Monthly Archives: September 2008

Man Threatens Suit Over Seizure Of Videocamera After He Tapes Portland Police Rousting Two Men

Aimee Green
The Oregonian
September 19, 2008

After Mike Tabor turned his videocamera on two Portland cops rousting a couple of men on a downtown sidewalk, one cop seized his camera and gave him a ticket, saying he’d broken the law by recording the officers without their permission.

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute, and now Tabor is trying to force the Portland Police Bureau to take a formal position on whether it’s OK for civilians to videotape cops — with sound — in public places.

In a tort claim notice to the city last week, attorney Benjamin Haile informed the city of Tabor’s intent to sue for $100 and a written policy saying that citizens have the right to make video and audio records of police. Haile has taken on Tabor’s case at no charge to Tabor. He says recording officers on the job is a fundamental part of holding police accountable that Haile believes is protected by the First Amendment.

The issue isn’t an isolated one. Last month, Beaverton police arrested a 27-year-old Aloha man on accusations that he illegally recorded an officer arresting another man at a bowling alley. Ho Xent Vang recorded the encounter on his cell phone, and Beaverton police say the audio part of the recording violated state law because the officer didn’t give his consent.

In both cases, police were citing ORS 165.540, which makes it generally illegal to tape-record a conversation without first obtaining permission except in cases where a person wouldn’t reasonably expect privacy, such as at a public meeting or sporting event.

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz said he believes the public doesn’t have a right to record officers’ conversations – on or off the job – without their consent.

“Just because somebody is a police officer doesn’t mean they give up their rights,” Schmautz said.

The videotaping incident that netted Tabor a ticket unfolded when Tabor spotted officers Dane Reister and Nicholas Ragona stopping two men on March 25 next to the Portland Art Museum. On the nine-minute video, one of the officers can be heard accusing one man of being a drug dealer and the other a drug buyer. He repeatedly asks one of the men for his ID and to allow himself to be patted down. At one point, the officer -identified by Tabor as Reister -tells the man to back away. And when the man takes a step back, Reister takes two or three steps forward and shoves the man in the chest.

“That bugged me,” said Tabor. “It really looked like intimidation – bully-type stuff.”

After patting the man down, the officers let both men go. Then Reister walks over to Tabor, asks him if the camera was also recording sound, and when Tabor says yes, tells Tabor to hand over the camera.

“I was just totally surprised,” Tabor said.

Tabor began to walk to Central Precinct to file a complaint. The officers pulled up in their patrol car and asked what he was doing and then said they’d meet him in the lobby.

Tabor claims that after waiting about 20 minutes, the officers returned his camera and handed him a ticket. Tabor said the officers told him he was standing too close and making them nervous in what could have been a dangerous situation.

Tabor said he doesn’t think he was standing too close – and if the officers thought he was, they should have said so.

Deputy city attorney Dave Woboril said he’ll review the incident, but said that Oregon’s law is “pretty complicated.” Woboril said his reading of the statute is that people can’t surreptitiously make an audio recording of others who think their conversations are private. But Woboril said most people assume that someone holding a videocamera out in the open is recording sound as well as video. In general, he believes civilians have the right to record officers in public places in that way.

In 1991, then-police chief Tom Potter issued a training bulletin stating that the public had the right to record video and audio of police arresting suspects in a public place. Woboril, Schmautz and Police Chief Rosie Sizer weren’t aware of the bulletin, but Tabor’s attorney, Haile, dug up it up in his research.

Haile said he wants the bureau to specify that police stops — not just arrests — can be recorded. He also wants the policy put in the bureau’s policy and procedures manual, so it won’t be forgotten.

Haile noted that Potter’s bulletin was issued shortly after Rodney King, a black man who was stopped for speeding, was videotaped by a bystander being beaten by four Los Angeles police officers. The videotape spurred widespread discussion about police brutality.

Dan Handelman, of Portland Copwatch, said he hears about a few cases each year in which videocameras are seized by police. He says if police are acting professionally and lawfully, they should have no objection to being videotaped. “It could end up exonerating the police — it could be good for them.”

The Bible Goes Green Another Harper Collins Doctrine Of Devils

September 22, 2008

Green runs through the Bible like a vine. There are the Garden and Noah’s olive branch. The oaks under which Abraham met with angels. The “tree standing by the waterside” in Psalms. And there is Jesus, the self-proclaimed “true vine,” who describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a mustard seed that grows into a tree “where birds can nest.” He dies on a cross of wood, and when he rises Mary Magdalene mistakes him for a gardener.

