April 19

Katherin Andrade, 24
Jennifer Andrade, 19
Aldrick Bennett, 35
Susan Benta, 31
Mary Jean Borst, 49
Pablo Cohen, 38

Yvette Fagan, 34
Doris Fagan, 60

Lisa Marie Farris, 26
Ray Friesen, 76
Dayland Gent, 3

Diana Henry, 28
Paulina Henry, 24
Phillip Henry, 22
Stephen Henry, 26
Vanessa Henry, 19
Zilla Henry, 55

Novellette Hipsman, 36
Floyd Houtman, 61

Cyrus Howell, 8
Rachel Howell, 23
Star Howell, 6

Sherri Lynn Jewell, 43

David Michael Jones, 38
Michelle Jones, 18
Serenity Sea Jones, 4

Bobbie Lane Koresh, 16 months
David Koresh, 33

Jeffery Little, 31
Nicole Elizabeth Gent Little, 24

Livingston Malcolm, 26

Douglas Wayne Martin, 42
Lisa Martin, 13
Sheila Martin, 15

Abigail Martinez, 11
Audrey Martinez, 13
Juliete Santoyo Martinez, 30
Crystal Martinez, 3
Isiah Martinez, 4
Joseph Martinez, 30

Jillane Matthews
Alison Bernadette Monbelly, 31

Melissa Morrison, 6
Rosemary Morrison, 29

Sonia Murray, 29
Theresa Noberega, 48
James Riddle, 32
Rebecca Saipaia, 24

Judy Schneider, 41
Mayanah Schneider, 2
Steve Schneider, 48

Laraine B. Silva, 40

Floracita Sonobe, 34
Scott Kojiro Sonobe, 35

Aisha Gyarfas Summers, 17
Gregory Allen Summers, 28
Startle Summers, 1

Hollywood Sylvia
Lorraine Sylvia, 40
Rachel Sylvia, 13

Doris Vaega
Margarida Joanna Vaega, 47
Neal Vaega, 37

Martin Wayne, 20
Mark H. Wendell

The Digital Story of the Nativity

Move over, Big Pharma and Big Oil, Big Marijuana is here

Legalization ‘looking inevitable,’ spokesman says

If there’s one group of people who get their way in Washington, it’s lobbyists.

Now, advocates of marijuana legalization may have a reason to cheer that political reality: They’re getting their own marijuana lobby group.

And just Big Pharma and Big Oil lobby for greater leeway for their businesses, so too will Big Marijuana push for their industry to be given the freedom to succeed.

Aaron Smith, executive director of the newly formed National Cannabis Industry Association, says that marijuana legalization is “looking inevitable.”

Smith told McClatchy news service: “It’s pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is becoming recognized more and more by the mainstream as a fully legitimate part of the economy.”

Legalization “didn’t happen in 2010, but it’s likely to happen in 2012,” he added. “It’s going to be relatively soon we’re going to see states move from medical marijuana into broader legal markets. And the federal government needs to catch up. Frequently the American people are ahead of the Congress.”

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Rep. Lewis passed over for powerful chairmanship

Republicans passed over  Rep. Jerry Lewis in favor of a veteran Kentucky lawmaker Wednesday to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The party’s steering committee rejected Lewis’s request to waive term limits that bar him from reclaiming the post he held when Republicans last held the majority.

The decision deprives Lewis of a position that would have given him control over the federal government’s purse strings and a heightened ability to direct millions of dollars to his home district, which includes some of the Pass area.

See also: CREW’s Most Corrupt: Rep. Jerry Lewis

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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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Banned marijuana dispensary reopens in Wildomar

A medical marijuana collective engaged in a legal battle against Wildomar re-opened its storefront location Monday in defiance of a citywide ban on dispensaries.

The move by the Wildomar Patients Compassionate Group comes a week after the collective filed a legal petition seeking to block the city from enforcing its ban.

General Manager William Sump said the group believes Wildomar’s ban violates state law, which allows medical marijuana patients access to medication.

“I will only operate until a judge tells us not to,” Sump said.

Wildomar City Manager Frank Oviedo said the city would likely seek a court order forcing the dispensary to shut down.

“We’re going to enforce the city’s ordinance,” Oviedo said. “There is no other option. We can’t ignore our own laws.”

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‘Firm sold Israel torture instruments’

A Danish-British security company has sold torture instruments to the Israeli prisons, holding Palestinians inmates, a Danish newspaper has written.

