed.


Army Corps officials said they were moving as quickly and responsibly as they could.


"The scope of this disaster is just extraordinary," said Frank Worley, a spokesman. "There's really no comparison to it."


But that answer, to local officials, was not sufficient. Jackson County

board members voted earlier this month to terminate their deal with the Army Corps, deciding that even at this late date, they would be better off with their own contractors.


Pascagoula and other Jackson County cities are sticking with the corps. But City Manager Kay Kell of Pascagoula said she was disappointed. Her city had a private contract to clean debris for $7.80 a cubic yard, but now relies on the corps, which is paying its contractor $17 to $19 a cubic yard for the same work.


"It's very depressing," Ms. Kell said. "As long as those homes are sitting there, somebody's life is at a standstill. It is dead stopped."


With a nudge from an excavator's giant steel claws, what remains of one homeowner's garage in the Point Cadet section of Biloxi shakes, then collapses in a pile of dust. The process of taking down what is left of this house is nothing special. But how the work has proceeded here in Biloxi has allowed this city and other parts of Harrison County to move far ahead of their neighbors in the race to clean up.


Instead of trying to clear one house at a time, Biloxi officials condemned entire neighborhoods. The Sun Herald newspaper recently published an eight-page list of properties, in fine print, notifying thousands of Biloxi property owners that "to preserve the public health, safety and welfare" of their neighborhoods, the bulldozers were coming soon.


"The quicker we get all of this stuff away, the faster we can start getting back to normal," Mayor A. J. Holloway said.


Not all of the homes in the condemned neighborhoods will be demolished. But unless a property owner objects, crews will remove remains of any houses or other large chunks of debris. Already, more than 740 homes in three neighborhoods have been demolished or debris on properties simply cleared away.


Some residents have complained that the cleanup is barreling ahead too quickly. "They're bullying people," said John Grower of Gulfport, whose property was cleared while he was waiting for insurance investigators to finish evaluating it. "It's martial law."


But officials said the faster pace meant that property owners could start planning for reconstruction, or at least move government-provided trailers, as temporary housing, onto their land.


"I am touched," said Nhin Tran, 58, as a trailer was set up earlier this month on her property in Point Cadet after it was cleared, allowing her to move out of a tent. "I now know what the next day will bring."


In Biloxi, whole neighborhoods are now primed for new development. But in Pascagoula, 25 miles east, only about 25 residential lots have been cleared.


Officials in Jackson County and Pascagoula cite numerous reasons for the delays.


One is the complexity of the contract the Corps of Engineers has with Ashbritt, a Pompano Beach, Fla., company that is overseeing the debris collection in Mississippi and parts of Louisiana. Its 192 pages include sections on the type of office paper the company uses and a ban on releasing information to the news media without the written permission of the Army Corps. (Ashbritt officials declined to comment for this article.)


Simply getting an agreement from the Army Corps on the exact wording for the legal release document that residents must sign to authorize contractors to clear their homes took several weeks, officials said.


Then the Army Corps and its federal partners repeatedly gave new demands, such as satellite-based measurements on the location of each house, before large-scale clearing could start, county officials said.


[Michael H. Logue, an Army Corps spokesman, said last week that the desire to hire local subcontractors had often meant working with smaller, Mississippi-based companies without a large supply of heavy-duty equipment, slowing progress at times. The possibility that human remains may be mixed in with debris has also slowed the cleanup. "If you are going to do it right and you are going to do it safe and in way that helps the victims and makes it obvious that you care about them, you can't just go in there with a heavy hand and lots of steam," he said.]


As the demands grew, the amount of debris being cleared each day in Jackson County dropped to about 12,000 cubic yards a day from 75,000 cubic yards a day, according to local officials.


"There was just so much bureaucracy, so many levels of approvals, that nobody seemed to be able to make a decision and get things done," said Manly Barton, president of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.


Benny Rousselle, president of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, said he had encountered the same problems. Even though a house may be about to collapse and its owner has approved its demolition, the federal government requires rigorous structural, historical and environmental evaluations of each property before the Army Corps will take it down, Mr. Rousselle said.


"There are so many monitors, so much overhead, it is really slowing this down," he said.


Impatient Plaquemines officials have hired their own contractors to start doing the work, Mr. Rousselle said. They have cleaned up about 600 of the approximate 6,000 damaged or destroyed properties. The corps had not cleared a single house, he said.


By any measurement, the cleanup work caused by Hurricane Katrina is the most complex and far-reaching disaster recovery in United States history.


In the aftermath of the storm, 88 million cubic yards of debris - including tree limbs, furniture, refrigerators and shredded pieces of whole houses - were strewn across Mississippi and Louisiana, enough to fill nearly nine million dump trucks. Hurricane Andrew in Florida in 1992, then the most destructive on record, generated 14 million cubic yards of debris.


Federal officials declined to release any data that would allow a direct comparison of the cost of the Army Corps cleanup versus work done directly for local governments, saying it was proprietary. All that they would release is a $2.2 billion estimate for the Army Corps' share of the work, which covers about half of the debris in Mississippi and two-thirds in Louisiana.


