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20th December   

Update: Not So Non Lethal...

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US police tasers kill 334 and are open to abuse
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Full story: Taser Not So Non Lethal...Taser stun gun proves lethal in police hands

Amnesty International has said that industry claims that Taser stun guns are safe and non-lethal do not stand up to scrutiny.

The organization called on governments to limit their deployment to life-threatening situations or to suspend their use.

The call came as the organization released one of the most detailed reports to date on the safety of the stun gun. The report USA: Less than lethal? is being published as the number of people who died after being struck by Tasers in the USA reached 334 between 2001 and August 2008.

Tasers are not the 'non-lethal' weapons they are portrayed to be, said Angela Wright, US researcher at Amnesty International and author of the report. They can kill and should only be used as a last resort. The problem with Tasers is that they are inherently open to abuse, as they are easy to carry and easy to use and can inflict severe pain at the push of a button, without leaving substantial marks.

Amnesty International's study which includes information from 98 autopsies found that 90% of those who died after being struck with a Taser were unarmed and many did not appear to present a serious threat.

Many were subjected to repeated or prolonged shocks far more than the five-second "standard" cycle or by more than one officer at a time. Some people were even shocked for failing to comply with police commands after they had been incapacitated by a first shock.

In at least six of the cases where people died, Tasers were used on individuals suffering from medical conditions such as seizures including a doctor who had crashed his car when he suffered an epileptic seizure. He died after being repeatedly shocked at the side of the highway when, dazed and confused, he failed to comply with an officer's commands.

Police officers also used Tasers on schoolchildren, pregnant women and even an elderly person with dementia.


10th December   

Welcome to America...

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Brit in jail, re-punished for smoking a joint 6 years ago
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TV Interviewer : Why do you risk
holidaying in Thailand at a time of unrest?
Tourist : It's safer than going to America!

A Briton who has lived and worked legally in America for 35 years, married a US citizen and raised three children there, has been locked up in a New Jersey jail after falling victim to a draconian immigration crackdown.

Paul Clements, 58, a permanent US resident and former tour manager for bands such as the Rolling Stones and Dire Straits, is threatened with expulsion from his adopted homeland after his passport and green card were confiscated following a work trip abroad.

He now spends his days in a khaki prison jumpsuit as his case works its way through the US legal system and his wife and teenage daughter were reduced to tears when they saw him chained and in handcuffs in a recent court appearance.

The turmoil in their lives has its roots in a night out with friends at a local pub in 2002. On the way home, Clements, a manager at a large events production company, was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and police found a third of a joint of marijuana in his car.

He was fined, put on a year's probation and ordered to attend drug information classes as punishment for possession of 0.8 grams of marijuana, an amount so small that the authorities would not prosecute in many American cities, including neighbouring New York.

The offence did not leave him subject to the threat of deportation and he thought no more of the incident, even as he flew in and out of the country on subsequent trips overseas. But in late-May, he was held for several hours at New York's Kennedy airport as he arrived home from a work trip to Italy.

For the Department of Homeland Security has been updating its computer records to include thousands of offences committed by foreign residents (known as "aliens" in official US parlance).

And although Clements could not be deported for his offence, any conviction for controlled substance is cause for immigration authorities to refuse an arriving alien entry to the US.

He was eventually allowed into the country but ordered to return to the airport for what is known as a deferred inspection. On the second such trip, on Nov 12, he was arrested, handcuffed and taken away to an immigration jail in New Jersey.

Worse was to come on Nov 24 when Mr Clements appeared in an immigration court for a bail hearing arranged by his lawyer. The room was packed with his friends, family and colleagues who hoped he would be freed pending the immigration hearing, but the judge ruled that he was subject to mandatory detention until his case is heard in March at the earliest.

His attorney, Michael DiRaimondo, is now attempting to arrange a deal with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials for him to receive parole so that he can spend Christmas with his family.


4th December   

Thought Police...

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Self incrimination of one's own private sexual thoughts
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A man who has recently suffered torture in the Homeland of America now talks about it.

Just picture what would happen if the authorities developed a forensic instrument capable of detecting illicit fantasies in the mind, rather than on the computer hard drive (does anyone, really have nothing they would prefer to sexually hide?).

Pretty well everyone would end up on the Sex Offender's Register, and, if current sentencing policies were pursued, large areas of land would have to be surrendered for a massive new building development: Her Majesty's Prisons.

