Random Thoughts (Political Edition)

GRtak

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DA Claims No Evidence Police Intentionally Killed Homeless Man

A District Attorney in Fullerton California claims there is no evidence that police intentionally tried to kill a homeless man who died after being savagely beaten beyond recognition and ultimately killed by police officers.

On July 5, in response to a routine check on a car break-in report, police confronted Kelly Thomas, 37, near the bus station ? a location he often resided. Shortly after, Thomas, who is a diagnosed schizophrenic, was brutally beaten. His face was repeatedly smashed into the curb, flashlights were repeatedly hammered into his skull, he was tasered at least six times as he screamed in terror: ?Dad, Dad, Dad?, and then he went unconscious. Thomas died five days later after being taken off life support.

The video of Thomas? cries for his father have been viewed more than 715,000 times on You Tube.

Earlier last week, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said that there is no evidence the officers intended to kill Kelly Thomas, but are still in the process of trying to determine if officers used excessive force in his death.

The statements by Rackauckas have further outraged an already angered community over city official?s handling of the incident.

?How can it be inconclusive when his face was so bashed in?? said Ron Thomas, Kelly?s father, in response to the District Attorney?s finding. Such a result appears logical considering the extent to the beating. A hospital-bed photograph Ron Thomas took as his son lay in a coma shows a face grotesquely swollen and bloody, eyes blackened.

Ron Thomas is a former investigator for the Orange County sheriff?s department and wants murder charges filed against the officers.

According to the USA Today, he said doctors showed him MRI scans revealing his son suffered two severe types of brain injury, one a lack of oxygen because his heart stopped, and the other blunt-force trauma.

?They just beat the hell out of him,? says Cathy Thomas, Kelly?s mother.

Eye witnesses said Thomas was unable to offer any resistance as he was beaten beyond recognition by the officers.

?They kept beating him and tasering him. I could hear zapping, and he wasn?t even moving,? said an eyewitness. ?[H]e wasn?t resisting. And they kept telling him, ?He?s resisting, quit resisting?, and he wasn?t resisting.?

Witnesses said the beating reminded them of the eerily similar brutality engaged against the protestors in Egypt and Syria.

The incident has resulted in a massive backlash against the Fullerton police department, the Chief of Police, the officers involved, the city council members, and the Mayor. Already Chief Michael Sellers has taken a ?30-day medical leave? and is not expected to return to his post.

Mayor Richard Jones, 78, a retired Air Force doctor and plastic surgeon, says he needs to know the cause of death.

Comments that did not win him any support in the community.

?I will say these are gruesome injuries, but I?ve seen worse in people who survived,? Jones said. ?I don?t know why he died.?

Fullerton is a conservative, majority-white, Republican-leaning city of roughly 135,000, and is home to a 35,000-student campus of the California State University system.

Since the July killing of Thomas, there are protests every weekend at the police station, and city leaders? silence has sparked recall petitions.

?It?s devastating for Fullerton,? Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva said. ?This does not characterize Fullerton.?

She is right, previously the city was not well-known by many in the United States, but now it has garnered worldwide attention as the place where the mentally ill Kelly Thomas was brutally beaten to death by Fullerton police.

?Anonymous,? a hacktivist group infamous for their attacks against Visa, Mastercard, Sony and The Sun, says they are launching ?Operation Fullerton.? The group of shadowy technology wizards sent a letter to the Fullerton Police Department criticizing the local city government for having a ?broken moral compass.?

?This is not just a brutal attack against another human being, but an attack against human rights,? said the letter. The group says it is making the following demands:


1) We demand the prosecution of Officers Jay Cicinelli, Kenton Hampton, Manny Ramos, Joe Wolfe, James Blatney, and anyone else involved in the gruesome beating, torture, and murder of Kelly Thomas.

2) We demand the immediate resignation of the Chief of Police in Fullerton, California.