But a survey by The New York Times of the governments on the Mississippi coast that have hired their own contractors found an average price of $14 a cubic yard. All but one community had secured a lower price than the $17 to $19 per cubic yard that the corps charges, which does not include disposal or other overhead. The Army Corps has also nearly 800 employees supervising cleanup and has paid as many as 300 inspectors a rate of $55.79 an hour to monitor the work by the private contractors.


The Army Corps work has won some praise. Homes are often cleared one at a time, instead of entire streets at once, so property owners, like Yvette Gonzales, 76, of Bay St. Louis, can be there to watch. Mrs. Gonzales even requested that the crew search for a handmade quilt that had special meaning to her family. The quilt never turned up, but the crew found the tiny wedding cake statue that Mrs. Gonzales had saved since her marriage in 1949.


"It brings it all back," said Mrs. Gonzales, whose husband died nine years ago. "It makes you remember those good times."


In some cases, the corps takes extra steps that add to the cost of the work and the time it takes to complete it. For example, the Army Corps contractors who are working to remove the thousands of refrigerators and other appliances left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina operate much differently than private contractors.


In Hancock County, Miss., where the Army Corps is in charge, contractors in protective suits carefully open refrigerators and meticulously clean them out, sanitizing the interiors with a cleaning solution. Workers remove Freon gas. Quality-control supervisors watch every step. Army Corps officials would not say how much the operation costs, but in Louisiana they are paying more than $1.8 million to process and dispose of these so called white goods.


In neighboring Harrison County, once the refrigerators are dropped off at a landfill, the government's financial obligation ends. A recycling contractor, eager to get the scrap metal, removes the Freon. In most cases, the spoiled food is removed by lifting the refrigerator atop a lined dumpster and shaking it. No biohazard suits are involved.


Some local officials said they were glad that the Army Corps was spending the extra time and money.


"Twenty years from now I don't want young mothers giving birth to kids with birth defects because we found out we did not do proper dumping," said Representative Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Bay St. Louis, Miss., where the Army Corps is in charge of cleaning up.


Mr. Worley, from the Army Corps, said that if the agency was handling the cleanup any differently, it would also get criticized.


"Over the years we have gotten hammered for the opposite," he said. "We are doing it the way we are supposed to do it and, yes, it takes time. And it costs money, absolutely."


But John Record, a manager from Custom Recycling of Cody, Wyo., a private contractor that is processing refrigerators in Harrison County, said he was convinced that his cheaper approach was environmentally friendly, with state and federal inspectors checking regularly to ensure that.


"It's like killing a fly with a sledgehammer," Mr. Record said of the Army Corps' approach. "They seem to have an unlimited budget, so I guess they can do it that way."




phoenix cops now hanging out in liquor stores trying to bust underage kids trying to buy booze. geez!!! dont these cops have any real criminals to chase?


plus two new government web sites that ask you to snitch on your neighbors:







Police targeting teens who buy, drink alcohol


Lindsey Collom

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 26, 2005 12:00 AM


Officer Jay Jacobs leaned out the drive-through window at Casa Amigo's Liquors and peered into a truck of young men.


Jacobs, in plainclothes, his badge hanging low from a chain around his neck, didn't look like a cop.


The driver ordered a 12-pack of Bud Light.


"Cuantos anos?" a clerk standing with Jacobs asked. The driver responded to the question about his age with a shrug.


"Bring your ID, come back, OK?" the clerk said. He turned to the officer. "We should just make a habit for them to pull it out before we ask."


Lines of vehicles had been streaming through the dual drive-through at 43rd Avenue and Osborn Road for much of the night. Many were turned away on Jacob's watch.


Jacobs is one of four officers on the Phoenix police Youth Alcohol Education and Enforcement Squad, which targets underage drinking at the source.


The "Cops in Shops" program, which puts officers behind the counter at liquor and convenience stores, is just part of their duties.


Friday and Saturday nights are spent patrolling the city in an unmarked vehicle. They stop at bars and send in cubs, or police cadets younger than 21, to determine whether establishments are following liquor laws. The cub will belly up to a bar and order a drink. If he or she is served, the officers cite the bartender and conduct a full liquor inspection.


The squad also targets other sources, like house parties. Before the group was initiated a decade ago, officers would break up parties and give little or no attention to possible youth alcohol consumption.Earlier this year, for example, the squad was notified of a house party in the 4400 block of East South Fork Drive in Ahwatukee. They sent two cubs into the home to verify that underage drinking was going on and, based on their findings, closed off the street. Squad members interviewed each of the 22 partygoers, 13 of whom were underage drinkers who police cited for consumption. The 24-year-old homeowner/party host was slapped with 26 citations for various liquor violations.


Most recently, the squad has used the Web to aid in enforcement. Party sites, like www.azhouseparty.com, are cropping up. The groups will name the location of a party, give directions and charge a fee for entry.


While the parties and Web sites enable underage drinking, they're not the problem. Studies show it begins at home.


A recent poll by the American Medical Association indicated that adults are the most common source of alcohol for teens.


