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Supreme Court overturns rule on right to counsel
May 31, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Ed Brayton
Science Blogs
May 31, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a landmark 1986 ruling that forbid the police from questioning suspects without their attorney present. The 1986 case, Michigan v Jackson, was overturned on Tuesday in a 5-4 ruling (PDF) in a similar case, Montejo v Louisiana.

As I reported last month, the Obama administration had sided with the state of Louisiana in that case and argued for overturning the prior case.

Michigan v Jackson established the rule that if someone accused of a crime has an attorney or has requested the appointment of an attorney by the court, police may not question them without that attorney being present even if the accused agrees to waive the right to have their attorney present during that particular session of questioning. Under Jackson, any waiver of that right was presumed to be invalid because it was not made with the advice of counsel.

Justice Scalia, writing the majority opinion joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Thomas and Kennedy, said "the marginal benefits of Jackson (viz., the number of confessions obtained coercively that are suppressed by its bright-line rule and would otherwise have been admitted) are dwarfed by its substantial costs (viz., hindering "society's compelling interest in finding, convicting, and punishing those who violate the law." (citations omitted)

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This provoked an angry response from the dissenting justices, led by Justice Stevens, who took the unusual step of reading his dissenting opinion aloud from the bench. The majority, he wrote, "flagrantly misrepresents" the issues of the case and has "overrule[d] Jackson to correct a 'theoretical and doctrinal' problem of its own imagining." Such tough language is usually aimed by Justice Scalia, not at him.

A group of 19 former judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials, including prominent conservatives like former FBI Director William Sessions and former Bush administration Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, filed an amicus brief (PDF) arguing strongly against overturning Jackson.

Their brief argues that the Jackson ruling "provides an easily enforceable rule governing post-arraignment custodial interrogations," that the "simplicity and clarity of the rule facilitate[s] the training of police officers" and "provides judges a straightforward, objective standard to determine whether those confessions are admissible."

"Absent such a clear test," they argue, "law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and trial judges will have to start anew in developing a common law from particularized decisions reflecting inherently subjective assessments of the tactics as well as the intent of investigators, the timing as well as the content of interrogations, and the understanding as well as the free will of defendants."

Their brief also argues that the purpose of the Sixth Amendment goes beyond merely preserving the adversary process and that the Jackson rule protects crucial Fifth Amendment due process protections that help ensure a fair trial and public confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system:

Third, Jackson links two key criminal procedural rights — the Sixth Amendment right to counsel under Gideon v. Wainwright and the Fifth Amendment rights of an accused under Miranda — which are fundamental to the adversary process and maintain public confidence in our criminal justice system. Discarding Jackson would undermine both rights. Allowing the police to initiate interrogation of a represented defendant and to use any resulting statements would strip away protections the attorney can provide, interfere with the relationship between counsel and client, and undercut the integrity of criminal trials…To abandon a rule that safeguards them would erode the public confidence they foster. It would signal that enduring legal principles and important constitutional rights are no longer so enduring nor so important.

Just another example of the Obama administration adopting Bush administration positions and undermining constitutional protections.


Australian Cops Brutally Beat Drunk Driver
May 31, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Nick Leys and Brenden Hills
The Sunday Telegraph
May 31, 2009

Police officers who dragged a drunken driver from his car and bashed him with their fists, boots and batons are being investigated by the NSW Police Professional Standards Command and the NSW Ombudsman.

The investigation will determine whether unjust force was used during the arrest of Mount Druitt man Sione Peaua, 43, who was beaten by as many as five police officers following a 45-minute car chase on May 25 last year.

Video footage from a police patrol vehicle and the Polair police helicopter was tendered in court on Friday during Peaua's trial for serious traffic offences, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

The videos show Peaua being dragged from his four-wheel drive after it hit a power pole, then being punched, kicked and bashed with retractable batons as he struggled on the ground.

Peaua - a Tongan father of six who works as a boilermaker and a local rugby league coach - had
a blood alcohol reading of 0.13 when he went on a high-speed rampage through the streets of Mount Druitt and Rooty Hill in a Toyota LandCruiser.

For the early part of the chase - during which speeds of 145 km/h were reached - Peaua had his six-year-old daughter in the vehicle.