Now there is a Bible trying to make gardeners of us all. On Oct. 7, HarperCollins is releasing The Green Bible, a Scripture for the Prius age that calls attention to more than 1,000 verses related to nature by printing them in a pleasant shade of forest green, much as red-letter editions of the Bible encrimson the words of Jesus. The new version’s message, states an introduction by Evangelical eco-activist J. Matthew Sleeth, is that “creation care”–the Christian catchphrase for nature conservancy–“is at the very core of our Christian walk.”

Using recycled paper with soy-based ink, The Green Bible includes supplementary writings by, among others, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright. Several of these essays cite the Genesis verse in which God gives humanity “dominion” over the earth, a charge most religious greens read to mean “stewardship.” Others assert that eco-neglect violates Jesus’ call to care for the least among us: it is the poor who inhabit the floodplains.

Not all buy creation care’s centrality. Says Southern Baptist leader Richard Land: “Sure it’s important, but when they asked Jesus what was most important, he said, ‘Love your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ He didn’t say anything about creation.”

But Land is fighting the tide. Mainline Protestants have long been green, and a Pew Foundation study recently found that 54% of Evangelicals–and 63% of those ages 18 to 29–agreed that “stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost.”

There is one catch. The conservative Christians who drive Bible sales don’t tend to favor the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) used in The Green Bible. Yet publisher Mark Tauber thinks green Evangelicals will leap the NRSV fire wall. He adds cheerfully: “I wouldn’t be surprised if you see so-called big Bible publishers come out with a green edition.” If you want to grow a biblical tree where birds can nest, this is a good way to start.

Homeschooling Banned in California as State Turns Parents Into Criminals For Teaching Their Own Children

David Gutierrez
Natural News
September 23, 2008

A California appeals court has ruled that homeschooling of children is illegal unless their parents have teaching credentials from the state.

“California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home,” said Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The court overturned a lower court’s finding that homeschooling did not constitute a violation of child welfare laws.

“California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” Justice H. Walter Croskey said.

The decision stunned parents of the state’s roughly 166,000 homeschooled children. While the court claimed that it was merely clarifying an existing law and not making a new one, the decision leaves the parents of homeschooled children at risk of arrest and criminal prosecution.

“At first, there was a sense of, ‘No way,’ ” homeschool parent Loren Mavromati said. “Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation.”

Parents’ reasons for homeschooling their children range from religious beliefs to dissatisfaction with the education received at public or private schools. But according to the court, all California children between the ages of 6 and 18 must attend either a full-time public or private school or be taught by a tutor credentialed for their specific grade level.

“A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation,” Croskey wrote.

California’s largest teachers union welcomed the decision as did the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles.

According to the law center’s executive director, Leslie Heimov, children should not be educated at home, because they need to be “in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety.”

5th Grader Suspended For Anti-Obama Shirt

Aurora fifth-grader suspended for home madetshirt reading “Obama is a terrorist’s best friend.” 9/22/08

AURORA ( – An 11-year-old in Aurora says his first amendment rights are being trampled after he was suspended for wearing a homemade shirt that reads “Obama is a terrorist’s best friend.”

The fifth grader at Aurora Frontier K-8 School wore it on a day when students were asked to wear red, white and blue to show their patriotism.

The boy’s father Dann Dalton describes himself as a “proud conservative” who has taken part in some controversial anti-abortion protests. Dalton says the school made a major mistake by suspending his son for wearing the shirt.

“It’s the public school system,” Dalton says. “Let’s be honest, it’s full of liberal loons.”

According the the boy’s father, the school district told the student, Daxx Dalton, that he had the choice of changing his shirt, turning his shirt inside out or being suspended.

Daxx chose suspension.

“They’re taking away my right of freedom of speech,” he says. “If I have the right to wear this shirt I’m going to use it. And if the only way to use it is get suspended, then I’m going to get suspended.”

Daxx’s dad agrees with him and is encouraging his son to stand his ground. “The facts are his rights were violated. Period.”

Aurora Public Schools would not talk about the case but said the district “Respects a student’s right to free speech, such as the right to wear specific clothing,” but administrators say they review any situation that interrupts the learning environment.

