The Associated Press reports:

Euless — A 17-year-old North Texas boy has died two days after police used a Taser gun three times to stun and subdue him.

Euless police say Kevin Omas of Grapevine had taken two hits of Ecstasy and four of LSD at a party before they were called to a reported disturbance early Sunday.

Police officials say Omas was unruly and charged at officers repeatedly. Police say a supervisor fired all three Taser darts at Omas, zapping him with 50,000 volts of electricity each time, before he was subdued.

Omas was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where he went into a coma. He died Tuesday. An autopsy has been ordered, and Euless police are conducting their own investigation.

Three people have died in nearby Fort Worth after they were Tasered by police. The Tarrant County medical examiner ruled cocaine intoxication as the cause of two of those deaths. A ruling is still pending in the other death.

Photo: Small Plane
Tony Fung watches John Revelli carry inventory away from Revelli Tire, next to Fung’s Autohouse. Both businesses are being evicted. (Chronicle photo by Kurt Rogers)

Jim Herron Zamora, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, reports:

Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling approving a Connecticut city’s plan to take private land by eminent domain may seem far away.

But to John Revelli, whose family has operated a tire shop near downtown Oakland for decades, the implications hit home on Friday.

A team of contractors hired by the city of Oakland packed the contents of his small auto shop in a moving van and evicted Revelli from the property his family has owned since 1949.

“I have the perfect location; my customers who work downtown can drop off their cars and walk back here,” said Revelli, 65, pointing at the nearby high- rises. “The city is taking it all away from me to give someone else. It’s not fair.”

The city of Oakland, using eminent domain, seized Revelli Tire and the adjacent property, owner-operated Autohouse, on 20th Street between Telegraph and San Pablo avenues on Friday and evicted the longtime property owners, who have refused to sell to clear the way for a large housing development.

Photo: Small Plane
A Cessna 182 flies over Lodi. The plane, which is owned by a Delaware company, is one of at least two that have been circling over the city for nearly four weeks. (Courtesy photo by Ken Cantrell)

Layla Bohm, News-Sentinel Staff Writer, reports:

The white plane, with its baby blue striping, spends hours and days circling over Lodi. But the plane isn’t from the city. It’s not even from California.

The plane has traveled all the way from Delaware to move in slow circles over Lodi. It hasn’t exactly blended in.

The city is small enough that when a medical helicopter makes one pass overhead, citizens look up. When gang problems flare and local police officers team up with the California Highway Patrol to make use of a helicopter, police dispatchers are besieged with calls from citizens.

So, when white planes began circling over Lodi about four weeks ago — around the same time scores of FBI agents converged on the city to conduct a terrorism investigation — people took notice.

“He’s doing something. He’s doing some reconnaissance,” said Lodi resident and pilot Arlene Farley, who even got out binoculars to peer up at one of the planes.

What the planes are doing remains a mystery, though most people believe the activity coincides with the FBI investigation that led to the arrests of five Lodi men. In other parts of the country, small planes have flown in circles over cities also under investigation on ties to domestic and international terrorism.

David Harsanyi, Denver Post Staff Columnist, writes:

Once again, you have been informed that the Constitution means nothing.

After last week’s Supreme Court decision, “eminent domain” can now simply be referred to as “government-sanctioned property theft.”

“Property,” a pretty sharp guy named John Adams once said, “is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.”

To drive home the point, we have the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

When it’s not being liberally invoked by shady government officials, the Fifth Amendment also states that private property shall not be “taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Yet, by a 5-4 decision, the liberal wing of the Supreme Court ruled that government can essentially seize a person’s property - and liberty - and hand it over to an entity that happens to generate more tax revenue.

Not for “public use” mind you, but for corporate use in building condominiums, offices parks, strip malls, box stores, factories or parking lots.

Aljazeera reports:

For the first time, Washington has acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at U.S. detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said on Friday.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on condition of anonymity.

H.D.S. Greenway, The Boston Globe, writes:

IF YOU TAKE something to read at the beach this summer make sure it is not one of George Orwell’s books. The comparison with current events will ruin your day.

In what was then the futuristic, nightmare world of ‘’1984,” written in 1949, Orwell introduced the concepts of ‘’newspeak,” ‘’doublethink,” and ‘’the mutability of the past,” all concepts that seem to be alive and well in 2005, half a century after Orwell’s death. In the ever-changing rationale of why we went to war in Iraq, we can imagine ourselves working in Orwell’s ‘’Ministry of Truth,” in which ‘’reality control” is used to ensure that ‘’the lie passed into history and became the truth.”