On Friday, he was sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to driving with a suspended licence, mid-range drink-driving and dangerous driving.

Police prosecutor Alan Baghurst unsuccessfully argued in court that incriminating video footage should not be released to the public and described it as "not a pretty sight".

He said both sets of footage were being investigated by the NSW Police internal affairs unit.

Ian Lloyd, QC, representing Peaua, told the court both sets of video were the subject of a NSW Ombudsman inquiry.

Peaua would be making a statement to the inquiry, Mr Lloyd said.

The court heard that Peaua did not receive any lasting injuries from the beating.

Mr Lloyd, however, called it a "savage and unjustified attack" and said police "may have been frustrated at being taken for a merry ride through the western suburbs".

A statement from Commissioner Andrew Scipione's office said the investigation had been initiated by police and was being "closely oversighted by the NSW Ombudsman".

"Now that a person has been convicted and sentenced, the police investigation into matters in the immediate aftermath of the arrest can now be completed," the statement said.

Both videos were tendered to the court, along with photographs of Peaua's injuries.

He suffered severe bruising to his upper arms and thighs, as well as an injury to his hand and left forearm, which was bandaged and plastered.

The Sunday Telegraph understands Peaua is considering launching a civil action against police in relation to the injuries.

It is also understood a female constable who was at the scene contradicted the statements of other officers involved that Peaua had resisted arrest and assaulted police before they used force to subdue him.

Two charges of resisting arrest and assaulting police were dropped by the police prosecutor, and Peaua's legal defence received a $41,000 cost order as a result.

A police fact sheet tendered to the court said Peaua was also sprayed with a "burst" of capsicum spray, but does not mention Peaua being punched and kicked.

The fact sheet also said Peaua grabbed one officer's left foot "with both hands" and had "continued to pull away from police, swinging his arms around forcefully".

Several critical moments of the beating were missed because the Polair crew panned the helicopter's camera away as police lashed out and used batons.

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Nor is it clear why, at the beginning of the beating, three police officers stand in front of the police patroller's video camera, obscuring vision of the incident.

The statement from the Commissioner's office says: "Standard operating procedure for police helicopters involved in pursuits is to resume patrol once an offender is in custody."
In the sound track of the incident, a police officer can be heard saying, "Don't you f****** move" before telling Peaua to lie on his side.

Peaua then screams, "Get me out of here" and is told by the officer: "You shut the f*** up, c*** and
lay there."

Peaua: "You know what I'm going to do to you."

The officer then tells Peaua: "Let go of my f***ing leg."

Peaua can then be heard screaming, "What the f*** are you doing to me?"

Close examination of the Polair vision reveals four officers standing over a handcuffed Peaua and attempting to hold him down when one officer kicks him twice in the back of the thigh.

The same officer then punches him and kicks him again in the back of the thigh before punching him in the vicinity of his arm.

The vision then cuts to a wide shot where two officers can be seen punching and kicking.

As the shot becomes wider, it appears one or more officers are using a retractable baton.

Police began the pursuit when Peaua refused to stop after they saw him hit the kerb while making a turn in Zoe Place, Mount Druitt.

During the chase, Peaua ran seven red lights, drove on the wrong side of the road 11 times and knocked down two give-way signs before slamming into a power pole on the Great Western Highway at Rooty Hill at 8.25pm.

He was stopped when police deployed two sets of spikes that blew out all four of the vehicle's tyres.

Court documents state that at one stage during the chase, while his six-year-old daughter was in the car, he had the 4WD up on two wheels and "almost rolled when he crashed into a roadworks area at 70km/h," a police fact sheet said.

Of Peaua's reckless driving, Mr Baghurst said: "The potential to kill people was in the extreme."

Peaua, who was still serving a licence suspension from 2006 and had a prior drink-driving conviction, pleaded guilty to charges of driving with a suspended licence, mid-range drink-driving and dangerous driving.

He was sentenced to four months' jail and suspended from driving until 2014. Peaua has lodged an appeal which will be heard in the District Court later this year. He was granted conditional bail.


Zoellick Warns Stimulus 'Sugar High' Won't Stem Unemployment
May 31, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Timothy R. Homan
Bloomberg
May 31, 2009

World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned policy makers that fiscal-stimulus plans are insufficient to turn around the "real economy" and rising joblessness threatens to set off political unrest across the globe.