Nearly half of teens polled said they obtained alcohol from adults at some point. In the adult poll, one of four U.S. parents with children ages 12 to 20 agreed that teens should be able to drink at home with parents present.


"People tend to be a little self-involved and they don't do enough parenting," said Officer Tom Tardy, another squad member. "A lot of parents operate under the assumption that, 'I was young, I drank, I turned out OK.' That's contrary to the research."


Underage drinking is a leading cause of death among youths when including alcohol-related car accidents and fatal injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that alcohol was a factor in two-thirds of all sexual assaults and date rapes and increases the likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. American Medical Association research also has shown the long-term and irreversible damage that drinking does to teen brains.


"We don't want to ruin anybody's lives, but we want them to play by the rules," Jacobs said. "Kids take chances. They're at the age where they can make choices. You just hope they make the right choice."


Jacobs, Tardy and other squad members regularly promote those choices. Last quarter, the group reached more than 2,000 students through programs at high schools. They target youths who are almost of driving age to address traffic laws, impaired driving and underage alcohol use.


The squad can't verify that its efforts have stopped a teen from drinking or driving drunk, yet they say hope pushes them forward.


"(People) always want to know, 'Do you have statistics to prove your progress?' " said Sgt. Bob Smedes, squad supervisor. "We think it has an impact, but statistics are difficult to monitor under the best of circumstances. So you go out there, you put in a whole shift and you hope you make a difference.


"You hope that somewhere along the way you're saving lives, and that's what keeps most of these guys going."


Reach the reporter at lindsey.collom@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8557.




maybe the judge treated Foxy Brown this way because she if black???




Watch out! Rapper has gum


Dec. 26, 2005 12:00 AM


Rapper Foxy Brown was handcuffed, threatened with jail and made to apologize Friday after she stuck out her tongue in the direction of a judge who asked her to stop chewing gum.


Judge Melissa Jackson told Brown in New York that she was showing disrespect to the court and had previously been "making faces" at the judge.


Brown, 25, who was in court to plead guilty to a misdemeanor from a ruckus at a nail salon, denied she was chewing gum. But the judge said she believed Brown was.


At that, Brown opened her mouth and wagged her tongue as if to show her mouth was empty. Jackson ordered the rapper handcuffed to the defendants' bench.


While Brown was being handcuffed, she and a female court officer yelled at each other. The judge said Brown struck the officer.


Jackson told Brown to apologize, explaining to her attorney that without an apology, she would hold Brown in contempt of court, meaning she could be jailed for up to 30 days and fined $1,000.


The rapper appeared before the judge and said, "I apologize for my actions."




even if george bush has replaced saddam as the dictator of iraq, iraq in some ways seems much freer then the USA. after all they get to own machine guns and we dont despite the fact we have a 2nd amendment.


    Iraqi law allows households to own AK-47s, but with limitations.




Holiday 'another day' for GIs in Iraq


Ryan Lenz and Antonio Castaneda

Associated Press

Dec. 26, 2005 12:00 AM


BEIJI, Iraq - U.S. Army soldiers carried out raids in dusty Iraqi towns. Military doctors treated soldiers wounded by roadside bombs. Christmas in Iraq was just another day on the front lines for the U.S. military.


Troops woke long before sunrise on a cold, rainy Christmas morning to raid an upscale neighborhood a few miles from their base. In honor of the day, they dubbed the target "Whoville," after the town in the Dr. Seuss book The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.


Commanders said they ordered the operation because they did not know the identities of the neighborhood's residents and several roadside bombs had recently been planted near the district, which isn't far from Forward Operating Base Summerall in Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad.


U.S. patrols had never before ventured into the neighborhood, where the streets are lined with spacious homes.


Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade knew they weren't going to be welcome when they arrived in the dead of night. It just made sense to nickname the target after the village raided by Seuss' Grinch on Christmas morning, they said.


"It was appropriate. I did feel like the Grinch," said Pfc. John Parkes, 31, of Cortland, N.Y., a medic in one of several groups called "quick reaction teams" that respond to roadside explosions.


The raiders broke down doors, confiscated illegal machine guns, plastic bags of ammunition and gun clips. Iraqi law allows households to own AK-47s, but with limitations.


For many soldiers in the 101st, it was their second Christmas in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The brigade, known as "Rakkasans," also raided a village on Thanksgiving morning this year.


For many soldiers, the holidays are more of a benchmark for their time in Iraq than a special day.


"Believe it or not, I didn't realize it was Christmas until last night," said 1st Sgt. Andre Johnson, 38, of Baton Rouge, La. "It's just another day, man."


Another day on patrol. Another day walking the streets while the cold wind cut through their uniforms and a chilling drizzle coated their faces. The neighborhood's residents stayed inside, peeking through windows at the soldiers.


Sgt. Jared Jones, 21, of Lafayette, Ind., said Christmas away from home can be emotional for some, but he buries himself in his job.


"The mission comes first," he said, pulling heavily on a cigarette after returning to the base. "I was out here 15 months the last time I was in Iraq. Holidays don't matter much to me."


