From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Johann Opitz)
Nat Hentoff: The Terror of Pre-Crime
John Ashcroft recently released his guidelines for investigating people he suspects as terrorists, and these guidelines exceed even J. Edgar Hoover's contempt for due process. Activists particularly ... should know what may well be in store for them. On page three of "The Attorney General's Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Terrorism Enterprise Investigations," we are told: "A terrorism enterprise investigation may be initiated when facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that two or more persons are engaged in an enterprise for the purpose of ... furthering political or social goals wholly or in part through activities that involve force or violence and a federal crime ..." Note the use of "reasonably" and "wholly or in part." These insidiously malleable guidelines for terrorism investigations could apply to political action (and the reaction) during demonstrations by environmentalists, anti-globalizationists, animal rights pickets, or union members on strike, as well as pro-lifers trying to talk, and only to talk, to women entering abortion clinics ("obstruction" at clinics can be a federal crime). The guidelines go on to note that "the 'reasonable indication' standard for commencing a terrorism enterprise investigation is ... substantially lower than probable cause." It is so low it could be part of the new Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report, which envisions the nabbing of "pre-criminals." As The Washington Times puts it, such pre-criminals are convicted "before they ever act on, or, in some cases, are even aware of, their murderous designs."
Stormwater Update: Criticism of New Runoff Rules Validated by Documented Flaws in Beach Monitoring System, Says Coalition for Practical Regulation
According to a recent study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, Chapman University and the Orange County Sanitation District, the current beach monitoring and closure system "is seriously flawed..." (Environmental Science & Technology Journal, August 2002). The Natural Resources Defense Council, in its annual "Testing the Waters" study, recently reported that beach closures and warnings due to pollution were up again this year -- with Orange County showing an 81% increase. But is it accurate? The latest comprehensive study by a team of eight researchers revealed serious flaws in the testing methods -- and concluded that: water quality has been getting better, not worse. Despite widespread public perceptions that coastal waters are becoming more and more polluted, water quality off Huntington Beach, for example, has actually improved over the past four decades. Pollution levels in coastal waters "fluctuate so wildly that current monitoring efforts are largely futile," the study reports. In practical terms, Southern California beaches are being regularly labeled as "polluted" and closed when they are in fact clean, states UCI's Stanley Grant, one of the study's eight authors. According to the study... "decisions to post or close a beach should not be based on a single sample that exceeds standards" the study states -- which is what happens now.
Support For 1st Amendment Slipping
Support for the First Amendment has eroded significantly since Sept. 11 and nearly half of Americans now think the constitutional amendment on free speech goes too far in the rights it guarantees, according to a new poll. The sentiment that the First Amendment goes too far was already on the rise before the terrorist attacks a year ago, doubling to four in 10 between 2000 and 2001. The poll released Thursday found that 49 percent think the First Amendment goes too far, a total about 10 points higher than in 2001.
[Remember, the 2nd Amendement is there to protect the 1st Amendment!]
CA: Auto Club: Legislators Urged to Defeat "Car Tax'' Bill
Saying motorists would be the losers, the Automobile Club of Southern California sent a letter to legislators today announcing its strong opposition to legislation that would inappropriately relegate responsibility to raise the state Vehicle License Fee (VLF) to the Department of Finance to avoid the budget process. The Auto Club urged legislators to defat AB 1105 by Assemblymember Jenny Oropeza. "This last-minute attempt to allow a tax increase on the motoring public without legislative approval would literally be taxation without representation," said Alice Bisno, vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs. "In addition, motorists should not be singled out for a disproportionate tax burden as a quick fix for the current budget crisis."
ADD 'not a real condition'
THE legitimacy of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivty Disorder as a medical condition is questioned in a new report. The report, commissioned by the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland, has called for a moratorium on and inquiry into the use of the amphetamine-based drugs Ritalin and Dexamphetamine to treat ADHD - diagnosed in thousands of Australian children. Labelling the disorder a "questionable diagnosis", the report, Queensland Children at Risk: The Overdiagnosis of 'ADHD' and the Overuse of Stimulant Medication, urges parents to abandon the drugs, originally used to treat psychiatric conditions such as narcolepsy and severe depression. A recent study found prescription rates of ADHD drugs in Australia to be almost double that of the UK and higher than in the US.
No Comprende Bilingual Education
In liberal Massachusetts, the bilingual education reform debate is turning out to be very caliente topic. A ballot question in November will ask whether we will do away with bilingual programs which presently enroll about 45,000 students. The initiative's sponsor, English for the Children, favors helping immigrant students learn to speak, read, and write in English as rapidly as possible - a goal that is not achieved when these children are marooned in native-language teaching classes for several years. If the initiative passes, bilingual education would be replaced with a special English-language teaching program for one year or longer. Supporters cite sobering statistics to make their case. A study was done of the MCAS test scores for children in bilingual programs for the first two years that the test was administered. The first thing they discovered was that, as a group, bilingual children scored the lowest in the state, lower than kids in special education. Bilingual education students, noted Lincoln Tamayo in a Boston Globe opinion piece, have "the highest drop-out rates of all major groups."
The American experiment is failing
"[T]he sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered," President George Washington said in his first inaugural address, "as deeply, perhaps finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." The responsibility of that experiment includes the requirement of the people to keep and protect the unalienable rights that were given by God and granted by the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin warned the American people to not trade liberty for security and said those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither. Yet, just like every other piece of advice the founders gave us, Americans have taken it with a grain of salt and have forgotten about it.