Paperwork submitted by the school district says Daxx Dalton was not suspended for wearing the shirt, but for willful disobedience and defiance.

The boy’s father says he intends to pursue a lawsuit against the district

House Approves $25 Billion Of “Low Cost Loans” For Carmakers

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a $25bn package of low-cost loans to help hard-pressed carmakers and their suppliers finance plant modernisation at a time of restricted access to public capital ­markets.

The automotive loans are separate from the proposed $700bn bail-out for the banking sector, which is still being debated in Congress. The House approved the measure 370-58, setting the stage for Senate approval within days.
US blue-collar workers look for bail-out – Sep-23
Car dealers hit as loans splutter – Sep-12
Ford and Chrysler back loan drive – Sep-17
GM chief to lobby Congress on low-cost loans – Sep-12
Age of the auto – Aug-06
US bids farewell to era of Model T – Jul-23

The industry’s case has been helped by the fact that Michigan and Ohio, the two states most dependent on the car industry, are key swing states in the November 4 presidential election.

Executives of General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler and their suppliers have lobbied heavily for the loans. Both presidential ­candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, have expressed support.

Shelly Lombard, analyst at Gimme Credit, a corporate bond research company, told clients this week that “blue collar workers are more sympathetic victims than ‘rich’ investment bankers. So it’s easier to defend loans designed to save close to 100,000 jobs in the shrinking US manufacturing industry.”

The go-ahead for the car industry loans has been written into a stop-gap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, which must be passed to keep the federal government running beyond the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Congress and the White House have yet to agree on details of the fiscal 2009 budget.

The loans were originally authorised in an energy bill passed last December to finance the retooling of plants for more fuel-efficient vehicles, especially hybrid and electric cars. But they have become a crucial prop for Detroit carmakers.

The continuing resolution provides funding for $7.5bn, which is the estimated subsidy on the loans – in other words, the cost to the government of providing them at well below market rates.

The loans will not take effect until the energy department has written detailed regulations dealing with, among other issues, which investments will qualify and conditions for repayment. Congress has directed the department to begin writing the regulations quickly and will provide any extra staff required to do so. One lobbyist said he hoped the regulations would be completed by early 2009.

All carmakers and suppliers with operations in the US are theoretically eligible. However, the energy bill restricts benefits to plants that have been in operation for at least 20 years, thereby excluding most foreign carmakers.

A Toyota spokesman said his company was agnostic on whether it derived any benefits. It has kept a low profile in the debate on the loans.

The Detroit-based car­makers have insisted that the loans, known as the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Programme, are not a bail-out because they must be repaid.

But critics have questioned the wisdom of supporting the motor industry with taxpayers’ money, especially in the wake of the huge amounts being provided to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and Wall Street investment banks.

Violence Surrounds U.S.-Mexico Border Fence

Traci Carl
Associated Press
September 15, 2008

TIJUANA, Mexico — There is a moment each evening, as the sun melts into the Pacific, when Colonia Libertad is at peace.

The dimming light blurs the hilltop slum’s rough edges, camouflaging piles of trash in long shadows and making it difficult to tell that some of the tightly packed homes clinging to vertical canyonsides are made of old packing crates and cast-off plastic tarps.

The stadium lighting that towers over the corrugated metal wall marking the U.S.-Mexico border is dark, permitting residents a bird’s eye view of Tijuana, where lights are blinking on, blanketing hills that lead toward the ocean. Farther inland, the dark shadows of mountains are sketched across the sky.

There are no helicopters reverberating overhead, no drone of all-terrain vehicles. Even the bony guard dogs chained outside their homes respect the silence. Fathers stroll lazily behind children who steer beat-up tricycles along the rutted dirt paths that serve as streets.

For a moment, residents are reminded of what it was like before the wall, when children ducked under a barbed wire fence to play soccer in U.S. territory and returned home for dinner. When smuggling meant giving directions to migrants who simply outran border agents and melted into the crowds of tourists.

But it is only a moment.

The floodlights click on, bathing the neighborhood in a blinding light. The helicopters return, clattering past. And the smugglers arrive with their ladders and blow torches and groups of people desperate to escape a fate similar to the one residents of Colonia Libertad long ago accepted.

As the U.S. government battles environmentalists and residents to build hundreds more miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, both sides would be well served to take a long look at Colonia Libertad — Freedom Neighborhood.

