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16th December   


US admits to methods that amount to torture
Link Here

Demonstrating waterboarding A former CIA agent has said he believes the agency is justified in using methods that may amount to torture in order to extract crucial information from terror suspects.

CIA chief grilled over destroyed 'torture tapes'
The CIA chief has denied torture practices

In the first detailed account by a CIA operative of the controversial interrogation technique known as "waterboarding", John Kiriakou said a suspected al-Qa'eda lieutenant called Abu Zubaydah had responded "like flipping a switch".

The information Zubaydah gave after 35 seconds of waterboarding probably disrupted "dozens" of planned attacks, Kiriakou said.

Like a lot of Americans, I'm involved in this internal, intellectual battle with myself, weighing the idea that waterboarding may be torture versus the quality of information that we often get after using the technique, Kiriakou, told ABC News.

He added: What happens if we don't waterboard a person and we don't get that nugget of information and there's an attack? I would have trouble forgiving myself. At the time, I felt that waterboarding was something that we needed to do.

The controversial technique involves restraining a prisoner on an inclined board with the subject's head positioned lower than his feet. Water is then poured on his face, triggering a gag reflex and choking the subject. In some cases, the subject's head may be submerged under water.

Kiriakou, who now works in the private sector, came forward as the CIA faced sharp criticism for destroying a videotape of Zubaydah's interrogation, along with another showing the interrogation of a second suspected al-Qa'eda member. Zubaydah's captors strapped him to a board, wrapped his nose and mouth in cling film, and poured water on his face, to simulate drowning.

Critics have charged that the agency destroyed the tapes to hide evidence of illegal torture.


6th December   

America's Bounty Hunters...

US claims it is legal for them to kidnap Brits
Link Here

America's Hardest Bounty Hunters DVD America has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.

A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited to America on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the US authorities and could face criminal charges in America.

The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.

Legal experts confirmed this weekend that America viewed extradition as just one way of getting foreign suspects back to face trial. Rendition, or kidnapping, dates back to 19th-century bounty hunting and Washington believes it is still legitimate.

The US government’s view emerged during a hearing involving Stanley Tollman, a former director of Chelsea football club and a friend of Baroness Thatcher, and his wife Beatrice.

The Tollmans, who control the Red Carnation hotel group and are resident in London, are wanted in America for bank fraud and tax evasion. They have been fighting extradition through the British courts.

During a hearing last month Lord Justice Moses, one of the Court of Appeal judges, asked Alun Jones QC, representing the US government, about its treatment of Gavin, Tollman’s nephew. Gavin Tollman was the subject of an attempted abduction during a visit to Canada in 2005.

Jones replied that it was acceptable under American law to kidnap people if they were wanted for offences in America. The United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared, he said.

He said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse — it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: This law may date back to bounty hunting days, but they should sort it out if they claim to be a civilised nation.

18th November    The Law is an Ass Plug ...
US Mother prosecuted over sex talk with sons

Butt plugA Wisconsin mother accepted a plea agreement on charges she had a sexually explicit discussion with her two sons, even while she maintained she did nothing wrong and that she didn't understand why she was charged.

Amy Smalley said in court that she accepted the plea agreement in part because she thought it would be in the best interest of her sons, ages 12 and 16, in that it would spare them from testifying in court.

According to the charges filed against her, Smalley last year told her sons about several sexual experiences she had. She also allegedly described performing oral sex and also showed the two a sex toy.

Smalley's attorneys unsuccessfully argued in court in July that the charges should be dismissed as the discussions should be protected as free speech between a parent and her children in the vein of sexual education.

Smalley said the charges were filed after she brought her sons to counseling in an attempt to help them from getting into trouble. One of her sons told authorities he did not think the discussion was appropriate.

In the agreement, Smalley pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of exposing a child to harmful material in exchange for the dismissal of a felony charge of exposing a child to harmful descriptions.

Columbia County Circuit Court Judge James Miller accepted the agreement and sentenced Smalley to a year of probation in addition to counseling


17th October    No Right to Travel ...
US to extend permission to fly requirements

Fortress USAUnder new rules proposed by the Transport Security Administration (TSA) (pdf) , all airline passengers would need advance permission before flying into, through, or over the United States regardless of citizenship or the airline's national origin.

