Sunday, May 15

Open Season with Tasers

Every so often I read an article that literally turns my stomach. This is one of them.
Pregnant woman 'Tasered' by police is convicted


She was rushing her son to school. She was eight months pregnant. And she was about to get a speeding ticket she didn't think she deserved.

So when a Seattle police officer presented the ticket to Malaika Brooks, she refused to sign it. In the ensuing confrontation, she suffered burns from a police Taser, an electric stun device that delivers 50,000 volts.

"Probably the worst thing that ever happened to me," Brooks said, in describing that morning during her criminal trial last week on charges of refusing to obey an officer and resisting arrest.

She was found guilty of the first charge because she never signed the ticket, but the Seattle Municipal Court jury could not decide whether she resisted arrest, the reason the Taser was applied.

To her attorneys and critics of police use of Tasers, Brooks' case is an example of police overreaction.

"It's pretty extraordinary that they should have used a Taser in this case," said Lisa Daugaard, a public defender familiar with the case.

Law enforcement officers have said they see Tasers as a tool that can benefit the public by reducing injuries to police and the citizens they arrest.

Seattle police officials declined to comment on this case, citing concerns that Brooks might file a civil lawsuit.

But King County sheriff's Sgt. Donald Davis, who works on the county's Taser policy, said the use of force is a balancing act for law enforcement.

"It just doesn't look good to the public," he said.

Brooks' run-in with police Nov. 23 came six months before Seattle adopted a new policy on Taser use that guides officers on how to deal with pregnant women, the very young, the very old and the infirm. When used on such subjects, the policy states, "the need to stop the behavior should clearly justify the potential for additional risks."

"Obviously, (law enforcement agencies) don't want to use a Taser on young children, pregnant woman or elderly people," Davis said. "But if in your policy you deliberately exclude a segment of the population, then you have potentially closed off a tool that could have ended a confrontation."

Brooks was stopped in the 8300 block of Beacon Avenue South, just outside the African American Academy, while dropping her son off for school.

In a two-day trial that ended Friday, the officer involved, Officer Juan Ornelas, testified he clocked Brooks' Dodge Intrepid doing 32 mph in a 20-mph school zone.

He motioned her over and tried to write her a ticket, but she wouldn't sign it, even when he explained that signing it didn't mean she was admitting guilt.

Brooks, in her testimony, said she believed she could accept a ticket without signing for it, which she had done once before.

"I said, 'Well, I'll take the ticket, but I won't sign it,' " Brooks testified.

Officer Donald Jones joined Ornelas in trying to persuade Brooks to sign the ticket. They then called on their supervisor, Sgt. Steve Daman.

He authorized them to arrest her when she continued to refuse.

The officers testified they struggled to get Brooks out of her car but could not because she kept a grip on her steering wheel.

And that's when Jones brought out the Taser. Brooks testified she didn't even know what it was when Jones showed it to her and pulled the trigger, allowing her to hear the crackle of 50,000 volts of electricity.

The officers testified that was meant as a final warning, as a way to demonstrate the device was painful and that Brooks should comply with their orders.

When she still did not exit her car, Jones applied the Taser.

In his testimony, the Taser officer said he pressed the prongs of the muzzle against Brooks' thigh to no effect. So he applied it twice to her exposed neck.

Afterward, he and the others testified, Ornelas pushed Brooks out of the car while Jones pulled.

She was taken to the ground, handcuffed and placed in a patrol car, the officers testified.

She told jurors the officer also used the device on her arm, and showed them a dark, brown burn to her thigh, a large, red welt on her arm and a lump on her neck, all marks she said came from the Taser application.

At the South Precinct, Seattle fire medics examined Brooks, confirmed she was pregnant and recommended she be evaluated at Harborview Medical Center.

Brooks said she was worried about the effect the trauma and the Taser might have on her baby, but she delivered a healthy girl Jan. 31.

Still, she said, she remains shocked that a simple traffic stop could result in her arrest.

"As police officers, they could have hurt me seriously. They could have hurt my unborn fetus," she said.

"All because of a traffic ticket. Is this what it's come down to?"

Davis said Tasers remain a valuable tool, and that situations like Brooks' are avoidable.