3) We demand that the City of Fullerton immediately pay a lump sum settlement of no less than 5 million dollars to the legal survivors of Kelly Thomas.

If the demands aren?t met, the letter states, ?We will begin to treat the web assets of the police, city government ? and any other targets we deem in support or a cause of this incident with as much mercy as was shown to Kelly Thomas. He may have been silenced, but his screams will live on forever, and we will join him as Operation Fullerton.?

In a surprising twist, the Fullerton?s acting police chief, Kevin Hamilton, acknowledged late last week that the department had allowed police officers involved to watch a video that captures the incident before writing their reports; contrary to the normal procedures of writing up the incident from their own perspective ? thus not being allowed to tweak the report to fit the video footage.

LAPD?s former inspector general, Jeffrey Eglash, told the L.A. Times, ?It is not a practice that advances the truth-seeking.?

The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave while two separate investigations by the FBI and the police department?s internal affairs division are ongoing.

Interview with Thomas? father:


There may not be evidence of pre-meditated murder, but that does not matter. They still killed him, and deserve to go to jail. Why are they not already charged with abuse of power, excessive force, assault, and man slaughter, or second degree murder? The DA can not be that incompetent. Why does justice take so long when the cops are the criminals?
 

GRtak

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-23/tea-party-gas-tax-fix-is-bad-economics-worse-history-ron-klain.html


Tea Party Gas-Tax Fix Is Bad Economics, Worse History


If the debt-ceiling showdown made your blood boil, if the shutdown of air-traffic-control work related to the airline-ticket tax drove you crazy, then you should unplug your TV and power down your computer in late September, as the deadline for extension of the federal gasoline tax draws near.

Because while President Barack Obama and most experts are pushing for a greater federal investment in roads and infrastructure to create jobs and strengthen our economy, a growing minority in Washington wants to end the federal gas tax and phase out funding for new construction under the federal roads program. That?s right: A sizable chunk of Republicans, led by Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, want to abolish the tax that pays for the federal highway program and replace the whole system with one overseen by individual states.

This insurgency, inspired by the Tea Party, reflects flawed thinking on economics, transportation policy and even American history.

Like many other excise taxes, the federal highway tax comes up for periodic renewal, which is usually noncontroversial. But not this time. If Congress doesn?t act to renew the tax by Sept. 30, gas stations all over the country have to stop collecting it; the highway trust fund will never get the money; and new work on federal highway projects will come screeching to a halt.

Costs and Layoffs

A delay of just 10 days in renewing the tax would mean the permanent loss of $1 billion in highway funding (and layoffs for thousands of workers). Longer delays would measurably increase the national unemployment rate.

Although the gravest threat to renewal of the tax was removed last week, when anti-tax czar Grover Norquist ended weeks of uncertainty and dropped his opposition to a short-term extension, Tea Partiers and their allies on this issue haven?t given up the fight over ending the tax; if they can?t abolish it outright just yet, they?ll push to allow states to opt out.

Incredibly, the system of highway financing championed by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower six decades ago is a target for today?s Tea Party-influenced Republicans.

The economic impact of this radical position would be disastrous. Although it?s true, as I?ve written, that federal road programs create fewer jobs-per-dollar than they did generations ago (due to better equipment and technology), hundreds of thousands of Americans still draw paychecks working on such projects -- and their paychecks help keep countless sandwich shops, dry cleaners, barbers and grocers in business. Cutting off this vital source of employment now, or at any time when unemployment is elevated, would be a grave self-inflicted wound.

Misguided Policy

As transportation policy, the notion of the states taking over federal highway work is even more misguided. We have a national road system because we have national transportation needs -- to move people and goods from state to state, region to region.

States with many miles of highways and few people are likely to have less revenue to keep up these national roads and less interest in doing so, because many of the goods and visitors are just passing through on their way to someplace else. Trucks carrying goods from Chicago to Seattle, Atlanta to San Francisco and Philadelphia to Los Angeles travel through large, lightly populated Mountain West states that may be unable to finance a world-class highway system for such long-distance needs.