Currently, the Advanced Passenger Information System, operated by the Customs and Border Patrol, requires airlines to forward a list of passenger information no later than 15 minutes before flights from the US take off (international flights bound for the US have until 15 minutes after take-off). Planes are diverted if a passenger on board is on the no-fly list.

The new rules mean this information must be submitted 72 hours before departure. Only those given clearance will get a boarding pass. The TSA estimates that 90-93% of all travel reservations are final by then. The proposed rules require the following information for each passenger: full name, sex & date of birth.

The TSA held a public hearing in Washington DC on 20 September, which heard comments from both privacy advocates and airline industry representatives from Qantas, the Regional Airline Association, IATA, and the American Society of Travel Agents. The privacy advocates came from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Identity Project. All were negative.

The proposals should be withdrawn entirely, argued Edward Hasbrouck, author of The Practical Nomad and the leading expert on travel data privacy: Obscured by the euphemistic language of 'screening' is the fact that travellers would be required to get permission before they can travel.

Hasbrouck submitted that requiring clearance in order to travel violates the US First Amendment right of assembly, the central claim in John Gilmore's case against the US government over the requirement to show photo ID for domestic travel.

ACLU's Barry Steinhardt quoted press reports of 500,000 to 750,000 people on the watch list (of which the no-fly list is a subset): If there are that many terrorists in the US, we'd all be dead. TSA representative Kip Hawley noted that the list has been carefully investigated and halved over the last year.

The airline industry representatives' objections were largely logistical. They argued for more time to implement the changes and many were concerned about the impact on new, convenient and cash-saving technologies, such as checking in at home, or storing a boarding pass in a PDA.


14th October    Bush Tortured by Carter ...
Jimmy Carter says US have authorised torture

Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter, the former United States president has accused the Bush administration of torturing suspected terrorists and riding roughshod over international law.

Carter made a scathing attack on America's treatment of detainees, thus breaching the convention that retired presidents avoid causing public controversy.

Asked by the CNN news channel whether he thought the Bush administration had tortured suspects, Carter said: I don't think it, I know it, certainly.

Last week, the New York Times obtained memos written by the US justice department in 2005. These argued that techniques such as simulated drowning, head-slapping and keeping detainees in freezing temperatures did not constitute torture and could therefore be used.

But Carter said: You can make your own definition of human rights and say, 'we don't violate them'. And you can make your own definition of torture and say 'we don't violate it'. The president is self-defining what we have done and authorised in the torture of prisoners.


20th September

    Update: Shit for Justice ...



Attorney General Thurbert Baker
Guilty of aggravated
justice molestation


Georgia Attorney General ensures that injustice continues

From the MSNBC see full article

A judge in Georgia has voided the ten year mandatory sentence of Genarlow Wilson, a high school student who received consensual oral sex from a fifteen year old girl.

Ironically, if the two had intercourse, it would have been a misdemeanor, punishable by not more than a year in prison. After Wilson's conviction, there was outrage over his sentence, and the legislature changed the statute so that oral sex is a misdemeanor too. But the statute did not affect Wilson, because the change did not apply retroactively. Even though no other teen could ever receive Wilson's sentence because the law changed, Wilson 's punishment could not be changed. The courts said that the only remedy for Wilson was through the legislature, but the legislature refused to act. The new bill drafted to help Wilson was stalled.
Story continues below ?advertisement

Thus, Wilson went back to court yet again, this time on a writ of habeas corpus, which means "release the body." The defense argued he was being unfairly held because his incarceration was unconstitutional. This time, a judge agreed. The court ruled Monday that Wilson's confinement violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

The judge courageously wrote: If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish ... justice being served in a fair and equal manner.

Wilson was ordered released. He was re-sentenced to 12 months in prison, a total victory for Wilson, who has served nearly double that already. Furthermore, he does not have to register as a sex offender when he gets out. But the prison doors have not sprung open for Wilson. The attorney general has filed an appeal, seeking a higher court's ruling as to whether the court has the power to commute Wilson's sentence to a sentence that did not statutorily exist at the time of his conviction.

Wilson's lawyer, B.J. Bernstein is extremely disturbed that the attorney general would continue to fight to keep Wilson behind bars.


1st November  Update:  Cruel and Unusual Punishment ...
American 'Justice' releases young man in underage sex case


Attorney General Thurbert Baker
Guilty of aggravated
justice molestation

A US court has ordered the release of a young black man who has been imprisoned for more than two years for receiving consensual oral sex from a girl of 15 when he was 17.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the 10-year sentence handed down to Genarlow Wilson amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment” in a case that has received intensive coverage in the US.