Maj. Alex Lee said, "Honestly, it doesn't feel like a holiday. But for the guys that are conscious, we try to say 'Merry Christmas' to them. But it is hard to keep holiday spirits up."






Best wishes for 2006, Americans


Dec. 26, 2005 12:00 AM


My 2006 wish list for Americans:


1.Americans receive the same health insurance benefits as the House and Senate.


2.Americans receive the same pension benefits as the House and Senate.


3.The house,Senate and the administration have to abide by the same laws as all Americans.


4.Instead of cutting programs that help the most people, cut pork programs that benefit only the wealthiest 2 percent.


I think most of us would be extremely pleased to receive No. 1, just as a start.


Phyl Fisher

Chandler, Arizona


Even if he is a socialist he has a few good points. And he forget to demand that Americans should demand to be paid the same $158,100 salary congressmen and senators get while they are micromanaging our lives and stealing our money!




If the IRS is this incompetent in catching criminals in prison who file fake tax returns, do you think they do any better of a job catching people who don’t file tax returns? I kind of doubt it, although I suspect when a person doesn’t file a tax return there is always some risk of getting caught.




Inmates scam IRS big time

Prisoners rake in refunds from phony tax forms; few ever caught, punished


Dennis Wagner

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 25, 2005 12:00 AM


Daniel G. Johnson was serving time at the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility near Tucson when he found a new way to make money from behind bars: He started ripping off Uncle Sam.


The 28-year-old forger, who worked in the private prison's library, sent fraudulent tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service seeking refunds of more than $200,000. Although tax schemes are rampant in Arizona's correctional systems, Johnson's case was exceptional because he was caught and prosecuted by the federal government.


This year, IRS officials detected $68 million in false tax refund applications filed by 18,000 U.S. prisoners for the 2004 tax year. That accounted for more than one-seventh of all phony refunds nationwide.


In Arizona, convicts were responsible for roughly half of the $600,000 in fraudulent claims detected by Department of Revenue investigators this year.


Tax-scamming is a longtime pursuit of America's prison denizens. But it has proliferated behind bars so much recently that congressional hearings were conducted during the summer to figure out how the system can be fixed.


Nancy Jardini, chief of IRS criminal investigations, told a House subcommittee that inmate fraud has increased 700 percent in three years.


"There is no question that prisoner refund fraud is on the rise," she said. "Even though prisoner returns comprised less than 1 percent of all individual federal income tax returns filed in 2004, more than 15 percent of false refund returns used prisoner names and taxpayer identification numbers."


By all accounts, the crime is exacerbated by a simple fact: Inmates have little incentive to stop because they seldom face punishment, from the justice system or prison administrators, when they are caught. Law enforcement authorities say they just don't have the resources to investigate criminals who are behind bars. So Daniel Johnson is the only inmate in Arizona to be convicted of tax fraud during the past two years.


The damage is not measured merely in dollars stolen from the U.S. Treasury. Tax fraud also represents a perennial headache for penal institutions, where the crime spreads like a virus from inmate to inmate, bringing money, contraband and violence into already volatile cellblocks.


"Any actual cash in an inmate's possession is dangerous in a prison environment," said Joe Profiri, a criminal investigations manager for the Arizona Department of Corrections. "It's a potential tick up for crime."


During the House subcommittee hearings, an anonymous inmate drove home that point by saying he had filed 700 false returns for $3.5 million worth of refunds. "The money and drugs eventually led to beatings," he said. It was unclear how much money he received.


Afterward, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., dubbed the practice "Operation H & R (Cell)Block," adding, "It's time we put it out of business."


How it works


By any measure, the government's tax-collecting job seems herculean: IRS workers processed 130 million tax statements last year, and caught $2.2 billion worth of false refund claims.


About 455,000 of those filings came from a U.S. population of 2.1 million people doing time in state, federal, county and private correctional centers.


The typical scheme begins with a convict who has access to the Internet or prison library for IRS forms and to a photocopy machine where papers can be duplicated. The inmate fills out fictitious revenue statements, claiming overpayment of taxes or seeking rebates, then sends the fraudulent papers to the IRS.


"You'll get some that are handwritten and the guys can barely spell," said Sandy Schwartz, an investigations supervisor for the state Revenue Department. "And there are some where it's typed out and really pretty, and they've used a software system."


State and federal revenue agents employ all sorts of firewalls to prevent tax graft. Correctional guards and mailroom workers are trained to watch for bogus tax papers, including a high volume of mail to or from the IRS.


Prisons provide the tax collectors with inmate rosters that can be red-flagged in databases. Government computers are programmed to detect specific addresses and scam techniques, as are processors who handle the paperwork.


But the screening is imperfect and, as Schwartz pointed out, fraudulent filings that go undetected represent a "great unknown."


In fact, inmates have devised dozens of schemes. When one succeeds, it is likely to proliferate within a cellblock, then spread to other correctional centers. Sometimes, ringleaders work out profit-sharing deals with cellmates, using their names and Social Security numbers to file more tax returns. Or they may just steal the information.


Either way, completed forms are sent to an outside accomplice who forwards them to the IRS, often using a post office box as a return address. When refunds arrive, the middleman cashes each check, takes a cut and distributes the rest to inmate prison accounts or associates on the outside. Some of the most sophisticated operations launder money through offshore accounts.