Just ?letting the states do it? puts our national transportation system at risk. The idea is so misguided that calling it a Third World transportation system is unfair to the Third World: Developing countries are virtually all striving to build the sort of national infrastructure that the Tea Party wants to unwind in the U.S.

Misreading History

Which brings us to the historical misunderstanding behind this anti-national crusade. Highway funding is one issue among many where the Tea Party movement has its historical perspective upside down. Our Founders were not opponents of a national road system; they were its very creators.

The survey work for the first proposed national road was done by none other than George Washington. The early Congress funded a national road that traced a path similar to today?s Interstate 70, from Maryland to Indiana. Many veterans of the Revolutionary War, then serving in Congress, voted in favor of it. Even the anti-Federalist administration of Thomas Jefferson pushed the project; Albert Gallatin, Jefferson?s Treasury secretary, told the Senate: ?No other single operation within the power of the government can more effectually tend to strengthen and perpetuate the Union.?

The highway-tax fight is a good moment for progressives to challenge the Tea Party -- not just over economics and transportation policy, but also over what vision of America truly reflects the legacy of our Founders. Let?s not forget that the idea that brought those amazing men to Philadelphia in 1787 was to create a system of robust federal government and form a ?more perfect union? -- not just to leave the states to handle their needs on their own.

So the Tea baggers want bad highways and expressways.
 

Herran

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Admitting I have been an idiot
Recently I have been posting some very stupid replies to different threads around this part of the forum and for that I am sorry. These replies has been more of a try to shock people and making them react rather than expressing my true views on different topics. I will from now on keeping the quality of my posts very much higher and the amount of bullshitvery much lower. I hope you can forgive my stupid ignorance.
End of apology for stupid and unneccessary behavior

On-Topic

http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/24/technology/steve_jobs_resigns/index.htm?cnn=yes&hpt=hp_t1

It appears that the holy CEO of Apple is stepping down. Will this effect the global market in electronics and is this the end of Apple as we know it?

After all Steve Jobs is the person who made this company and put it on the global map. Apparently Apple is losing some of their market share among smartphones. I think that Apple needs to put in another gear and really push out more versions of their different products or they will not be able to renew themselves like they very much need.
 
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Okaen

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I agree that the Tea Party backed congressman have it wrong. Most (all?) economist think that the transportation system in America needs more money to be placed in it. Not less and not separated. Fareed Zakaria, although I cannot find a source, thinks that transportation systems cannot be measured by how much money they make on their own, but how much money they make for the area they cover.
The problem I see is that places in the south or midwest that have a lot of roads but not as large of an economy will not get money from the richer coastal states for their road systems. I find it funny that states that are the most red get money from the blue states. This graph illustrates this.
If all of the states did not support each other then the red states would suffer greatly, and the blue states would not benefit from the products that these states produce, such as food and raw materials.


APPLE:
I don't think it will make a large difference at least in the near term on Apple. I am not a big fan of their company, but they make desirable products and they have been at the front of the development curve for the last few years.
 
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calvinhobbes

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Fareed Zakaria, although I cannot find a source, thinks that transportation systems cannot be measured by how much money they make on their own, but how much money they make for the area they cover.
IMHO, simple logic dictates it. Better transport systems keep people's lives and the economy running more smoothly than worse ones do, so everyone porfits in monetary and non-monetary ways. Just the fuel and time that are wasted in traffic jams will quickly add up.
 

Steve Levin

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I'm all for investing in better roads; but the current gas tax is not particularly progressive. Those with more money can afford to buy newer and more fuel efficient cars... as well as typically live much closer to their work. It's the less well-to-do that are driving a 15 year old 40 miles each way to work.

Also, hasn't the highway fund been raided over and over again to help cover the deficits of the general budget? That's something else that ought to be addressed that if we are going to take money under the guise of "building and fixing roads" then that's what the money ought to be used for.