Jimmy Carter, the former President, wrote to the state attorney-general complaining about the disproportionate nature of Wilson’s sentence: The racial dimension of the case is likewise hard to ignore, he said, citing evidence that white minor defendants in the same circumstances as Mr Wilson’s receive far lesser forms of punishment.

The sentence was denounced by the jury that convicted him, and the author of the legislation that put him behind bars.

The law was designed to protect kids against really, really bad people doing very bad things, Republican Matt Towery said: It was never intended to put kids in jail for oral sex.

Chief Justice Leah Ward, writing for the majority in the 4-3 split decision, said the severe punishment makes no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment and that Wilson’s crime did not rise to the level of adults who prey on children.


14th September

    Southwest: Sharia Airlines ...


Outfit offending Southwest Airlines'Family' Airline finds outfit too skimpy

From MSNBC see full article

It doesn’t take much to get thrown off an airplane these days, as Kyla Ebbert found out when a Southwest Airlines employee told her she was too bare for the air. Two months later, she’s still trying to figure out what was wrong with her outfit.

In an exclusive appearance on the Today Show , Ebbert modeled the outfit she says she wore on the flight in question. It consisted of a snug-fitting white top with a scoop neck that stopped just short of showing cleavage.

Over the shirt was a green sweater that buttoned underneath her bosom. It was finished with high-heeled sandals and a white denim mini-skirt with a fashionably frayed hem.

Michele Ebbert told Today co-host Matt Lauer. She looks like every other college girl in San Diego.

Not according to a Southwest employee identified only as “Keith,” who approached Ebbert after she had taken her seat on the plane and was listening to the flight attendants go through their pre-departure routine.

He asked her to step off of the plane and when they were in the jetway, he told her that her clothing was inappropriate and asked her to change her clothes: He told me, ‘I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to take a later flight. You’re dressed inappropriately. This is a family airline. You’re dressed too provocative to fly on this flight,’

I said, ‘What part of it, the shirt, the skirt? Which part?’  Ebbert continued: And he said, ‘The whole thing.’

A compromise was finally reached when Ebbert promised to pull up her top, which wasn’t showing cleavage to begin with, and pull down her tiny skirt.

Ebbert went back onto the plane and to her seat, feeling that every eye on the plane was staring at her: I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. They all heard him lecturing me .

In response to a Today Show query, the airline sent the following statement: Southwest Airlines was responding to a concern about Ms. Ebbert's revealing attire on the flight that day. As a compromise, we asked her to adjust her clothing to be less revealing, she complied, and she traveled as scheduled. When a concern is brought to our Employees' attention, we address that situation directly with the Customer(s) involved in a discreet and professional manner.

What really tops the whole story off is that Ebbert wore the same outfit on the return flight to San Diego later that day. A female flight attendant also took note of it, according to Ebbert.

I was complimented by the stewardess on my return flight, she said.


21st September

    Update: Southwest: Not skimping on Prudery ...

Another dress too skimpy for prudes of Southwest Airlines

'Family' Airline finds another outfit too skimpy

From see full article

A second young woman has come forward to claim that Southwest Airlines Co. employees made her cover up on a recent flight.

Setara Qassim told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles that a flight attendant confronted her during the trip from Tucson to Burbank and asked if she had a sweater to go over her green halter-style dress.

Qassim, 21, said she was forced to wrap a blanket around herself for the rest of the flight. She complained that if Southwest wants passengers to dress a certain way, it should publish a dress code.


7th October

    Update: Wankers at Southwest Airlines ...

Master Baiter t-shirt

Southwest apologise for banning 'Master Baiter' T-Shirt

From United Press International see full article

A spokesman for Southwest Airlines said the company will apologize to a male passenger forced to change his T-shirt last weekend in Ohio.

Joe Winiecki was told to change his T-shirt due to its sexual suggestiveness last weekend in Columbus, the airline will now apologize for the act of censorship.

It was inappropriate for our employee to approach Joe, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said of last Sunday's event. We don't have a dress code. Only in extreme situations would we want to address this to our customers.

Mainz added that the only extreme situations warranting censorship are extreme vulgarity, threatening language and indecent exposure.

Winiecki's T-shirt read "Master Baiter," a sexual double entendre referring to a fictional fishing shop.


