Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

War on drugs produced swollen prisons and little else

In Activism, Police State, Society on August 30, 2011 at 6:37 am

American Civil Liberties Union

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By Zachary Goelman
The opinions expressed are his own.

The vast U.S. criminal justice system is under renewed scrutiny, spurred by two things: the fortieth anniversary of President Nixon’s speech declaring war on drugs, and a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that California must reduce its overcrowded prisons because conditions in jail constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Much of the debate focuses on how the former produced the latter. The two were neatly tied together by Neill Franklin, the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and a former Baltimore police officer. Franklin told CNN:

Despite arresting over 40 million people on drug charges since the start of the war on drugs — resulting in huge costs both in terms of dollars and in human lives — drugs today are more available, more potent and cheaper than ever.


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Franklin’s words echo a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy which stated that the forty-year war on drugs has been an unequivocal failure. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter endorsed this view in a New York Times op-ed piece on the anniversary of Nixon’s drug war declaration.

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These critics share a logic: ineffective drug laws produce little other than an expanding, expensive penal system. A graphic produced by the American Civil Liberties Union presents data of the U.S. prison system, and plainly states, “the war on drugs has helped make the U.S. the world’s largest incarcerator.”
The role and reality of prisons in America is now being contested. Following the Supreme Court ruling on California, other states’ penal systems are under examination. Efforts to ease overcrowding in Nebraska’s prisons, which have hovered near 14o percent capacity for several months, have fallen short of expectations. The Omaha World-Spectator reports that officials in Nebraska hope to see more inmates released on parole:


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Bob Houston, state corrections director, remains confident his department can reach a goal of reducing the state’s prison population by 545 inmates, or about 12 percent, over the next two years.

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But does releasing convicts from prison imperil public safety? Data from the U.S. government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics show that of 300,000 prisoners released in 15 states, two-thirds were back in jail in less than three years. Recidivism rates were almost twice as high for those arrested for robbery, larceny, auto theft and other property crimes. A recent study in the Boston Globe found more than a third of dangerous Massachusetts felons sentenced to life in prison and released on parole wound up back in jail in less than three years.
The recidivism rate is one of the key criticisms of the penal system, but it’s by no means the only one. In a Washington Post op-ed, Marc Mauer and David Cole published “Five Myths” about prisons and prisoners in the U.S., pointing out failures of penal justice in the U.S.
Their primary contention: that high incarceration rates haven’t lowered crime. Crime rates have dropped precipitously in the U.S. in the last two decades, in tandem with the ballooning number of convicts behind bars. But Mauer and Cole say that the correlation isn’t causal:

In Canada, for example, violent crime declined in the 1990s almost as much as it did in the United States. Yet, Canada’s prison population dropped during this time, and its per capita incarceration rate is about one-seventh that of the United States.

They point to research that shows, at most, incarceration accounted for a quarter of the decline in crime. What caused the rest of the drop?
Maybe it’s the economy, stupid. Over the last two decades, Americans enjoyed increasing prosperity, especially in the decade of the 1990′s when employment expanded, government revenues rose and GDP climbed higher. The drop in crime across the country turned previously-perceived dangerous cities like New York into tourist Meccas and capitals of residential revitalization.
But then the economy tanked in 2008. The recovery has been slow and painful, and unemployment still hovers at agonizingly high levels, yet crime rates have remained low. “Steady Decline in Crime Baffles Experts,” read a piece in the New York Times.
 

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NATO Reportedly Bombs Libyan University

In Human Rights, Military, NATO, Society, World Government, World News on June 14, 2011 at 2:01 am


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Bombing of Libyan School

Press TV reports that NATO has bombed a university in Tripoli, killing students and staff. “New images have emerged showing the aftermath of an alleged NATO air raid targeting Tripoli’s Nasser University. The attack reportedly left many university staff and students dead,” reports the Iranian state-funded network. “Libyan state television says dozens of others were also injured.”

The bombing was not reported by CNN or The New York Times.


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According to the Christian Science Monitor, “evidence of casualties [in Libya] has been thin, despite more than 160 cruise missile strikes by US and British forces, and at least 175 sorties by those and French and a Canadian jet fighter in the last 24-hour count.”
Evidence is “thin” because the corporate media refuses to believe the Libyan government and does not actively research claims of civilian deaths. Humanitarian wars are usually reported as surgical strikes and when the reality of dead civilians can no longer be denied, they are explained away as collateral damage.
Soon after NATO began bombing the country, officials denied civilians die in its bombing raids. Only the death of Gaddafi loyalists and other Libyans criminalized by the United Nations are reported killed in the air strikes.
Last week the New York Times insisted bombing raids in heavily populated urban areas do not kill civilians. “The Libyan government has a growing record of improbable statements and carefully manipulated news events,” wrote John Burns, following his Pentagon script closely. “Sightings of civilian casualties have been rare.”
The New York Times also reported that aluminum tubes were sighted in Iraq. Due in part to the widely reported lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the United States invaded the country and subsequently killed over a million Iraqis.


