Sunday, December 8, 2013

Signs Of A Broken Society Part Three

Zero-Tolerance Policies in Schools are Often Destructive, Fueling a School to Prison Pipeline

In 2011, a 13-year-old student in Albuquerque, New Mexico burped audibly in class (perhaps the school lunch didn’t agree with him). His instructor summoned the school resource officer, one of a new generation ofpolice officers and specially trained go-betweens stationed in school environments, and the student found himself booked into a juvenile detention facility. He had fallen victim to his school’s zero-tolerance policy, a framework used across the nation to crack down fast and hard on unwanted behaviors, but one that has resulted in what critics are calling a school-to-prison pipeline, as students are fast-tracked to juvenile courts for offenses like writing their names on desks.
It’s a pipeline that consumes some students more than others; students of color and disabled students are being suspended, expelled, and sent into the justice system at much higher rates than their white, nondisabled counterparts. 
Orwell foresaw a dystopian society controlled by a "Big Brother" power structure that closely keeps track of individuals so the ruling party's authorities can pounce on those who stray from what is considered proper behavior, using data in a registry to crush anyone who opposes the police state.
Supporters of HB 150 point out that people who are arrested, but not convicted, must be fingerprinted, and DNA samples are the same thing, on principle. That, unfortunately, is not very comforting to those of us familiar with what happened in western New York some years ago.
Troopers there were accused of planting fingerprint evidence as a way to win criminal convictions in dozens of cases. Several, including a lieutenant who ran a criminal identification unit, were charged with crimes and some went to prison.
Planting fingerprint evidence is difficult, but a few years ago, scientists in Israel conducted a study demonstrating that planting DNA evidence would be easy. "You can just engineer a crime scene," said one scientist. All you need is a DNA sample.

Government snooping of libraries has a long history. Under the Patriot Act, for example, the FBI has the power to compel libraries to hand over user data.
But the activities of the NSA seem to go far beyond traditional police work, reflecting an “almost ravenous hunger” for collecting information, according to Lynne Bradley, director of the ALA’s Office of Government Relations.
Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the NSA has been collecting vast troves of “metadata” on Internet activity and phone calls that shows when communications were made, who was involved and how long it lasted.
That’s especially troubling to the ALA, as “libraries are all about metadata,” Inouye said.
The records that libraries keep — when a user logs on to a library computer, what websites they visit, when books are borrowed and returned — seem to fit the mold of what the NSA is seeking.
“We’re talking about the information patterns of people. If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is,” Inouye said.
While no libraries are known to have received NSA requests, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been tapped for data.
Just like Internet companies, libraries are prohibited from revealing NSA requests. The ALA is concerned that local libraries are being forced to keep quiet about government snooping.
“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Bradley said.
In Iceland, the citizens took to the streets by the thousands, banging pots and pans in what is known as the “pots and pans revolution,” leading to the arrest and prosecution of many unscrupulous bankers responsible for the economic collapse. Icelandic citizens also refused to pay for the sins of the bankers and rejected any measures of taxation to bail them out. In the U.S., the government bailed out the banks and arrested no one.
The pots and pans revolution in Iceland was not covered by mainstream U.S. media. In fact, any information about this revolution is found only on international newspapers, blogs and online documentaries, not on mainstream front-page articles as would be expected from news organizations covering a story of this magnitude. The New York Times published a small handful of piecemeal stories, blogs and opinion pieces, but mostly glossed over the main narrative by saying the 2008 financial collapse in Iceland caused “mayhem far beyond the country’s borders” rather than pointing out that Icelanders took to the streets with pots and pans and forced their entire government to resign.
Habitual cigarette smokers could face backlash from potential employers if the Indiana Chamber achieves one of its goals for the upcoming session.
The Chamber is seeking repeal of Indiana’s 1991 “smoker’s bill of rights” which says employers can’t refuse to hire smokers and can’t charge them higher premiums for health insurance.
Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar says the law went too far in its protection of smokers.
“Right now smoking is just as much of a protected class for hiring purposes in Indiana as race, religion, and all of the things that fell under the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Brinegar said.
Your phone could be on Airplane mode. And you could hold it for only two seconds. And you would be breaking the law.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario over the weekend ruled that it is illegal to hold a cellphone while driving regardless of whether it is transmitting or how long it is in a driver's hand.
The decision came following two rulings where drivers attemped to avoid punishment through current loopholes of laws. Quoth The Globe and Mail:
In one case, Khojasteh Kazemi argued that she had just picked up her cellphone, which had fallen off the seat to the floor of her car when she stopped at a red light, when a police officer spotted her holding it. A lower court judge dismissed Kazemi’s charge, ruling that there must be some “sustained physical holding” in order to convict, but the Appeal Court overturned that finding.