In the early 1990s, Colonia Libertad became one of the first places to coexist with the recycled, corrugated-iron barrier that has become a symbol of the conflicted relationship between a first-world superpower and the developing nation that lives in its shadow.

The fence didn’t stop the migrants. It didn’t stop the drugs. It merely pared down the hopeful crowds that used to flood San Diego hillsides, diverted the drugs underground and into the mountains, and helped create a ruthless smuggling industry dedicated to beating the U.S. Border Patrol at its own game.

But that’s not to say the sections of fence that have been built haven’t been successful. The barriers, combined with high-tech security measures such as surveillance cameras and ground sensors, have made getting into the United States extremely difficult. And as security has increased in recent years, the number of people trying to cross has fallen dramatically.

The downside, residents on both sides say, is that the border has become a violent battleground, shattering a shared American and Mexican history that is blind to things such as fences and borders.

Once, the only barrier between Colonia Libertad and San Diego was a barbed-wire fence.

Residents would squeeze between its rusty spikes, escaping the crowded barrio for the open hillsides of U.S. territory. Adults roasted meat in barbecue pits while children ran free.

“It used to be fun, because we’d cross and play soccer or baseball or volleyball,” says Jaime Boites, 35, whose home is steps from the border. “Nobody cared. When we were done, we’d just go back to our houses in Mexico.”

U.S. Border Patrol agents left the picnickers alone. Sometimes they even strolled over and shared a taco.

They were more concerned with the other side of Colonia Libertad, the smugglers who used the neighborhood as a staging ground for vanloads of people or drugs or some other kind of contraband that the gringos legally didn’t want but were always willing to pay for.

It wasn’t hard to get to the United States, which had few agents and little security. Sometimes migrants gathered at the border in large groups to rush past outnumbered guards, like a crude game of sharks and minnows. Others packed into vans that raced drugs or people across the hills.

“Back then, there used to be vans going through U.S. territory, just like nothing,” Boites says. “Vans full of people, any time of day.”

Boites was 8 when one van struck and killed a 5-year-old girl.

That was the main reason the wall went up: to stop the vehicles.

When the first stretch of wall went up, made of material recycled from landing strips left over from Vietnam, Boites was a teenager living in San Diego. Back at his family home, the fence cut off the view of the United States.

Little changed in Colonia Libertad. Smugglers cut holes in the fence and drove their vans through. Migrants scrambled over the wall, using the corrugated ridges like the steps of a ladder.

But to people in Colonia Libertad, it was still a slap in the face, proof the gringos weren’t willing to acknowledge that they needed Mexicans to cut their lawns and take care of their kids.

“Sometimes we get the feeling that we aren’t wanted over there,” Boites said, gazing at the graffiti-covered wall.

Americans saw the fence as a necessity because millions of undocumented workers and tons of illegal drugs were streaming into their cities.

But it had consequences they never intended: Seasonal workers unable to easily go back and forth built permanent lives north of the border. Migrants were pushed into the searing desert of Arizona, and more than 1,600 have died, often of thirst and exposure.

In Tijuana, the United States kept increasing security, using the area to test new anti-smuggling methods and expanding the ones that worked. It added a second layer of fencing at some points, redesigning each barrier to make it more difficult to overcome.

Smugglers responded by charging migrants more money and becoming more violent. They used slingshots to launch rocks, bottles, nail-studded planks, Molotov cocktails. Sometimes they wanted to hurt border agents, but mostly they were trying to create diversions while they moved people or drugs across at another point.

In one of the new subdivisions carpeting the hills north of the border, Alma Beltran, 42, turns her sport utility Volvo into her two-car garage and carries groceries into the kitchen for dinner.

She and her husband, both Mexicans, own a factory that makes packaging labels in the beach resort of Ensenada, but they moved to the United States a few years ago so that their daughter could go to American schools and speak fluent English.

But they didn’t go far: Their home is two miles from the border.

“If we go on a walk — and we like to go on walks — every time we try to do that, we are stopped by border patrollers,” Beltran says. “They are always pleasant and say, ‘Ma’am, you shouldn’t be walking here. It is dangerous.’ “

Beltran says she is polite, but rarely turns back. Having grown up in both Mexico City and the United States, she’s not frightened by the increased security in the U.S. or the violence in Mexico.

“It’s the same problem: People trying to cross. Agents chasing people home,” she says. “There’s nothing new.”