The firm, named G4s, sells the devices to the detention facilities in the occupied West Bank, which provide the necessary means for torture of the Palestinian prisoners, Berlingske Tidende reported on Nov. 23.
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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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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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US contacts allies about WikiLeaks move

The United States has briefed its key allies, including Britain, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia ahead of the mass release of classified documents by WikiLeaks.

Whistleblower website WikiLeaks plans to release around three million leaked documents, including cables sent to Washington from American embassies throughout the world.

The website had previously posted online secret details of US military operations in war-ravaged Iraq and Afghanistan.

United States Department of State Spokesman Philip Crowley says the United States is “gearing up for the worst-case scenario.”

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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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Calilfornia marijuana Legalization debate gets interesting

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

The “flotilla video”: Israeli troops storm boat with aid supplies bound for Gaza Strip

Source

In the news today, worldwide controversy around an Israeli commando attack on a “Free Gaza Movement” flotilla carrying aid supplies to the blockaded Gaza strip. NYT story here. Varying reports on how many were killed: 10 according to Israel, and 19 or more according to the activists and some news organizations. Some 600 people were aboard the flotilla including a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor. The attacked ship was some 100km (70 miles) off the coast, in international waters. Above, video of the event.

Analysis and reactions around the web: The Wikinews article is interesting, in part for the clash of perceptions from those who condemn and those who support the actions of Israel’s military. This Jerusalem Post article touches on the resulting PR and media offensive out of Israel, and the government’s rationalization for what it maintains was a justified and defensive event (and pointed to ties with Turkey and alleged “Islamist” groups). More reading: “Why the Gaza boat deaths are a huge deal,” Blake Hounshell in Foreign Policy. Condemnation from South African Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. “A Lesson in Information Operations,” Center for a New American Security. Ha’aretz: “Israel Lost at Sea.” Top Israeli official when Gaza blockade was imposed several years ago: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet.”

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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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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Britain to change arrest rule

Britain’s new Foreign Secretary William Hague promises to “act speedily” to change the way arrests are ordered under international law in Britain.

“The current situation is as unsatisfactory as it is indefensible. We cannot have a position where Israeli politicians feel they cannot visit this country… and indeed this would apply to many other nations as well,” said Hague on Thursday.

Currently in Britain under the Geneva Convention Act 1957, Judges can issue arrest warrants for war crimes suspects around the world without consulting public prosecutors.

It was because of this law that Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister, reportedly cancelled her trip to Britain in December.

Following an application by Palestinian activists, a court had issued a warrant for her arrest over her involvement in Israel’s 22-day war against Gaza Strip.

“We find it completely unacceptable that someone such as Mrs. Livni feels she cannot visit the United Kingdom,” Hague said, adding: “Be in no doubt that we will take action on it,” AFP reported.

He stated that the new coalition government would consider different options for changing the rule including the one that Labor government had proposed while in power.

San Bernardino County Sheriff Candidates to Participate in June 1 Forum in Big Bear

The California Statewide Direct Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, June 8, and those voters who plan to request a vote-by-mail ballot have until June 1 to do so. In addition to five statewide measures on the June 8 ballot, San Bernardino County voters will have opportunity to vote for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (currently Dr. Gary Thomas) and County Sheriff.

Current Sheriff for the County Rod Hoops, who in February 2009 assumed the role of outgoing Sheriff Gary Penrod, will be in Big Bear on June 1st to participate alongside Sheriff candidates and Deputy Sheriffs Paul Schrader and Mark Averbeck in a forum hosted by the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce and the Democratic Club of Big Bear Valley.

The Tuesday, June 1st candidates forum, to be held at the Municipal Water District offices at 40524 Lakeview Drive at 6:30pm, is also scheduled to include candidate for Tax Collector Ensen Mason, running against incumbent Larry Walker, and both candidates for County Assessor, current Assessor appointee Dennis Draeger and Alfred Castorena Palazzo. The San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters office can be reached at 387-8300 or via sbcrov.com.

Radley Balko on the Militarization of Police

Stupid Drug Story of the Week: The Associated Press on the arrival of “deadly, ultra-pure heroin.”

Yesterday, the Associated Press moved a story completely devoid of historical context. The piece, titled “Deadly, Ultra-Pure Heroin Arrives in U.S.,” claims that in “recent years”—a time frame that goes undefined—Mexican dealers have started peddling “ultra-potent” black tar heroin and are selling it for as little as $10 a bag.

