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Russia May Exit Arms Reduction Treaty — Top General
Created: 15.02.2007 16:24 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 16:25 MSK
A top Russian general said Thursday, Feb. 15, that Moscow may unilaterally opt out of a Soviet-era arms reduction treaty with the United States, which was negotiated by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan back in 1987.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty eliminated an entire class of medium-range missiles that had been based in Europe.
General Yuri Baluevsky, the chief of the Russian army’s General Staff, was quoted by the Interfax agency, that Russian could pull out of the treaty. He said the decision would depend on the United States’ actions with its proposed missile defense system, parts of which Washington is seeking to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Baluevsky’s comments come after President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday, Feb. 10, that the INF treaty no longer serves Russia’s interests.
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Co-Dependent Congress Must Wake Up:
The President Needs a Straight-Jacket and a Padded Cell
by Dave Lindorff
It’s time to simply admit the obvious: The president of the United States is crazy as a loon, and the Congress and the media are functioning as co-dependents as he runs the country off a cliff.
Bush says in his latest press conference that he is “certain” that Iran is providing “technically sophisticated” roadside bomb weapons to Iraqi insurgent forces to help them to kill Americans.
He probably is “certain.” But nobody else of consequence in the government is, and the evidence to support his claim is simply not there.
Shaped charges are not sophisticated. They can be made in a garage. The technology was invented in 1888 by a Navy engineer. It was widely used in World War I and II, as well as in Vietnam, and was even provided by the British to the IRA in a botched sting operation that led to its being disseminated around the world to every conceivable resistance and terror organization. Instructions on how to make these weapons are available on the web. A high school student could do it in shop if the teacher wasn’t looking.
On top of that, the people who are primarily responsible for killing Americans in Iraq are Sunnis, who are certainly not the beneficiaries of Iranian government assistance, since Sunnis are killing Shias, who are the ones that Iran is close to.
None of this matters to Bush.
Why? Because he’s crazy. Reality and Bush's psyche are wholly different worlds, people.
When you have a person who’s off his nut in a position of authority, whether it is in your house, in your office, driving a car or running your country, you need to do something to prevent them from causing harm. It won’t do to say, “It’s too much trouble to confront him,” or “He’ll get angry if I challenge him.”
This seems to be the attitude in Congress and the media. The Democrats, who could put the president in a richly deserved straightjacket, are afraid to take that step. The media are afraid the president and his crazy backers would howl if they pointed out how nutty he has become.
So they all let him rant on, as though he were making sense.
The problem is that this president is also the commander in chief. He has ordered three heavily armed (and nuclear-equipped) carrier battle groups to the Persian Gulf and is talking about “dealing” with Iran. We all know what that means. He wants to attack Iran and expand his disastrous war in the Middle East to put us at war with another 70 million people.
Experts are saying we can expect this to happen in mid March or April! They say this even though there are no facts that could justify such a criminal act.
But facts don’t matter to this megalomaniac.
Co-dependency is a condition where people associated with a sick person enable that person to ruin not only their own lives, but the lives of others, because of an inability to confront the sick person. It happens in families, and it is happening today to the American nation.
Co-dependency destroys families, and it has the potential now to destroy the lives of thousands of Americans, tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranians, and perhaps America itself.
There is only one proper response to having a lunatic in the White House, and that is to get him out of there, and to prevent him from doing harm to himself and others. What ought to happen is Bush’s medical team should have him declared incompetent. Since that is unlikely to happen, we’re left with two other alternatives. One would be for the military leadership of the nation to recognize Bush’s orders—should he order an attack on Iran—to be contrary to International Law, and to disobey him. That seems unlikely, though it is to be profoundly hoped for.
The other is for Congress to recognize its co-dependent behavior, and to take action, filing impeachment bills and getting the process of impeachment hearings underway.
Since the president has clearly broken the law in the case of the National Security Agency spying he ordered up, and since he has clearly abused his power and violated his oath of office with his signing statements, there is really no need for prolonged hearings. An impeachment panel could quickly vote out articles of impeachment on these two issues and send them to the full house for a vote. Were they to do this, I suspect they would find at least some honorable and patriotic Republicans voting with them. At that point the issue could go to the Senate for trial. Meanwhile, the impeachment panel could continue with hearings into Bush’s other crimes and misadventures—the lying about the Iraq War, the torture authorization, the violation of habeas corpus, the cover-up of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the lies to and obstruction of the 9-11 Commission, the abandonment of New Orleans to its fate during and after Hurricane Katrina, the war profiteering in Iraq, etc., etc.