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"While the stimulus has given an impulse, it's like a sugar high unless you eventually get the credit system working," Zoellick said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt." "When unemployment increases, that's probably the most political combustible issue."

Zoellick's caution is a contrast with private economists, who are raising their outlooks for growth from India to China as stimulus measures take effect. The biggest developed and emerging nations have committed spending increases and tax cuts totaling 2 percent of their combined economies, a level the International Monetary Fund recommended to end the recession.

Read entire article


Support Your Local "Domestic Warrior-Heroes" — Or Get Kicked In The Head
May 31, 2009 at 2:28 pm

William Grigg
The LRC Blog
May 31, 2009

Police are "society's sheepdogs, [who] willingly and selflessly protect your flock — with your lives if necessary," trumpeted retired SWAT officer Robert O'Brien in a recent column for Police magazine. "You are our nation's domestic warriors and heroes."

police state   Support Your Local Domestic Warrior Heroes    Or Get Kicked In The Head





May 13, 2009, video of cop kicking suspect in the head as part of a "post pursuit ass-kicking."


The

y are the heroic "sheepdogs"; we, the public at large, are merely helpless and contemptible sheep.

O'Brien spares no superlatives in hymning the innumerable virtues of his tax-devouring fraternity, which he describes as "a thin blue line [that] strengthens into a solid steel band of brothers" in the face of danger and adversity.

While O'Brien's self-aggrandizing rhetoric is at once florid and fascist, Police Associate Editor Dean Scoville, a retired patrol supervisor for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, eschews verbal adornment in expressing his thuggish and authoritarian views.

Scoville is peeved by the publicity earned by a recent incident in El Monte, in which a suspected gang member was kicked in the head by a cop following a vehicular pursuit. Although he led the police on a dangerous chase, the suspect, Richard Rodriguez, was face-down, hands-out, and unresisting when he was booted in the face by Lt. Dan Berlingham.

As far as Scoville is concerned, kicking an unresisting suspect is just good old-school police work. The real scandal, he whines, is a "conspiracy" by what he calls the "f___ing news media," who are supposedly "putting the boot to our collective heads" by dwelling on the episode.

Lt. Bellingham's only offense, Scoville sneers, is "Working in the wrong era."

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"There was a time when post pursuit ass-kickings were obligatory," Scoville writes with the gleeful abandon of an adolescent eager to show off his mastery of newly learned vulgarisms. "Cops knew it, suspects knew it, and there are enough old times on both sides of the fence that will verify the assertion when I say that what this officer did was NOTHING compared to what would have happened in another place and time…. I'm nostalgic for the days when the pursued feared the judicial system if for nothing but the inevitable ass-kicking and street justice."

Actually, it's quite common to see tax-fattened functionaries in police uniforms inflict reflexive criminal abuse of the sort that makes Scoville go all girly with admiration. See this, for example, or this, this, this, this, this….

"Perhaps matters of practicality shouldn't even be considered in a profession that embraces terms like `war on drugs,' `war on organized crime,' and 'war on gangs,' but is not allowed the means to fight them as such," complains Scoville, who apparently lusts to turn the entire country into a patchwork of "free-fire zones" and "strategic hamlets" — or perhaps even unleash a domestic version of the Phoenix Program in order to "win" those "wars."

(Thanks to Rad Geek for bringing the Police magazine essays to my attention.)


Israel begins "Doomsday" Drill
May 31, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Press TV
May 31, 2009

Israel has launched its largest-ever military exercise to test its capabilities against potential missile attacks, bombings and riots.

Over the past few months, Israel has been busy making plans for fresh confrontation in the Middle East. The drill is widely believed to be in line with the regime's preparation for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities which they admit can ignite an all-out war in the region.

The five-day exercise which was launched on Sunday will simulate simultaneous rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and missile attacks from Iran and Syria.

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"We will be exercising the doomsday scenario of simultaneous strikes against Israel on all fronts and by different means," Israel's defense ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror told AFP last week.

Exercise Turning Point 3 will also include simulating chemical and biological strikes on populated centers and a wave of attacks by Palestinians.