"I know the Taser is controversial in all these situations where it seems so egregious," he said. "Why use a Taser in a simple traffic stop? Well, the citizen has made it more of a problem. It's no longer a traffic stop. This is now a confrontation."
Police repression is always a hallmark of fascist regimes. When ruthless, immoral cops decide that it's ok to Taser a pregnant woman simply because she refuses to sign a speeding ticket (despite her agreeing to take the ticket), and is then convicted by a magistrate for it, it becomes increasingly obvious that the nation in question is heading down a dark and ultimately self-destructive road.

Friday, May 6

A Look at the Man behind the Curtain?

Anyone interested in the role Israel is currently playing in the War in Iraq should read the above linked article. A summary snippet is below:
Still, in the "Clean Break," neocons were advising Israeli military action. It should be emphasized that the same people — Feith, Wurmser, Perle — who advised the Israeli government on issues of national security would also advise the George W. Bush administration to pursue virtually the same policy regarding the Middle East, but employing American armed forces. As political observer William James Martin would astutely comment about "Clean Break": "This document is remarkable for its very existence because it constitutes a policy manifesto for the Israeli government penned by members of the current U.S. government." Martin went on to point out that the similarity between that document's recommendation for Israel and the neocon-inspired Bush administration policy, purportedly designed for the benefit of American interests, was even more remarkable:

It is amazing how much of this program, though written for the Israeli government of Netanyahu of 1996, has already been implemented, not by the government of Israel, but by the Bush administration. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the two-year-old house arrest of Arafat and the attempt to cultivate a new Palestinian leadership, the complete rejection by Sharon of the land for peace agreement on the Golan Heights, with little U.S. demurral, and the bombing inside of "Syria proper" with only the response from Bush, "Israel has a right to defend itself."

The dramatic similarities between the "Clean Break" scenario and actual Bush II administration Middle East policy are evident not only in the results but also in the sequence of events. Notably, the "Clean Break" report held that removing Saddam was the key to weakening Israel's other enemies; and after removing Saddam in 2003 the United States would indeed quickly threaten Iran and Syria, and talk of restructuring the entire Middle East. Evident, too, is a similarity between actual events and the Yinon proposal of 1982, which also saw regime change in Iraq as a fundamental move in destabilizing Israel's enemies.

To reiterate the central point of this essay: the vision of "regime change" in the Middle East through external, militant action originated in Israel, and its sole purpose was to advance the strategic interests of Israel. It had nothing to do with bringing "democracy" to Muslims. It had nothing to do with any terrorist threat to the United States. Those latter arguments accreted to the idea of regime change as the primary military actor changed from Israel to the United States. But the Israeli government would continue to be a fundamental supporter of the regional military action, even as the ostensible justifications for action changed. The Sharon government advocated the American attacks on Iraq and has preached the necessity of strikes on Iran.

It would appear that for Ariel Sharon during the Bush II administration, the strategic benefits that would accrue to Israel from such a militant restructuring of the Middle East were the same as those that Likudniks sought in the 1980s. But unlike Begin's failed incursion into Lebanon in 1982, the Bush II effort not only relied upon the much greater power of the United States but also was wrapped in a cover of "democracy" and American national interest, effectively masking the true objective of Israeli hegemony. That helps to explain the much greater success of this intervention, which has come at no cost to Israel.
It is recommended to read the whole article, which details the transformation of American foreign policy via the neoconservative proxies. Israel's objectives of becoming a regional superpower are carefully masked under the public relations image of a nation of a persecuted people just struggling to stay alive amidst hostile neighbours. It is the viciousness of the Mossad and other Israeli covert operations that have enabled the nation to influence the highest levels of power within the United States. The agenda of destabilisation is definitely underway - Iraq is growing less and less stable by the week, contrary to the Western media's praise and hyperbole of Bush bringing "Freedom and Democracy" to Iraq.

If this mob of crooks try to take out Iran, they may find it a little more difficult than Iraq. Unfortunately, whether they succeed or fail, it will once again be the innocents who suffer unnecessarily when they are shredded by US airstrikes and cluster bombs.

Wednesday, May 4

Draft US Paper to allow Pre-emptive Nuclear Strikes

The U.S. military plans to allow regional combatant commanders to request the president for approval to carry out preemptive nuclear strikes against possible attacks on the United States or its allies with weapons of mass destruction, according to a draft new nuclear operations paper.