Steve
 

GRtak

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I agree that the fund should not be used for anything else, but the same thing applies to all monies that are colllected for a specfic fund. I don't know how many times in my life that social security fund was used to pay for other things.


NYPD confirms CIA officer works at department

WASHINGTON ? New York's police commissioner confirmed Thursday that a CIA officer is working out of police headquarters there, after an Associated Press investigation revealed an unusual partnership with the CIA that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying. But he and the CIA said the spy agency's role at the department is an advisory one.

Speaking to reporters in New York, commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged that the Central Intelligence Agency trains NYPD officers on "trade craft issues," meaning espionage techniques, and advises police about events happening overseas. Kelly also said he was unaware of any other U.S. police department with a similar relationship with the CIA.

"They are involved in providing us with information, usually coming from perhaps overseas and providing it to us for, you know, just for our purposes," Kelly said.

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said the agency does not spy inside the United States and also described the relationship with the CIA as collaborative.

Only on msnbc.com

"Our cooperation, in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is exactly what the American people deserve and have come to expect following 9/11," she said, referring to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Undercover officers in minority neighborhoods
A months-long investigation by the AP, published Wednesday, revealed that the NYPD has dispatched teams of undercover officers, known as "rakers," into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They've monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as "mosque crawlers," to monitor sermons, even when there's no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims.

Many of the operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD's intelligence unit after the September 2001 terror attacks.

The NYPD denied that it trolls ethnic neighborhoods and said it only follows leads. The mayor on Thursday defended the police department's efforts.

"In the end the NYPD's first job is prevention, and I think they've done a very good job of that," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said when asked about the police practices. "The law is pretty clear about what's the requirement, and I think they've followed the law."

The disclosures about the NYPD's activities provoked exasperation in the city's Muslim neighborhoods, where government officials have sought to build relationships in Muslim communities and pledged to ensure that Muslims aren't targeted for discrimination.

"The NYPD's credibility is bankrupt in our communities," Fahd Ahmed, legal and policy director of the Desis Rising Up & Moving group, said in a statement Thursday. "We need accountability, transparency and an overhaul of tactics and policies."
Story: How did 9/11 change you?
Government outreach programs have operated in Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and Washington ? all cities with large Muslim communities ? even as law enforcement around the country has stepped up investigative efforts to stave off attacks.

Partners or a suspicious community?
But the inherent tensions caused by this duality of missions is perhaps most visible in New York. It is the only U.S. city that al-Qaida has successfully attacked twice and continues to be the target of terror plots. New York also is home to the country's most aggressive local police department investigating counter-terrorism.

"It seems to many of the leadership here, there are two kinds of authorities they are playing ? one is in the forefront which is very cooperative," said Zaheer Uddin of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York. "And there is another authority, which is playing against Islam and Muslims, going against the First Amendment and the security of this country."

Uddin asked, "Are we partners, or are we a suspicious community?"

On Wednesday, the Justice Department said it will review a request by a Muslim advocacy group to investigate.

"These revelations send the message to American Muslims that they are being viewed as a suspect community and that their constitutional rights may be violated with impunity," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asked for the investigation. "The Justice Department must initiate an immediate investigation of the civil rights implications of this spy program and the legality of its links to the CIA."

In the decade since the September 2001 attacks, government officials in New York also have met with Muslim leaders and exchanged cell phone numbers. They've attended religious services, dinners and teas, and spoken at community meetings. The FBI recently hosted an event for 500 young Muslims in Brooklyn to build trust and get to know federal law enforcement, with a bomb-sniffing dog, scuba boat and helicopter on display.

"I go and visit mosques on a regular basis," Kelly previously told the AP, adding that he also holds question-and-answer sessions and planned to attend several dinners with members of the Muslim community during the holy month of Ramadan this year.