And what about the Bush administration’s insistence that all is going well in Iraq? In the Ministry of Truth, statistics are adjustable to suit politics — ‘’merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another,” Orwell wrote. ‘’Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection to anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in the rectified version.” Welcome to the Iraq war, Mr. Orwell.

What of Donald Rumsfeld’s newspeak, or was it doublethink, saying that ‘’no detention facility in the history of warfare has been more transparent” than Guantanamo? We have the FBI’s word for it that prisoners were chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, left for 18 to 24 hours with no food and no water, left to defecate and urinate on themselves.

The deaths by torture in Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan sound very much like what happens in Orwell’s fictional torture chamber: Room 101.

Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa) reports:

Zimbabwe police have extended a demolition campaign targeting the homes and livelihoods of the urban poor to the vegetable gardens they rely on for food, saying the crops planted on vacant lots are damaging the environment.

President Robert Mugabe was quoted on Tuesday as saying concern about the campaign was misplaced and agreeing to allow in a United Nations observer.

The crackdown on urban farming — at a time of food shortages in Zimbabwe — is the latest escalation in the government’s month-long Operation Murambatsvina (or Drive Out Trash), which has seen police torch the shacks of poor city dwellers, arrest street vendors and demolish their kiosks.

Mugabe defends the campaign as a clean-up drive. But the political opposition, which has its base among the urban poor, says the campaign is meant to punish its supporters.

The UN estimates the campaign has left at least 1,5-million people homeless in the winter cold. Police say more than 30 000 have also been arrested, most of them street vendors the government accuses of sabotaging the failing economy by selling black market goods.

Senior assistant police commissioner Edmore Veterai said Zimbabwean authorities were now targeting urban farming, saying the practice was causing “massive environmental damage,” state radio reported on Tuesday.

Photo: American reporter George Weller
American reporter George Weller

Mainichi Daily News reports:

American George Weller was the first foreign reporter to enter Nagasaki following the U.S. atomic attack on the city on Aug. 9, 1945. Weller wrote a series of stories about what he saw in the city, but censors at the Occupation’s General Headquarters refused to allow the material to be printed. Weller’s stories, written in September 1945, can be found below.

Doonesbury Cartoon (Detail)

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, via Slate, writes:

Today’s Doonesbury features a tour of some of George Bush II’s most memorable mutilations of the English language and other linguistic blunders.

News Channel 5 (WEWS, Cleveland, Ohio), reports:

LORAIN, Ohio — Police departments use the x26 Taser to shock unruly suspects into submission, but Lorain residents are stunned that an officer used one on a school bus to subdue to 12-year-old boy, reported NewsChannel5.

According to the police report, police were called to remove the boy from the bus after he tried to steal another boy’s CD case.

Police Capt. Russ Cambarare said the boy cussed at the officers and then threatened her.

Soviet Realist terrorism posters on DC trains

Michael says:
Well, the Bush-Nazi comparisons are deja-done, so of course now we have to move on. Seen on the MARC commuter train (between Baltimore and DC) today, this picture pretty much sums up the new “National Security.”

via Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, who commented:

The MARC commuter trains between Baltimore and DC are sporting these terrornoia posters styled after the heyday of Stalin’s totalitarian regime, when Soviet citizens were exhorted to spy on their neighbors and fink them out for suspicious behavior. And they say irony is dead. Link (via Kottke)

Prison Planet reports:

On a recent trip to NY City (last weekend) three gun-mounted, armored tanks/vehicles were driving through the streets of Manhattan. I took these pictures with my camera phone (hence the crappy quality).

I couldn’t believe how many people just waved at the armed soldiers peeking out of the top, many even cheered loudly in support. Nobody took the time to say, “why the hell are armed soldiers and tanks rolling down the middle of the street?!”

This happened the day after I saw a NYPD officer in Times Square – he was simply standing around watching the pedestrian traffic, the only thing out of place… he was carrying a machine gun!

P.S. The tank pictures were taken at the corner of 53rd and 7th in Manhattan (just a few blocks from Central Park).

A Casa 235 about to take off from Ruzyne Airport in Prague on a flight to Afghanistan operated by the C.I.A.-connected Aero Contractors. (Pavel Horejsi for The New York Times)


SMITHFIELD, N.C. - The airplanes of Aero Contractors Ltd. take off from Johnston County Airport here, then disappear over the scrub pines and fields of tobacco and sweet potatoes. Nothing about the sleepy Southern setting hints of foreign intrigue. Nothing gives away the fact that Aero’s pilots are the discreet bus drivers of the battle against terrorism, routinely sent on secret missions to Baghdad, Cairo, Tashkent and Kabul.