Earth Summit Falling Apart
The widely touted Earth Summit in Johannesburg South Africa began to disintegrate Thursday when officials of the European Union officials walked out of talks after failure to agree with the United States on the 14 key issues the gathering has been discussing. A coalition of charities involved in the negotiations also pulled out, Britain's Times reported. Tempers were growing short and the Times says there is growing speculation that the gathering is peril. ... Signs that the summit was in danger of reaching any sensible conclusions were obvious when representatives of environmental groups began denouncing the use of electricity in Africa and the development of the flush toilet. That last demand provoked one observer to suggest that the U.N. might consider moving back to its old New York Headquarters in Flushing Meadow. ...
Nazis and Commies and Tranzis ... Oh My!
First there was Communism. Then Fascism. Then Nazism. Then Communism again. Now there's a new ideology in town. It's called Tranzi-ism. Like previous "isms," Tranzi-ism has the potential to plunge our world into a howling maelstrom of war, poverty and dictatorship. Yet, weirdly, most Tranzis don't even know they are Tranzis. Some call themselves "progressives." Some affect free-market sympathies. Some espouse a "Third Way" between communism and capitalism. Don't be fooled. They are Tranzis, one and all. Tranzi stands for Transnational Progressive - a term coined by Hudson Institute researcher John Fonte in a new article entitled "The Ideological War Within the West." According to Fonte, elite institutions ranging in size and influence from the National Council of Churches to the United Nations are pushing the notion that "the nation-state and the idea of national citizenship are ill suited to deal with the global problems of the future." They propose abolishing nations and replacing them with a single, global government. Fonte warns that the coming global regime will not respect liberal freedoms. Though couching his message in the polite euphemisms of academia, Fonte essentially suggests that the Tranzis will impose a kind of racialist police state, in which historically downtrodden or oppressed groups will be encouraged by the "elites" to rise up and get even with their former oppressors.
... The casual observer might see the primary theme of the conference as a public scolding of the United States. But it misses the real story of what's going on here, behind the scenes. What most media outlets aren't reporting is that there has been significant progress on some sustantive issues. And much of that progress has been led by the United States. Meanwhile, it is the Europeans who have been flogged mercilessly by delegates and representatives from the developing world for their policies on trade and technology. The United States a hero and the EU a villain? Could it be? One week ago, who would have guessed this? First, the Euro bashing. The issues that have dominated the summit so far have mostly had to do with trade. And on that front, Europe has been getting a comeuppance.
Paycheck Withholding: A Con on Taxpayers
... over the last month, I've been reading an unsettling, but important book, Dependent on D.C.: The Rise of Federal Control Over the Lives of Ordinary Americans, by Charlotte Twight, an economics professor at Boise State University. Twight documents in grand detail how over the past several decades, politicians have used gradualism, special interests and outright deception to create a state of dependency between American citizens and their government. The book will at once fascinate and infuriate you. ... collecting taxes should be difficult. And it should be done by the government that spends them, not by private employers. When tax collection is easy, spending tax dollars becomes easier, too. And government grows. ...
CA: Landmark family leave bill
If the governor signs it, the bill will provide for partial pay for six weeks. California workers could take paid time off to care for ailing parents or a newborn under a groundbreaking bill the state Senate sent Friday to Gov. Gray Davis. Starting in 2004, the labor-backed measure would give millions of workers up to six weeks of annual family leave, during which they would earn partial pay from the state's disability insurance program. Employees could use their leave to care for newborns or recently adopted children, as well as for any relative or domestic partner suffering from an illness so severe as to require hospitalization. ... Employees who take paid leave would receive income from the disability insurance fund to which they already devote a portion of their paychecks. Under SB 1661, they would pay an additional $25 to $45 per year to fund the state family leave program. ... The leave program would provide California workers with 55 percent of their salary, up to a maximum of $490 per week, the same amount offered for disability claims. ...
CA: Syringe sale bill gets Senate OK
... California would join most other states in allowing over-the-counter sales of syringes under a measure now facing Gov. Gray Davis. The state Senate on Friday gave final approval to the bill by Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-San Jose, voting 21-12 to let pharmacists sell up to 30 syringes at a time to customers 18 and older without a doctor's prescription. California is one of six states requiring prescriptions to buy syringes. ...
CA: Court ruling lets PG&E skirt laws
The financially battered utility needs latitude to reorganize itself, a judge says.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has a right to skirt a host of state laws and regulations affecting retail power rates, public health and the environment so it can resolve its bankruptcy reorganization case, a federal district judge ruled Friday. The decision, handed down by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in a PG&E appeal, overturned a bankruptcy judge's February ruling that would have forced the company to justify the setting aside of each state legal provision, one by one. Walker cited "powerful evidence" in the federal bankruptcy statute that Congress intended "that public utilities should no longer be subject to the costs, delays and uncertainty" of the state approval process when they seek to reorganize their debt.
Larry Pratt: Liberal Think Tank Finds That Project Exile Doesn't Work
In a previous column I wrote about the blatantly un-Constitutional program known as Project Exile which has been enthusiastically endorsed by Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich, a Republican, who is running for governor in Maryland. Ehrlich has said that Project Exile has "worked" in Richmond, Virginia; thus, it will work in Maryland. And, in a letter-to-the-editor in the Roll Call newspaper (1/28/02), Jim Kessler, Policy and Research Director of Americans For Gun Safety, says Project Exile in Richmond, Virginia, has "reduced gun crime dramatically." Well -- you guessed it -- none of this is true.
Johann Opitz <email@example.com> RKBA!