The Ultimate “Child Protection” — State Forcibly Sedates Mom, Performs Cesarean, Takes Baby

She called the police, who arrived at her room when she was on the phone to her mother. The police asked to speak to the grandmother, who explained that her daughter was probably over-excited because she suffered from a “bipolar” condition and hadn’t been taking her medication to calm her down.
The police told the mother that they were taking her to hospital to “make sure that the baby was OK”. On arrival, she was startled to see that it was a psychiatric hospital, and said she wanted to go back to her hotel. She was restrained by orderlies, sectioned under the Mental Health Act and told that she must stay in the hospital.
By now Essex social services were involved, and five weeks later she was told she could not have breakfast that day. When no explanation was forthcoming, she volubly protested. She was strapped down and forcibly sedated, and when she woke up hours later, found she was in a different hospital and that her baby had been removed by caesarean section while she was unconscious and taken into care by social workers. 

Bloomberg’s “Nanny State”: Refuting opposition to the “new” public health

The bottom line is that elected officials should be held accountable for the health of their inhabitants. Those who disrupt the status quo, such as Bloomberg, have thus far shouldered the burden of accountability, facing fierce criticism and industry backed judicial challenges. But the vast majority of public officials have stood by and done nothing amidst skyrocketing obesity rates. It is time for the political class to be held accountable not for trying to make the population healthier and safer, but for failing to act in the face of manifest suffering.

London's biggest university bans student protests

The University of London - a body representing London universities including University College London, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Birkbeck and the London School of Economics - has banned protests on its campus for the next six months.

Students who hold sit-in protests in an area in Holborn, central London, including the Senate House, the student union building, and the buildings of SOAS and Birkbeck, can be imprisoned.
The president of the University of London student union, Michael Chessum, told Channel 4 News it was a "draconian" reaction and "a sign that the university had lost the argument".
The court order obtained on the 4 December by the University of London bans "occupational protest" in the area for the next six months. Anyone breaching the order can be charged with contempt of court.
The attractive and understated Montecristo cigar band​—​in a rich walnut brown​—​has also disappeared. It’s been covered with a paper collar of requisite plainness. This is nearly an inch wide, deprives me of a third of my smoke, and any attempt to remove it tears the wrapper leaf and destroys the cigar.
Each of these strips of paper has been fastened by hand with scotch tape. Mindless, useless, idiotic work is typical of many government jobs, but this seems to exceed even the typical work done in the Australian parliament.
And the Australian parliament is, no doubt, working very hard indeed. There’s no end to the work to be done once moral philosophy has become so perverted that something like “plain packaging” is considered a public benefit.
Beer is certainly next, with pictures of drunken fistfights, snoring bums, and huge, gin-blossomed noses on every can. Airplane crashes kill a lot of people. No plane should be allowed to land in Australia unless it’s painted drab dark brown and bears an image of fiery carnage along its fuselage. Cars kill even more. Perhaps a banner showing lethal wrecks could be pasted across the inside of every car’s windshield. And there’s food. Make all food drab dark brown (something of a historical tradition in Australian cooking anyway) and deck the labels with naked fat men.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

True Faith/Anthem The Tobacco Control Cult

  On “public health” activists and true belief

Contrast that with “public health” causes, where none of the activists are willing to give up their comfort or take any risks.  The closest they come to doing anything other than chattering and trying to use personally-risk-free force (government) to impose their will on people is occasionally vandalizing a piece of outdoor advertising.  If they were to chain themselves to their handiwork and call the press and police to come see them, I might have some respect for such actions.  But as practiced it is just adolescent vandalism, hiding in the shadows so they can brag about it to their friends and pretend they are similar to truly dedicated activists for important causes.