6th September

    Circuit City Blow a Fuse ...


Fuck Circut City poster mock upNon driver arrested for failing to show drivers licence

From Slashdot see full article
See full story at Michael Righi's blog

Michael Righi was arrested in Ohio over the weekend after refusing to show his receipt when leaving Circuit City.

When the manger and 'loss prevention' employee physically prevented the vehicle he was a passenger in from leaving the parking lot, he called the police, who arrived, searched his bag and found he hadn't stolen anything.

The officer then asked for Michael's driver's license, which he declined to provide since he wasn't operating a motor vehicle. The officer then arrested him, and upon finding out Michael was legally right about not having to provide a license, went ahead and charged him with 'obstructing official business' anyways.

Update: Settled

25th September

Michael Righi has fought a moral battle against the city for almost a month now. The case has already been settled and he emerged victorious... sort of.

They've expunged his record and dropped all charges, but he had to give up his right to sue the city to do it.


1st September

    Update: Saggy Freedom ...

Exposed thongs

Discriminatory legislation in Atlanta

From The Telegraph see full article

Plans to ban low-slung, underwear-exposing trousers have provoked allegations of racism and the restriction of personal freedom after councillors in Atlanta declared it should be the first major city to tackle "offensive dressing".

Critics of the planned ban have claimed the measure would allow police to target young black males

Officials want to impose a $100 (£50) fine and community service for offensive dressing after complaints not only of indecency but of lowering the image of the black community, where the fashion began.

For several years, American youths, male and female, have worn oversize trousers around their hips, or even lower, in a trend exported overseas - not least to Britain. Held up with a belt and periodic tugs, they often reveal boxer shorts or, in the case of girls, thong underwear.

Critics have claimed the measure would allow police to target young black males. This would establish an additional type of racial profiling, said Debbie Seagraves, of the Georgia state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

But at a heated meeting in Atlanta, the division was between old and young - or, perhaps, between non-hip and hip.

The motion was proposed by a black councillor, C T Martin, who has described sagging trousers as an "epidemic" that is a "major concern" around the country. He was supported from the large audience by James Allen, 76, who said he would start a "belt brigade" to patrol the streets for inappropriate trouser-heights. Underwear flashers held up a sign saying "Clothes are not a crime".

The meeting ended with the council members showing their age, or perhaps their wisdom, and setting up a task force to look into the issue further.


31st August

  Conspiracy to Commit Injustice ...


lotexas.jpgThankfully thwarted by Texas Governor

From The Independent see full article

A 30-year old man, Kenneth Foster, was set to be executed today for a murder which he not only did not commit, but which the authorities in Texas accept was carried out by another man in 1996.

The trial judge, the prosecutor, and the jury that sentenced Foster to die admit that he did not murder the victim Michael LaHood. But, under a controversial "law of parties", in Texas an associate of a perpetrator can be found co-responsible in a capital case. The law imposes the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred.

This is how Foster, a black man out on a crime spree with some friends, came to be convicted of murdering LaHood, a white man and the son of a prominent lawyer. The killer, Mauriceo Brown, was executed last year.

Foster has been politically active on death row. He has organised fellow prisoners, becoming a leader in the anti-death penalty movement in Texas and starting a non-violent movement called Drive, to campaign over conditions on death row. Unlike most other inmates he had several years of college education before jail.

The murder occurred as Foster was sitting in a car some 30 metres away with three other passengers – but prosecutors said there was a conspiracy to commit the crime and therefore he deserved a death sentence. Since Foster's original trial, the other passengers – none of whom was tried under the law of parties – have testified that Foster had no idea a shooting was going to take place.

Fortunately Governor Rick Perry accepted a parole board recommendation to spare condemned inmate Kenneth Foster.

After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster's sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment, Perry said in a statement.

I am concerned about Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously and it is an issue I think the Legislature should examine.


24th August

  Identifying a Lack of Ideas ...


US ID CardRequiring visitors to the US to carry ID cards

Doesn't a passport count as an ID card?

From The Times see full article

Every foreigner in America, including British visitors, would be required to carry an ID card bearing photograph and fingerprints under plans drawn up by Rudolph Giuliani, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Giuliani is hoping to cement his status as the Republican favourite by promising to enforce immigration and border controls, drawing on expertise in combating crime from his time as mayor of New York. He announced last week that all foreigners, including holiday-makers, would be obliged to carry a “tamper-proof” biometric card, which could be issued at ports of entry.