NATO Bombing

A NATO air strike in Tripoli, a city of 2 million people. NATO and the New York Times would have you believe civilians do not die in such raids.

According to Pentagon figures allegedly released by Wikileaks, the invasion of Iraq resulted in the death of 66,081 civilians. The U.S. installed Iraqi Iraqi Health Ministry put the number at 87,215. In 2007, a ORB survey of Iraq War casualties put the number at 1.2 million.
On May 31, Libya accused NATO of killing 718 civilians and wounding 4,067 in 10 weeks of air strikes. “Since March 19, and up to May 26, there have been 718 martyrs among civilians and 4,067 wounded — 433 of them seriously,” said government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, citing health ministry figures which the AFP said cannot be independently verified.
Joshalyn Lawrence filmed Libyans wounded during NATO air strikes. “The Lawrence videos, on the WBAIX channel, of hospitalized civilians is evidence that, rather than injuries and killings by bombs being ‘rare’ or reporting ‘blunders,’ they are realities,” writes Deborah Dupre for Bay View. “In the videos, one after another wounded innocent civilian described atrocities to Cynthia McKinney, in a fact-finding mission with a team including a delegation of former MPs and professors from France, all now in Tripoli.”
“Interestingly, the efforts of the Washington Post, New York Times, Associated Press and others to portray Libya’s claims on the bombings as ‘absurd’ are patently false and are merely efforts to defend in the court of public opinion the indefensible bombing of civilians going about their lives in a heavily populated area,” the former Georgia Congress woman wrote on June 7.
The blood-thirsty neocons, of course, called McKinney’s fact finding mission an act of terrorism. “McKinney is part of a long Western leftist tradition of progressive sycophants traveling to adversarial lands in an effort to undermine America,” writes FrontPage Mag, the mouthpiece of former Marxist David Horowitz, who received money from the known CIA operative Richard Mellon Scaife.
The corporate media mostly ignored McKinney’s trip and her reports of civilian deaths and continued to follow the Pentagon script as it has now for decades.


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Pentagon Declares War On Cyber Enemies

In Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Military, Police State, Society on June 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm


The Pentagon has announced that computer intrusions from abroad are to be considered acts of war against the United States and will be answered with conventional military force.
“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” a military official told The Wall Street Journal. In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S., according to the Journal.

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Cyber War - Pentagon

Pentagon Declares War on Cyber Enemies

The Pentagon document is 30 pages in its classified version and 12 pages in the unclassified one. It concludes that the Laws of Armed Conflict are applicable in cyberspace as in traditional warfare.
The Pentagon established a new command last year, headed by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the NSA, to consolidate military network security and attack efforts. Alexander told the Washington Post last November that the new outfit wants maneuvering room to mount what he called “the full spectrum” of operations in cyberspace.
The NSA announced its ambitious cyber security plan last year. Dubbed “Perfect Citizen,” it is designed to detect cyber assaults on private companies and government agencies running such critical infrastructure as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants, according to the New York Times.
According to the Post, offensive actions may include shutting down part of an opponent’s computer network to head off a cyber-attack or changing a line of code in an adversary’s computer to render malicious software harmless. They are operations that destroy, disrupt or degrade targeted computers or networks, the newspaper reported.


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Pretext For War On Libya Proven Fraudulent By Casualty Figures

In Activism, Human Rights, Libya, Military, Society, World Government, World News on April 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm

TRIPOLI. With leader of the Libyan Revolution ...

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As the EU prepares to invade Libya with ground troops under the contrived pretext of “humanitarian aid,” Texas University Professor Alan J. Kuperman highlights the fact that the entire justification behind the NATO-backed aggression has been proven fraudulent by casualty figures that clearly indicate Gaddafi has not deliberately targeted civilians.

Appearing on Russia Today, Kuperman dismissed the Obama administration’s claim that there would be a “bloodbath” in Libya if there was no foreign intervention, pointing out that there is no evidence Gaddafi is deliberately targeting civilians and engaging in massacres.

