Category Archives: Law
Who is Grover Norquist? He is a GOP hack conservative anti-union lobbyist and President of the tax lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist, along with Bill Kristol, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Clint Bolick and David McIntosh is one of the so-called “Gang of Five” identified in Nina Easton‘s 2000 book by that name, which gives a history of leaders of the modern conservative movement.
They are all anti-union at their core of mud.
Every dollar that is spent [by labor unions] on disclosure and reporting is a dollar that can’t be spent on other labor union activities.
Well, at least Grover was honest about his motivation for strangling labor unions, and a new in depth report from the Center For American Progress, shows that’s not the case with most of the partisan Republican hacks who have been directed by their corporate masters to drown unions in paperwork.
The CAP report details what all union officials already know. Over the past five or six years, the Bush Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards has systematically and dramatically increased the financial reporting burden faced by labor unions. Now, no real unionist is opposed to transparency and sensible reporting – but the reporting requirements imposed by the Bush administration have little to do with transparency, and everything to do with forcing unions to waste time and money jumping through hoops.
Here are some passages from the report:
Lax regulatory enforcement, however, has not been a government-wide policy. In at least one instance, rigorous and in fact pernicious regulatory enforcement was the course chosen by the Bush administration. That instance involved the regulatory authorities of the U.S. Department of Labor under the Landrum Griffin Act aimed at improving the governance of the nation’s organized labor organizations.
Rather than relax these regulatory responsibilities, the Bush administration shoveled significantly more federal tax dollars into the department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards so that key political operatives in OLMS could expand and exercise regulatory authority to:
-Impose costly and confusing new reporting requirements
-Attempt to increase the number of criminal prosecutions
-Disclose the results to the public in seriously misleading ways
-Mis-characterize the published data through a variety of false analyses
The underlying purpose, of course, is to undermine the reputation of the labor union movement through a classic political misinformation campaign-all under the supervision of a lifelong partisan political operative whose career has been dedicated to the destruction of his political opponents.
Make no mistake. Any conservative who says they are pro-union is lying to your face. I haven’t met a genuine conservative labor supporter yet. Unions and union bebefits eat at the almighty profit margin, and we all know Bush won’t have any of that. This report frames the perpetual greed and complete lack of respect that conservatives have for the American worker. They outsource our jobs, force wages downward, and bust unions all in the name of profit.
Just ask anyone who works at Wal-Mart.
The ideology and actions of the so-called “Gang of Five” is pathetic, short-sighted and patently anti-American. Little do they realize that the artificial pressure they endorse that is strangling unions will ultimately backfire as more and more American workers are realizing that they’re employers are not working in their best interest, only their own.
The cycle will come full circle…it is already beginning.
We thought, here at ShadowDemocracy.org, that we would publish Ann Coulter’s long and infamous timeline of voter fraud crime, and how this two year trail of deceit has ultimately led to no conviction…only revealing more corruption at the highest levels. If you had any doubt that the political machine is at work in Florida, there won’t be after you read this…
2/15/06: Ann Coulter Commits Vote Fraud Felony…
Signs another person’s address to voter registration form and votes in the wrong precinct…
3/30/06: Ann Coulter Given 30 Days to Explain Vote Fraud Felony Allegation…
Palm Beach, FL election supervisor May refer charges to state attorney…
UPDATED: Property records show an ‘Ann H. Coulter’ owning a $1.8 Million House on Seabreeze Ave. in Palm Beach, Fl.
4/11/06: Ann Coulter’s Felonious Florida Voter Registration Application
GOP pundit Ann Coulter latest in a growing list of Republicans accused of fraud…and she may be guilty…
State, and county records show inconsistencies on voter registration form…
6/2/06: Ann Coulter ‘Lawyers Up’ to Face Felony Voter Fraud Charges
A Palm Beach paper reports GOP extremist pundit retains ‘Bush’ law firm to fight voter fraud allegations…
6/9/06: New Attorney Seeks Special Treatment for Coulter…
Letter from Coulter’s lawyer asks that all mail be sent to him instead of address where Coulter admits not living despite previously stating the opposite was true…
11/1/06: Ann Coulter Refuses to Testify regarding Voter Fraud in Florida…Case to be Turned Over to Prosecutor…
Coulter, a well documented rightwing extremist and hate-monger, refused to cooperate with authorities…
Palm Beach election supervisor having trouble bringing charges…
5/11/07: FBI Agent Who Interceded in Ann Coulter Voter Fraud Case Alleged to be Her Former Boyfriend…
A Palm Beach Paper says FBI agent attempted to clear Coulter…Conservative Coulter critic Borchers says her ’98-’99 boyfriend has been ‘Her personal FBI resource for her own purposes’…
8/2/07: Palm Beach Post: Florida Election Commission Investigating Ann Coulter’s Florida Voter Fraud
After her FBI boyfriend got her off the hook, will Jeb Bush’s FEC appointees do it again?