Brad Palmer, an IRS agent, described tax-scamming in Arizona as a "huge" prison enterprise that has infected every type of correctional facility in the state.


"There are a lot of inmates involved. The difficult part is knowing how many of the schemes are all connected," Palmer said. "Once we catch a scheme, they adapt it and find a new system."


Crime goes unpunished


In Johnson's case, the scheme involved claims that he had overpaid taxes on gambling winnings. He apparently was charged because the total refund request of $207,686 was so huge. He admitted guilt as part of a plea agreement, and could add up to five years to his 2 1/2-year prison term.


Profiri, the DOC investigator, said most prison-based tax fraud goes unpunished because of flaws in the system. When prison officials learn of a scam, Profiri said, they interview inmates, conduct cell searches and do other investigative work. Often, they discover photocopied tax forms, lists of Social Security numbers and large amounts of cash entering inmate accounts.


With that evidence, Profiri said, corrections officials notify the IRS, but that's usually the end of the story.


"Sometimes they show an interest, but with the financial disclosure laws the IRS can't share information with us," he explained. "I am unaware of any cases (involving Department of Corrections inmates) that resulted in an arrest or prosecution."


Palmer, the IRS agent, confirmed that, under federal law, he is banned from disclosing taxpayer information to anyone, including prison investigators. When inmates are caught, he said, the IRS blocks them from collecting false refunds. But agents cannot pass on details to prison officials.


Meanwhile, neither the IRS nor the U.S. attorney is likely to pursue charges because the perpetrators are behind bars, and they'll likely get sentences of less than two years. Even when key players are identified, prosecution involves witnesses with low credibility and the challenge of distinguishing conspirators from cellmates who may be victims of identity theft.


"Usually in tax fraud cases, we know who did it and we have to prove the crime," Palmer noted. "Here, we know the crime but we don't know who did it."


Patrick Schneider, chief of criminal prosecutions at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona, said he has been forced to cut back on prosecuting white-collar crimes in general, so it hardly makes sense to go after offenders who are incarcerated.


"We just don't have the manpower to do every fraud case we would do otherwise," Schneider said.


The same is true on the state level, where no convict has been indicted for tax fraud in at least two years. "If someone is in prison and spending years there anyway, what's the point of spending time and resources? said Schwartz, the state investigator. "Are we going to prosecute? No."


Rules not enforced


Back in prison, possession of contraband items, including multiple IRS forms and lists of Social Security numbers, is a breach of conduct. Violators may lose visitation privileges, get transferred or face other penalties.


But, because of another kink in the system, that rule is seldom enforced.


Profiri said DOC officials do not want to interfere with IRS criminal investigations, so they hold off on disciplinary sanctions while federal tax agents investigate inmates for fraud. Because the IRS seldom presses charges and cannot tell prison officials anything about inmate tax investigations, prisoners almost never get punished.


The upshot: No criminal prosecution. No prison sanctions. No reason for felons to think twice about continuing to defraud the government.


As Profiri put it, "If you're able to steal and get away with it, you continue to steal."


This month, IRS officials began considering measures that would allow tax agents to disclose information on inmate scammers to correctional authorities. But the proposal has no formal status.


In the meantime, Palmer agreed that convicts have little incentive to stop violating tax laws. "It's a problem. I'm not going to sit here and deny that there's a hole in the system," Palmer said.


He added that the IRS moved to fill that hole this year by assigning him specifically to prison refund scams, the first time a special agent in Arizona has been given that duty. He said he is working with prison officials, focusing on ringleaders and outside accomplices.


"We're trying to fix it," Palmer said.


Reach the reporter at dennis.wagner@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8874.




thats $39 million on government credit cards!! and each credit card had a $250,000 limit.




Federal workers racked up $39 mil in charges for Katrina relief

Congressional investigators question whether retail purchases were wise


Hope Yen

Associated Press

Dec. 25, 2005 12:00 AM


WASHINGTON - Federal employees helping Katrina victims charged more than $39 million on government credit cards for disaster relief items. Congressional investigators want to make sure the taxpayers got a good deal.


And a senator, citing past abuse, wants to know whether anyone used the cards for holiday shopping.


Many of the goods, which included $60,639 for sleeping bags and $713 for four 27-inch televisions, were bought at retail rather than cheaper volume prices after the Aug. 29 storm, according to federal records.


The spending also included $150,000 worth of Jockey underwear, six nail clippers and $3,200 for golf carts.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it needed some items quickly - such as the underwear- for evacuees in temporary shelters. Jockey International says the underwear sold at or below the company's cost.


Federal officials responding to Katrina "were not going to spend days calling all across the country and haggling prices - the initial purchases were about saving lives," Homeland Security spokesman Larry Orluskie said.


The lists of purchases provided by five government agencies show nothing outrageous - bottles of water, hundreds of maps of New Orleans and Texas, pizza dinners and lots of insect repellent. The Homeland Security Department also bought 50 automatic heart defibrillators for nearly $1.5 million for use at shelters.


