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June 01, 2010

Supreme Court throws out Miranda rights--Welcome to Your New Police State

Right to remain silent? Suspect better speak up
WASHINGTON -- Want to invoke your right to remain silent? You'll have to speak up. In a narrowly split decision, the Supreme Court's conservative majority expanded its limits on the famous Miranda rights for criminal suspects on Tuesday - over the dissent of new Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said the ruling turned Americans' rights of protection from police abuse "upside down." Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, said a suspect who goes ahead and talks to police after being informed he doesn't have to has waived his right to remain silent. Elena Kagan, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to join the court, sided with the police as U.S. solicitor general when the case came before the court. She would replace Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the dissenters. A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are at the top of the warnings that police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But Tuesday's majority said that suspects must break their silence and tell police they are going to remain quiet to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.
*Thanks, Jeff!*

May 31, 2010

Some facts about Israel's siege of Gaza

Gaza's real humanitarian crisis - Focus - Al Jazeera English
Navi Pillay, the United Nations' human rights chief, called the blockade devastating in an August 2009 report. Pillay said it constituted collective punishment, illegal under international law. Israel usually allows 81 items into Gaza, a list which is subject to revision on a near-daily basis. It is riddled with contradictions: Zaatar, a mix of dried spices, is allowed into the territory; coriander and cumin are not. Chick peas are allowed, while tahini was barred until March 2010. "Luxury goods," things like chocolate, are prohibited altogether. So are most construction materials, though Israel has relaxed this prohibition slightly over the last few weeks. The United Nations refugee agency has resorted to constructing houses out of mud because other building material are unavailable. And those products allowed to enter Gaza are permitted only in modest quantities. In January 2007, Gaza received more than 10,000 truckloads of goods each month; by January 2009, that number was down to roughly 3,000. A 2008 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that 70 per cent of Gaza's population suffered from "food insecurity." As Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reported last week, the Israeli authorities allow little meat and fresh produce into Gaza, leading to widespread malnutrition in the territory.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations' human rights chief, called the blockade devastating in an August 2009 report. Pillay said it constituted collective punishment, illegal under international law. Israel usually allows 81 items into Gaza, a list which is subject to revision on a near-daily basis. It is riddled with contradictions: Zaatar, a mix of dried spices, is allowed into the territory; coriander and cumin are not. Chick peas are allowed, while tahini was barred until March 2010. "Luxury goods," things like chocolate, are prohibited altogether. So are most construction materials, though Israel has relaxed this prohibition slightly over the last few weeks. The United Nations refugee agency has resorted to constructing houses out of mud because other building material are unavailable. And those products allowed to enter Gaza are permitted only in modest quantities. In January 2007, Gaza received more than 10,000 truckloads of goods each month; by January 2009, that number was down to roughly 3,000. A 2008 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that 70 per cent of Gaza's population suffered from "food insecurity." As Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reported last week, the Israeli authorities allow little meat and fresh produce into Gaza, leading to widespread malnutrition in the territory.

May 20, 2010

How corporations manufacture doubt and lie to America

Living in denial: How corporations manufacture doubt - opinion - 20 May 2010 - New Scientist Take one part PR flacks and add a handful of bought-and-paid-for scientists shills who will say whatever you want and mix with millions of dollars to bombard people with your message. Said message might be that smoking is harmless or that catastrophic climate change is a myth or whatever. Then sit back and watch progress get hampered for a generation while people die.
YOU can't beat doubt as a corporate strategy - especially if your product is life-threatening when used as directed. These days we don't have to speculate as to whether industries have manufactured doubt. They have admitted it too many times. In 1972, Tobacco Institute vice-president Fred Panzer outlined his industry's "brilliantly executed" defence strategy. A key tactic was "creating doubt about the health charge without actually denying it" while "encouraging objective scientific research." "Objective scientific research": those words would almost make you believe that Panzer was talking about objective science. But when doubt is your goal, the misuse of language is just another way to confuse the public. Where tobacco led the way, coal and chemicals followed. And, of course, the fossil fuel industry has been working overtime - and with shocking success - creating doubt about climate change.