Religion as a Tool of Repression

Freedom of speech and dissent are always curtailed in times of war. Whenever soldiers occupy foreign nations, rational thinking is proscribed in favor of nationalistic hubris. Minority opinions, although grounded in ethics and reason, are repressed, often brutally. The majority becomes intolerant of dissenting views. Thoughtful dialog is suspended and irrational ideology gains ascendancy. Civil discourse breaks down, and the social order disintegrates into anti-intellectual emotionalism and chaos.

During World War I and World War II, it was dangerous for anyone to oppose war or to speak truth to power. When Eugene Victor Debs delivered his Canton anti-war speech in 1918, he went to prison. In An Enemy of the People, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen demonstrated that the majority of the people are easily deceived, their emotions manipulated by profiteers and special interests. It requires serious conviction to take a principled stand in the midst of nationalistic fervor in which men and women so easily turn upon one another. During war, nationalism and repression are conducted with the fervor of a religious crusade.

In this era of permanent war we see bumper stickers that attempt to meld religion with nationalism. They carry jingoistic slogans like “God bless America” or “God bless our troops.” Significantly, God even appears on our currency. But why would a just God, if God exists at all, bless a nation that kills with impunity? Why would God bless a nation with a history of repression and genocide?  Why would God bless a nation that institutionalized chattel slavery and the repression of its working class?

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Ayala High sex abuse suit can proceed

CHINO – A judge has ruled that a sex abuse lawsuit brought against the Chino Valley Unified School District can proceed to trial.

The plaintiff, given the pseudonym “John Roe 79,” filed a law suit in August against the district for damages based on negligence, negligent hiring, sexual battery and sexual harassment as well as other issues.

Attorneys for the school district argued that the complaint should be tossed out because it was not presented within six months after the alleged abuse, as required by law.

The alleged incidents from 2000 to 2002 involved a former Ruben S. Ayala High School student and a former color guard instructor at the school.

The plaintiff is seeking $20 mil lion in damages.

Judge David A. Williams over ruled the timely claim-filing requirements this week in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga.

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Startups Backed By The CIA

The spy agency has a venture capital arm that is funding an array of companies developing bleeding-edge technologies.

Tiny cameras. Hearing devices for the teeth. Wi-fi for refrigerators. These are some of the products made by companies that have caught the eye of In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.

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Bioethics Commission to Investigate Guatemala Experiments and Current U.S. Human Research

President Barack Obama has asked his bioethics council to look into the recent disclosure that in the mid-1940s, a United States Public Health Service scientist deliberately infected patients in Guatemala with syphilis. In a letter sent Wednesday to University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, chair of the 13-member Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, Obama writes: “The research was clearly unethical. In light of this revelation, I want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally.” The letter asks for a “thorough review” of U.S. rules protecting human subjects and a “thorough fact-finding investigation” of the Guatemala experiments. The commission, which is finishing up a report on synthetic biology, is to start its work in January and complete a report within 9 months.

Police: Priest solicited murder of boy accusing him of sex abuse

(CNN) — A Catholic priest, facing criminal charges and a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a teenage boy, is now charged with attempting to hire someone to kill the youth, authorities said Tuesday.

The Rev. John M. Fiala was in the Dallas County, Texas, jail on Tuesday, charged with one count of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the jail’s website. He also is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bail totals $700,000.

Fiala, 52, of Dallas, was out on bond on other sexual assault charges involving the youth, now 18, when he allegedly attempted to negotiate the boy’s murder, said Thomas B. Rhodes, the teen’s attorney.

He was arrested last week after he offered an undercover agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety $5,000 to kill the teen, according to department spokeswoman Lisa Block.

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Ignoring You is Not a Cognitive Defect

So a bunch of high school teachers are upset that their students are bored with them. Well, that’s not how they say it. Instead, the New York Times has the backs of boring, stupid teachers everywhere: “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction.” If kids didn’t have iPhones, they would pay attention in school.

Really?

What’s the last book you’ve read. How often do you – a big, bad, enlightened adult – sit down without the television or radio on? How often do you seek the lengthy solitude of reflection and reading? Can you even sit in silence for an hour?

Adults rarely read, and that’s fine. Adults spend most of our time in a distraction from our impending death. Or is there another justification for TV?

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Canadian archbishop in pedophile case

Canadian police have charged the head of the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America with two counts of sexual assault on young boys.

Archbishop Kenneth William Storheim, who has held many Church positions in Canadian communities, turned himself in to Winnipeg police on Wednesday after being charged. He has since been released on bail and is waiting to appear in court on January 10.

Authorities launched an investigation into the allegations after Storheim resigned from his post in October.

Canadian media report that the archbishop sexually assaulted the boys while he was the rector of a Winnipeg parish from 1984 to 1987.