When the Central Intelligence Agency wants to grab a suspected member of Al Qaeda overseas and deliver him to interrogators in another country, an Aero Contractors plane often does the job. If agency experts need to fly overseas in a hurry after the capture of a prized prisoner, a plane will depart Johnston County and stop at Dulles Airport outside Washington to pick up the C.I.A. team on the way.

Aero Contractors’ planes dropped C.I.A. paramilitary officers into Afghanistan in 2001; carried an American team to Karachi, Pakistan, right after the United States Consulate there was bombed in 2002; and flew from Libya to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the day before an American-held prisoner said he was questioned by Libyan intelligence agents last year, according to flight data and other records.

While posing as a private charter outfit - “aircraft rental with pilot” is the listing in Dun and Bradstreet - Aero Contractors is in fact a major domestic hub of the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret air service. The company was founded in 1979 by a legendary C.I.A. officer and chief pilot for Air America, the agency’s Vietnam-era air company, and it appears to be controlled by the agency, according to former employees.

Opheera McDoom, Reuters, reports:

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan arrested the local head of an international aid agency on Monday over a report on hundreds of rapes in Darfur in the first such action against a top relief worker since a rebellion in the area began in 2003.

Photo: John Welch

Josh Welch stands at his front door where he was shot with a Taser by a sheriff’s deputy. Welch argued with deputies for not rushing to get medical aid for his father, who had slashed his own wrists.

Palm Beach Post reports:

In a sheriff’s report, the deputy wrote that Josh “came at me with a lit cigarette in a threatening manner.”

Josh, who is working toward his GED, admits he mouthed off at deputies. He said he did walk onto his front porch with a cigarette but didn’t threaten anyone.

From just a few feet away, a deputy fired two Taser probes into his chest, “right over his heart, no less,” his father says. Josh remembers the pain and how his body “just wobbled around and stuff” on his front patio.


Traffic Stop Tasing
Boynton Beach officer Rich McNevin is shown in a department video using a Taser on driver Victoria Goodwin, who was charged with driving on a suspended license and resisting arrest without violence. She had berated officers and refused to get out of her vehicle. Police officials back McNevin’s choice. (video)

Dani Davies, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, reports:

BOYNTON BEACH — Victoria Goodwin’s spirits were high as she sped through Boynton Beach in her SUV that Friday morning.

She had just dropped her daughter off at day care and was heading to her mother’s house to get her hair and nails done. On Monday, she would fly to Jamaica to be a contestant in a modeling competition.

He pulled her over.

Five minutes later, the young mother was squirming on the ground, her body electrified twice by 50,000 volts from McNevin’s Taser.

Photo: Unidentified Bartender
This bartender, who prefers not to be identified, was hit by a Taser shot after she yelled at officers for not arresting a customer who had thrown a drink in her face.

The deputies repeatedly told the bartender to calm down and lower her voice. She didn’t. Standing outside the club, she continued yelling at them.

One standing several feet away hit her with his Taser. One prong lodged in her left breast. The other went into her abdomen. She fell to the sidewalk, flailing.

“I thought he had shot me with a gun. I actually looked down to see if there was blood,” she said, calling the pain indescribable.


Robert Block, The Wall Street Journal, via Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pa), reports:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Before Sept. 11, 2001, when federal law-enforcement officials asked FedEx Corp. for help, the company had its limits. It wouldn’t provide access to its databases. It often refused to lend uniforms or delivery trucks to agents for undercover operations, citing fears of retribution against employees as well as concerns about customer privacy.

Then came the attacks on New York and Washington and pleas from the government for private-sector help in fighting terrorism. Suddenly, the king of overnight delivery became one of homeland security’s best friends.

FedEx has opened the international portion of its databases, including credit-card details, to government officials. It has created a police force recognized by the state of Tennessee that works alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The company has rolled out radiation detectors at overseas facilities to detect dirty bombs and donated an airplane to federal researchers looking for a defense against shoulder-fired missiles.

Moreover, the company is encouraging its 250,000 employees to be spotters of would-be terrorists. It is setting up a system designed to send reports of suspicious activities directly to the Department of Homeland Security via a special computer link.

FedEx’s newfound enthusiasm for a frontline role in the war on terror shows how the relationship between business and government has changed in the past few years. In some cases, these changes are blurring the division between private commerce and public law enforcement.

Amnesty International, via NPR, reports:

The US administration’s attempts to dilute the absolute ban on torture through new policies and quasi-management speak such as “environmental manipulation”, “stress positions” and “sensory manipulation”, was one of the most damaging assaults on global values.