Two years after an initial ‘slam-dunk’ allegation of fraud, the Florida Election Commission rules that the two year statute of limitations on has run out…case closed. Check out more links here, here, here…
So what is the lesson kids?
Another Republican felon gets a pass, this time in friendly country, otherwise known as the Sunshine state. It just goes to show that in modern American politics, you can get away with just about anything, as long as you know who d&*k to suck, on…and off the camera. The evidence was obvious, the charges legitimate, and the crime real, but the likes of Ann Coulter, in all of here hate mongering extremist glory, has sunk to an all time low when no one thought it was possible. Even conservative bloggers have thrown her overboard.
What a disgrace.
A second Christian ministry is refusing to meet a Thursday deadline for a Senate investigation into preachers’ salaries, perks and travel, The Associated Press has learned.
See related Shadow Democracy post and comment thread here…
Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, said in a statement to the AP on Thursday that he will not respond to the inquiry until next year.
A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent lengthy questionnaires a month ago to six ministries so he could review whether pastors were complying with IRS rules that bar excessive personal gain through tax-exempt work.
Because these are “Religious” Non Profit organizations, the IRS has already deemed that they’re NOT required to turn over information regarding their finances.
Do you believe in God?
Well even if you don’t, you an I can apply to the IRS for our own Religious non profit status and become exempt from paying federal taxes. Then we can go out and encourage wealthy people to withdraw their investments from 401K’s and other tax shelter investments and funnel their income through our bogus ministry and it will be perfectly legal. You can make a bundle!
Do you know how to sing???
I’ve got some old Jimmy Swaggart Gospel tapes that you can take home and practice from. I’ll brush up on my evangelical street type of ministry lingo and convince a few homeless people to come and visit us every Sunday at a low rent two bedroom house just to convince the IRS that we actually have a congregation. After acquiring our 501(c)(3) provision, we’ll take out business loans in order to hire expert accountants and financial advisors who will counsel our wealthy solicited investors.
We’ll make a fortune, and then we can ignore Congress too 🙂
Posted by: Dimitri Lawrence
Reprinted from RawStory.com
Support for President Bush and his Iraq war policy is nearly as anemic among US military families as it is in the general population, according to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.
The survey finds that almost 60 percent of the military community — which was defined as active and former service personnel as well as their families — disapprove of the president’s handling of the war. The same percentage of the group disapprove of Bush’s overall performance as president. Meanwhile, only 37 percent of the family members approve of Bush. Among civilians polled, the war garnered support from 32 percent of respondents.
Families that include veterans of wars presided over by the president were found to be just as critical of the war in Iraq as other Americans, with a full 60 percent saying the war was not worth the cost.
“Patience with the war, which has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II, is wearing thin — particularly among families who have sent a service member to the conflict,” reports the Los Angeles Times‘ Faye Fiore. “One-quarter say American troops should stay ‘as long as it takes to win.’ Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or ‘right away.'”
The new numbers stand in stark contrast to a poll of military families conducted by the University of Pennsylvania three years ago, in which twice as many individuals approved of the president’s performance.
The poll also finds more support for Democrats than Republicans when it comes to “treatment” of active-duty military personnel, indicating that a “plurality of military-family members, 39 percent, say they believe Democrats are likely to do a better job handling those issues, compared with 35 percent for Republicans,” according to Bloomberg news.
A military sociologist told the Los Angeles Times that flagging support for a president from servicemembers’ families in a time of war wasn’t typical. “You generally expect to see support for the president as commander in chief and for the war, but this is a different kind of war than those we’ve fought in the past, particularly for families,” he said.
One Army mother responding to the poll, whose son was wounded in Iraq, told the Times that she feared casualties in the conflict were for naught.
“I don’t see gains for the people of Iraq…and, oh, my God, so many wonderful young people, and these are the ones who felt they were really doing something, that’s why they signed up,” she said. “I pray to God that they did not die in vain, but I don’t think our president is even sensitive at all to what it’s like to have a child serving over there.”