The EU is now awaiting the green light from the United Nations as it prepares to do what the initial UN resolution specifically forbade – sending in ground troops in the name of “humanitarian aid”. The EU has made it clear that its troops will attack Gaddafi forces if they are impeded in any way from taking over regions in the east of the country, and securing “sea and land corridors”.

Of course, the ground invasion was already unfolding before the so-called “no fly zone” was even enforced, with hundreds of British, American and French special forces troops arriving in the country at the end of February to train rebels. The humanitarian hoax was then manufactured as a veil with which to camouflage NATO’s wanton act of aggression, with the corporate media dutifully regurgitating baseless claims about Gaddafi slaughtering his own people while concocting lies about his regime using western journalists as human shields.


In addition, lurid claims about Gaddafi forces bombing “protesters” from fighter jets on February 22 over Benghazi and Tripoli were completely dismissed by Russian military experts, who said that sophisticated satellite imagery from space showed no record of such actions.

Asked about claims of Gaddafi violence against innocents, Professor Kuperman responded, “There is no evidence of that in the cities that Gaddafi has captured either totally or partially,” citing Human Rights Watch figures that clearly illustrate how Gaddafi forces are targeting combatants and not innocent people.

In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, Kuperman accuses Barack Obama of “grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat to justify military action in Libya,” highlighting the fact that the evidence clearly indicates Gaddafi is “Not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government.”

“Misurata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people — including combatants — have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women. If Khadafy were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties,” writes Kuperman, adding that the only thing to deepen the humanitarian suffering of innocents was the NATO-led attack, which will indefinitely prolong the civil war.

Of course, to the western media, rebels driving tanks, flying fighter jets and carrying RPG launchers are still classed as “protesters” or “civilians” in the Orwellian doublespeak world of humanitarian hypocrisy.

While the corporate media has played up Gaddafi’s supposed attacks on innocent people, evidence of which is thin on the ground, videos, images and testimony of rebel fighters engaging in massacres and beatings of innocents, including children, has been universally ignored.

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While it’s obvious that there have been acts of brutal retaliation carried out by both sides that have killed innocent people, to claim that Gaddafi is overseeing a deliberate policy to attack innocents even as he battles against the might of NATO and the western-backed rebel forces is brazenly deceptive. Even the New York Times had to admit that the rebels were “making vastly inflated claims of his (Gaddafi’s) barbaric behavior,” and had “no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda,” after the much promised “bloodbath” in Benghazi never materialized.

The humanitarian hoax behind the assault on Africa’s richest oil country was invented out of whole cloth to prevent what globalist forces feared most, the defeat of their own Al-Qaeda backed rebel forces.

“The actual prospect in Benghazi was the final defeat of the rebels,” writes Kuperman. “To avoid this fate, they desperately concocted an impending genocide to rally international support for “humanitarian’’ intervention that would save their rebellion.”
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Assange: “WikiLeaks is the intelligence agency of the people”

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Society, Wikileaks, World News on April 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

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The WikiLeaks chief discusses radical journalism and WikiLeaks’s main threat in an exclusive New Statesman essay.

In an exclusive essay for the New Statesman, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, argues that WikiLeaks is a return to the days of the once popular radical press. He also discusses why the New York Times dislikes the whistle-blowing website, and reveals the biggest threat to WikiLeaks today.

“WikiLeaks is part of an honourable tradition that expands the scope of freedom by trying to lay ‘all the mysteries and secrets of government’ before the public,” writes Assange, who compares WikiLeaks to the pamphleteers of the English Civil War and the radical press of the early twentieth century. “We are, in a sense, a pure expression of what the media should be: an intelligence agency of the people, casting pearls before swine.”

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Assange argues that the New York Times‘s hostility to WikiLeaks stems from the newspaper’s illiberal tradition of failing to back organisations or figures which challenge established elites. He highlights the newspaper’s failure to support the American pacifist and anti-war campaigner Eugene Debs, who was imprisoned for ten years for making an anti-war speech in 1918.

“The New York Times, true to form, had been calling for [Debs’s] imprisonment for more than two decades, saying in an editorial of 9 July 1894 that Debs was ‘a lawbreaker at large, an enemy of the human race. There has been quite enough talk about warrants against him and about arresting him,'” writes Assange. “Seen within this historical perspective, the New York Times‘s performance in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, and its hostile attitude to WikiLeaks today, are not surprising.” WikiLeaks only agreed to work with the newspaper, among others, in its major leaks “for reasons of realpolitik”, according to Assange.