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Cops & Firemen

Two Norfolk teachers put on leave over material about police

Two Norview High School teachers were placed on paid administrative leave this week after a parent complained that they distributed classroom materials that gave advice on how to deal with police if stopped.

The materials – a one-page handout and a video distributed and aired in a 12th-grade government class – are sponsored by two organizations, one a nonprofit that supports legalization of marijuana and one that calls itself a “decentralized anarchist collective.”

The last paragraph of the flier, titled “When Dealing with Police” states, “Remember You have legal rights, but many police will not respect your rights. Be careful – Be Street Smart.”

Schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Thiel Mather said division leaders are investigating the incident over concerns that the materials were unauthorized.

The parent, who asked not to be named out of fear that her daughter could be ostracized or get a lower class grade, told The Pilot that she contacted the division and police after her daughter described the leaflet and video.

“She came home recently and said, ‘You won’t believe what we are learning in Government. They are teaching us how to hide our drugs,’ ” the parent recounted.

Last week, an Oakwood Elementary School employee was placed on leave with pay in connection with the distribution of plastic fetus models to children, which division leaders also considered unauthorized material. Oakwood’s principal was also put on leave in connection with the incident, and an investigation is continuing.

Mather said it is uncommon to have to put staff on leave for using inappropriate materials. The division typically gets no more than two parent complaints a year about the suitability of textbooks or library materials, she said.

The leaflet handed out at Norview describes the rights citizens have if they are stopped or arrested by police or witness police activity. It is posted on the Web here.

A credit on the leaflet reads, “Assembled by the Crimethinc Police Unwelcoming Committee.” On its website, Crimethinc.com calls itself a “decentralized anarchist collective.”

The video, “Busted: Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters,” is posted online here.  It opens with a portrayal of young adults stopped by a traffic officer who searches their car and arrests them for marijuana possession. Other scenes depict police questioning a young man at a bus stop and patrol officers who visit a home where loud partiers are smoking marijuana.

A commentator on the video states, “Whether or not you break the law, this video is designed to explain what the law is and how you can legally and properly assert your constitutional rights through even the most stressful police encounters.”

For each scene, the commentator explains how legal rights apply to police searches of vehicles, homes or individuals and how people can cite those rights during encounters with police.

The video was created by Flex Your Rights, a nonprofit that advocates educating the public about how constitutional protections apply during encounters with law enforcement. The production has gotten 2.3 million viewings on YouTube since November 2006.

The video’s end credits cite funding from the MPP Foundation, which is part of the Marijuana Policy Project. On the Web, the group advocates legal regulation for marijuana and noncoercive treatment for problem marijuana users.

Pilot writers Hattie Brown Garrow, Lauren Roth and Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer contributed to this report.

Steven G. Vegh, (757) 446-2417, steven.vegh@pilotonline.com

Desert Spring Middle School Security Guard Accused Of Raping Student

DESERT HOT SPRINGS — A security guard at Desert Springs Middle School is behind bars, today, and faces charges that forced sex on a child.

Marvin Cash was arrested at his home in Desert Hot Springs by police, and brought in for questioning, Tuesday. He will be transported to the Riverside County Jail, where is bail is set at $50,000.

Police tell News Channel 3 several students came forward, and reported incidents involving Cash. Details of the encounters were not released.

Cash was arrested for committing a lewd act on a child under 14-years-old, sexual battery, and annoying/molesting a child under 18.

Desert Hot Springs Police say they have contacted Palm Springs Unified School District to inform them, and they cooperated with the investigation.

Stay with News Channel 3 and KESQ.com for more.

California passes bill to counteract ‘disturbing’ Texas curriculum

Measure ensures Texas standards don’t ‘creep into our textbooks,’ senator tells Raw Story

The California Senate on Friday approved legislation that sends a clear message to Texas and textbook publishers: don’t mess with our kids’ minds.

“My bill begins the process of ensuring that California students will not end up being taught with Texas standards,” State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who authored and sponsored the legislation, said in an interview. Texas standards had better not “creep into our textbooks,” he said.

The S.B. 1451 measure – approved on a bipartisan vote of 25-5 – requires the California State Board of Education to examine and report any discrepancies between the new Texas standards and California’s standards. “At that point,” Yee told Raw Story, “we will make it very, very clear that we won’t accept textbooks that minimize the contributions of minorities and propagate the close connection between church and state.”

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Synthetic Biology Breakthrough: Your Questions Answered

Yesterday, researchers led by John Craig Venter reported that they had built a genome from scratch and used it to control a cell. We asked if you had any questions about the discovery—which raises important scientific and ethical issues—and you responded in force. Below is a selection of some of our favorites (edited for length and clarity), compiled from our Web site, e-mail, and Facebook. Science reporter Elizabeth Pennisi, who wrote a news story about the discovery, and Mark Bedau, a philosopher and scientist at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and editor of the scientific journal Artificial Life, offer their answers and opinions.