Complete polling results are available here.
This a follow-up to a recent post on illegal chemical testing on U.S. citizens…
Twelve states sued the Bush administration Wednesday to force greater disclosure of data on toxic chemicals that companies store, use and release into the environment.
The state officials oppose new federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that allow thousands of companies to limit the information they disclose to the public about toxic chemicals, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the lead attorney general in the lawsuit.
The change lets 100 polluters off the hook in New York alone, he said.
The EPA, however, said the change improves the Toxics Release Inventory law and eases requirements only on companies that can certify they have no releases of toxins to the environment.
The EPA this year rolled back a regulation on the law signed by President Reagan after the deadly Bhopal toxic chemical catastrophe in India in 1984, according to the states involved in the lawsuit. That law required companies to provide a long, detailed report whenever they store or emit 500 pounds of specific toxins.
The new rule adopted this year requires that long accounting only for companies storing or releasing 5,000 pounds of toxins or more. Companies storing or releasing 500 to 4,999 pounds of toxins would have to file an abbreviated form, said Katherine Kennedy, New York’s special deputy attorney general for environmental protection.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York City seeks to invalidate the EPA’s revised regulations.
“The EPA’s new regulations rob New Yorkers — and people across the country — of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards,” Cuomo said. “Along with 11 other states throughout the nation, we will restore the public’s right to information about chemical hazards, despite the Bush administration’s best attempts to hide it.”
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the EPA’s action marginalizes a 20-year program that required companies to report the amount of lead, mercury and other toxins they released.
“Polluters can release 10 times more toxins like lead and mercury without telling anyone,” he said.
EPA spokeswoman Molly O’Neill had no comment on the suit. Companies that can show they release none of the toxins can avoid filing long and time-consuming reports, she said.
The change, O’Neill said, is “making a good program better.”
Not really Molly.
More than 300 companies in states like California and New jersey can conceal data under the new EPA rule, which is what the Bush administration wants. This rule change has no teeth at all. It is just another example of Republican ‘let-industry-police-itself’ policy not serving the public good.
To combat this nonsense, states have chosen to file law suits, which I’m sure the Republicans will blame on trial lawyers as well.
“We feel the only course of action was to file suit and remedy this in the courts,” said Cuomo spokesman Jeffrey Lerner.
Other states suing the EPA are Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
This is what you get when you pack the EPA with a bunch of convicted ex-industry polluters and old oil executive buddies.
No surprise to me.
U.S. fourth-graders have lost ground in reading ability compared with kids around the world, according to results of a global reading test.
Test results released on Wednesday showed U.S. students scored about the same as they did in 2001, the last time the test was given. During the interim, there has been an increased emphasis on reading under Bush’s No Child Left Behind act.
The U.S. average score on the Progress in International Reading Literacy test remained above the international average. However, ten countries including Hong Kong and three Canadian provinces, were ahead of the United States this time. In 2001, only three countries were ahead of the United States.
The loss of academic ground is
The 2002 No Child Left Behind law requires schools to test students annually in reading and math, and imposes sanctions on schools that miss testing goals.
The U.S. performance metrics on an international test of 45 nations differed from results of a U.S. national reading test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card. Fourth-grade reading scores rose modestly on the most recent version of that test, taken earlier this year and measuring growth since 2005. During the previous two-year period, scores were flat.
On the latest international exam, U.S. students posted a lower average score than students in Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, along with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.
Interesting how the U.S. metrics showed progress while other countries’ metrics seem to indicate we are getting dumber.
Hong Kong and Singapore have taken steps such as increasing teacher preparation, providing more tutoring and raising public awareness about the importance of reading, said Ina Mullis, co-director of the International Study Center at Boston College, which conducts the international reading literacy study.
Countries that improved since 2001 included Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Singapore, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
Countries that declined included England, Lithuania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden. Sweden still outperformed the United States this time around, but average scores in England and the Netherlands were not measurably different from the U.S. average.
Overall, girls scored higher than boys in the United States and all other countries except for Luxembourg and Spain, where the boy-girl scores were the same.
The average U.S. score was above the average score in 22 countries or jurisdictions and about the same as the score in 12 others. The U.S. average fell toward the high end of a level called “intermediate.” At that level, a student can identify central events, plot sequences and relevant story details in texts. The student also can make straightforward inferences from what is read and begin to make connections across parts of the text.