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WikiLeaks is able to succeed because, unlike many of its forebears, it does not rely on advertisers, he continues. “As well as the hostility of governments, popular grass-roots publishers have had to face the realities of advertising as a source of revenue. [T]he Daily Herald…was forced to close despite being among the 20 largest-circulation dailies in the world, because its largely working-class readers did not constitute a lucrative advertising market.”

WikiLeaks, however, has other problems, writes Assange: “How do we deal with an extrajudicial financial blockade by Bank of America, Visa (including Visa Europe, registered in London), MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union, the Swiss PostFinance, Moneybookers and other finance companies, all keen to curry favour with Washington?”

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Internet Restricted in Bahrain as Protest Escalates

In Activism, Internet Censorship, Society, World News on February 23, 2011 at 3:26 am

As protests continue in Bahrain, data suggests that access to many websites has been restricted there.

Arbor Networks, a security research company that tracks Internet traffic, told The New York Times on Friday that traffic into and out of Bahrain has dropped between 10% and 20% below expected levels. Traffic normally only drops that low during natural disasters or global sporting events.

The graph below shows Bahrain’s Internet traffic levels this week compared to average traffic levels during the previous three weeks. The traffic this week has been significantly lower than usual. Arbor Networks told The Times that it couldn’t absolutely rule out technical difficulties as a cause for the drop, though the most likely cause was blocked websites.

A Harvard University website that crowdsources reports of inaccessible webpages shows that many sites, including bahrainonline.org and bahrainrights.org, have been reported to be inaccessible. But almost all of the reports were made before the protests in Bahrain started.

Last month, Egypt blocked websites like Twitter and Facebook in response to unrest before blocking the Internet altogether (See that graph here). The success that Egyptian protesters had in ousting former president Hosni Mubarak despite these drastic digital measures is often cited as enhancing the confidence of protesters in Bahrain, Algeria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

While data suggests that Bahrain is restricting the Internet in response to unrest in the same way Egypt did, Arbor Network’s Internet traffic data shows nothing out of the ordinary in Algeria’s Internet traffic (at least between February 10 and 13).

Internet Censorship in Bahrain.

Internet Censorship in Bahrain

New York Times and Guardian Editors Will Support Assange if Prosecuted

In Activism, Human Rights, Wikileaks, World News on February 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Julian ASSANGE arrested . Wikileaks

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New York Times & Guardian Editors Will Support Assange if Prosecuted

The New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger say they will stand with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if prosecution is brought against him.

At a Thursday night panel, hosted by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on the future of WikiLeaks and its effects on journalism, Jack Goldsmith, a prominent Harvard law professor and former assistant attorney general, said there is an “enormous amount of political pressure” to bring charges against Assange by the U.S. Department of Justice. At first, Goldsmith expressed the difficulty of extraditing Assange to the U.S. He then noted the many legal hurdles the department faces because, in the legal sense, Assange would be characterized as a journalist and defended as such.

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“My sense is there is a lot of political pressure from the top, certainly from Capitol Hill,” Goldsmith said.

But despite the department’s long restraint when it comes to going after journalists and issues involving the First Amendment, he concluded that some kind of prosecution will be brought about. “But I also don’t think it will be successful,” he said.

Emily Bell, the moderator and director of the Tow Center at the journalism school, then turned to the Times andGuardian editors, both of whom worked with Assange and WikiLeaks on the Iraq War documents and the leak of U.S. State Department cables, and posed a question about the possibility of Assange’s prosecution.

Though the Guardian‘s relationship with Assange has soured somewhat, Rusbridger — almost without hesitation — said if Assange was brought to court, he would be “completely side-by-side with him in terms of defending him with respect to what he’s done.” He said Assange deserves the same protections given to journalists when it comes to publication of secret government documents.

Keller was initially a bit more reserved in his response. “I think the Times‘ lawyers would prefer I not declare what I’d do in a court of law,” he said. “It’s very hard to conceive of a prosecution of Julian Assange that wouldn’t stretch the law in a way that would be applicable to us.”

“Whatever anyone thinks of Julian Assange, certainly American journalists, and other journalists, should feel a sense of alarm at any legal action that tends to punish Assange for doing essentially what journalists do. That is to say, any use of the law to criminalize the publication of secrets,” Keller said. “I think we do stand alongside him.”

Both of the editors also discussed the possibility of building their own WikiLeaks-like platform that would enable readers to upload large amounts of data anonymously. Keller said the Times is still considering it, but there are a lot of challenges and difficulty in vetting such material. Meanwhile, Rusbridger said they are having similar conversations at their paper about how to make it work.

“We haven’t decided whether we would ahead with our own WikiLeaks, but technically it’s not that difficult,” Keller said.


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