- Created on 15 August 2013
As Charles Pierce noted, now that Michelle Bachmann has left Congress to take her crazy show on the road and earn a real coin for it, there’s a rush among like-minded narcissistic nitwits to see someone seize her crown. No disrespect to others in contention, but Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX, pictured) is clearly proving that he is in it to win it. The Corpus Christie-area Congressman is making national headlines after lamenting at an open house held in Luling, Texas, last weekend that it’s a damn shame that Congress can’t get some real work done.
I think unfortunately the horse is already out of the barn on this, on the whole birth certificate issue…. The original Congress when his eligibility came up should have looked in to it and they didn’t. I’m not sure how we fix it. You tie in to a question I get a lot: ‘If everyone’s so unhappy with what the President’s done, why don’t you impeach him? I’ll give you a real frank answer about that: If we were to impeach the President tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it. But it would go to the Senate and he wouldn’t be convicted.
What’s terrible is that uneducated, xenophobic, if not flat-out racist White people continue to have their fears and idiocies exploited by the likes of Blake Farenthold. Worse is that even if he did call on those like this woman to exercise her brain cells, there’s another five pols on the Hill just waiting to say the opposite for a come-up.
You can’t see me, but I’m about to go bang my head on the desk in frustration.
- Created on 14 August 2013
NEW YORK (AP) -- Police officers around the country have been able to protect themselves against citizen complaints by wearing tiny body cameras, but a federal judge's plan to force some New York officers to start wearing the devices has angered the city's mayor and police unions.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the cameras unnecessary for the 35,000-officer department, while police reform advocates have cautiously agreed to the idea in theory - with some caveats. And people on both sides have raised privacy concerns in a city that already has thousands of public and private cameras recording people.
"It needs to be examined further, which is why a test program is the right idea," said Baher Azmy, legal director of the civil liberties group Center for Constitutional Rights.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered a pilot program of the cameras and other major reforms to the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy this week, after she found the NYPD intentionally discriminated against minorities.
Bloomberg called the cameras no real solution and vowed to appeal, which likely means no changes are imminent.
"It would be a nightmare," he said. "Cameras don't exactly work that way. Camera on the lapel or the hat of the police officer - he's turned the right way, he didn't turn the right way, `my God, he deliberately did it.'"
There have been nearly 5 million stops in the past decade, mostly black and Hispanic men. About half the people who are stopped are subject only to questioning; others have a bag or backpack searched, and sometimes police conduct a full pat-down.
Only 10 percent of the stops result in an arrest; a weapon is recovered only a fraction of the time. A discrimination lawsuit filed in 2004 by four men, all minorities, became a class-action case, and Scheindlin presided over a 10-week bench trial this year.
The idea for body cameras came up almost by accident during testimony, when the city's own policing expert raised it as something other cities use to determine whether police interact properly with the public. The judge seized on it.
"It would solve a lot of problems," she said during trial. "Everybody would know exactly what occurred. It would be easy to review it. The officer would be aware he's on tape."
A yearlong pilot program in Rialto, Calif., ended in February, and researchers there found the number of use-of-force incidents dropped by half. The city of about 100,000 also had significantly fewer public complaints about police, dropping from 28 to just three.
In Arizona, Scottsdale police began using 10 body cameras about two months ago as the agency looks into equipping all of its roughly 250 patrol officers with the devices.
"We're always being photographed out there, videoed by cellphone cameras, and we'd prefer, if possible, to have our own video of what happened," Sgt. Mark Clark said.
Some officers were initially reluctant to use the cameras, Clark said, but an incident a few weeks ago changed several minds. Cameras revealed that a person who filed a complaint against a motorcycle patrol officer made up the story.
"We showed the person the video and they said, `Um, I guess I must have remembered it wrong,'" Clark said.
Phoenix police also are testing out the cameras with about 50 of its roughly 1,400 patrol officers as part of a study with Arizona State University.
"We want to know how it affects an officer's job," Sgt. Tommy Thompson said. "Are there people who will say, `Listen, turn off that camera or I'm not going to talk to you?' When people are being filmed, do they calm down?"
An officer was fired last month when investigators reviewed video from his body-mounted camera and found he was profane and abrasive during calls and traffic stops, calling one person "an idiot."
Las Vegas police are also testing a program to deploy cameras after the idea was endorsed by brass last year amid calls for a civil rights probe into the frequency of officer-involved shootings.
In New York, Scheindlin ordered one police precinct per borough where the most stops occur to host the yearlong pilot program. That means possibly more than a thousand officers would be recording with cameras on their eye glasses or lapels.