The first step, however, is to acknowledge that the president has lost his mind and has become a dangerous psychopath.
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Judge Restricts New York Police Surveillance
Friday, February 16, 2007
In a rebuke of a surveillance practice greatly expanded by the New York Police Department after the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal judge ruled today that the police must stop the routine videotaping of people at public gatherings unless there was an indication that unlawful activity may occur.
Nearly four years ago, at the request of New York City, the same judge, Charles S. Haight Jr., had given the police greater authority to investigate political, social and religious groups.
In today’s ruling, however, Judge Haight of Federal District Court in Manhattan found that by videotaping people who were exercising their right to free speech and breaking no laws, the Police Department had ignored the milder limits he had imposed on it in 2003.
Citing two events in 2005 — a march in Harlem and a demonstration by homeless people in front of the Upper East Side home of Mayor Michael Bloomberg — the judge said the city offered scant justification for videotaping the people involved.
“There was no reason to suspect or anticipate that unlawful or terrorist activity might occur,” he wrote, “or that pertinent information about or evidence of such activity might be obtained by filming the earnest faces of those concerned citizens and the signs by which they hoped to convey their message to a public official.”
While he called the police conduct “egregious,” Judge Haight also offered an unusual judicial mea culpa, taking responsibility for his own words in a 2003 order that, he conceded, had not been “a model of clarity.”
The restrictions on videotaping do not apply to bridges, tunnels, airports, subways or street traffic, Judge Haight noted, but are meant to control police surveillance at events where people gather to exercise their rights under the First Amendment.
"No reasonable person, and surely not this court, is unaware of the perils the New York public faces and the crucial importance of the N.Y.P.D.’s efforts to detect, prevent and punish those who would cause others harm," Judge Haight wrote.
Jethro Eisenstein, one of the lawyers who challenged the videotaping practices, said Judge Haight’s ruling would make it possible to contest other surveillance tactics, including the use of undercover officers at political gatherings. In recent years, police officers have disguised themselves as protesters, shouted feigned objections when uniformed officers were making arrests, and pretended to be mourners at a memorial event for bicycle riders killed in traffic accidents.
“This was a major push by the corporation counsel to say that the guidelines are nice but they’re yesterday’s news, and that the security establishment’s view of what is important trumps civil liberties,” Mr. Eisentstein said. “Judge Haight is saying that’s just not the way we’re doing things in New York City.”
A spokesman for Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly referred questions about the ruling to the city’s lawyers, who noted that Judge Haight did not set a deadline for destroying the tapes it had already made, and that the judge did not find the city had violated the First Amendment.
Nevertheless, Judge Haight — at times invoking the mythology of the ancient Greeks and of Harold Ross, the founding editor of The New Yorker — used blunt language to characterize the Police Department’s activities.
“There is no discernible justification for the apparent disregard of the Guidelines” in his 2003 court order, the judge said. These spell out the broad circumstances under which the police could investigate political gatherings.
Under the guidelines, the police may conduct investigations — including videotaping — at political events only if they have indications that unlawful activity may occur, and only after they have applied for permission to the deputy commissioner in charge of the Intelligence Division.
Judge Haight noted that the Police Department had not produced evidence that any applications for permission to videotape had ever been filed.
Near the end of his 51-page order, the judge warned that the Police Department must change its practices or face penalties
“Any future use by the N.Y.P.D. of video and photographic equipment during the course of an investigation involving political activity” that did not follow the guidelines could result in contempt proceedings, he wrote.
At monthly group bicycle rides in lower Manhattan known as Critical Mass, some participants break traffic laws, and the police routinely videotape those events, Judge Haight noted. That would be an appropriate situation for taping, he said, but police officials did not follow the guidelines and apply for permission.
“This is a classic case of application of the guidelines: political activity on the part of individuals, but legitimate law enforcement purpose on the part of the police,” Judge Haight wrote. “It is precisely the sort of situation where the guidelines require adherence to certain protocols but ultimately give the N.Y.P.D. the flexibility to pursue its law enforcement goals.”
Gideon Oliver, a lawyer who has represented many people arrested during the monthly bicycle rides, said he is troubled by the intensive scrutiny of political activities.
“I’m looking forward to a deeper and more serious exploration of how and why this surveillance has been conducted,” Mr. Oliver said.