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Knowledge Discovery Resources 2010 – An Internet MiniGuide Annotated Link Compilation

This compilation is dedicated to the latest and most competent resources for knowledge discovery available over the Internet. The key is to be able to find the important knowledge discovery resources and sites both in the visible and invisible World Wide Web. The following selected knowledge discovery resources and sites offer excellent knowledge and information discovery sources to help you accomplish your research goals.

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Gun Running, Drugs and Flamenco: US Army Human Terrain System Has It All

See also:  Nature: Shut Down Army’s Human Terrain Program

A member of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command management team in Afghanistan, according to sources, is a “gun runner.” That individual is allegedly listed in an “Federal Bureau of Investigation database” and has “ties to Ahmad Wali Khan Karzai and the drug business.”

Another Human Terrain System leader has apparently been accused by “local nationals…of being a pedophile—touching young Afghan children while out in the field and making disturbing comments about them.” Members of a US Army Stryker group in Afghanistan have made the same comments.

These comments appear outrageous but, then again, this is the US Army Human Terrain System. It’s a head-shaker that the US Army (TRADOC) and Lieutenant General William James Lennox Jr. heap praise upon it even as the US Congress, House Armed Services Committee, has said the program needs a good scrub, as reported by the authorities on HTS at Wired the Washington Independent.

HASC is to be applauded for this action. And it could not come at a better time.

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Snails on speed

Biologists turned snails into tweakers to learn more about how crystal meth seems to improve memory in humans. According to the Washington State University and University of Calgary researchers, memories formed while on methamphetamine may be more durable. (They ran another snail study in 2006 using cocaine instead of meth.) Their work could someday provide a deeper understanding of addiction.

…The team wondered whether meth could improve the snails’ memories. First they immersed the snails in meth-laced pond water, then they moved them into regular de-oxygented pond water and gave them a training session that the snails should only recall for a few hours. In theory the snails should have forgotten their training 24 hours later, but would the meth improve the snails’ memories so they remembered to keep their pneomostomes closed a day later? It did. A dose of meth prior to training had improved the snails’ memories, allowing them to recall a lesson that they should have already forgotten. And when the team tested whether they could mask the meth memory with another memory, they found that the meth memory was much stronger and harder to mask.

“Snails on methamphetamine”

Scientists Join Protests Against Award in Honor of African Dictator

Scientists, including two Nobel Laureates, and public health groups have joined protests against a new, highly controversial UNESCO award sponsored by and named after Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea. In a letter sent yesterday to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Director-General Irina Georgieva Bokova, a group of organizations and individuals in the field of public and global health asks that UNESCO “reconsider … and abolish” the prize.

The charge against the UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences—which may be announced this week and is slated to be awarded next month—has been led by human-rights organizations. But yesterday’s letter, coordinated by the Open Society Institute Public Health Program, points out that human-rights violations and corruption aren’t the only problems in Equatorial Guinea. Despite massive oil revenues, “health indicators reflect shockingly poor governance and widespread suffering,” it says. The letter notes that the life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea stands at 49.9 years, only 43% of the population has clean drinking water, and one in five children does not survive until their 5th birthday.

A source close to the Paris-based U.N. agency tells ScienceInsider that frantic, closed-door talks about the award are still going on and that there’s still a chance that the prize could be postponed pending a review.

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San Jose union begins organizing pot workers

A major California labor union is organizing medical cannabis workers in Oakland, a move that analysts say will help efforts to legalize marijuana and open the door for the union to organize thousands more workers if state voters pass a measure in November to allow recreational marijuana use by adults.

The 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose is believed to be the first union in the country to organize workers in a marijuana-related business. It is considering new job classifications including “bud tender” – a sommelier of sorts who helps medical marijuana users choose the right strain for their ailment.

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Local opposition to Arizona law sought

At Tuesday’s Beaumont Unified School District board meeting, trustee Mark Orozco called on his fellow board members to consider a resolution opposing Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law, which he pointed out gives police in that state the right to detain anyone who is suspected of being in this country illegally, or for failing to provide proper documentation of citizenship.

“Under the new law, Arizona police now are required to stop and question anyone they reasonably suspect of being undocumented,” said Orozco, who is a history teacher at Marshall School in Pomona. “I am deeply troubled, and as an educator, I am disturbed by the lessons this law teaches our children about democracy, inclusion and nondiscrimination.”

Orozco called Arizona’s law an attack on civil rights of Arizona’s Latino population, and likened the situation to the way Jews were treated in Germany prior to World War II, when they were required to carry documentation with them at all times.