In alarmist prose, the article asserts that the ultra-smack’s purity ranges from 50 percent to 80 percent heroin, up from the 5 percent purity of the 1970s, and this potency is “contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation.” But reports of high-potency heroin being sold in the United States are anything but “recent.” My source? The AP itself. Over the decades, the wire service has repeatedly reported on the sale of high-potency heroin on the streets. Here are a few examples of AP coverage culled from Nexis.

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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.”

Medical marijuana stores firebombed in Montana

The Billings, Montana, City Council will take up the issue of regulating medical marijuana on Monday night in a meeting expected to be intense in the wake of the firebombings of two of the city’s medical marijuana storefronts in the last two days.

The southern Montana city’s dispensaries legally provide marijuana to medical patients who use it for maladies from glaucoma to nausea to lack of appetite. In the latest incidents, the phrase “Not in our town” was spray-painted on the businesses, police say.

Billings Police Department Sgt. Kevin Iffland said Big Sky Patient Care was hit early Sunday morning and Montana Therapeutics was the target early Monday. Both had a rock thrown through the front door, followed by a Molotov cocktail. In both cases, Iffland said, the fire was put out swiftly and damage was not extensive.

Iffland said Billings police are working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and that the two firebombs are being handled as felony arsons carrying sentences of up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

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Canada not to extend Afghan mission

Canada has rejected US calls for extending the presence of its troops in Afghanistan, standing opposed to Washington’s strategy in the war-torn country.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated that Canada would not keep the troops deployed in the country.

During a Tuesday meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Ottawa, Harper stated clearly that “Canada will remain engaged, but this is going to be a civilian-based mission.”

Canada is scheduled to withdraw its 2,800 troops form Afghanistan next year.

The government was under mounting public pressure to return the soldiers home. At least 140 Canadian troops have been killed so far in Afghanistan.
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War on drugs goes literal: biowarfare on poppies

US and British forces in Afghanistan have been accused of waging biological warfare on poppy fields to stymie opium crop production.

Last week, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported:

Poppy plants have been suffering from a mysterious disease which leaves them yellow and withered and slashes the yield of opium resin which is sold on and processed into heroin.

According to the Telegraph, yields have dropped by up to 90 per cent in some fields. Some Afghan farmers are blaming British and American soldiers for spraying the crops with the disease. Officials have denied involvement.

Jean-Luc Lemahieu, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan (UNODC), said that plant samples were currently being tested to confirm whether the origins of the disease are natural or human-induced.

Considering that spraying has been forbidden by the president of Afghanistan, “we start with the belief that this is a natural phenomenon,” says Lemanhieu. It could be due to insects such as aphids, or fungi, he says.

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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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On this day (May 6)

Christian ‘doctrine’ fueled dehumanization: UNPFII report

A groundbreaking report examining the roots of Christian domination over indigenous peoples and their lands was released this week at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

North American Representative to the Permanent Forum Tonya Gonnella Frichner, an attorney and founder of the American Indian Law Alliance, presented a preliminary study on the “Doctrine of Discovery” and its historical impacts on indigenous peoples, with a focus on how it became part of United States laws.

“The first thing indigenous peoples share is the experience of having been invaded by those who treated us without compassion because they considered us to be less than human,” said Frichner, a citizen of the Onondaga Nation serving her first term on the 16-member UNPFII.

Dehumanization leads to the second thing indigenous peoples share in common: Being treated on the basis of the belief that those who invaded our territories have a right of lordship or dominance over our existence and, therefore, have the right to take, grant, and dispose of our lands, territories, and resources without our permission or consent.”
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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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New Study: Drug law enforcement contributes to gun violence and high homicide rates and increasingly sophisticated methods of disrupting organizations involved in drug distribution could unintentionally increase violence

See also: Study links drug enforcement to more violence

Today, the newly formed International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) released their first report: Effect of Drug Law Enforcement on Drug-Related Violence: Evidence from a Scientific Review.

“Given the growing emphasis on evidence-based policy-making and the ongoing severe violence attributable to drug gangs in many countries around the world, a systematic review of the available English language scientific literature was conducted to examine the impacts of drug law enforcement interventions on drug market violence.”

The results of the review found that “an increase in drug law enforcement interventions to disrupt drug markets is unlikely to reduce violence attributable to drug gangs. Instead, from an evidence-based public policy perspective and based on several decades of available data, the existing evidence strongly suggests that drug law enforcement contributes to gun violence and high homicide rates and that increasingly sophisticated methods of disrupting organizations involved in drug distribution could unintentionally increase violence. In this context, and since drug prohibition has not achieved its stated goal of reducing drug supply, alternative models for drug control may need to be considered if drug-related violence is to be meaningfully reduced.”