Israeli cabinet will also hold simulated meetings to weigh its response to such scenarios.

This is the third consecutive year Israel is conducting such an exercise.Tel Aviv says the war games are defensive in nature.

Lebanese Army however has heightened its security measures along the southern border with Israel to repel possible threats during the Israeli drill.

Israel's speedy military build up can also be part of efforts to avenge its decisive defeat in the 2006 war on Lebanon.

Israel fought a 33-day war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 to destroy the military power of the Lebanese resistance. According to the Winograd report, the attack backfired to wreak a humiliating defeat on Israel.

In the face of the overwhelming Israeli threats, the Hezbollah resistance movement has reportedly doubled its military might by preparing a joint training program with Lebanese Army forces.

In addition to the military patrols, Hezbollah forces, according to Al Manar, will be on guard "to respond to any possible aggression".


Notorious Abortion Doctor Shot Dead in Wichita
May 31, 2009 at 2:04 pm

STAN FINGER
The Wichita Eagle
May 31, 2009

George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

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Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody. Police said they are looking for white male who was driving a 1990s powder blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB.

Homicide detectives and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston arrived at the church after the shooting.

Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police, and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot. Witnesses are being transported downtown for interviews and other members of the congregation are slowly being released from inside the sanctuary.

Read entire article


Obama's disappearing stimulus
May 31, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Christopher Swann
Reuters
May 31, 2009

It's not just California that threatens to sabotage the Obama stimulus. State and local governments across the nation are gradually unravelling federal efforts to revive growth.

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The states have been inveterate stimulus eaters in the past. For most of the 1930s the expansionary policies of the federal government were just sufficient to offset the shrinking of state and local governments. Click here for PDF.

States also raised taxes in the recession of the early 1990s and in 2001. It was a problem that Obama — his team stocked up with renowned  scholars of the Great Depression — was determined to avoid.

Sadly, the financial woes of the states and cities — many of them self inflicted — are overwhelming these good intentions. The maths now looks distinctly unpromising.

The Obama administration has pledged around $140 billion in fiscal assistance to the states with the express goal of saving them from tax increases, layoffs and painful cuts in services. But as state tax revenues have tanked, they now appear to be heading for a $370 billion shortfall over the next few years. Federal largesse will cover just 40 percent of the gap.

Read entire article


Life in Vichy America
May 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm

William Buppert
Lew Rockwell
May 31, 2009

"You can only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything he's no longer in your power – he's free again."

– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Collaboration in a negative connotation is an active or passive surrender to an overarching regime which removes freedom and liberty and replaces it with an ordered command mechanism to modify or influence your behavior. One can consider the British Loyalists in the American colonies to be collaborators and their fates on occasion were quite ghastly. This can happen as a result of foreign occupation or a replacement of statist forces over time through elections, coups and administrative fiat in an increasingly tyrannical government. The state is a remora that needs a host to survive and convincing the host that the relationship is beneficial to both parties is the key to the remora's survival. If Obamunism provides one salutary service to the nation, it is a televised demonstration project on how gangster government (is that redundant?) thrives in an environment where the rule of force trumps the rule of law. On your own counsel, is your acceptance and compliance voluntary or a submission to staying one step ahead of the jailer?

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When the Germans rolled into France in June 1940, the French Third Republic toppled to be replaced by État Français or the French State. Vichy France was established after France surrendered to Germany on 22 June 1940 and Marshall Phillipe Pétain removed the administrative center of France from Paris to Vichy. Southern France remained relatively autonomous from direct German control until 11 March 1942 when the Allies landed in North Africa in 1942. The Vichy government ruled over France until the Allied repatriation of the Free French under de Gaulle in June 1945. This government was acknowledged and legitimized by the US and Canada, among others, until 23 October 1944.

During this entire time a guerilla war raged between the French Resistance and the maquis and the Vichy/German government in France and some of its colonial holdings. The Vichy government was simply the latest installment to provide a stage for the adversaries to engage in real and rhetorical combat. This civil war had its origins in the 1789 Revolution when the people who did not agree to the destruction of the Ancien Régime continued to sow division resulting in tremendous dissent and disruption throughout French history in the nineteenth century. During WWII, the behavior and resistance of these anti-Vichy forces was used as an opportunity to expand the state and was responsible for the post-WWII socialist government after the war.