“The right of undocumented immigrant children to a K-12 public education has long been protected,” Orozco said. “This legislation may be the start of a very slippery slope. What’s next? Will lawmakers require teachers, education-support professionals and school employees to act as immigration agents?”

Orozco said that he feared the impact that potentially oppressive measures could “impede on the mission of teaching and learning.”

“I understand that my peers and some members of the community will probably criticize me … but it needs to be said,” Orozco said during board comments at the end of the meeting. “I am speaking not just as a board member or public official, but also as a leader of our community and a concerned American citizen who cannot sit by and be silent.”

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Bill Cranfill, former Redlands police officer, charged with child molestation

A retired Redlands Police Department lieutenant jailed in a 2008 molestation probe posted $100,000 bail over the weekend and was given a July court date.

Billy Lee Cranfill, 55, of Redlands, had been held on suspicion of lewd acts with a minor under 14 years old. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department detectives arrested him Thursday at the University of Redlands, where he worked as interim public safety director.

A girl reported the alleged abuse, from April 2008, to a counselor on Wednesday. Detectives said Cranfill, who retired last December after 32 years with Redlands police, knew the girl, but released few other details.

Prosecutors have received the case to determine if charges will be filed. If so, Cranfill is scheduled to be arraigned July 19, records show.

Ex-cop in molestation case wins disability retirement

Head of U of R security charged in molestation case

Maryland Citizens Face Felony Charges for Recording Cops

In Maryland, it is a felony to record thuggish cops as they push around skateboarding teenagers, beat sports patrons, and pull guns on motorists for speeding.

“Several Marylanders face felony charges for recording their arrests on camera, and others have been intimidated to shut their cameras off,” reports WJZ 23 in Baltimore.

Maryland cops are using a Maryland law that states conversations in private cannot be recorded without the consent of both people involved in order to go about their business of harassing, intimidating, and assaulting citizens.

It is legal according to Maryland’s attorney general for cops to videotape citizens with dashcams but illegal for citizens to do the same.

State authorities are upset after a video appeared on the internet showing the merciless beating of a university student by thug cops at the University of Maryland in April.

In 2009, a video surfaced showing a Baltimore cop pushing around and verbally assaulting a teenager. Numerous videos in other states show cops beating and even murdering citizens.

Click “read more” for videos.

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Pirates take over small-town radio signal

Residents of San Mateo County, California are hearing an unusual sound on the 89.3 frequency of their FM radios these days. Commercial-free radio programmed by real, local people.

San Francisco-based Pirate Cat Radio has put KPDO on the air full-time. The station’s new home, nestled among coastal farmlands, is about an hour south from the studio cafe in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Pirate Cat Radio founder Daniel Roberts and his crew took over the radio frequency May 8, after years of defying the Federal Communications Commission by broadcasting without a license. Roberts was recently fined by the FCC for just that, as Jennifer Waits writes in Spinning Indie.

So, faced with staying off the air for good, Roberts – also known as Monkey – worked out an agreement with Pescadero Radio Service to operate the unused frequency and began training locals to host their own shows. News stories about Pescadero, like the investigation uncovering two labor camps in rural Pescadero where families have been drinking unhealthy levels of nitrate-contaminated water for years, will make their way to the radio airwaves for the first time.

KPDO’s license was going to disappear, Roberts told The Daily Journal, until he brought an engineer in to resurrect the station. Local residents have very little else to turn to for locally-originated content on the radio. Waits writes:

Daniel was dismissive when I asked him about KLSI, saying that the station is run by a guy from out of town and that it’s “basically a jukebox from Florida.” Daniel said that the owner of KLSI runs a bunch of radio stations and that he’s not connected with the local community and added, “Scum of the earth are people who treat radio like real estate.” I told Daniel that I’d heard that University of California, Santa Cruz, had been helping out with KPDO about a year ago and asked him what happened. He said that UC Santa Cruz had made an offer to purchase the station, but that the owner of KLSI contested that purchase. Apparently because of the related legal fees, UC Santa Cruz pulled out, leaving the future of KPDO uncertain. I asked Daniel why KLSI wasn’t taking issue with his takeover of KPDO and he said that it’s because he’s just running the station and the license isn’t being transferred.

Roberts will continue to manage the Pirate Cat Radio cafe 50 miles north.

2010 National Drug Control Strategy

President Obama’s 2010 National Drug Control Strategy uses a multifaceted approach to combat drug abuse and drug use in America’s communities.

This Strategy “provides a collaborative and balanced approach that emphasizes community-based prevention, integration of evidence-based treatment into the health care system, innovations in the criminal justice system, and international partnerships to disrupt drug trafficking organizations. Because nearly all Americans are impacted by the consequences of drug use, the Strategy is designed to be relevant at the local level. Whether you are a parent looking for information, a community member interested in treatment resources, a police officer or local elected official searching for new approaches to drug-related crimes, or someone who wants to know more about the Administration’s drug policy, the National Drug Control Strategy will serve as a useful resource.”

