Friday, December 24, 2010

Never Thought I'd Say This . . .

. . . but for once I agree with Pat Robertson. Take it away, Pat:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Makes Ya Proud to be an Amer'cun, Don't It?

After being in mind-breaking isolation for seven straight months:
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). [...] the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

. . . the latest rumor is that Manning is now being offered a plea bargain if he testifies that Assange "conspired" with him.

So for those keeping track, now we can let the guy who actually broke the law off easy, in favor of arresting the guy who didn't break any laws, and all we had to do was torture a US citizen who hasn't even been put on trial for anything yet.

Woo, go team.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

City of Aurora Steals $190,000 From Citizen; Refuses to Return It Even After Court Order

Jesus Martinez, 27, was carrying $190,040 when his pickup truck was stopped by an Aurora police officer about 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18 near Indian Trail and Timberlake roads.

The police officer confiscated the cash, and the city has informed Martinez and his brother, Jose, 34, that Aurora will seek to keep it through civil forfeiture, a procedure that allows police agencies to seize property where the legal standard is lower than proof needed in a criminal forfeiture.

The brothers are home remodelers. Neither has been charged with a crime in this case, and neither has a criminal record, according to Kane County court records.

"I've never seen anything like this in 30 years of practice," said Aurora attorney Patrick Kinnally, who is representing the brothers.

A month after the stop, Kinnally filed a complaint arguing that Aurora had no right to keep the money. Eleven days after that, Kinnally and lawyers representing Aurora appeared before Kane County Circuit Judge Michael Colwell.

"Their lawyers basically said the city was going to file for forfeiture," Kinnally said. "The judge asked on what basis. The lawyer said, 'We don't know,' and the judge said: 'This is America. Give it back.'"

The judge ordered the city to return the $190,040, along with a month's interest and costs. But Kinnally said that when he brought the order to Aurora, the city refused to turn over the cash

Maybe they just really needed a new rec room at police headquarters . . .

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

CableGate: U.S.-Backed DynCorp Bought Drugs and Child Prostitutes For Police Recruits

(I'm going to start posting links and snippets of interesting stories arising from the leaked cables.)

Cable Link:

Related Link: Houston Press
Many of DynCorp's employees are ex-Green Berets and veterans of other elite units, and the company was commissioned by the US government to provide training for the Afghani police. According to most reports, over 95 percent of its $2 billion annual revenue comes from US taxpayers.

And in Kunduz province, according to the leaked cable, that money was flowing to drug dealers and pimps. Pimps of children, to be more precise. (The exact type of drug was never specified.)

Since this is Afghanistan, you probably already knew this wasn't a kegger. Instead, this DynCorp soiree was a bacha bazi ("boy-play") party, much like the ones uncovered earlier this year by Frontline.

For those that can't or won't click the link, bacha bazi is a pre-Islamic Afghan tradition that was banned by the Taliban. Bacha boys are eight- to 15-years-old. They put on make-up, tie bells to their feet and slip into scanty women's clothing, and then, to the whine of a harmonium and wailing vocals, they dance seductively to smoky roomfuls of leering older men.

After the show is over, their services are auctioned off to the highest bidder, who will sometimes purchase a boy outright. And by services, we mean anal sex: The State Department has called bacha bazi a "widespread, culturally accepted form of male rape." (While it may be culturally accepted, it violates both Sharia law and Afghan civil code.)

It's not everyday you wake up to find that your taxes are being used to pay for child rape in foreign countries.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

State Department Announces World Press Freedom Day!


New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

This, right on the heel of Senator Lieberman suggesting that the New York Times be investigated for its role in CableGate. It's nice they are suddenly all about freedom of the press. Perhaps they are planning to bring it to the U.S. soon?