Background questionnaires administered to students, teachers and school administrators showed that the average years of experience for fourth-grade teachers in the United States decreased from 15 years to 12 years between 2001 and 2006. The international average was 17 years.
U.S. kids seem to get more reading instruction than others. U.S. teachers were more likely to report teaching reading for more than six hours per week than those elsewhere.
In my opinion the public education has devolved from the classical approach of character plus basics (reading, writing, arithmetic, respect, and responsibility), to skills, to psychological-social engineering. Today, education “experts” celebrate their doctrines of multiculturalism and values clarification, but sadly, the experts have been too preoccupied with experimental education, diversity training, evolution-instruction, to wake up and realize that 68 percent of students are unprepared for college.
The long and short of it is…what they are doing…isn’t working.
Check the Nation’s Report Card here…
An Atlanta mega-church took in $69 million in 2006, according to a financial statement the church’s minister released in response to a Senate investigation into him and five other well-known televangelists.
The Rev. Creflo Dollar (excuse me as I snicker a bit) disclosed the World Changers Church International’s financial information to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but said the money he spends is his own.
I’m sure it is. Every last dollar from every last gullible donor.
The good reverand said his income comes from personal investments, but the church gave him a Rolls Royce, which he mainly uses for special occasions.
Don’t pre-judge! It was just a tiny Rolls.
‘Without a doubt, my life is not average,’ he said. ‘But I’d like to say, just because it is excessive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.’
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa disagrees.
He launched an investigation into the finances of six ministers after hearing reports of some preachers’ excessive lifestyles. In a letter last week, he requested answers by Dec. 6 to questions about their executive compensation and amenities, including use of fancy cars and private jets.
Besides Dollar, the letters were sent to faith healer Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Texas, David and Joyce Meyer of Missouri, Randy and Paula White of Florida and Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.
Dollar questioned the investigation’s focus on religious groups.
Boy, you gotta love the balls on this guy.
The minister is among the religious leaders who preach the ‘prosperity gospel,’ the teaching that God will shower faithful followers with material riches. But he said he uses only his personal finances to pay for his luxuries.
‘My lifestyle does not come out of the church’s bank account,’ he said.
So, do you still think these ‘Big Box Retail Churches’, as I like to call them, still shouldn’t be taxed??
Rolls Royce Creflo?
I wonder what kind of Gods work he does in the back seat and with whom?
Wake up my fellow church going sheep!
Anyone who gives money to a mega-church is naive and foolish. Giving money to ANY church benefits very few people as it is, with mega-churches being the worst offenders. Maybe the good minister Creflo could tool around in a Mercedes instead. Maybe a nice “E” Class and use the left over money from the sale of the Rolls Royce to feed 20 or so hungry families in greater Atlanta for oh, I don’t know, maybe two years!!!
The name itself was enough to keep me in laughter until the New Year. “
“Dollar!” You’ve gotta be kidding me!
Can someone please administer an I.Q. test to all of Creflo’s followers? I’m dying to know the results, but I have a suspicion that the average score would be a tad low.
Those “investments” Dollar spoke of were purchased with funds taken from desperate poor people who watch his show while he begs for people to “plant a seed of faith”. These tele-evangelists are nothing but corporate thieves, no different than the ones who have outsourced our economy to China in the name of profit, while taking a giant dump on the middle class.
Think about it for a minute. Most people who watch the program give the church money they’d normally use for medicine, food, shelter, clothes. The minister makes them think they’ll get a windfall blessing in their bank account if they only “plant a seed of faith”. GOD says for us to work, WORK, for a living…so we might give 10% to our church. The Bible states nothing about planting seeds.
www.ministrywatch.com is a great site that tells cold, hard, sinful truth about these tele-thieves.
This is just another tale of people using religion to pad their own pockets, as they prey on the poor and uneducated. Thanks to our government’s unfair endorsement of religion, they do not pay a dime in taxes. Since God apparently will not punish Creflo, we will have to do it ourselves.
He can start by paying taxing his scam operation.
The fact that God didn’t strike Creflo Dollar dead on the spot, in itself, may be proof that there is no god at all!