Georgia may Put PTSD Diagnosis on Licenses

Current and former service members living in Georgia could soon add a new piece of information to their driver’s license: a posttraumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

Under a law recently pushed through the state legislature, post-traumatic stress disorder would be noted on the license in the same way that a person’s license might indicate corrective lenses are required for vision, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adding the information would be voluntary and require a sworn statement from a doctor. If signed by the governor, the bill would become law on July 1.

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San Diego County Now Has ‘Majority, Minority’ Population

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego metro area has one of the largest immigrant populations in the country. A new study out today from the Brookings Institution says more than 22 percent of San Diego’s population was born in another country. The State Of Metropolitan America report looked at the changing demographics of the 100 largest metro areas in the country.

Audrey Singer with Brookings said San Diego particularly stands out in one category. Among the top 100 metro areas, San Diego ranks 10th in the percentage of children with at least one immigrant parent.

“Nearly 42 percent of children in metropolitan San Diego are second generation,” Singer said.

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Kids Overimitate Adults, Regardless of Culture

Whether they’re preschoolers from Australian suburbs or Kalahari Bushmen, children copy adults to a fault, according to a new study. The findings suggest that over-imitation—in which a child copies everything an adult does, even irrelevant or silly actions—is a universal human trait that may contribute to our complex culture.

Researchers already knew that over-imitation was a human-specific quirk. In previous studies, dogs and chimps taught to open a box and retrieve a toy copied their teacher’s toy-seeking behavior only when it proved efficient. When the instructing adult added irrelevant actions, such as brushing a feather along the edge of the box before opening it, the animal trainees skipped them, doing only what was necessary to get to the hidden toy. But human children copied every detail, even the pointless brush of the feather.

“Animals focus on getting the job done,” explains Mark Nielsen, a psychologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. “Humans seem to almost forget about the outcome and copy everything we see.”

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223,190 Kids Legally Beaten in US Schools

For the first time in over 18 years, Congress has held hearings on the use of Corporal Punishment in U.S. Schools. In the coming weeks, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY) will introduce a bill to institute a federal ban of corporal punishment in all US Schools.

Every 20 seconds of the school day, a child is beaten by an educator. Every 4 minutes, an educator beats a child so severely that she seeks medical attention. According to conservative reporting to the U.S. Department of Education 223,190 students were the victims of institutionalized violence at least once in the 2006-2007 school year, of which over 20,000 sought medical attention.

Pre-school age through high school, students are being beaten with boards, belts, paddles, and whips… in public schools… in the United States… and while corporal punishment has been repeatedly shown to be ineffective and has deleterious effects on students, the practice continues and is legal in 20 states.

The iron age practice of “corporal punishment” is still legal in 20 states and there are no federal laws prohibiting it. The National Association of School Nurses defines corporal punishment as “the intentional infliction of physical pain as a method of changing behavior. It may include methods such as hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, pinching, shaking, use of various objects (paddles, belts, sticks, or others), or painful body postures.”

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Former Beaumont school teacher/coach arrested

A man who once worked as a substitute teacher and coach with the Beaumont Unified School District was arrested last week on suspicion of committing lewd acts with a minor, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Ryan Moreno, 26, of Baker in the High Desert, was arrested April 26 after deputies and detectives from the Crimes Against Children Detail responded to Baker Valley High School on a report that two teachers were sexually involved with two female students, age 15, from the school. Beaumont Unified School District Superintendent Barry Kayrell said Moreno worked for the district last year as a substitute teacher and coach, mainly at the high school. Kayrell said Moreno has has been terminated from the district’s substitute list. According to personnel staff at Banning Unified School District, Moreno was never employed in the district.

Moreno was arrested for lewd acts with a minor, sex with a minor under the age of 18 years involving a suspect who is at least 10 years older than the victim. He is being held at the West Valley Detention Center on $250,000 bail.

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US school for disabled forces students to wear packs that deliver massive electric shocks

Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI)  has filed a report and urgent appeal with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture alleging that the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center for the disabled, located in Massachusetts, violates the UN Convention against Torture.

The rights group submitted their report this week, titled “Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center,” after an in-depth investigation revealed use of restraint boards, isolation, food deprivation and electric shocks in efforts to control the behaviors of its disabled and emotionally troubled students.

Findings in the MDRI report include the center’s practice of subjecting children to electric shocks on the legs, arms, soles of feet and torso — in many cases for years — as well as some for more than a decade. Electronic shocks are administered by remote-controlled packs attached to a child’s back called a Graduated Electronic Decelerators (GEI).