Despite the US administration’s repeated use of the language of justice and freedom there was a huge gap between rhetoric and reality. This was starkly illustrated by the failure to conduct a full and independent investigation into the appalling torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US soldiers in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the failure to hold senior individuals to account.

“The USA, as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide. When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity,” said Irene Khan.


A 13-year-old girl is hit at least twice with a stun gun while handcuffed in a caged patrol car.
A 13-year-old girl is hit at least twice with a stun gun while handcuffed in a caged patrol car. reports:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An officer has been suspended for zapping a 13-year-old girl at least twice with a stun gun while she was handcuffed in his caged patrol car.

An internal report by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Llahsmin Lynn Kallead was handcuffed and in the back seat of the patrol car when Officer G.A. Nelson stunned her, the Florida Times-Union reported for Tuesday editions.

Nelson and his partner had been called to the apartment Kallead shares with her mother Rosie Vaughan because they were fighting.

Vaughan wanted police to help get medical help for her daughter, who had been hospitalized for observation in the past for emotional disorders, the newspaper said.

Nelson, a 6-foot-2 officer weighing 300 pounds, allegedly used the low-setting stun mode when the 4-foot-8 Kallead wormed the handcuffs from behind her back and would not do as directed. “The situation was under control at this point,” the internal report said.

Sgt. D.E. Smith, who was called to the scene, said, “Please don’t tell me this is the person you Tased.”

Department spokesman Ken Jefferson said Nelson has been suspended for three days.

“A supervisor questioned the judgment of the officer, and he began the investigation process,” Jefferson said Monday.

Nelson did not violate written guidelines on using stun guns, but his actions showed poor judgment, the report said. He had been trained to use Tasers and received training as an instructor in January.


Andrew Buncombe, The Independent (UK) , reports:

Sergeant Kevin Benderman cannot shake the images from his head. There are bombed villages and desperate people. There are dogs eating corpses thrown into a mass grave. And most unremitting of all, there is the image of a young Iraqi girl, no more than eight or nine, one arm severely burnt and blistered, and the sound of her screams.

Last January, these memories became too much for this veteran of the war in Iraq. Informed his unit was about to return, he told his commanders he wanted out and applied to be considered a conscientious objector. The Army refused and charged him with desertion. Last week, his case - which carries a penalty of up to seven years’ imprisonment - started before a military judge at Fort Stewart in Georgia.

“If I am sincere in what I say and there’s consequences because of my actions, I am prepared to stand up and take it,” Sgt Benderman said. “If I have to go to prison because I don’t want to kill anybody, so be it.”

The Sunday Times (Britain) reprints:


From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam’s regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

Pravda reports:

Last week, American authorities arranged a meeting of the former Iraqi dictator with his wife.

She was the first of Hussein”s relatives to meet with the ex-leader of Iraq at a new place, at the American military base in Qatar. Accompanied by Sheikh Hamad Al-Tani, Sajida Heiralla Tuffah has arrived from Syria on his private jet in the end of March.

The outcome of their meeting turned out to be quite scandalous. Sajina claims that the person she encountered was not her husband, but his double. If someone were to say for sure that it was not insinuation, it would have been easy to believe the wife with a 25-year experience. It is also possible to assume that Saddam has simply changed since the day of his sons’ deaths, June 24 2003. This however is highly unlikely. In case we believe Hussein”s wife, all DNA testing of the ex-Iraqi leader should be considered a mere fake. Overall, today there remain more questions then there are answers.

On the other hand however, those statements of Hussein’s wife can in fact be quite understandable. After all, this is the easiest way to demoralize an enemy.

Mercury News reprots:

WASHINGTON - Americans will be required to show U.S. passports when they re-enter the United States from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean by 2008 under proposed new rules announced Tuesday by the State and Homeland Security departments.

Cpl. Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim, a 19-year-old immigrant has become the first Tibetan-American killed in combat in Iraq. Photo: RFA

Radio Free Asia reports:

WASHINGTON—A 19-year-old Tibetan from Virginia has been killed in combat in Iraq, less than one month after deploying there.

Cpl. Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim died as a result of “hostile action” April 2, the Pentagon said. He appears to be the first Tibetan-American killed in combat in Iraq.

“He was a very good boy, deeply religious, and [he] talked of serving Tibet as a soldier after he completed his military career as U.S. Marine,” his mother, Radio Free Asia (RFA) Tibetan service broadcaster Rinzin Choedon, said.

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