Investigators at Frost Bank discovered that the stolen cards were being used to make $5 contributions to the Ron Paul presidential campaign, in an apparent attempt to test the cards, as previously posted on this blog. Frost Bank refunded money from nearly 100 customers and canceled all 500 of the credit cards that had been stolen from the bank. The Paul campaign has told news sources it has refunded all stolen funds back to the bank from the stolen cards, which amount to about $3,000, considerably more than the figure of $60.00 originally being tossed around and flippantly dismissed by Paul supporters.
Kerri Price, assistant director of communications for the Paul campaign, noted that the donations from the stolen cards represent “a very small percentage of money that was brought in.” She also stated that, “We don’t know anything about the criminals that did this.”
In fact…no one does.
The tactic of ‘test charging’ used by these criminals as confirmed by investigators, is a fairly common tactic among identity thieves, also previously noted on this blog.
Another Ron Paul spokesman, Jesse Benton, emphasized, “Ron Paul does not have anything to do with this.”
This is clearly the case, now that all facts have been presented and confirmed.
As I indicated in my last post and several times in the comment thread – no one ever accused Ron Paul or his campaign of being thieves. That is simply foolish. No serious presidential campaign would ever engage in such activity. But the question put forth in my last post on this issue still remains…who are these people and are any of them possibly inside or close to the Paul campaign? No one is explicitly or implicitly saying they are, but the question does need asking. Were they just fanatical, misguided supporters? Grass roots campaigns are virtually impossible to police, and as of today, no one knows how these thieves got these numbers, where they got them from, or why they were used to donate funds to Ron Paul. The Paul campaign claims they know nothing about these criminals, and I tend to believe them, but others aren’t so easily convinced.
One of the Frost Bank customers, Christine Horton, who had her I.D. stolen is quoted as saying, “He’s getting money, stolen money…Whether he’s affiliated with it or not, I have no clue. But it’s too fishy.”
Horton’s suspicion may be relevant.
Why steal credit card information and donate it to Ron Paul’s campaign? Is the status quo, pro big-government establishment, or perhaps another campaign, as suggested in the comment thread by Paul supporters, willing to commit fraud and be jailed for a felony simply to discredit Ron Paul – using stolen credit cards to do it? Is the anti-Ron Paul element that dedicated to pushing Ron Paul down by any means possible? Maybe so, but the whole ordeal seems odd to me.
Maybe the issue here is simply people not paying attention as usual. How many of the tens of thousands of donors actually check the URL carefully for accuracy before providing their credit card information to the Ron Paul campaign? Were these people duped into visiting a ‘phishing’ site by criminals and that is how their numbers were stolen? Do they have a person inside Frost bank? What assurance do any donors have that the Ron Paul campaign or any other presidential campaign for that matter, does not store credit card information in a database on someone’s laptop that could be stolen at anytime?
While the paul campaign has one of the most comprehensive privacy policies of any campaign and does scan its donation site with Hackersafe to ensure there are no intrusions, these aforementioned scenarios are all valid and open to discussion.
People must realize that presidential campaigns, and if you have ever worked on one you would know, are pretty loose knit operations. For instance, presidential campaigns are not subject to the same rigid credit card security regulations that online retailers like Wal-Mart.com or Borders.com are subject to. Those businesses must carry a substantial credit card security yoke to remain industry compliant. A political campaign site? Not so much. In fairness to the Paul campaign, this is not the first and certainly will not be the last incident of this kind in the world of political campaign contributions.
I only hope that the Ron Paul crowd knows what they are doing. That originally reported $60.00 that Ron Paul supporters were casually dismissing just days ago, morphed into $3000.00 pretty quickly, and could have evolved into something much larger still, given the right set of circumstances.
I remain steadfast in my advice. Be careful when donating to Ron Paul or any political campaign when using a credit card. PayPal, pre-paid debit cards, and money orders are valid and safer alternatives.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo recented initiated a lawsuit against a real estate appraisal unit of the Fortune 500 company First American Corp.He says the appraiser colluded with Washington Mutual, one of the largest savings and loan companies, to inflate home values. According to Cuomo, the practice is widespread and has contributed to the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
I’ve known that for 15 years Andrew…thanks for the update.
It is no secret that Realtors, appraisers, and lenders have been colluding for years to drive an over-inflated housing market, by selling over-valued homes to people who couldn’t afford them. Result? A giant crap sandwich.
Cuomo claims that during the housing boom, mortgage companies started leaning harder on appraisers to basically lie about home values. “We believe this is a problem all across the industry,” he says. “We believe the federal government has not been effective at regulating it. We believe it has serious consequences long-term.”