The disabilities group notes that stun guns typically deliver three to four milliamps per shock. GEI packs, meanwhile, shock students with 45 milliamps — more than ten times the amperage of a typical stun gun.

A former employee of  the center told an investigator, “When you start working there, they show you this video which says the shock is ‘like a bee sting’ and that it does not really hurt the kids. One kid, you could smell the flesh burning, he had so many shocks. These kids are under constant fear, 24/7. They sleep with them on, eat with them on. It made me sick and I could not sleep. I prayed to God someone would help these kids.”

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Forty years since the Kent State massacre

May 4 marks the 40th anniversary of the shootings of unarmed student protesters at Kent State University in northeast Ohio. The Ohio National Guard killed four students and wounded nine others at a rally against the Nixon administration’s decision to escalate the Vietnam War by invading neighboring Cambodia.

The four students who died were Allison B. Krause and Jeffrey Glenn Miller, who had participated in the antiwar protest, and two bystanders, Sandra Lee Scheuer and William Know Schroeder, who were walking between classes when the troops opened fire. Miller was killed instantly, Scheuer died within minutes, while Krause and Schroeder succumbed to their wounds after several hours.

One of the students wounded, Dean Kahler, 20, was a first-semester freshman who was a curious onlooker to the protest. A bullet cut his spinal column, leaving him in a wheelchair to this day.

At least 67 bullets were fired during the 13-second fusillade, and students were hit over a wide area. The closest of the victims, one of the wounded, was 71 feet from where the troops formed a firing line. The furthest, wounded in the neck, was 750 feet away. The four dead students were between 265 and 345 feet distant. None of the victims was armed or could have posed a physical threat to the guardsmen.

The Kent State Massacre was part of a wave of violent state repression that swept the United States in the aftermath of the April 30 television announcement by President Richard Nixon that US forces had crossed the border from Vietnam and invaded Cambodia.

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May 1st in History

FBI Adds Electronic Form for FOIA Requests

The FBI has a new electronic form designed to make requesting information easier. In addition, the bureau has retooled it records website, including a guide for research in FBI Records.

Of course, filing a request has always been the easiest part of making a FOIA request of the FBI. George Washington University’s National Security Archive has criticized the bureau for its high percentage of “no records exist” responses in 2008, and the low percentage of requests granted by the FBIA.

For more, click here.

Study Describes Difficulties of Latino Kids in U.S.

WASHINGTON – Latino children face obstacles in education and health that make their success as adults and their integration into society more difficult, the National Council of La Raza says in a study released Wednesday.

Latinos make up 22 percent of the country’s total population under age 18, a percentage that is predicted to grow in the coming years.

The examination of the basic statistics of that group reveals an “alarming” situation that must be corrected, says the report, which was put together by the NCLR’s Patricia Foxen and Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau.

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All of Gopherspace as a single download

In 2007, John Goerzen scraped every gopher site he could find (gopher was a menu-driven text-only precursor to the Web; I got my first online gig programming gopher sites). He saved 780,000 documents, totaling 40GB. Today, most of this is offline, so he’s making the entire archive available as a .torrent file; the compressed data is only 15GB. Wanna host the entire history of a medium? Here’s your chance!

There are some plans to potentially host this archive publicly in the manner of archive.org; we’ll have to wait and see if anything comes of it.Finally, I have tried to find a place willing to be a permanent host of this data, and to date have struck out. If anybody knows of such a place, please get in touch. I regret that so many Gopher sites disappeared before 2007, but life is what it is, and this is the best snapshot of the old Gopherspace that I’m aware of and would like to make sure that this piece of history is preserved.

Download A Piece of Internet History (via Waxy)

Child sex `no breach of virtue’, some priests believe

Some priests didn’t see the molestation of boys as a breach of their celibacy vows, retired Catholic bishop Geoffrey James Robinson says.

The former auxiliary bishop of Sydney blames the absence of women from church life as a catalyst for the sexual abuse crisis enveloping the faith.

In an interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly, Bishop Robinson says boys suffered more than girls at the hands of pedophile priests partly because they were more available to them, with nuns tending to play a greater role in the religious education of young girls.

There was also a view among some offenders with whom he had worked that a priest’s celibacy vows weren’t broken if a boy was involved.

“We’ve met it often enough to see it as a factor,” he tells the magazine, out today. “That’s what the vow of celibacy refers to, being married. If it’s not an adult woman, then somehow they’re not breaking their vow.”

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Ex-teacher gets 3 years, 8 months for molesting students

In a brief letter to her molester — a former teacher at Pacific Rim Elementary School — a young girl managed to capture the gravity of a situation that shattered the innocence of three victims and would send a man they once trusted to prison.