The police department in 2006 hired Sidique Wai, an African immigrant and member of the New York Muslim community, to coordinate the NYPD's citywide community outreach program. He said the interaction and outreach between the community and police is unprecedented.

"The majority of the faith-based ? particularly the Muslim leaders throughout the city ? are absolutely appreciative of the unprecedented relationship with the police department," Wai said. "I'm not aware of a deliberate effort on the part of NYPD to profile people."

Muslim community leaders upset
Some Muslim community leaders in New York aren't satisfied. They have complained about aggressive tactics the department uses to collect intelligence and about a video, "The Third Jihad," shown earlier this year to some members of the NYPD during a training session. Kelly, the police commissioner, explained in a letter in March that the film was not part of the department's training program and said it was shown in the background while members of the NYPD were filling out administrative paperwork before a training session.

The video includes images of terror attacks, Osama bin Laden and U.S. Muslim leaders praising the 2001 hijackers, news reports about terror plots and experts talking about the threat of radical Islam. Muslim leaders were outraged by the film because they said it was anti-Islam.

Wai said these issues have been raised and addressed at the many forums held throughout the Muslim community. He said people ask about profiling, and they get answers. "They may not be the answers that they want to hear," he said.

Not all New York Muslim leaders are complaining.

"There was a time when police would rush into the mosque with their boots on," Mustapha Senghor, chairman of the Harlem Islamic Cultural Center, said during a July pre-Ramadan conference in New York. "They do not do that anymore. Congratulations, commissioner. For that we thank you, very much."

"We love you, commissioner," Senghor said. "You have imams who are extensions of the police force. You include us, you talk to us, you ask us what we are feeling. It makes us feel we are part of the city, and not that people are against us."
 

laxmax613

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Because it's definitely for spying and not passing along info that the NYPD needs for policing, right? /sarcasm

NYC is an international city and one of the most important global financial, business and cultural cities in the world. That's why the NYPD needs help from the CIA.
 

nomix

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True. But they do have some offices in the US. Langley for instance. I fail to see how the CIA can't fulfill an advisory role or have someone coordinate intelligence between them and the NYPD, tbh. They can't do intelligence gathering and they have no other operative roles they're alloved to do in the US, but they do work there, you know.
 

nomix

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Homeland security, not just as an agency, but also as an idea, is about combining intelligence from domestic and foreign sources. As we know, cooperation between the FBI and the CIA has always been a bit like that between the KGB and MI6. In existance, but not easy. A joke, but not a very funny one for MI6 bosses, I guess.

They're not supposed to do intelligence gathering in the US. But they do have field offices in larger US cities, don't they?
 

GRtak

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The FBI is the division that is supposed to be doing ALL forms of domsetic surveilance and that is who the CIA should get there info from. They (FBI) do work with many agencies across the USA. The CIA can't even make an arrest in this country. The NYC police deptartment always seem to be pushing the envelope on what they are allowed to do and have been taken to task over it several times. Maybe that is why they don't want the FBI to have an office there, they may notice a crime or two and have to make arrests, or start an investigation like in New Orleans.
 

nomix

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The FBI is the division that is supposed to be doing ALL forms of domsetic surveilance and that is who the CIA should get there info from. They (FBI) do work with many agencies across the USA. The CIA can't even make an arrest in this country. The NYC police deptartment always seem to be pushing the envelope on what they are allowed to do and have been taken to task over it several times. Maybe that is why they don't want the FBI to have an office there, they may notice a crime or two and have to make arrests, or start an investigation like in New Orleans.
Of course the CIA can't make an arrest in the US. That would be operating in the US. But they do work in the US. And there's nothing stopping them from liasing with the NYPD, even giving them advice and help with analysis. It might even make stuff more efficiant. If they're operating in New York, that's a different kettle of fish.

Why would the KGB and MI6 co-operate in any way?
The Cambridge five. It was a joke.
 
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