Her neighborhood is a sprawling collection of cavernous terra-cotta homes that sell for double what most Mexicans will make in a lifetime. Spanish is the predominant language, and most of her neighbors are upper-class Mexicans driven north by a wave of kidnappings and drug violence south of the border.

But even in the carefully groomed suburbs of San Diego, it is impossible to escape Mexico. Beltran has only to look out her kitchen window to see that she is caught between two worlds.

As she makes dinner, she can see the hillsides worn bald by the Border Patrol, the fences dividing the San Diego suburbs’ neat grid from the jumbled streets of Tijuana.

In the distance, the stadium lights flooding Colonia Libertad flicker on.

Illegals To Rebuild After Hurricane Ike

Houston Chronicle
September 25, 2008

All across southeast Texas, roofs need repair, debris must be discarded and towns hope to rebuild.

Hurricane Ike’s destruction is sparking one of the largest rebuilding efforts the state has seen in decades, but at the same time is highlighting a thorny facet of the region’s labor force: A lot of the recovery work will be done by illegal immigrants.

Homeowners have already turned to day laborers — many of whom are undocumented — to help clear brush, tent roofs and repair other storm damage. Contractors have hired them to rebuild or restore businesses and the city’s infrastructure.

And the major work of rebuilding small towns along the Gulf Coast or big homes in Galveston will likely be aided by undocumented workers.

But this tug and pull of the labor force highlights an uneasy dilemma: The region needs the muscle of undocumented immigrants, but simultaneously is a cog in a broader crackdown of illegal immigrants at worksites.

“There’s just no mechanism in place right now to provide those important laborers work authorization,” said Leigh Ganchan, a Houston immigration attorney with Haynes and Boone. “It’s a shame that employers can’t tap into a whole segment of society that’s willing and capable to provide those services. Our nation is more vulnerable than it would like to admit, I think. Vulnerable, meaning we need people to help us rebuild our infrastructure after major disasters like this.”

Carlos González, Mexico’s consul general in Houston, expects the area’s existing immigrant population will do the rebuilding work, a key difference with what happened post-Katrina. New Orleans experienced an influx of Hispanic immigrants because it did not have as large of an immigrant population as Houston.

“You will find the immigrant community — as they always have — will play a very big role,” said Laura Murillo, president of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

However, Americans devastated by the storm should have the option of doing the rebuilding, said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for a Washington, D.C.-group that seeks to stop illegal immigration.

“Those people should have first crack at the reconstruction jobs,” said Mehlman with the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “I’m sure there are an awful lot of people who can use the jobs and use the paychecks to get themselves back on their feet.”

The looming demand for immigrant labor for rebuilding efforts illustrates how dependent Texas industry and commerce are on undocumented workers.

According to a 2006 study by the Greater Houston Partnership, construction is the largest employer of undocumented workers in the city, employing nearly 36,000 people.

“The storm hasn’t done anything but point out again how badly these workers are needed and how much they contribute,” said Angela Blanchard, president and chief executive officer of Neighborhood Centers Inc.

Chase Duhon, with an Austin-based company that contracted to remove brush and debris across Houston, said he’s having trouble finding legal local workers to help with hurricane cleanup. He posted an ad online to find more workers.

“We don’t hire anyone who’s illegal,” said Duhon, a Houston native. “We want to keep it local. We want to use people here in Texas, but there’s so much work, there are people coming from Michigan and Massachusetts.”

Paralyzed by politics, immigration reform has yet to be approved by Congress despite years of hot debate. Supporters of reforms — such as a guest worker program — say storms like Ike prove how hard it is for employers to fill certain jobs.

“We need the labor. These people want to work,” said Norman Adams, co-founder of Texans for Sensible Immigration Reform and president of Adams Insurance Service. “I don’t think anybody has enough workers here.”

Adams said the contractor repairing his water-damaged office building in the Heights area after the storm hired immigrant workers.

Honduran immigrant Esteban Valle, 49, said construction work has picked up since Ike hit.

“I think there’s more work,” said Valle, a legal permanent resident who previously lived in Dallas. “But it’s easier for me because I have papers.”

At one of the city’s most popular day labor sites, the competition was stiff, with those skilled in trades like roof repair and hanging plaster wallboard often getting picked first.

“It’s difficult because we don’t have papers, and there are so many people,” said 22-year-old Emanuel Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant from southern Mexico, gesturing to three dozen men gathered at the corner of Shepherd Drive and 11th.