As usual, your governing bodies are behind the learning curve. All they needed to do was pick up a newspaper at any point over the past ten years or so and begin reading the classified section in large cities like Atlanta, Dallas, New York, and L.A. To their collective amazement, they would have found hundreds of ‘small’ three bedroom ranch homes selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond their fair-market-value.
Who pays $890,000 for a two bedroom condo? Who pays over $1 million for a three bedroom ranch with no garage at a whopping 2300 square feet?
The foolishness was as plain as day, but no one flinched…not Realtors, not the banks, not the government…no one. Why? The reason is simple. We are living a valueless debt driven economy that is only being precariously propped up by a few vital sectors – over inflated health-care, over inflated housing, and over inflated energy commodities…that’s it.
If any of these cogs few out of the U.S. economy, we would be looking depression right in the face. The sad part is that at the core of this nonsense is the gullible American consumer. As a nation, we are starry eyed and foolish when it comes to consumption. We spend beyond our means and the sky is the limit. As long as we can put hot dogs on the table and keep the cable on, we’ll spend…no matter what. Even if it means abandoning that home you couldn’t afford in cities like Phoenix, where 10,00 homes stand vacant – too embarrassed to face family and friends with your failure…willing to eat your mistake and take the debt to your grave. We’ve been programmed and it’s pathetic.
Predatory lenders simply identified the stupidity and took advantage of it. Their practices made it easier for people to overpay for a home, or to borrow too much against their current house, or even to borrow on a second and even third mortgage! And now, with home prices falling, homeowners are getting creamed. Some homeowners are taking losses as high as 30%, as they are unable to refinance out of their high-interest sucker loans, that they were fully aware of at closing time.
I’ve been a landlord for 10 years and I’ve seen more criminal activity at the hands of shady Realtors and lenders in the last five or six years than I’ve ever seen before. These people should be punished and I applaud Cuomo for pursuing them, however, in the end, I believe that a good portion of these homeowners should be left to burn if only to set an example to other sheep in the herd. They knew full well what they could afford or not afford and they knew of the potential consequences. Time to be grown ups, face the music, and learn that the land of milk and honey can turn sour if you buy more than you need.
Next summer’s Olympics will showcase a China as a modern country of skyscrapers, and Western culture. However the government behind this facade, the same government that has built China into what it is, has acheived modernization by imprisoning political activists, restricting religious freedoms, tightly controling the media and Internet, exposing it’s citizens to deadly pollution, unsafe food and consumer products, and violating international trade treaties with the U.S.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), consisting of nine U.S. Senators and nine members of the House, noted Communist Party leaders authorize political and religious persecution “Against persons the Party deems to pose a threat to its supremacy…” and that party “officials wield the legal system as a harsh and deliberately unpredictable weapon…”
Here is their overview…
The Commission observed ongoing human rights abuses and stalled development of the rule of law in China during 2006-2007. The Commission also observed increased repression in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and Tibetan Autonomous areas of China, stepped-up harassment of legal advocates, and increased restrictions on Chinese reporters. In addition, across the areas the Commission monitors, the following general themes emerged: (1) Chinese leaders’ increasing intolerance of citizen activism and greater suppression of information on urgent matters of public concern (including food safety, public health, and environmental emergencies); (2) the instrumental use of law for political purposes; (3) the localization of dispute resolution in order to insulate the center from the backlash of national policy failures; and (4) the influence that China’s linkages with the rest of the world have had on some aspects of its domestic rule of law and human rights development.
With the 2008 Olympic Games only months away, China is is under intense pressure from foreign activists to comply with international standards across a broad spectrum of issues. from the workplace to air quality. The CECC not only cited recent issues including food and product safety, which also affects foreign consumers of Chinese exports, but also complained of “inadequate and inconsistent implementation, corruption and a lack of regulatory incentives.” Moreover, the panel found that the Chinese government discourages consumer organizations and harasses people for reporting problems with consumer products. Environmental reforms have been hampered by uncooperative local authorities and outright suppression of green activists that demand the free flow of information.
Human rights also came under fire by the CECC. Chinese communists continue to detain and imprison democracy activists as well as those attempting to organize workers in labor unions not approved by the government. Police routinely detain people for days without formal charge.
2006 saw a tightening of the screws on religion, with communist officials continuing a “campaign of persecution” against the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Protestant church gatherings that didn’t register with the government were shut down, and Catholics were blocked from contact with the Vatican. Independent clergy were also detained, while Tibetan Buddhists faced greater repression.