It immediately occurred to me that just such an instrument capable of detecting illicit fantasies in the mind has indeed already been invented: it is the so-called, much discussed penile plethysmograph, a device with which I am intimately familiar, having myself been one of the unfortunate victims of its use . At the very least, let me say that, if the penile plethysmograph is not such an instrument, it is remarkably close - damn close, I would say.

To rehearse my own personal experience, an elastic band is handed to one, whilst seated in a small, darkened private room, with orders to slip it around the shaft of one's male member. Electrical wires have previously been attached to the elastic band now around one's manhood, and these wires are in fact connected to a device (in a separate room) which records the rate at which the elastic band expands, and the diameter of the expansion, as one's manhood expands during subsequent tumescent erections.

To induce the erections, the male subject is shown a series of slides, and simultaneously hears a recorded running commentary to the slides. These slides consist of mild adult pornography, interspersed with suggestive photos of children of all ages and both genders. Occasional non-human photos are also occasionally shown (undoubtedly as controls). These photos might consist of nature photos, such as leaves or trees, or sunny meadows.

But the thing that really gets the subject's blood pumping (literally) is not so much the suggestive photos (though that undoubtedly helps), but rather, the highly suggestive and erotic descriptive monologue of various sexual acts which accompanies the photos. This, it can definitely be said, is highly pornographic, and involves verbal descriptions of all kinds of possible human sexual interactions: adult with adult, male with female, adult with minor, male with male, and female with female.

The penile plethysmograph, if used on every male alive in our Western democracies, would very soon fill up and overflow every prison now existing, and indeed, it could be said that because hidden sexual fantasies probably exist in all human beings, surely there could not be enough prisons then built to house all the males who would be found guilty of harbouring hidden and illicit sexual fantasies, once those fantasies were revealed to the light of day by this instrument.

What prevents this from happening? Why, only selective use of this instrument, of course, by those in a position of power; the use of this instrument as an effective instrument of repression against sociosexual minorities they wish to persecute and imprison. And a most effective instrument of persecution and repression it is. You may take it from my own firsthand experience.


30th November   

Indiscriminate Arsehole...

Governor of Nebraska considers banning nurses from buying porn for disabled patients
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Nebraska Governor, David Heineman, is reviewing a state policy that requires state employees to help patients at state hospitals buy pornography.

The policy was highlighted in an alleged sexual assault at the Beatrice State Developmental Center, which houses developmentally disabled residents.

The assault suspect, a developmentally disabled man, had obtained permission from employees to possess pornography and had even been driven by state workers to two sex shops to buy it.

Heineman has plans to discuss with the state Attorney General's Office discontinuing any involvement from state workers. The governor said, however, he would not restrict residents or family members from buying such material.

Officials of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said that under its policies concerning appropriate sexual expression, a resident at the Beatrice center or other state facilities for the developmentally disabled can obtain pornography if it's approved by a treatment team.


26th November   

PopUp Injustice...

Disorderly conduct of prosecutors of spyware infested teacher
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A Connecticut substitute teacher arrested four years ago for allegedly showing students porn on a classroom computer has been cleared of the felony charges after experts pointed the finger at spyware.

Julie Amero agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, pay a $100 fine, and surrendered her teaching license, according to the Hartford Courant.

The Superior Court judge in Norwich tossed out the charges that she had endangered children by intentionally causing "pop-up" pornography to display on her computer and ordered a new trial after computer forensics experts presented evidence about the spyware. Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said the conviction was based on erroneous and false information.

Despite the expert evidence, and the fact that state prosecutors never conducted a forensic examination of the hard drive, New London County State's Attorney Michael Regan said he remained convinced of Amero's guilt and was prepared to take the case to trial again.

The security expert who led a team of forensic volunteers in the case is outraged that officials are dismissing the evidence about the dangers of spyware.

Regan's pronouncement of his certainty of her guilt speaks to his ignorance and unwillingness to learn the facts of this case, and the facts of what PC viruses can do to a computer and, in some cases, a life, Alex Eckelberry, chief executive of security firm Sunbelt Software, wrote on The Julie Blog, a site spawned by the Amero case and which is focused on seeking fairness in the intersection of law and technology.

All of our forensic investigators felt it was a complete miscarriage. It was clear she was absolutely innocent, he told the Hartford Courant. The mistakes and misinformation that occurred in that courtroom were astounding.


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