Drivers Could Have Speed Limited By Satellite Devices

September 18, 2008

The Department for Transport says the installation of the Intelligent Speed Adaptation system would be voluntary

Drivers could have their speed controlled by satellite to stop them from breaking the limit following a Government trial of new technology.

* Telegraph Motoring homepage

Cars fitted with the system would have their speed automatically monitored by satellites, which would also be programmed with the speed limits for different roads.

A motorist who tried to accelerate beyond the speed limit would find the system stopping the car from going any faster or issuing a warning instructing them to slow down.

The Department for Transport is set to back the system known as Intelligent Speed Adaptation. It follows lengthy trials conducted in Leeds in where cars have been fitted with the sophisticated satellite navigation system.

The Department for Transport said that the installation of the technology would be voluntary, but it is already in talks with the motor industry over how it could be made available for those who wanted to buy it.

Three types of the technology could be made available.

The first, known as “advisory”, would stop short of actually slowing the car down and would instead issue a voice alert reminding the motorist what the speed limit is.

A second version would either apply the brakes or cut the fuel supply to the engine, slowing it down to the speed limit, but a driver would be able to override the system – either by depressing the accelerator pedal firmly or pressing a button.

The third would take over complete control of the car and the driver would not be able to override the system at all.

However, the biggest hurdle is the creation of a digital map of Britain, which would have to contain the speed limits on every road. A spokesman for the DfT said it was working with councils over the collection of data to enable a map to be produced.

However, no timescale has been set for when such a map would be made available. Several companies have run trials of the system, including Siemens, which used a version which posted the speed limit onto the windscreen when the driver went too fast.

In Britain it also produced a test version which slowed the car down on certain occasions – such as when it was going past schools. According to a poll carried out for the DfT, 54 per cent of motorists would be willing to have the system installed in the car, if it was voluntary.

On average they would be prepared to pay £111 for the equipment, although some believed it should be provided for nothing.

Rob Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said the technology could be very effective. He said: “Its accident savings are phenomenal, particularly in injury crashes.

The number of deaths that could be prevented is also substantial, especially when it comes to those outside the vehicle rather than inside.” But the AA sounded a note of caution.

“I think it isn’t a bad idea,” said Andrew Howard, the head of road safety. “But there are a number of issues, such as accuracy and how it will work for example when there is a slow service road running alongside a major one.”

The Government yesterday named the contractors who will be responsible for conducting pilot schemes for road pricing. Ruth Kelly, the transport secretary, was accused of having a “completely blinkered approach” by Theresa Villiers, her Tory shadow, who said the announcement brought national road pricing a step nearer.

Homeland Security Wants to X-Ray Your Car

A TSA officer views the scan from a backscatter machine at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, in February 2007. Backscatter X-ray technology is currently being tested for cars to stop potential terrorists from blowing up a car bomb at one of the nation’s airports, homeland security officials say.

By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY
A controversial new X-ray technology is being tested that could stop potential terrorists from blowing up a car bomb at one of the nation’s airports, homeland security officials say.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is running a test at a North Carolina ferry terminal of a 21-foot-high arch-like machine that shoots low-intensity X-rays at cars as they pass through. The photos show whether explosives or drugs might be in the car.

The technology, called backscatter X-ray, is in use at several airports to screen passengers. Privacy advocates have denounced scanning people as invasive because the X-rays can see through clothes.

Melissa Ngo, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who focuses on privacy issues, says using the technology for cars could pave the way for “Big Brother” government spying.

“If this technology ends up being deployed widely, it seems to be another step toward a society where you need to accept surveillance in every part of your life,” Ngo says.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Washington | Afghanistan | al-Qaeda | Scotland | Transportation Security Administration | X-rays | Science | Engineering | Glasgow Airport | David Lewis | Sammon | Neuse River

TSA Assistant Administrator John Sammon said motorist privacy won’t be invaded because taking X-rays of cars “is a fairly non-intrusive way of being able to inspect vehicles that are coming in” to an airport. At many airports, cars are currently stopped at random and searched by authorities.

Sammon said the TSA has made no decision about using the X-ray portals at airports. The four-week test at a small ferry terminal in Cherry Branch, N.C., will gauge public reaction and the machine’s ability to find bombs, Sammon said.

Searches escalated last summer after two men with ties to al-Qaeda drove an SUV into entrance doors at Glasgow Airport in Scotland, igniting a fire. Sammon said the test is not related to the Glasgow terror attack.