The paper, drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces, also revealed that submarines which make port calls in Yokosuka, Sasebo and Okinawa in Japan are prepared for reloading nuclear warheads if necessary to deal with a crisis.

The March 15 draft paper, a copy of which was made available, is titled "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" providing "guidelines for the joint employment of forces in nuclear operations...for the employment of U.S. nuclear forces, command and control relationships, and weapons effect considerations." [...]
The psychopathic behaviour of the United States of America continues. Like the Nazis of old, they intend to have no avenue denied to them when it comes to conquest and domination of the rest of the world. The Bush junta have already proven that the environment is of little concern to them via their domestic legislative "initiatives", yet they now appear willing to threaten the balance of life on this planet altogether by invoking their presumably "God-given" right to nuke the crap out of anyone who opposes them.
But allowing preemptive nuclear strikes against possible biological and chemical attacks effectively contradicts a "negative security assurance" policy declared by the U.S. administration of President Bill Clinton 10 years ago on the occasion of an international conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [...]

Citing North Korea, Iran and some other countries as threats, the report set out contingencies for which U.S. nuclear strikes must be prepared and called for developing earth-penetrating nuclear bombs to destroy hidden underground military facilities, including those for storing WMD and ballistic missiles.
North Korea, Iran and "some other countries"? What a coincidence! Aren't North Korea and Iran the two places who happen to be giving the United States the most lip right about now? I'm sure that Venezuela almost got included as well... unless the US hasn't given up on ideas of a more "covert" nature regarding the removal of Hugo Chavez yet.
"The nature (of the paper) is to explain not details but cross spectrum for how to conduct operations," the official said, noting that it "means for all services, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine."

In 1991 after the end of the Cold War, the United States removed its ground-based nuclear weapons in Asia and Europe as well as strategic nuclear warheads on warships and submarines.

But the paper says the United States is prepared to revive those sea-based nuclear arms.

"Nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles, removed from ships and submarines under the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiative, are secured in central areas where they remain available, if necessary for a crisis," the paper says.

The paper also underlined that the United States retains a contingency scenario of limited nuclear wars in East Asia and the Middle East.
The scary thing about this is that such papers and "contingency scenarios" would not be prepared unless the Bush Administration were willing to use them.
"Geographic combatant commanders may request presidential approval for use of nuclear weapons for a variety of conditions," the paper says.

The paper lists eight conditions such as "an adversary using or intending to use WMD against U.S. multinational or alliance forces or civilian populations" and "imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy."

The conditions also include "attacks on adversary installations including WMD, deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons" and countering "potentially overwhelming adversary conventional forces."
Obviously the US bully is making known to all and sundry that if they don't get in line, no amount of conventional warfare will save them, because they will just take the nuclear option once things start getting too hairy.

When will the rest of the world wake up and form some united opposition to this gang of thugs that have taken over America?


Europe? Russia? China?

Sunday, May 1

Weapons Inspector Ends WMD Search in Iraq

WASHINGTON - Wrapping up his investigation into Saddam Hussein's purported arsenal, the CIA's top weapons hunter in Iraq said his search for weapons of mass destruction "has been exhausted" without finding any.

Nor did Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, find any evidence that such weapons were shipped officially from Iraq to Syria to be hidden before the U.S. invasion, but he couldn't rule out some unofficial transfer of limited WMD-related materials.

He closed his effort with words of caution about potential future threats and careful assessment of this and other unanswered questions.

The Bush administration justified its 2003 invasion of Iraq as necessary to eliminate Hussein's purported stockpile of WMD.

"As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible," Duelfer wrote in an an addendum to the report he issued last fall. "After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted."
As we can now see with 20/20 hindsight, the Bush Administration's lies stand exposed. Saddam never had a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The intelligence that Colin Powell presented to the United Nations was a plagarised dossier of speculation done by college students. Any intelligence that suited the Administration's drive to invade Iraq was cherry-picked and sensationalised by a complicit media, while the experts trying to ring the alarm bells and disprove these claims were harrassed and marginalised.

But will this make a difference? Will the American people now stand up and demand accountability from Bush and his cronies? I very much doubt it, but would love to be proven wrong.