If you don’t have that card, you get thrown out of the country, Giuliani said. He intends to call it a Safe card (for secure authorised foreign entry).

The proposal plays to his reputation for being tough on terrorism and shores up his credentials on immigration, but at the price of a row over civil liberties.

The question is: in what circumstances will people be asked for their IDs? said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert at the American Civil Liberties Union. Will dark-skinned foreigners be asked for their IDs while a Caucasian person isn’t? Opponents also believe it could be costly, cumbersome and could affect trade and tourism.


23rd August

  Uncle Sam's Snooping ...



We're listening
to YOU!


US to intercept European communications without warrant

From The Guardian see full article

A new law swept through Congress by the US government before the summer recess is to give American security agencies unprecedented powers to spy on British citizens without a warrant.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was approved by Congress earlier this month to help the National Security Agency in the fight against terrorism. But it has now emerged that the bill gives the security services powers to intercept all telephone calls, internet traffic and emails made by British citizens across US-based networks.

As much of the world's telecoms networks and internet infrastructure runs through the US, the new act will give the security services huge scope for monitoring and intercepting Britons' private communications, as well as those of other foreign citizens. The new act has led to fears it will see a huge increase in the number of British citizens being extradited to the US.

Just because it happens to pass through the US they claim they can do whatever they want, said Tony Bunyan, director of Statewatch, the civil rights group that campaigns against state surveillance: Where is the EU saying, "What's going on here, we've got to protect the rights of our citizens?"

The Dutch Liberal Democrat MEP Sophie in 't Veld has tabled a series of questions demanding answers from the EU parliament. In a statement to European politicians, In 't Veld warns the US law will directly apply to EU citizens and constitutes a major violation of privacy and civil liberties.

The law has prompted a furore in the US, where it was opposed by Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But other countries seem ignorant of its consequences. There's been a lot of upheaval in Congress about this new act over fears Bush will use it to eavesdrop on US citizens, In 't Veld said. But it can and will be used for the communications of Europeans.


8th August

  Gone in a Flash ...


Manhattan BridgeFreedom to use a camera in New York

From Rue89 see full article

New York photographers, film-makers and First Amendment activists have been rushing to protect their freedom to use cameras in one of the world's most visually iconic cities. Following a proposal for new film permit rules by the New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB), New Yorkers have been staging multimedia protests in an attempt to garner support and make themselves heard before the public comment period expires.

The proposed rules would require that a permit be obtained for any filming or photography taking place in one location involving two or more people for over thirty minutes, or involving five or more people using a tripod for over ten minutes. Filmmakers and photographers are also required to have liability insurance.

Over the past two weeks, various protests have been staged against the proposed rules, including an e-petition with more than 16,000 signatures, as well as a rally in Manhattan's Union Square last Friday, and a series of online video shorts targeted at Julianne Cho, associate commissioner of the MOFTB. Leading the protests is an ad hoc coalition of artists, filmmakers and photographers called Picture New York Without Pictures of New York.

Update: Backing Off

The New York Times reports that New York City officials have backed off proposed new rules that could have forced tourists taking snapshots in Times Square and filmmakers capturing that only-in-New-York street scene to obtain permits and one million dollars in liability insurance. In announcing the move, officials at the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting said they would redraft the rules, intended to apply to commercial film and photography productions, to address complaints that they could be too broadly applied. They will then release the revised rules for public comment.


28th July

  US Justice: A Load of Wank ...



Do as we say...
Not as we do

Jail term extended for wanking alone in cell

From The Guardian see full article

A prisoner in Florida has been found guilty of indecent exposure for masturbating alone in his cell. He was sentenced to a further 60 days in jail on top of the 10-year term he is currently serving for armed robbery, the Miami Herald reported yesterday.

He was prosecuted after a female sheriff's office deputy witnessed him performing the sex act in his cell in Broward County, Florida, last November.

The case drew sniggers from the courtroom as prospective jurors were questioned about their own masturbatory habits and the only witness was asked whether she had considered calling in a Swat team to tackle the defendant.

In reaching their verdict, jurors decided that an inmate's cell was "a limited access public place" where exposing oneself was against the law.

The only witness in the case, Broward sheriff's office deputy Coryus Veal, testified that Alexander did not try to conceal what he was doing as most prisoners did. She witnessed the act while working in a glass-enclosed master control room, 30 metres (100ft) from the man's cell. There was no videotape evidence of the offence.