The TSA has no intelligence pointing to a potential car bombing at an airport, Sammon said, adding that the X-ray machine could be useful if there was such a threat. “Rather than stopping all vehicles or doing random checks, you could run vehicles, especially large-panel trucks, through the machine,” Sammon said.

Ferry officials say the X-ray portal has intrigued but not alarmed motorists lining up for the 20-minute ferry ride from Cherry Branch across the Neuse River to Minnesott Beach on North Carolina’s coast. “I am not aware of any complaints,” said David Lewis, security coordinator for the North Carolina Ferry Division.

Similar machines are protecting military bases in the USA and in Afghanistan, said Joe Reiss, head of marketing for manufacturer American Science and Engineering. The machines, first marketed last year, cost $1.2 million to $1.7 million.

Media Cries Foul When County Stops Fluoridating Water

Neil McLaughlin
Natural News
September 22, 2008

A recent newscast delivered some great news for natural health advocates while portraying it as a bad thing. On July 19, 2008 Channel 9 News (ABC) in Seminole County, FL reported that “Soon, a natural element will no longer be added to county drinking water, find out how the county tried to avoid telling customers until Channel 9 got involved.”

After a commercial break it was revealed that the “natural” element they were referring to was Sodium Fluoride. The idea that the fluoride added to municipal water supplies is “natural” is a common myth. While Calcium Fluoride is the 5th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, it is Sodium Fluoride (Sodium Hexafluorosilicate), a toxic by-product of Aluminum production, that is added to the drinking water of most states in the U.S.

Sodium Fluoride has been shown to cause brain damage, ADD, Alzheimer’s disease, various types of cancer, kidney problems, thyroid problems and (ironically) tooth problems. An uninformed man was shown on Channel 9 complaining that his children would no longer have the fluoride that they need for their teeth.

History of Fluoridation

In the 1930’s, out of the goodness of their hearts, ALCOA (the leading producer of Aluminum) began performing dental studies. Not surprisingly, the results of their study determined that the cause of a tooth mottling (Colorado brown stain) was due to lack of fluoride, a chemical that until then had to be treated as the toxic waste it is. What a coincidence, they just happened to have lots of sodium fluoride available!

As with most studies, the study funded by the Aluminum Industry found the exact results they were looking for. If it had found any other results, the funding would have been cut and the study would have been canceled. So, to protect children as only the Aluminum industry can, they began pushing for mandatory water fluoridation, which allowed them to start selling fluoride (at 20,000% markup) instead of having to pay for it to be disposed of.

Rat Poison

Many have expressed concern that sodium fluoride often goes by another name:Rat Poison! We shouldn’t worry though, claims Dr. Stephen Barrett on Quackwatch dot com (the industry lapdog on health issues) for although fluoride really is rat poison, you’d need to drink a lot of fluoridated water to actually die.

Sodium fluoride was discovered in the 1930’s to make people more docile and easily manageable. Fluoride is a key component of Sarin nerve gas and is also used in Prozac. The myth that fluoride helps teeth is so widespread that 70% of Americans believe it should be added to their water, and as of the year 2000, 41 U.S. States fluoridated their water. Even natural companies like Tom’s of Maine offer fluoridated toothpaste to appease customers who have apparently demanded it.

The Bottom Line

It may come as a surprise to learn just why Seminole county in Florida is making this important step that will almost certainly improve the health of their residents: cost reduction. Channel 9 reported that the cost of fluoride has increased and that budget cuts were the reason to longer add the element to water. According to Wikipedia, it costs 31 cents per person per year to add fluoride to water, along with other equipment repair costs.

This is the silver lining of our collapsing economy: people and cities can no longer afford to be so wasteful. Since most of the products people buy are toxic, the less they can spend, the better off the Earth will be. Given cheap gas, many Americans bought an SUV (because they love the outdoors) and a McMansion. The real estate boom caused acre after acre of farmland to be turned into toxic housing developments. Vegetables that would grow in our own towns are shipped 1200 miles on average. Apparently, having extra money allows counties to add extra poison to their water as well.

Channel 9 News simply did not mention that adding fluoride to water is a source of major controversy. Their point was to imply that people are being cheated out of the fluoride they deserve, and no doubt some will likely complain.


* Effects of Fluoride: (…)

* Industry Influence on Fluoride Policy

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