"Historians distinguish between a state collaboration followed by the regime of Vichy, and "collaborationists," which usually refer to the French citizens eager to collaborate with Nazi Germany and who pushed towards a radicalization of the regime."

Read entire article


Vet Under Fire for Patriotic Stickers
May 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm

James Rose
MyFoxHouston
May 31, 2009

DALLAS - Frank Larison is a disabled veteran with more than 14 years of service, including more than a year of combat duty in Vietnam.

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The 58-year-old former Marine now finds himself under attack by his Dallas homeowners association for displaying seven decals on his vehicle supporting the Marine Corps.

"To me, it's being patriotic, and it shows that I served," the veteran told FOX 4.

The board says the decals are advertisements that violate HOA rules, and must be covered or removed.

Otherwise, the homeowners association for The Woodlands II on The Creek — where Larimore has lived for eight years — says in a letter it will tow the car at Larimore's expense. The board also threatens to fine him $50 for any future incident.

Read entire article


France Considers Mandatory Flu Vaccinations
May 31, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars
May 31, 2009

The French government will spend nearly a billion euros on a mandatory flu vaccination this autumn, a French website reported on May 30. "France is preparing a battle plan without precedent for this autumn, including an obligatory vaccination campaign for all French of more than 3 months of age," writes Marie-Christine Tabet for Le Journal du Dimanche. "According to our information, the State will place an order for 100 million units of influenza vaccine from three laboratories (GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and Novartis)."

featured stories   France Considers Mandatory Flu Vaccinations
featured stories   France Considers Mandatory Flu Vaccinations featured stories   France Considers Mandatory Flu Vaccinations


Hundreds objected to the mandated flu vaccinations in New Jersey.


On May 15, Bloomberg reported that France, the UK, Belgium and Finland agreed to buy about 158 million shots from London-based Glaxo and Baxter International Inc.

According to the World Health Organization at the United Nations, production of up to 4.9 billion doses of a swine flu vaccine a year would be possible.

"A 'pilot vaccine' is being developed under the supervision of the EU. However, some conspiracy theories that are spreading just as fast as the virus have already dismissed the hysteria over the virus as a malevolent plot orchestrated by pharmaceutical companies in order to cash in on people's fear. One in particular believes that the strain has been purposely engineered so companies producing vaccines can cash in," Russia Today opined on May 1.

In February Baxter confirmed that it released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria. The contaminated product, a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses and unlabeled H5N1 viruses, was supplied to an Austrian research company. The Austrian firm, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then sent portions of it to sub-contractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany, the Toronto Sun reported.

Anne Laude, co-director of the Institute of Health at the Université Paris Descartes, said "nobody would have the right, except in the case of a medical counter-indication, to refuse a vaccination."

Last month the Obama administration announced it was considering whether to trigger mass production of swine-flu vaccine, which could affect the bottom lines of big vaccine makers as well as public health, according to the Wall Street Journal. Obama requested a $1.5 billion emergency appropriation to deal with swine flu, including development of a vaccine.

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The Obama fall vaccination program, according to the Washington Post, would entail giving Americans three flu shots — one to combat annual seasonal influenza and two targeted at the H1N1 flu virus. "If enacted, the multibillion-dollar effort would represent the first time that top federal health officials have asked Americans to get more than one flu vaccine in a year, raising serious challenges concerning production, distribution and the ability to track potentially severe side effects."

In 1976, following a small swine flu outbreak at the Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey, the federal government ordered a nationwide vaccination program. "Mass vaccinations started in October, but within weeks reports started coming in of people developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing nerve disease, right after taking the shot. Within two months, 500 people were affected, and more than 30 died. Amid a rising uproar and growing public reluctance to risk the shot, federal officials abruptly canceled the program Dec. 16.," writes Tony Long for Wired.

"The vaccine manufacturers had anticipated the potential for serious side effects from the vaccines they manufactured and had insisted on indemnification by the federal government before releasing pandemic vaccine. Harmed vaccinees and their families sued the federal government and eventually received millions of dollars in damages. Sencer was let go as CDC director. Many people faulted him for his dogged pursuit of universal influenza vaccination," notes the Suburban Emergency Management Project.