A court-appointed monitor tasked with overseeing all changes to the stop-and-frisk tactic must also iron out the details surrounding the cameras.
Among the questions: How much will this cost? The lapel units, about the size of a cigarette pack, range in price from $125 to more than $300 each. What is involved in creating virtual storage for the recordings? And most vexing for privacy advocates, how long would images be kept?
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, noted that the body cameras might be an extra burden and a redundancy.
"New York City is already saturated with video cameras," Lynch said. "Our members are already weighed down with equipment like escape hoods, mace, flashlights, memo books, (expandable police batons) radio, handcuffs and the like. Additional equipment becomes an encumbrance and a safety issue."
- Created on 12 August 2013
(CNN) -- A rodeo stunt at the Missouri State Fair has come under criticism after a clown donned a Barack Obama mask and stuck a broom up his backside.
The stunt took place during the bull riding competition on Saturday night.
Rodeo announcer Mark Ficken, president of the Missouri Cowboy Rodeo Association and a school superintendent, announced a special guest: "President Obama."
Working up the crowd, Ficken said, "We're going to stomp Obama now."
"As soon as this bull comes out, Obama, don't you move," he said. "He's going to getcha, getcha getcha, getcha."
A clown on the arena floor chimed in: "Hey, I know I'm a clown. He's just running around acting like one. Doesn't know he is one."
The stunt sickened Perry Beam, who came to the fair in Sedalia with his wife and a student from Taiwan to "give him a little piece of Americana."
Beam likened the atmosphere to a Klan rally.
"It wasn't clean; it wasn't fun. It was awful; it was sickening," Beam said, "It was racist."
The student, Jameson Hsieh, recorded a video of the incident, but had little to say afterward.
"He didn't say anything. We rode all the way home in silence," said Beam, who lives 50 miles away in Higginsville. "We were just ashamed, and he didn't ask any more questions. I think he had seen enough. It is just disgusting."
Condemnation came from organizers and politicians alike.
The board of directors at Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association issued an apology.
"The Sport of Rodeo is not meant to be a political platform. We are taking measures by training and educating our contract acts to prevent anything like this from ever happening again," a statement on the group's website said. "All Members of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association are very proud of our Country and our President."
Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder called for those responsible to be held accountable.
"I condemn the actions disrespectful to POTUS (President of the United States) the other night," in a post to his official Twitter account. "We are better than this."
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill echoed Kinder.
"The State Fair is funded by taxpayer dollars, and is supposed to be a place where we can all bring our families and celebrate the state that we love," she said. "But the young Missourians who witnessed this stunt learned exactly the wrong lesson about political discourse, that somehow it's ever acceptable to, in a public event, disrespect, taunt, and joke about harming the President of our great nation."
- Created on 13 August 2013
DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area cancer specialist accused of giving chemotherapy to patients who didn't need it is a flight risk and a danger to the community, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday in asking a judge to order a $9 million bond and bar the doctor from practicing medicine.
Catherine Dick made the requests of U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox during a bond hearing in Detroit federal court in the case of Dr. Farid Fata, who is charged with intentionally misdiagnosing patients.
Defense lawyer Christopher Andreoff, who argued that the government already has seized the vast majority of the cash available to his client, told Cox that Fata was prepared to post a $170,000 bond previously ordered by a magistrate judge.
After hearing arguments from both sides and from a witness — an FBI contractor who was involved with tracing Fata's assets — Cox said he would rule on the issue of bond by the end of the day.
The government accuses Fata of ripping off Medicare for millions by giving chemotherapy to patients who didn't need it and diagnosing cancer when the illness wasn't apparent.
One of Fata's patients was Susan Fiems, who died five years ago. Her son, Matthew Fiems, was in court on Tuesday.
He said Fata incorrectly diagnosed his mother with ovarian cancer, and she died nine months later of pancreatic cancer following a series of unnecessary chemotherapy treatments ordered by Fata.
Susan Fiems should have been allowed to come home and spend quality time with her family before her death, said her son, a 43-year-old resident of he Detroit suburb of Canton Township.
"All I know is that this physician took away what time Mom had left," he said after Tuesday's court hearing. "How do you make that right?"
- Created on 09 August 2013
"One of the concerns that people raise is that a judge reviewing a request from the government to conduct programmatic surveillance only hears one side of the story ... [that] may tilt it too far in favor of security, may not pay enough attention to liberty," Obama said. "While I've got confidence in the court and I think they've done a fine job, I think we can provide greater assurances that the court is looking at these issues from both perspectives, security and privacy."