Jack Kevorkian: “Medicine Is Controlled By Religion”

Brain shuts off in response to healer’s prayer

WHEN we fall under the spell of a charismatic figure, areas of the brain responsible for skepticism and vigilance become less active. That’s the finding of a study which looked at people’s response to prayers spoken by someone purportedly possessing divine healing powers.

To identify the brain processes underlying the influence of charismatic individuals, Uffe Schjødt of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues turned to Pentecostal Christians, who believe that some people have divinely inspired powers of healing, wisdom and prophecy.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.

Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers. Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and skepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer. Activity diminished to a lesser extent when the speaker was supposedly a normal Christian (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq023).

Schjødt says that this explains why certain individuals can gain influence over others, and concludes that their ability to do so depends heavily on preconceived notions of their authority and trustworthiness.

It’s not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians.

Who Will Hold America Accountable for Its Crimes?

The website WikiLeaks has been garnering attention recently due to its publication of sensitive material that many in government (and elsewhere) would rather be kept private. Information on the site includes secret intelligence documents and studies commissioned by the U.S. government, which does not seem to appreciate the disclosure of such information, for fear of a public outcry over the content.

WikiLeaks was founded by human rights activists, journalists and experts in the intelligence field, with the aim of exposing intelligence agencies and governments that violate international law.

One week ago, the site published the video “Collateral Murder,” a tape whose images have since been shown on television networks around the world. It shows American military personnel in a helicopter carrying out the cold-blooded killing of twelve Iraqi civilians. WikiLeaks states that the incident occurred in 2007.

By publishing the video, the website has exposed the incident as a crime committed by the U.S. military in Iraq, as the camera mounted on a U.S. Apache military helicopter recorded the actions of the crew. Naturally, WikiLeaks has not disclosed the source that provided them with the tape, but the sound and visuals are so clear that there is no possibility of the U.S. Department of Defense refuting the fact of a crime having taken place or making skeptical remarks about the video being a fake.
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Sarkozy proposes total ban on the burqa in France

F

At the April 21 meeting of the French cabinet, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that a bill banning the wearing of the burqa or niqab full-face veil in public would be put before the cabinet in May. The bill is a blatant attack on democratic rights, moving France towards extra-legal rule.

Prime Minister François Fillon stated that the government would fast-track this legislation, even though such a law could be ruled unconstitutional and contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights. “We are ready to take legal risks because we think that the stakes are worth it”, he said, adding. “We cannot encumber ourselves with prudence in relation to legislation that is unsuited to today’s society…. If we have to shift the jurisprudence of the [French] Constitutional Council and that of the European Court of Human Rights, we think that it is our public duty to do so”.

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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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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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Court case reveals diocese pattern of sending problem priests to desert

BARSTOW • As the sex abuse scandals that plague the Catholic Church continue to make headlines, a recent lawsuit has brought new information to light regarding the San Diego Diocese’s placement of priests with a history of sexual abuse in desert parishes, including St. Joseph Catholic Church in Barstow.

One man involved in the lawsuit, known only as John Roe 65, says that he was abused by a priest at St. Joseph in 1972 while attending school there. The lawsuit was settled out-of-court last week for an undisclosed amount. The school at St. Joseph closed in 2002.

Roe 65 was able to file the suit because he served in the United States Navy from 1977 until 2006, and statutes of limitation do not apply while a person is serving in the military.

The two priests named in the lawsuit who served at St. Joseph are Anthony Rodrigue and John Keith.

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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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LA cardinal raps ‘Nazi’ migrant bill

The head of the largest Catholic archdiocese in the US has denounced anti-migration policies in the state of Arizona, saying it promotes Nazi-style repression.

“The Arizona legislature just passed the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law,” Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote in his blog on Sunday.

Mahony was referring to a new Arizona legislation, which created a new state offense of ‘willful failure to carry or complete an alien registration form’. The legislation was passed on Monday.

The bill would also require the police to determine people’s immigration status if there is reason to suspect the legality of the individuals’ stay in the country.

A provision of the law also allows citizens to sue government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws.

“I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation,” the cardinal who is a staunch supporter of immigrants’ rights said.

“Are children supposed to call 911 because one parent does not have proper papers?” he asked.

The top churchman further added that the “tragedy” of the measure lies in its reasoning, which implies that US immigrants “rob, plunder, and consume public resources.”