The prisoner's lawyer, Kathleen McHugh, failed to get him cleared on the grounds that a cell was a private place and what man was doing was perfectly normal.

Ms Veal, who has charged seven other inmates with the same offence, said she was not against masturbation, but she objected to the man performing it so blatantly. She told the court that most inmates masturbated in bed, under the blankets.

The deputy said it was the third time she had caught the man masturbating, and she had had enough.

Prosecutors filed charges in all seven of Ms Veal's other cases, according to a spokesman for the Broward state attorney's office.

The charges were dropped in one of these cases to allow the defendant to begin his sentence in the state prison system on a more serious, unrelated charge. Four of the others pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served. Charges against the other two inmates are pending.


19th June

    US Justice Sucks ...



Attorney General Thurbert Baker
Guilty of aggravated
justice molestation


Extreme sentence for teen sex maintained by mean minded attorney general

Based on an article from the BBC see full article

A man jailed for having consensual oral sex with a teenage girl in the US has had his 10-year prison sentence overturned by a court in Georgia.

Genarlow Wilson was jailed in 2005 for aggravated child molestation after he was videotaped engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

Several influential people, including former President Jimmy Carter, have publicly supported Wilson's appeal.

The ruling amended Wilson's sentence to a misdemeanour and said he would not be required to register as a sex offender.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson said: If any case fits into the definitive limits of a miscarriage of justice, surely this case does. The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanour, and without assistance from this court will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice.

But he will remain in jail, pending an appeal against the latest ruling. The mean minded Attorney General Thurbert Baker said he had filed an appeal to the ruling, stating that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by a trial court.

Wilson, reported to be a sports star and honour student, was found guilty by a jury of aggravated child molestation, for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year's Eve party in 2003. At the time the crime carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a lifetime registration on the state's sexual offender list.

Under Georgia law, if Wilson had engaged in sexual intercourse with the girl he would have only been charged with a misdemeanour and would have received a much lighter sentence. In 2006 the offence of oral sex between teenagers in Georgia was changed to a misdemeanour.

Update: Shameful

8th July 2007

In the latest twist, a Superior Court judge cancelled a hearing that could have seen Wilson released today because there is a law that prohibits appeal bonds for people convicted of his crime and who have been sentenced to five years or more in prison. So, even though the state legislature has changed the law and it has become the laughing stock of the country, Wilson remains in jail.


15th June

    Pants to Freedom ...

Exposed thongs

US exposes its soiled pants

From the BBC see full article

A mayor in the US state of Louisiana says he will sign into law a proposal to make wearing saggy trousers an act of indecent exposure.

Delcambre town council unanimously passed the ordinance earlier this week making it a crime to wear trousers that show underwear.

There will be a fine of US$500 (£254) and offenders will also risk up to six months in jail.

Town attorney Ted Ayo said the ordinance expands on the existing state indecent exposure law by adding underwear to the list of forbidden exposures: This is a new ordinance that deals specifically with sagging pants .


24th April

    Armenian Genocide Memorial Day ...


A Shameful Act book coverUS & Canadian authorities supporting genocide denial

You may also like to know that Armenian Genocide Memorial Day (remembering April 24th 1915) is being celebrated tonight in Club Electric Blue A-GoGo in Patpong, Bangkok

From The Independent see full article by Robert Fisk

Could it possibly be that the security men who guard the frontiers of North America are supporting Holocaust denial? Alas, it's true.

Taner Akcam is the distinguished Turkish scholar at the University of Minnesota who, with immense courage, proved the facts of the Armenian genocide, the deliberate mass murder of up to a million and a half Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish authorities in 1915, from Turkish documents and archives. His book A Shameful Act was published to great critical acclaim in Britain and the United States.

He is now, needless to say, being threatened with legal action in Turkey under the infamous Law 301, which makes a crime of insulting "Turkishness".

But Taner Akcam's experience is potentially far more serious for all of us. As he wrote in a letter to me this month, Additional to the criminal investigation (law 301) in Turkey, there is a hate campaign going on here in the USA, as a result of which I cannot travel internationally any more... My recent detention at the Montreal airport - apparently on the basis of anonymous insertions in my Wikipedia biography - signals a disturbing new phase in a Turkish campaign of intimidation that has intensified since the November 2006 publication of my book.