In the past, the Police Department has said that it needed intelligence about the Critical Mass rides in order to protect the streets from unruly riders.
Patrick Markee, an official with another group that was cited in the ruling, the Coalition for the Homeless, said the judge’s decision ratified the group’s basic rights to free speech. “We’re gratified that Judge Haight found that the police shouldn’t engage in surveillance of homeless New Yorkers and their supporters when they’re engaged in peaceful, lawful political protest,” Mr. Markee said.
The Police Department’s approach to investigating political, social and religious groups has been a contentious subject for most of four decades, and a class-action lawsuit brought by political activists, including a lawyer named Barbara Handschu, was settled in 1985. Judge Haight oversees the terms of that settlement, which are known as the Handschu Guidelines, and which he modified in 2003.
At the time, Judge Haight said that the police could “attend any event open to the public, on the same terms and conditions of the public generally.”
But in today’s ruling, he said that permission “cannot be stretched to authorize police officers to videotape everyone at a public gathering just because a visiting little old lady from Dubuque (to borrow from The New Yorker) could do so. There is a quantum difference between a police officer and a little old lady (or other tourist or private citizen) videotaping or photographing a public event.”
The judge said he bore some responsibility for misinterpretation of the guidelines.
“I confess with some chagrin that while the text of this opinion and its implementing order, read together, may not be as opaque as the irritatingly baffling pronouncements of the Oracle at Delphos, they do not constitute a model of clarity,” he wrote.
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Thursday, February 15th, 2007
U.S. authorities to start massive DNA gathering from population
The federal government is finalizing rules that would encourage the collection of DNA samples from everyone arrested by federal authorities, as well as any illegal immigrant detained by federal agents for any reason.
A little-noticed amendment to last month’s renewal of the Violence Against Women Act authorized this new, sweeping DNA collection policy. The amendment, introduced by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and Texas Senator John Cornyn, was passed on a voice vote, meaning that no legislators had to go on the record as supporting or opposing it.
Currently, the federal government takes DNA samples only from convicted felons. Seven states collect DNA samples from all arrestees, but only two of these allow the sharing of this data with the federal government.
“What this does is move the DNA collection to the arrest stage,” said Erik Ablin of the Justice Department. “The general approach is to bring the collection of DNA samples into alignment with current federal fingerprint collection practices.”
But lawyer Paul Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project, which uses DNA evidence to clear those wrongly convicted, disputes the fingerprint analogy.
“Whereas fingerprints merely identify the person who left them, DNA profiles have the potential to reveal our physical diseases and mental disorders,” he said. “It becomes intrusive when the government begins to mine our most intimate matters.”
Other critics of the new rules have expressed concern that the DNA collection will further stigmatize illegal immigrants, the vast majority of whom have committed no crimes.
Illegal entry into the United States is a civil, not a criminal, offense.
Lisalyn Jacobs, vice president for government relations for the women’s rights organization Legal Momentum, pointed out that Hispanics will inevitably be over-represented in a such a migrant-focused database.
“The pervasive system of profiling in the United States will only be exacerbated by such a system,” she said.
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Wednesday, February 14th, 2007
Big Brother slipping under the radar with Real ID Act
Is anyone aware that this is happening? The federal government in May 2008 is requiring all states to completely revamp their drivers licensing guidelines. The guidelines will be dictated by the Homeland Security Department.
Some of these guidelines will include having to be fingerprinted, getting a retinal eye scan and the actual card having RFID (radio frequency identification) chips attached to them, holding all this information in a digitized format.
The federal government will not recognize your ID without this Real ID card. You will not be able to fly, enter federal buildings, collect Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid and many banks will require you to have it.
This bill, called the Real ID Act, was earmarked on the sixth revision of a military spending bill in 2005 and hardly even debated. Thankfully, many states are rising up to this and working to undo this wrong.
Please contact the representatives in your area and demand that something be done to stop this. If you want to inform yourself on this bill and what implications this will have on all of our lives, just google “Real ID Act”, “Real ID cards” or search newspaper archives for this at your local library. (The bill is HR 1268 ENR in the drivers license sub-section).
I try to be informed myself, and yet the first I heard of this was in a very short story on King 5 news on Sunday night at 11 pm (2/4/07). Most people I speak to about Real ID haven’t heard of it either. Suspicious, that something so significant is this much under the radar!