Foreign reporters were granted greater freedoms, however Beijing have increased government restrictions on domestic journalists in the interest of preserving order and control before the games. The CECC concluded that, “Developments during 2007 suggests that the prospects for a free press in China remain dim.”
The Internet has also threatened the Communist Party’s monopoly of information.
In response, it has restricted access to many websites and imposed licensing requirements aimed at curbing politically sensitive data, with the goal of tracking and arresting online government critics. Chinese officials also continue to impose prior restraints on publishing, and publication of critical books.
Senator Byron L. Dorgan, the commission’s chairman, said the 360-page study was “sober reading,” a sign that repression is getting worse in China”, despite promises of reform. He called the report a “wake-up call” as well.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington was called for a comment, but officials did not respond to it.
Western journalists know full well what China is really about as do our political and business leaders. The latter choose to ignore human rights abuses in the name of economic expansion on the backs of Chinese peasants, using their belief in the need for a global economy to cleanse their collective conscious.
Our actions and reactions as a nation are unconscionable.
I call for a protest and boycott of the 2008 Olympics in China as an act of solidarity and demonstration of support for Chinese people, who are suffering under the yoke of opressive and deadly Communist rule. For humanity sake, we must take a firm stand.
The Chicago Police Department is investigating an officer’s use of a Taser last month on 82-year-old Lillian Fletcher. They said she was wielding a hammer when they arrived.
Fletcher was rushed to the hospital after being jolted by a Taser, but has since been released.
Officials with the city’s Department on Aging went to her home on Oct. 29 to make a welfare check, and called police when they saw Fletcher in a window swinging a hammer back and forth. Officers arrived and attempted to subdue Fletcher. One officer thought it was appropriate to use his Taser, according to a police department spokesman. The department is trying to determine if the officer violated department policy regarding the use of stun guns.
On Tuesday, Fletcher said officers “pushed” their way into her home. ”They shocked me,” she said.
Fletcher at times sounded confused during the telephone interview. Her granddaughter Traci Taylor told the Chicago Sun-Times that her grandmother suffers from schizophrenia and dementia.
”My grandmother is easily confused,” Taylor told the newspaper, adding that the elderly woman can be belligerent but is about 5 feet 1 and no more than 160 pounds.
Clearly a threat to the police.
Tasers use compressed nitrogen to fire two barbed darts that can penetrate clothing to deliver a 50,000-volt shock to immobilize people.
Law enforcement officials seem to be leaning on the use of Tasers more and more as a way to subdue combative people in high-risk situations…common sense be damned.
These weapons have come under fire around the country as they have been blamed for several deaths.
Amnesty International USA has voiced concerns that police departments are starting to use Tasers more routinely rather than in cases of serious danger. Taser use by police drew national attention recently when police stunned and arrested a University of Florida student after his fervent, videotaped outburst at an event with Senator John Kerry in September.
Could it be that police simply are not exercising good judgement or are they just not intelligent enough to know where to draw the line? In this case, Tasering an 82 year old walks the line of police brutality and Fletcher is well within her rights to seek a punitive legal remedy.
The officers responsible should be fired immediately. There is no excuse for this type of wreckless bravado when dealing with defenseless citizens. It’s almost as if they are running amok with the new toy that’s the “bullet alternative.”
“I told them this doesn’t make any sense, because this isn’t a credit card, it’s a check card, and I’ve got plenty of money in there, so what’s the problem?” Ruffino said.
A customer service representative for her bank informed her of a suspicious charge.
The bank representative explained that someone by the name of Ron Paul has been trying to take $5 out of the aforementioned account.
Identity theft usually works this way: Thieves gather up stolen credit card numbers online and run the test charges to see which numbers will work. If the charge goes through, they know they have an active card. Later, the hit the card for more money. It appears that is what happened here.
Representatives for the Ron Paul campaign said they have discovered more than a dozen mysterious $5 contributions in the past three days and said they’re working with banks to return the money.
A representative for the Texas Attorney General’s Office on Friday said these crimes are rarely prosecuted, because by the time thieves are tracked down, they’re often in other counties, and the Web sites are shut down.
We know that there have been campaign contribution improprieties in other campaigns, but those incidents usually involved one large donor. This situation suggests that the Ron Paul campaign cannot be trusted with credit card security or donations from small donors, and appears to be the first time this issue has come up in any political campaign among any of the current presidential candidates.