Akcam was travelling to lecture in Montreal. The Canadian immigration officer, Akcam says, was "courteous" - but promptly detained him for four hours at Montreal's Trudeau airport. Akcam was given a one-week visa and the Canadian officer showed him - at Akcam's insistence - a piece of paper which was the obvious reason for his temporary detention.

I recognised the page at once, Akcam says: The photo was a still from a 2005 documentary on the Armenian genocide... The still photo and the text beneath it comprised my biography in the English language edition of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia which anyone in the world can modify at any time. For the last year ... my Wikipedia biography has been persistently vandalised by anonymous 'contributors' intent on labelling me as a terrorist. The same allegations has been repeatedly scrawled, like gangland graffiti, as 'customer reviews' of my books at Amazon.

On his return journey to the US Akcam was detained yet again - for another hour - by US Homeland Security officers at Montreal airport before boarding his flight at Montreal for Minnesota.

On this occasion, he says that the American officer - US Homeland Security operates at the Canadian airport - gave him a warning: Mr Akcam, if you don't retain an attorney and correct this issue, every entry and exit from the country is going to be problematic. We recommend that you do not travel in the meantime and that you try to get this information removed from your customs dossier.

So let's get this clear. US and Canadian officials now appear to be detaining the innocent on the grounds of hate postings on the internet. And it is the innocent - guilty until proved otherwise, I suppose - who must now pay lawyers to protect them from Homeland Security and the internet. But as Akcam says, there is nothing he can do.


21st April

    Searching for 'Snitch' ...


Yahoo! China logoYahoo! sued for revealing details of Chinese political prisoner

From The Times see full article

A Chinese political prisoner sued Yahoo! in a US federal court, accusing the internet company of helping the Chinese government torture him by providing information that led to his arrest.

The suit, filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act, is believed to be the first of its kind made against an American internet company.

Wang Xiaoning, who is serving a 10-year sentence in China, and his wife, Yu Ling, who is currently in San Francisco, are seeking damages and an injunction barring Yahoo! from identifying political opponents to the Chinese authorities.

Wang was arrested after distributing online articles calling for democratic reform and a multiparty system in China via Yahoo! sites in 2000 and 2001. His suit contends that Yahoo!’s Hong Kong office provided police in China with information that linked him to the postings. Wang was arrested in September 2002 and says he was beaten while in detention.

A Yahoo! spokesman said the company is distressed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the internet, but said it had not had time to review Wang's lawsuit.

It added: Companies doing business in China must comply with Chinese law or its local employees could be faced with civil and criminal penalties.

Lawyers said the lawsuit will encounter a number of hurdles – including the fact that Yahoo! has always complied with Chinese laws.

Human rights groups say that Yahoo has helped the Chinese authorities identify at least four people, including the journalist Shi Tao in 2004, who have since been imprisoned for voicing dissent in cyberspace.


11th February

    US Embargo on European Freedom ...


Cuban cigarsWaiting for US policy to explode in their face

Based on an article from The Telegraph

An Oslo hotel, owned by the US Hilton chain, refused a booking by a Cuban trade delegation to the city's travel fair last month because of the US embargo of Cuba.

The Hilton group is also banning Cuban delegations from all of its hotels around the world as are other American hotel companies, a Hilton spokeswoman said: We are a US company, said Linda Bain, vice-president for communications at the group. The dilemma we face is that [if we took a booking from a Cuban delegation] we would be subject to fines or prison and if anyone [from the company] tried to enter the US, they would be arrested. She said they were now seeking clarification of their position from the US government.

Norwegian trade unions and anti-racist organisations complained about the Scandic hotel's actions and are now moving union conferences elsewhere until the policy is changed.

It is not allowed by law in Norway to discriminate on grounds of gender, religion or nationality, said the deputy leader of the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees, Anne Grethe Skaardal. It is unacceptable for the US to dictate to the whole world.

Last month freelance journalist Tom Fawthrop, who has written for the Guardian and the Economist, was puzzled that he had not been paid for an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that he had written about the Cuban health service. On enquiring what had happened, he received this message from Citibank Global: Due to US sanctions, your payment was stopped for the following reason - reference to Cuban doctors. The Office of Foreign Asset Controls is requesting clarification. Please advise details of Cuban doctors and also purpose of this transaction.