The new measure is considered as the latest crackdown in Arizona, which has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

Sinn Féin Leadership Easter Statement

“On this the 94th anniversary of the 1916 Rising the leadership of Sinn Féin extends its solidarity to the families of all our patriot dead. We remember with pride those comrades from every generation who gave their lives for the cause of Irish freedom. We are immensely proud of our patriot dead and of their families.

We are committed to the ideals and principles of the Proclamation. They are as relevant today as they have ever been.
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Dennis L. “Pinky” Stout got the message

Today I am announcing my decision not to seek the Office of District Attorney of San Bernardino County.

From a very early age all I dreamed about was being a public prosecutor.  After 17 years as a Deputy District Attorney, I realized my ultimate dream in 1994 when I was elected District Attorney.  I ran unopposed in 1998 and was reelected to a second term. During those eight years we accomplished a complete rebuild of the office from the ground up. We implemented over 50 new programs.

We positioned the office so that it could become the best prosecutorial agency in the state.

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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.

Priest offered sex for sale on internet

A PARISH priest has been sacked amid claims he offered sex for sale over the internet.

Samuel Martin, 27, posed in his underpants in an advert offering €120-an- hour services for women and couples, reports say.

The revelations have caused a scandal in Catholic Spain, after pictures of Martin in his grey briefs were published in newspapers.

The Spaniard also allegedly stole €17,000 from Church donations and spent it on phone sex lines and internet porn.

In the advert, which has since been removed, Martin, calling himself Hector, wrote: “Heterosexual man for women and couples. Real photos. Well hung (15cm) for your pleasure and happiness.

“I am open to everything except sadism. Hotels and private addresses. 24 hours. You won’t regret it, I will give you pleasure like never before.”

Martin, who has since gone into hiding, offered 15 minutes for €50, 30 minutes for €75 or an hour for €120.

On Tuesday the Archbishop of Toledo, Braulio Rodriguez Plaza, confirmed Martin had been dismissed for “financial irregularities detected in the parish”.

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Major Drug Conference in Mexican Drug War Says Prohibition Has Failed, Calls for New Policy

Coming as Mexico‘s war on drugs turns bloodier by the day, the conference concluded that current prohibitionist policies are a disaster.

Editor’s Note: With 137 people killled last week in the Mexican drug war, a conference on this topic couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

On Monday and Tuesday in Mexico City, political figures, academics, social scientists, security experts, and activists from at least six countries came together for the Winds of Change: Drug Policy in the World conference sponsored by the Mexico City-based Collective for an Integrated Drug Policy (CUPHID). Coming as Mexico’s war on drugs turns bloodier by the day, the conference unsurprisingly concluded that current prohibitionist policies are a disaster.

“The principal conclusion is that we need a more integrated drug policy based on prevention, scientific evidence, and full respect for human rights,” summarized CUPHID president Jorge Hernandez Tinajero. “It remains clear that, yes, there exist alternatives to the current strategy.”

In a press release after the conference, CUPHID emphasized the following points:

  • The so-called war on drugs has failed and, without doubt, we need “winds of change” to advance toward alternative policies to address the problematic of drugs across the globe.
  • The prohibitionist paradigm has been ineffective, and furthermore, for the majority of countries it has implied grave violations of human rights and individual guarantees, discrimination, and social exclusion, as well as an escalation of violence that grows day by day, ever broadening the scope of impunity for organized crime.
  • Drugs are never going to disappear. Thus, a more realistic drug policy should focus on minimizing the harms associated with drug use – overdoses, blood-borne diseases like HIV/AIDS, and violence. This concept is known as “harm reduction,” and must be the backbone of any drug policy.

Hamas Leader Was ‘Drugged And Suffocated’

[  Succinylcholine is NOT a sedative.  It is a muscle relaxer used to induce paralysis, so the victim can die awake, while his lungs refuse to work.  Mossad also knew it would be detected. ]

The Hamas commander who was killed in his Dubai hotel room was drugged and then suffocated, police have said.

It is believe a sedative was used to relax the victim’s muscles to make his death look more natural.

Major General Khamis Mattar al-Mazeina, deputy commander of Dubai police said in a statement: “The killers used the drug succinylcholine (suxamethonium chloride)* to sedate Mahmoud al Mabhouh before they suffocated him.”

He added: “There were no signs of resistance shown by the victim.”

Mabhouh was found dead in his hotel room on January 20.

The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has been widely accused of carrying out the assassination. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied this.

See also: Interpol adds suspected Dubai assassins to most wanted list

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