During the swine flu hysteria earlier this year, the corporate media made the case for mass vaccination. "Time Magazine's coverage of the swine flu scare has a noticeable subplot — preparing Americans for draconian measures to combat a future pandemic as well as forcing them to accept the idea of mandatory vaccinations," wrote Paul Joseph Watson on April 28. According to Time, the government "may soon have to consider whether to institute draconian measures to combat the disease."

New Jersey was the first state to require flu shots for young schoolchildren. "It was part of a new policy requiring a total of four additional immunizations for schoolchildren over the objections of some parents who worry about possible risks from vaccinations," the New York Times reported on January 2, 2009. An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that all children ages 6 months to 18 years should receive an annual flu shot.

Hundreds of concerned parents participated in demonstrations outside the New Jersey Statehouse on October 16, 2008, in protest of the State's decision to mandate flu vaccinations for young children.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons considers mandatory vaccines a violation of the medical ethic of informed consent.


US violated Geneva Conventions, Bush Iraq commander says
May 30, 2009 at 11:08 pm

John Byrne
Raw Story
Friday, May 29, 2009

The head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, said Friday that the US had violated the Geneva Conventions in a stunning admission from President Bush's onetime top general in Iraq that the US may have violated international law.

"When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions we rightly have been criticized, so as we move forward I think it's important to again live our values, to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those," Gen. Petraeus said on Fox News Friday afternoon.

Petraeus made the comment in the context of being asked about the Bush administration's so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." The now-Central Command chief said he believed that banning the more extreme techniques had taken away "a tool" employed by "our enemies" as a moral argument against the United States.

Petraeus didn't say which parts of the Geneva Conventions he thought he and other administration officials had violated.

(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)

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Asked about a "ticking time bomb" scenario — which is often employed by torture's defenders — Petraeus said that interrogation methods approved for use in the Army Field Manual were generally sufficient.

"There might be an exception and that would require extraordinary but very rapid approval to deal with but for the vast majority of the cases our experience… is that the techniques that are in the Army Field Manual that lays out how we treat detainees, how we interrogate them, those techniques work, that's our experience in this business," he said.

He also acknowledged that the US prison at Guantanamo Bay has inflamed anti-US hostility.

"I do support is what has been termed the responsible closure of Gitmo," Petraeus said. "Gitmo has caused us problems, there's no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activity since 9/11 and again Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard."

"I don't think we should be afraid of our values we're fighting for," he added. "What we stand for and so indeed we need to embrace them and we need to ope rationalize them in how we carry out what it is we're doing on the battle field and everywhere else. So one has to have some faith I think in the legal system. One has to have a degree of confidence that individuals that have conducted such extremist activity would indeed be found guilty in our courts of law."

This video is from Fox's Live Desk, broadcast May 29, 2009.


European elections 2009: No wonder voters can't be bothered
May 30, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Christopher Booker
Telegraph
May 30, 2009
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With four days to go before we can take part in the second largest "democratic" election in the world (after India's), it is not just the diversion of the scandals engulfing our own Parliament which has driven voting for the EU's version further than ever off the radar.

At least, last time the flurry of excitement over Kilroy-Silk and Joan Collins – resulting in the UK Independence Party winning 12 seats – temporarily halted that steady collapse in turnout which in 1999 saw only 23 per cent of the electorate bothering to vote. The trouble with the European Parliament, as we know, is that none of us really know how to relate to it, or what connection this remote, mysterious body has with our lives. Probably not more than one in a thousand could name more than a couple of the MEPs we sent there last time. The farcical "list system", based on dividing Britain up into 12 vast "Euro-regions", means we probably didn't even know the names of the mediocrities we voted for.

Read entire article


County won't force permit on Bible study leaders
May 30, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Helen Gao
The San Diego Union-Tribune
May 30, 2009

Sweeping issues of religious freedom and governmental regulation are swirling around Pastor David Jones' house in rural Bonita, attracting attention from as far away as China and New Zealand.

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He says it all started with $220 in car damage.