Last year, Ann Louise Bardach, the American journalist and author who wrote the book Cuba Confidential, was also puzzled that she had not received payment for consultancy work on the Channel Four Film, 638 Ways to Kill Castro . She took the matter up with the production company in London and it transpired that the payment had indeed been sent but had been held up in the US because the word "Cuba" appeared in reference to the payment.

When the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, based in north London, needed to buy a new office computer they approached Dell, whose headquarters are in Texas. The order was placed and accepted but a few days later they were contacted by Dell seeking information about the destination of the computer. They explained that it was for use in London offices. Dell then wanted to know about the organisation's funding and the names of their executive members. The campaign decided to take their custom elsewhere.


16th January

    Police Tackle Jaywalking ...


Atlanta police badgePolice thug used an excessive amount of discretion

Based on an article from The Telegraph

A distinguished British historian was knocked to the ground by an American policeman before being arrested and spending eight hours in jail, because he crossed the road in the wrong place.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto said he had been the victim of "terrible, terrible violence" after he inadvertently committed the offence of "jaywalking" in Atlanta, Georgia, last week and failed to realise the man telling him to stop was an officer.

The slight, bespectacled professor said that five burly officers pinned him to the ground after Kevin Leonpacher kicked his legs from under him as he hesitated to show his ID.

He was left "traumatised and disorientated" and with a gashed forehead as he was taken to the local jail and charged with pedestrian failure to obey a police officer and physical obstruction of police.

The academic, professor of global environmental history at Queen Mary College, University of London, and a member of Oxford University's modern history faculty, said he had been subjected to "very humiliating procedures" and even had his box of peppermints confiscated.

The man appeared in court the next day, "tortured" by the fear of getting a criminal record that would wreck his chances of getting a green card allowing him to work in America. But prosecutors dropped the charges.

Atlanta's police chief ordered an inquiry after the mayor raised the incident.

Prof Fernandez-Armesto said he was crossing the road and became aware of a rather intrusive young man shouting at me telling me that I shouldn't have crossed the road there. Because he was wearing a "rather louche" bomber jacket that covered his uniform, the professor did not realise he was a policeman.

I thanked him for his advice and went on , said the professor. When Officer Leonpacher tried to stop him and demanded to see identification, the professor asked to see his, which he didn't take kindly to . He said 'I am going to arrest you', In the culture I come from this wouldn't mean that the conversation was over.

Nor would it mean that you were about to be subjected to terrible, terrible violence. This young man kicked my legs from under me, wrenched me round in what I think is a sort of a judo move, pinned me to the ground, wrenched my arms behind my back and handcuffed me.

Naturally I was bridling at this moment and he called his colleagues to his assistance. I had five burly policemen pinioning me to the ground, pressing my neck with really very severe pain. I'm a mass of contusions and grazes.

I was traumatised, disorientated, my conference programme was in the gutter and I was begging them to give it back to me and to give me my spectacles back. I still find it incredible that an ageing, mild-mannered professor of impeccable antecedent, should be the subject of such abominable treatment.

The professor was handcuffed to another suspected criminal in a "filthy, foetid paddy wagon" to be transported to jail and had his fingerprints and mugshot taken. With his bail set at £720 but with no way to get the cash, Prof Fernandez-Armesto remained incarcerated, until he eventually got out with the help of a professional bail agent.

In court the following day he explained to the judge and charges were dropped.

Officer Leonpacher denied that he overreacted, saying the historian repeatedly refused to co-operate: I used an excessive amount of discretion.

Atlanta's mayor, Shirley Franklin, said: We want everyone who visits Atlanta to find Atlanta to be friendly and helpful.

Update: Belligerent Prosecution

7th July 2007

When the case came to court, an embarrassed prosecutor accepted that a man in a bomber jacket might not look to a visiting European like a police officer. He suggested a plea of nolo contendere (no contest) but Professor Fernandez-Armesto feared a stain on his record might put his green card in jeopardy. Eventually, all charges were dropped.

But now an internal investigation by the Atlanta Police has backed Officer Leonpacher. A police spokeswoman, Judy Pal, pointed out that Professor Fernandez-Armesto was not arrested for jaywalking but for disobeying a lawful order from an officer. The police interviewed witnesses, including two civilians, who backed the officer's version of events. They accused the professor of being belligerent.

Professor Fernandez-Armesto dismissed the investigation as "profoundly incompetent" and said the investigators never sought his side of the story. He still bears scars on his head from the scuffle. He said he may sue.


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