NYC eyes electronic cigarette ban in public spaces

" He added that the city's measures to ban smoking from outdoor public areas under Mayor Michael Bloomberg were more about public acceptance of smoking than science.
"Those second set of measures were more about sociology and denormalizing than they were hard medical science," Gennaro said on "Squawk on the Street." "We thought it was important to make sure smoking was completely denormalized."
But there’s a second strand to this anti-smoking legislation which makes me take a step back and question whether the politicians are really concerned about our health (something, incidentally, I think adults should be able to decide for themselves) or for their political positions.It is when the plans for anti-smoking campaigns sink to the levels of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive that I am once again reminded about how easy it is for politicians and political establishments to become cozy with big businesses.
This can be seen clearly with this latest piece of proposed legislation which will limit people’s access to e-cigarettes. Of course the EU won’t come straight out and say that it wants to “ban” e-cigarettes – merely turn them into pharmaceutical products. This means they will only be available in chemists, instead of over the counter where people go to if they will buy real cigarettes. We already know from government reports about impulse buying at counters. That’s why supermarkets are supposed to remove all chocolate and sweets from around the queuing area and replace them with carrots or Brussels sprouts and all manner of items children are never going to reach for, unless it’s to bash a sibling over the head with.
End of letter
 I am absolutely certain that MEPs are clever enough to realize the games played behind the back of vapers and smokers. We are dedicated in our efforts to reveal the truth concerning this sensitive public health issue, without hiding any facts, whether positive or negative for e-cigarettes. This is how we have proceeded so far, and this is how we will continue.
In case the news media ask for the name of the pharma company and the PR firm, i have no problem giving them all details.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the cultural shift away from smoking as socially acceptable has been a key effect of the smoke-free ban. He said the indoor smoking ban has been the single most effective policy at cutting smoking in the city. Now indoor e-cigarette use is complicating enforcement of that ban, Farley said.
He said allowing use of e-cigarettes in restaurants and other public places is challenging enforcement of that law because now waiters and business owners have to make sure customers are using an e-cigarette and not lighting up a combustible cigarette.
Further, allowing e-cigarettes to become socially acceptable by allowing their use in restaurants and public places could affect social acceptance of conventional cigarettes, “undermining the enormous progress of tobacco control over the last decades,” Farley said
But the continuation of Hammond’s work, with its demonstrated faulty methodology, was used by the Australian authors to deduce that smoking causes premature death to the extent of 17,800 per year in Australia. Their conclusions should be compared with the results of a survey by the Australian Statistician in 1991 of 22,200 households, chosen at random. This showed "long term conditions", including cancer and heart disease, to be more common in non-smokers than smokers.

It is good that the court dismissed the allegations, but the Zealots will be back using some obscure complexity in the law, as has been the case here. The idea of equating ecigs with actual tobacco is really silly, which is the foundation for the court judgement. But note below the weirdness of TC thinking.
Data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US recently showed the number of middle and high school students who used e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.
Mr Slevin said the Tobacco Products Control Act was due for a review and could help ban e-cigarettes as well as address issues such as the need to reduce the number of licensed tobacco retailers. This incident of a failed attempt to prosecute points to the fact that the current provisions are not adequate,” he said.

Annual cigarette production in the world's most populous country has jumped 50 percent across the decade, with about 2.175 trillion cigarettes produced in the 12 months to October, showed "Tobacco Control in China from a Civil Society Perspective 2013" on Tuesday, Xinhua reports.

 I watched.

All I saw, was some shrieking blonde yelling everyone down with all the old anti smoking drivel we hear over and over again. There was hardly a moment for proper discussion about anything sensible. No time for smokers allowed. The shrieking blonde turns out to be Andrea Crossfield Director of Tobacco Free FuturesI live in the Northwest and I've never heard of her! The interviewer should have put her in place - but of course he didn't.

 There is a crack in everything,that's how the light gets in.........