The credit-card bills, which are directly payable by Uncle Sam, were vulnerable for abuse in the Katrina aftermath after agencies were given the power to raise the credit limit from $15,000 to $250,000. That authority was repealed Oct. 3.


There is a history of credit-card abuse by government employees, including charges for $400 Coach briefcases, a dog and Victoria's Secret clothing.


Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Finance Committee who successfully pushed for the credit limits to be lowered back to $15,000, said his office was going to make sure "hard-working Americans don't pay for government employees' Christmas shopping."


"When I began looking into this issue several years ago, we uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money that was lost due to inadequate controls," said Grassley, R-Iowa. "When you've seen this kind of abuse, it's hard to justify increasing the limit on these cards."


This time, the congressional audits - the first of which is due out early next year - will not only focus on any abuse, but on missed opportunities to get discounted rates for commonly purchased items such as office supplies and clothing, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.


Based on prior audits, at least 10 percent of the Katrina charges - or about $4 million - might have been saved if the government used its leveraging power to pay lower-than-retail cost, said Greg Kutz, managing director of special investigations at GAO.


Only a thorough review will tell whether spending went notably awry.


For example, was $11,078 worth of ice bought by the U.S. Forest Service at retail stores really necessary, since the government already had a $107.9 million pre-existing ice contract with IAP Worldwide Services? Some senators have charged that poor planning led to waste in the IAP contract, which is also being audited.


Danielle Brian, executive director of the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, expressed concern with many instances of retail purchases, which included $66,632 worth of supplies from Wal-Mart for items such as scissors, bath towels and nail clippers.


"Only time will tell where the money has been squandered which should have gone to help Katrina victims," Brian said.


In many instances, the government records showed anomalies. The Transportation Department, for example, initially reported a purchase of a $5,374 paper shredder; it later said the shredder, which was designed to meet security standards, was improperly designated as a Katrina expense.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lists repeated duplicate charges - for example, the exact same charge of $1,461.42 each for "1 IP90 portable printer," "1 Laserjet 2430TN printer," "1 wireless access point" and other miscellaneous items that spokesman Scott Saunders later acknowledged were probably errors.






Eavesdropping inquiry may widen

Congress set to look at new allegations


Eric Lichtblau

New York Times

Dec. 25, 2005 12:00 AM


WASHINGTON - Congressional officials said Saturday that they wanted to investigate the disclosure that the National Security Agency had gained access to some of the country's main telephone arteries to glean data on possible terrorists.


"As far as congressional investigations are concerned, these new revelations can only multiply and intensify the growing list of questions and concerns about the warrantless surveillance of Americans," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.


Members of the Judiciary Committee have indicated that they intend to conduct oversight hearings into the president's legal authority to order domestic eavesdropping on terrorist suspects without a warrant.


But congressional officials said Saturday that they would probably seek to expand the review to include the disclosure that the security agency, using its access to giant phone "switches," had also traced and analyzed phone and Internet traffic in much larger volumes than what the Bush administration had acknowledged.


Current and former government officials say the security agency, as part of its domestic-surveillance program, has gained the cooperation of some of the country's biggest telecommunications companies to get access to large volumes of international telephone and Internet traffic flowing in and out of the United States.


The agency has traced and analyzed the traffic flow, looking at who is calling whom, where calls originate and end and other patterns, to gather clues on possible terrorist activities. In cases in which security agency supervisors believe they can show a link to al-Qaida, President Bush has authorized the agency to eavesdrop on the calls without a warrant within the United States, so long as one end of the phone or e-mail conversation takes place outside the country.


The White House declined to comment Saturday on the security agency program or the use of data-mining, saying it would not discuss intelligence operations.


Defenders of the program within the federal government say the security agency's broad analytical searches and data-mining, combined with actual eavesdropping, are an essential part of detecting and preventing terror attacks before they can occur.


But civil rights and privacy advocates voiced concerns Saturday about the expanded role played by the security agency, which historically has been focused almost exclusively on foreign powers, in mining for data on American telephone lines.




for some reason i suspect that the LA county cops are somehow violating federal law by having the program where they give away gift certificates for illegal guns. also the program appears racist - compton is a very, very poor black neighborhood.




Compton residents trade guns for gift certificates


Associated Press

Dec. 25, 2005 12:00 AM


COMPTON, Calif. - "Big Daddy" Willis came to Compton to turn an illegal homemade pistol into Christmas dinner. Charlene Watt planned to turn three shotguns into a plasma TV.


The two were among dozens of residents who converged on a shopping center parking lot Saturday to anonymously swap firearms for gift certificates as part of a program aimed at reducing violence.


Each was rewarded with a $100 gift card for Circuit City or the Ralphs supermarket chain.


In a line that snaked across a parking lot, participants from across Los Angeles County carried guns in cardboard boxes, plastic grocery bags and fancy leather cases.


"Hopefully and prayerfully this will cut down on the shootings," said Compton resident Ruther Daniels, 44, who turned in a handgun.