Imagine, next year going to get your license renewed and finding out you have to be fingerprinted or eye scanned for this.
This is for real, it will happen, unless people speak up loudly and demand it to be changed!
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Iraq's death toll is far worse than our leaders admit
by Prof. Les Roberts
Global Research, February 16, 2007
The Independent - 2007-02-14
The U.S. and Britain have triggered an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide
On both sides of the Atlantic, a process of spinning science is preventing a serious discussion about the state of affairs in Iraq.
The government in Iraq claimed last month that since the 2003 invasion between 40,000 and 50,000 violent deaths have occurred. Few have pointed out the absurdity of this statement.
There are three ways we know it is a gross underestimate. First, if it were true, including suicides, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have experienced higher violent death rates than Iraq over the past four years. If true, many North and South American cities and Sub-Saharan Africa have had a similar murder rate to that claimed in Iraq. For those of us who have been in Iraq, the suggestion that New Orleans is more violent seems simply ridiculous.
Secondly, there have to be at least 120,000 and probably 140,000 deaths per year from natural causes in a country with the population of Iraq. The numerous stories we hear about overflowing morgues, the need for new cemeteries and new body collection brigades are not consistent with a 10 per cent rise in death rate above the baseline.
And finally, there was a study, peer-reviewed and published in The Lancet, Europe's most prestigious medical journal, which put the death toll at 650,000 as of last July. The study, which I co-authored, was done by the standard cluster approach used by the UN to estimate mortality in dozens of countries each year. While the findings are imprecise, the lower range of possibilities suggested that the Iraq government was at least downplaying the number of dead by a factor of 10.
There are several reasons why the governments involved in this conflict have been able to confuse the issue of Iraqi deaths. Our Lancet report involved sampling and statistical analysis, which is rather dry reading. Media reports always miss most deaths in times of war, so the estimate by the media-based monitoring system, Iraqbodycount.org (IBC) roughly corresponds with the Iraq government's figures. Repeated evaluations of deaths identified from sources independent of the press and the Ministry of Health show the IBC listing to be less than 10 per cent complete, but because it matches the reports of the governments involved, it is easily referenced.
Several other estimates have placed the death toll far higher than the Iraqi government estimates, but those have received less press attention. When in 2005, a UN survey reported that 90 per cent of violent attacks in Scotland were not recorded by the police, no one, not even the police, disputed this finding. Representative surveys are the next best thing to a census for counting deaths, and nowhere but Iraq have partial tallies from morgues and hospitals been given such credence when representative survey results are available.
The Pentagon will not release information about deaths induced or amounts of weaponry used in Iraq. On 9 January of this year, the embedded Fox News reporter Brit Hume went along for an air attack, and we learned that at least 25 targets were bombed that day with almost no reports of the damage appearing in the press.
Saddam Hussein's surveillance network, which only captured one third of all deaths before the invasion, has certainly deteriorated even further. During last July, there were numerous televised clashes in Anbar, yet the system recorded exactly zero violent deaths from the province. The last Minister of Health to honestly assess the surveillance network, Dr Ala'din Alwan, admitted that it was not reporting from most of the country by August 2004. He was sacked months later after, among other things, reports appeared based on the limited government data suggesting that most violent deaths were associated with coalition forces.
The consequences of downplaying the number of deaths in Iraq are profound for both the UK and the US. How can the Americans have a surge of troops to secure the population and promise success when the coalition cannot measure the level of security to within a factor of 10? How can the US and Britain pretend they understand the level of resentment in Iraq if they are not sure if, on average, one in 80 families have lost a household member, or one in seven, as our study suggests?
If these two countries have triggered an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide, and have actively worked to mask this fact, how will they credibly be able to criticise Sudan or Zimbabwe or the next government that kills thousands of its own people?
For longer than the US has been a nation, Britain has pushed us at our worst of moments to do the right thing. That time has come again with regard to Iraq. It is wrong to be the junior partner in an endeavour rigged to deny the next death induced, and to have spokespeople effectively respond to that death with disinterest and denial.
Our nations' leaders are collectively expressing belligerence at a time when the populace knows they should be expressing contrition. If that cannot be corrected, Britain should end its role in this deteriorating misadventure. It is unlikely that any historians will record the occupation of Iraq in a favourable light. Britain followed the Americans into this débâcle. Wouldn't it be better to let history record that Britain led them out?
Les Roberts is an Associate Professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Global Research Articles by Les Roberts