Jones and his wife, Mary, hold a weekly Bible study at their home that sometimes attracts more than 20 people, with occasional parking issues. Once, a car belonging to a neighbor's visitor got dinged.

David Jones paid for the damage, but he thinks the incident spurred a complaint to the county.

A code enforcement officer warned the couple in April for holding a "religious assembly" without a permit. The action became an international incident when it was reported last week on the Web site worldnetdaily.com.

Read entire article


New Solar Cycle Prediction
May 30, 2009 at 9:10 pm

NASA
May 30, 2009

An international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle. Solar Cycle 24 will peak, they say, in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots.

science technology   New Solar Cycle Prediction "If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78," says panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.

Right: A solar flare observed in Dec. 2006 by NOAA's GOES-13 satellite.

It is tempting to describe such a cycle as "weak" or "mild," but that could give the wrong impression.

"Even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather," points out Biesecker. "The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we're predicting for 2013."

The 1859 storm–known as the "Carrington Event" after astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare–electrified transmission cables, set fires in telegraph offices, and produced Northern Lights so bright that people could read newspapers by their red and green glow. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a similar storm occurred today, it could cause $1 to 2 trillion in damages to society's high-tech infrastructure and require four to ten years for complete recovery. For comparison, Hurricane Katrina caused "only" $80 to 125 billion in damage.

science technology   New Solar Cycle Prediction

Above: This plot of sunspot numbers shows the measured peak of the last solar cycle in blue and the predicted peak of the next solar cycle in red. Credit: NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center. [more]

The latest forecast revises an earlier prediction issued in 2007. At that time, a sharply divided panel believed solar minimum would come in March 2008 followed by either a strong solar maximum in 2011 or a weak solar maximum in 2012. Competing models gave different answers, and researchers were eager for the sun to reveal which was correct.

"It turns out that none of our models were totally correct," says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA's lead representative on the panel. "The sun is behaving in an unexpected and very interesting way."

Researchers have known about the solar cycle since the mid-1800s. Graphs of sunspot numbers resemble a roller coaster, going up and down with an approximately 11-year period. At first glance, it looks like a regular pattern, but predicting the peaks and valleys has proven troublesome. Cycles vary in length from about 9 to 14 years. Some peaks are high, others low. The valleys are usually brief, lasting only a couple of years, but sometimes they stretch out much longer. In the 17th century the sun plunged into a 70-year period of spotlessness known as the Maunder Minimum that still baffles scientists.

science technology   New Solar Cycle Prediction

Above: Yearly-averaged sunspot numbers from 1610 to 2008. Researchers believe upcoming Solar Cycle 24 will be similar to the cycle that peaked in 1928, marked by a red arrow. Credit: NASA/MSFC

Right now, the solar cycle is in a valley–the deepest of the past century. In 2008 and 2009, the sun set Space Age records for low sunspot counts, weak solar wind, and low solar irradiance. The sun has gone more than two years without a significant solar flare.

"In our professional careers, we've never seen anything quite like it," says Pesnell. "Solar minimum has lasted far beyond the date we predicted in 2007."

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In recent months, however, the sun has begun to show timorous signs of life. Small sunspots and "proto-sunspots" are popping up with increasing frequency. Enormous currents of plasma on the sun's surface ("zonal flows") are gaining strength and slowly drifting toward the sun's equator. Radio astronomers have detected a tiny but significant uptick in solar radio emissions. All these things are precursors of an awakening Solar Cycle 24 and form the basis for the panel's new, almost unanimous forecast.

According to the forecast, the sun should remain generally calm for at least another year. From a research point of view, that's good news because solar minimum has proven to be more interesting than anyone imagined. Low solar activity has a profound effect on Earth's atmosphere, allowing it to cool and contract. Space junk accumulates in Earth orbit because there is less aerodynamic drag. The becalmed solar wind whips up fewer magnetic storms around Earth's poles. Cosmic rays that are normally pushed back by solar wind instead intrude on the near-Earth environment. There are other side-effects, too, that can be studied only so long as the sun remains quiet.

Meanwhile, the sun pays little heed to human committees. There could be more surprises, panelists acknowledge, and more revisions to the forecast.

"Go ahead and mark your calendar for May 2013," says Pesnell. "But use a pencil."

 
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