Authorities created the program after a sharp spike in Compton's crime rate this year. Sixty-eight homicides have been recorded so far in 2005, up from 39 in 2004, according to sheriff's Capt. Eric Hamilton.


Over three Saturdays, sheriff's deputies amassed more than 250 firearms, including 185 handguns, 48 high-powered rifles, 15 sawed-off shotguns and a Tec-9 semiautomatic machine gun pistol.




and i though arizona was a police state.




Bill Would Allow Arrests For No Reason In Public Place

Citizens Would Also Have To Show ID


UPDATED: 7:22 pm EST December 19, 2005


CLEVELAND -- A bill on Gov. Bob Taft's desk right now is drawing a lot of criticism, NewsChannel5 reported.


One state representative said it resembles Gestapo-style tactics of government, and there could be changes coming on the streets of Ohio's small towns and big cities.


The Ohio Patriot Act has made it to the Taft's desk, and with the stroke of a pen, it would most likely become the toughest terrorism bill in the country. The lengthy piece of legislation would let police arrest people in public places who will not give their names, address and birth dates, even if they are not doing anything wrong.


WEWS reported it would also pave the way for everyone entering critical transportation sites such as, train stations, airports and bus stations to show ID.


"It brings us frighteningly close to a show me your papers society," said Carrie Davis of the ACLU, which opposes the Ohio Patriot Act.


There are many others who oppose the bill as well.


"The variety of people who opposed to this is not just a group of the usual suspects. We have people far right to the left opposing the bill who think it is a bad idea," said Al McGinty, NewsChannel5’s terrorism expert.


McGinty said he isn't sure the law would do what it's intended to do.


"I think anything we do to enhance security and give power to protect the public to police officers is a good idea," he said. "It is a good law in the wrong direction."


Gov. Bob Taft will make the ultimate decision on whether to sign the bill.


WEWS was told that Taft is expected to sign the bill into law, but legal experts expect that it will be challenged in courts.






Prisoner monitor gets a test


Judy Nichols

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 25, 2005 12:00 AM


A prisoner-monitoring system developed in Scottsdale will now be used in a pilot project in a 700-bed prison in Melaka, Malaysia, and in a 375-bed prison scheduled to open in 2006 in Canberra, Australia. The projects, announced earlier this month, will showcase TSI Prism, a system made by Alanco Technologies Inc.


It consists of a radio transmitter that looks like a large, industrial wristwatch, that is used to track inmate movement and archive it in a database that can be retrieved days, weeks, even months later.


Greg Oester, president of TSI Prism, said the system is credited with solving a stabbing in a California prison.


"An inmate was found stabbed in his bunk at 3:30 in the morning," Oester said. "He either wouldn't say who did it, or didn't know.


"Through the database, officials were able to see that, 30 minutes before the stabbing was discovered, another inmate came into the area where the stabbing occurred. They had a confession within an hour. Ordinarily, it can take weeks, or months, if ever, before something like that is solved."


Oester said the system has reduced inmate violence by 60 percent in the California prison system since its installation in 2000.


"It lifts the veil of secrecy," Oester said. "An inmate can no longer say he wasn't there. They tend not to do things when they know they can be tracked."


The system can set off alarms if rival gang members get too close to each other, or if an inmate violates such prison rules as entering unauthorized areas. If the inmate tampers with the wristband, it is immediately detected.


The system also has a belt-mounted transmitter for staff members that can send a panic alarm, which immediately shows who is in trouble, where they are and the 20 inmates closest to him or her.


"It allows the early responders to know if it's two gang members, or if it's 15 people and what their history of violence is."


Other companies offer systems that can tell how many inmates are in an area.


"But they can't tell you who's standing next to whom, and they don't have a database to retrieve," Oester said.


Oester said the system saves money by freeing officers from inmate tracking to provide more security functions like drug or contraband sweeps.


"We were never certain that same cost-benefit analysis would apply to developing countries because labor is cheaper," Oester said. "But we've had a lot of interest from Asian countries."


Alanco stock has not traded above $3 since early 2001 and closed Friday at 59 cents a share. The company lost about $2.6 million in fiscal 2003, about $3.2 million in fiscal 2004 and about $3.8 million in fiscal 2005.


Oester said a pilot project also has been established in the Netherlands, and the company has gotten interest from China, Singapore, Thailand and Japan.


All of the company's international contacts came after VIP tours of the Logan Correctional Facility in Lincoln, Ill., a medium-security facility with 2,000 inmates, he said.


The company had to overcome one hurdle before marketing internationally.


The radio frequency used in the United States is restricted overseas, so the company adapted the system to use a 2.4 gigahertz transmission system that can be used anywhere.


Last year, the company was awarded a contract for the Los Angeles County jail system, which has 18,000 inmates.


Since then, it has been inundated with requests for information and pilot projects, Oester said.


"Looking at the industrialized world, the United States is the largest incarcerator," Oester said. "So the domestic market is our primary focus.




dumb cops driving in thick fog plunge into river after driving on a open drawbridge




Dec 26, 4:26 PM EST


One police officer dead, another missing



Associated Press Writer


JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Two police officers in an emergency truck plunged more than 40 feet off an open drawbridge in thick fog. One was killed; the other was missing and feared dead.