In the mean time, you may want to think twice before giving your credit card information to the Ron Paul campaign.
If Giuliani’s Opinion About Cheney is an Indicator of His Judgement, then we Better Send Him Back to New York…
Here is what Republican front-runner Rudi Giuliani had to say about the qualifications and character of current Vice President Dick Cheney.
I would want a vice president who was a partner. Someone who was in on everything that was going on, so that that person could take over if, God forbid, something happened. You know, I was working for President Reagan, in fact I had breakfast with him, with a lot of other people, the day he was shot. So, I have been very, very close to a possible presidential assassination and seen how that all worked out that day…
So, immediately it makes you realize that (the) choice of vice president is a choice that you have to do in the best interest of the country-and you owe that to your fellow citizens. In good conscience you have to pick someone that you believe can handle the job as well as you can.
How do you pick a vice president? … I think Vice President Cheney and President Bush’s pick of Vice President Cheney is a good example of picking someone who is qualified to be president of the United States. That is number one — it’s paramount.
Am I missing something? Does Giuliani want Cheney as V.P. again, or does he just want to have gay sex with him?
A presidential administration is made up of many people, all of whom must be accounted for as mandated by law for oversight and budgetary purposes. Cheney has refused for six years to say how many collaborators he employs. In fact, he is on the record on saying that he considers himself to be above the law! If that’s not arrogance and a complete disregard for the law, I’m not sure what is.
Cheney is an ideal partner for George W. Bush. Both men are liars, both endorse controversial practices like torture of prisoners, pre-emptive war, war profiteering, privatization of the military, etc. Cheney was the Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf War, and is also an entrenched Washington insider. Cheney’s record as V.P is morally questionable and illegal at worst.
Cheney is frequently designated as ‘the worst vice-president in the history’ of the United States.In a recent column, Sally Quinn, wife of Ben Bradlee who was the Washington Post’s editor during the Watergate era, stated, “The big question today among Republicans is how to get rid of Dick Cheney. He is perceived as toxic.”
In May, Dennis Kucinich, filed a resolution to open an impeachment procedure against the vice-president in the House of Representatives. In three articles, he accuses Cheney of having “manipulated intelligence to invent the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction,” with having “misled citizens about an unproven relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda” and with “openly threatening Iran with aggression without any real threat to the United States.”
In June, the Washington Post published a long series exposing the vice-president and the role he plays in the ‘shadows.’ Allegations include he has worked to authorize wiretapping of citizens since September 11th, torture at Guantanamo, how he succeeded in intervening in the choice of Supreme Court judges, etc. There are also wide spread allegations that he manipulated CIA intelligence prior to the Iraq War, and some say he pressured spies to provide information that could be used to sell the war.
No official or agent has yet denounced him, no proof has been provided to damn him, and he’s never been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Then there’s the Scooter Libby thing. His tactics here are consistent with everything else he has done. Cheney’s Chief-of-Staff found himself convicted of false testimony and obstruction of justice and sentenced to thirty months in prison. Of course we know he was later pardoned by George W. Bush. “In the eyes of outside observers,” notes the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, “Cheney is the political equivalent of a black hole, which exerts a powerful but invisible force and emits neither light nor heat that could explain the decision process.” “He is the enemy within,” deems Newsweek. “He has privatized the function of the vice-president,” deplores the New York Times. “The irony,” emphasizes former Reagan Administration official Bruce Fein, “is that the president finds himself with less power than he would have had, had he and Cheney not had such extravagant and monarchical pretensions.”
This is who Giuliani wants as a back-up, or perhaps someone like him?
I have posted previously on this blog and commented that Giuliani is of the same dangerous and nisguided ideology that plagues George Bush and Dick Cheney. His prior comments and rhetoric clearly illustrate that he supports the war in Iraq and is quoted by many sources to that effect here, here. He also supports many of this administrations other initiatives.
That’s bad enough. However his endorsement of a criminal like Cheney is foolish and shortsighted. In only seven short years, mainly as a result of Bush and Cheney’s poison policies, the U.S. is weaker and has lost the respect of many nations around the world. Our civil rights are on the back burner, the constitution is lining the cat box and the middle class is suffering.
If Rudi thinks that’s competent leadership, then I hope he winds up on a fishing trawler to a remote area of Alaska before the 2008 election.