“Dear Mr. Firth,” the girl wrote in a letter read by her mother in court. “I am appalled by and upset with you for what you did.”

She explained that Raymond Firth’s behavior, while working as a teacher for the Carlsbad Unified School District, had caused many children to suffer and for that he deserved to be sent to prison.

“You purposely made people think you were nice so you could do this to kids …,” the girl said in her letter. “I think I am a hero for coming forward and that you are a villain for doing something like that to me in the first place.”

Firth, 39, was sentenced Monday to three years and eight months in prison. He pleaded guilty March 19 to two counts of sexual battery and one count of false imprisonment, all felonies. The charges relate to three young victims in his third-grade classrooms during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years.

Firth will have to register as a sex offender for life. Had he been convicted of all the charges he faced originally, he could have been sentenced to up to 18 years in prison.

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Video shows student beaten; Cop suspended

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Evolution’s New Foe: Timid School Administrators

Evolution education is under attack in Weston, Connecticut, but not from the usual direction.

Nobody is promoting intelligent design in the curriculum, or asking schools to teach evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses.” There’s just an administration afraid that teaching third graders too much about Charles Darwin will cause trouble.

“They might have just been looking to avoid controversy, but that has the same effect,” said Steve Newton, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education. ” If you’re not looking to teach children the best science, that harms their education.”

At issue is a class section proposed in 2008 by Mark Tangarone, teacher of the third, fourth and fifth grade Talented and Gifted program at the Weston Intermediate School. Tangarone wanted his third graders to study and compare the accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

To learn about Darwin, students would have retraced the path of the HMS Beagle, the expedition that inspired a young Darwin’s theory of evolution. Each student would study a stop in the voyage, reporting on the animals and adaptations that Darwin observed.

When Tangarone ran his class plan by then-principal Mark Ribbens, he was denied.

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Researchers hijack Google’s personalized search suggestions to reconstruct users’ search histories.

See also: Private Information Disclosure from Web Searches

Personalization is a key part of Internet search, providing more relevant results and gaining loyal customers in the process. But new research highlights the privacy risks that this kind of personalization can bring. A team of European researchers, working with a researcher from the University of California, Irvine, found that they were able to hijack Google‘s personalized search suggestions to reconstruct users’ Web search histories.

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First Europe, then the US – now abuse claims sweep Latin America

The pedophile priest scandal currently enveloping the Vatican has spread to one of the most Catholic areas of the world following a string of new abuse revelations throughout Latin America.

Reports of priests raping or abusing minors have now emerged in Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico and Chile causing growing anger in a continent that is home to nearly half the world’s Catholics.

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Britain: Details of hundreds of students handed to CIA

The details of up to one thousand Muslim students at University College London (UCL) have been made available to the Central Intelligence Agency jointly by the university and the Students Union. The move represents a grave attack on democratic rights and another step towards tighter controls over academic institutions in the UK.

An article appeared in the Independent on April 1 confirming that the Metropolitan Police Service had, on behalf of the CIA, approached UCL’s Islamic Society for details of its members between 2005 and 2008. The request was in connection with the investigations into the failed Detroit bomb plot on Christmas day last year. After being told by police that the data of the entire membership would be kept on file for at least seven years, the Islamic Society president Mojeed Adams-Mogaji refused to disclose the information.

The police then approached the Students Union, which provided names and email addresses of all members of the Islamic Society at the university between September 2005 and summer 2009. Subsequently after discussions, the university’s registry divulged the home addresses and telephone numbers of these individuals to the police, which were then passed to the CIA.

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Boy Scouts ordered to pay $18.5 million in sexual abuse case

A jury in Portland, Oregon on Friday ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay 18.5 million dollars in punitive damages to a man who was abused by a Scout leader in the 1980s, local media reported.

The verdict was part of the punitive damages segment of the trial, as the jury in the northwestern US city earlier awarded victim — which The Oregonian newspaper identified as Kerry Lewis, now 38 — one million dollars for the pain and suffering.

Lewis said during the trial that he was abused five times when he was between 11 and 12 years old by his then-scoutmaster in Portland, and that the experience led him to drug addiction and difficulty in establishing intimate relationships.

The alleged abuser, Timur Dykes, now 53, admitted after the incidents that he was a serial molester. He has been convicted three times for sex abuse against boys.

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Deportation’s Harmful Effect on Children

This brief from the International Human Rights Law Clinic University of California, Berkeley School of Law , In the Child’s Best Interest? The Consequences of Losing a Lawful Immigrant Parent to Deportation states “Congress is considering a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws more than a decade after the enactment of strict immigration measures. Lawmakers should take this opportunity to reaffirm the nation’s historic commitment to family unity by addressing the discrete provisions that currently undermine it. Current U.S. immigration laws mandate deportation of lawful permanent resident (LPR) parents of thousands of U.S. citizen children, without providing these parents an opportunity to challenge their forced separations. Through a multi-disciplinary analysis, this policy brief examines the experiences of U.S. citizen children impacted by the forced deportation of their LPR parents and proposes ways to reform U.S. law consistent with domestic and international standards aimed to improve the lives of children.”