The vehicle fell into the Hackensack River on Sunday night, after the officers crossed the Lincoln Highway Bridge and placed flares to warn motorists that the bridge's safety warning system was not operating, said Police Chief Robert Troy.


Before the officers turned around and drove back across the river, the bridge's middle span was raised to allow a tugboat to go under.


"They dropped off the cones and the flares, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and were joking around. From what I've heard they were all in good spirits," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said.


"The horrible irony is they were responding to the very situation that caused their demise. The bridge operator wanted cones and flares and our police department was the first to respond."


The safety bar and bell used to warn motorists when the bridge is open had not been working for two days because a vehicle had crashed into them, officials said.


The body of Officer Shawn Carson, 40, was found Sunday night. Carson was a 16-year veteran of the force. Divers searched the 40-degree water Monday for Officer Robert Nguyen, 30, who had been with the police department for six years.


The bridge, which links Jersey City and Newark, is known by several names, including the Hackensack River Bridge.






Judge in bias case wants documents made public

By Gary Grado, Tribune

December 25, 2005


A Maricopa County Superior Court judge who accused county prosecutors of racial bias wants secret documents pertaining to a complaint against him by the county attorney to be made public.


The complaint stems from the case of Mesa resident Patrick Ivey, 20, who was convicted May 26 of burglary in Paradise Valley.


Judge Warren Granville said that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office singled out Ivey, who is poor and black, but ignored others involved in the crime who were either white or affluent.


The attorney’s office then filed a complaint against Granville with the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct.


Granville said in a Dec. 8 letter to the county attorney that it would be in the public’s interest to open the complaint.


"The public has the right to review the uses of power and discretion exercised by officials from two branches of their government," Granville wrote.


Chief assistant county attorney Sally Wolfgang Wells had urged Granville to support the release of the complaint.


Opening the complaint would allow the public to judge the merits of it and to "be privy to the complete decision of the commission," Wells wrote.


It will be up to the commission whether the complaint and its related documents are made public, said Keith Stott, executive director of the commission.


Earlier this month, Granville revealed the contents of the complaint and the judicial commission’s response to a Valley weekly newspaper.


Wells said Granville not only violated the confidentiality of judicial complaints, but that the statements also "resulted in a broad and incomplete report" of the underlying criminal case that set off the controversy.


The news story reported that Granville was cleared of judicial misconduct but was admonished by the commission.


Granville could not be reached for comment.




new orleans cops videotaped killing a man armed with a small knife.


hmmm..... how do you say Mario Madrigal Jr. with a southern accent




New Orleans Police Shoot, Kill Man on Tape By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press Writer


NEW ORLEANS - Police officers shot and killed a man brandishing a knife in a confrontation that was partially videotaped by a bystander, setting off another internal investigation of the embattled department.


Monday's daylight shooting was the first involving police since New Orleans reopened after Hurricane Katrina. It follows the videotaped police beating of a man that led to two firings in the department.


A police spokesman, David Adams, said the officers who fired on the man will be reassigned pending the outcome of the probe, but he defended their response, saying at least one officer's life was in danger just before the barrage of gunfire.


"You have a subject who's lunging at them with a knife... swinging wildly at them and they're fearing for their life," Adams said. "They had no other choice but to resort to lethal force."


Adams said he did not know how many officers fired shots or how many shots were fired. Witnesses said a half dozen or more shots were fired.


Officers repeatedly asked the man to drop the knife and used pepper spray to try to subdue him, but he covered his face with a cloth and continued walking toward an officer and threatening him, authorities said.


"Evidently, the pepper spray had no effect," Adams said.


The 38-year-old man's name was not immediately released.


A businessman had called police after a confrontation with the victim in the Lower Garden District west of downtown. The shooting happened on St. Charles Avenue, the thoroughfare famous for its historic green streetcars and Mardi Gras parades.


Phin Percy videotaped a portion of the confrontation before the shooting from his father's second-story apartment. "The cops kept telling him 'Lay down! Lay down!' This went on for about three minutes," he said.


While he was running downstairs, Percy said, he heard numerous shots. By the time he ran out the door, many more officers had arrived and the body was lying against a car.


When he reviewed his videotape, Percy said, he saw a small knife in the man's hand. The tape, broadcast nationally, appears to show about a dozen officers taking part in the confrontation.


Trey Brokaw, a patron at a nearby bar, said he saw the victim with a knife in his hand shortly before the shooting. "I didn't see anyone near him," Brokaw said. "It didn't seem like anyone was going to get hurt to me."


But Brokaw said he did not see what happened in the final moments before the shots rang out.


It was the first shooting of any kind involving a New Orleans officer since the city was officially reopened following Hurricane Katrina's devastation four months ago, Adams said.


Since the storm, the police department has struggled to rebuild its ranks and address questions about officers' conduct. Hundreds of officers left the city without permission in the days after the storm. There were also allegations of theft and looting by officers, still under investigation, and the videotaped beating of a retired teacher by police in the French Quarter that led to the firing of two officers. The police chief resigned a month after the storm.