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Berkeley Supports Amnesty for Military War Resisters and Veterans

The Berkeley City Council recently sent out letters to President Barack Obama, Senators Barbara Levy Boxer and Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein, Speaker Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi and Congressperson Barbara Jean Lee recommending amnesty for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan war military resisters and veterans.

The council approved the recommendation on a 7-0 vote March 9, with two councilmembers, Gordon Wozniak and Susan Wengraf abstaining on various grounds.

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CNN poll confirms: Most Americans believe their government is a threat to their welfare

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken – though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what’s broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

Study Links Religion and Racism

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus warned religious listeners against what today would be called “ingroup prejudice”: the tendency to think less of outsiders, especially those of another race.

The Samaritan, a member of a group despised by Israelites of that time, proves himself more charitable to an injured traveler than two members of the Jewish clergy.

Devout listeners startled by the Samaritan’s charity would have had to confront a difficult message: Piety and prejudice keep close company.

It appears not much has changed.

A meta-analysis of 55 independent studies carried out in the United States with more than 20,000 mostly Christian participants has found that members of religious congregations tend to harbor prejudiced views of other races.

In general, the more devout the community, the greater the racism, according to the authors of the analysis, led by Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at USC College and the USC Marshall School of Business. The study appears in the February issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review.

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Karl Rove Chased Out of UCSB

We Need To Stop Circumcision

In the weeks ahead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are likely to publish a recommendation that all infant boys undergo circumcision. This is a huge mistake. Circumcision is an unnecessary procedure that is painful and can lead to complications, including death. No organization in the world currently recommends this. Why should we routinely remove normal, functioning tissue from the genitals of little boys within days of their birth?

The vast majority of the world’s men, including most Europeans and Scandinavians, are uncircumcised. And before 1900, circumcision was virtually nonexistent in the United States as well–except for Jewish and Muslim people, who’ve been performing circumcisions for thousands of years for religious reasons. Believe it or not, circumcision was introduced in English-speaking countries in the late 1800s to control or prevent masturbation, similar to the way that female circumcision–the removal of the clitoris and labia–was promoted and continues to be advocated in some Muslim and African countries to control women’s sexuality. [1]

Routine female circumcision, which has been practiced in some cultures, is completely unacceptable. Few people would argue otherwise. In fact, the United Nations has issued a decree against it. Circumcision is a form of sexual abuse whether it’s done to girls or boys. We justify male infant circumcision by pretending that the babies don’t feel it because they’re too young and it will have no consequences when they are older. This is not true. Women who experience memories of abuse in childhood know how deeply and painfully early experiences leave their marks in the body. Why wouldn’t the same thing apply to boys?

In medical school, I was taught that babies couldn’t feel when they were born and therefore wouldn’t feel their circumcision. Why was it, then, that when I strapped their little arms and legs down on the board (called a “circumstraint”), they were often perfectly calm; then when I started cutting their foreskin, they screamed loudly, with cries that broke my heart? For years, in some hospitals, surgery on infants has been carried out without anesthesia because of this misconception!

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Let Dr. Aafia go home, Mr. President

Reading all those legal thrillers by John Grisham and watching Hollywood blockbusters that portray innocent individuals framed and ensnared by a powerful system, one always thought: Of course, these things do not happen in real life.

I am not so sure anymore though. The abduction, persecution and now conviction of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated neuroscientist, by the U.S. authorities reads like a regulation Grisham thriller written for Hollywood.

Aafia disappeared with her three children on her way to Jinnah International Airport airport for Islamabad way back in 2003. Five years later, she was presented in a New York court in March 2008 as “a top al-Qaeda terrorist” and the “most dangerous woman on earth,” as United States Attorney General John Ashcroft put it.

The U.S. authorities claimed then that Aafia was captured near Ghazni governor’s office in Afghanistan with a bag that carried instructions on making explosives and a list of U.S. landmarks.

But more damningly, the U.S. authorities claimed that the frail mother of three attacked a team of eight U.S. soldiers, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Afghan officials in Ghazni with a highly sophisticated, heavy M-4 gun in Ghazni when they went to question her. Surprisingly though, it’s Aafia who ended up with two gunshot wounds, inflicted point blank. None of the officials she allegedly attacked sustained any injuries or wounds.

Last week, after months of courtroom drama and charade of a trial, Aafia was convicted of attempted murder and attacking U.S. soldiers and FBI officials with a deadly weapon.

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