<$BlogRSDUrl$>

01 April 2005

Governor Bush Mourns Schiavo, Prepares to Kill Mentally Ill Man, Says Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty 


"Why is it that the only way you can get an assisted suicide in this state is if you murder someone and go to death row?"

NewsWire

3/31/2005 1:32:00 PM

As Florida Governor Jeb Bush mourns the passing of Terri Schiavo in the wake of his personal and extraordinary efforts to keep her alive, the clock is ticking on another Floridian who is about to receive a state-assisted suicide. As the final chapter of the Schiavo saga was heating up a month ago, Bush signed a death warrant for Glen J. Ocha. Ocha, who has legally changed his name to Raven Raven, is a suicidal and mentally ill man who waived his appeals and is scheduled for execution at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, 2005 in revenge for his murder of Carol Skjerva.

"I still firmly believe that human life is a gift and a mystery, and that its mystery is most evident at its beginning and ending. May all of us whose hearts were moved during the life of Terri Schiavo grow in wisdom at its ending," said Governor Bush in a statement sent to the Governor's e-mail list shortly after Schiavo passed away.

"I certainly hope Governor Bush has gained some wisdom about the value of life -- all life," said Abe Bonowitz, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP). "We hope and pray that he will now adopt a consistently pro-life policy."

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP) calls on Governor Jeb Bush to reverse himself and stop the state-assisted suicide of Glen Ocha (pronounced "O'Shea").

Glen Ocha is suicidal and demonstrably mentally ill. Detailed background is available at http://www.fadp.org/takeact.html

"Suicide-by-Governor is getting very popular in Florida," said FADP Director Abe Bonowitz, noting that five of the last eight Florida executions were of prisoners who waived their appeals and asked to be killed. So far Governor Bush has overseen the execution of 16 prisoners, seven of whom have been volunteers.

"Ocha committed a horrible crime and then demanded to be executed. Once again Governor Bush is playing into the hands of a convicted murderer who just wants to die. Why is it that the only way you can get an assisted suicide in this state is if you murder someone and go to death row?" asked Bonowitz

If this killing goes forward, it will be the 60th execution in Florida since 1979 and the 17th under Governor Jeb Bush. More information about Florida executions is available at http://www.fadp.org/Florida_executions.html.

FADP Director Abe Bonowitz is available for interviews at 800- 973-6548

WEB: http://www.FADP.org

------

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty works for restorative justice in the form of effective alternatives to the death penalty. It does so by

-- supporting and coordinating the work of organizations and individuals

-- educating and energizing the general public and state legislators

-- supporting the many persons affected by capital crime and punishment

-- advocating specific legislative improvements

http://www.usnewswire.com/


© 2005 U.S. Newswire

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

(0) comments

31 March 2005

Sleepwalking to disaster in Iran 

'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table.' ~~ GWBush


Aljazeera


by Scott Ritter
Wednesday 30 March 2005 12:15 AM GMT

Late last year, in the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election, I was contacted by someone close to the Bush administration about the situation in Iraq.

There was a growing concern inside the Bush administration, this source said, about the direction the occupation was going.

The Bush administration was keen on achieving some semblance of stability in Iraq before June 2005, I was told.

When I asked why that date, the source dropped the bombshell: because that was when the Pentagon was told to be prepared to launch a massive aerial attack against Iran, Iraq's neighbour to the east, in order to destroy the Iranian nuclear programme.

Why June 2005?, I asked. 'The Israelis are concerned that if the Iranians get their nuclear enrichment programme up and running, then there will be no way to stop the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon. June 2005 is seen as the decisive date.'

To be clear, the source did not say that President Bush had approved plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, as has been widely reported.

The President had reviewed plans being prepared by the Pentagon to have the military capability in place by June 2005 for such an attack, if the President ordered.

But when Secretary of State Condi Rice told America's European allies in February 2005, in response to press reports about a pending June 2005 American attack against Iran, she said that 'the question [of a military strike] is simply not on the agenda at this point -- we have diplomatic means to do this.'

President Bush himself followed up on Rice's statement by stating that 'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.' He quickly added, 'Having said that, all options are on the table.'

There is always the unspoken 'twist': what if the United States does not fully support European diplomatic initiatives, has no interest in letting IAEA inspections work In short, both the President and the Secretary of State were being honest, and disingenuous, at the same time.

Truth to be told, there is no American military strike on the agenda; that is, until June 2005.

It was curious that no one in the American media took it upon themselves to confront the President or his Secretary of State about the June 2005 date, or for that matter the October 2004 review by the President of military plans to attack Iran in June 2005.

The American media today is sleepwalking towards an American war with Iran with all of the incompetence and lack of integrity that it displayed during a similar path trodden during the buildup to our current war with Iraq.

On the surface, there is nothing extraordinary about the news that the President of the United States would order the Pentagon to be prepared to launch military strikes on Iran in
June 2005 .

That Iran has been a target of the Bush administration's ideologues is no secret: the President himself placed Iran in the 'axis of evil' back in 2002, and has said that the world would be a better place with the current Iranian government relegated to the trash bin of history.

The Bush administration has also expressed its concern about Iran's nuclear programmes - concerns shared by Israel and the European Union, although to different degrees.

In September 2004, Iran rejected the International Atomic Energy Agency's call for closing down its nuclear fuel production programme (which many in the United States and Israel believe to be linked to a covert nuclear weapons programme).

Iran then test fired a ballistic missile with sufficient range to hit targets in Israel as well as US military installations in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

The Iranian response triggered a serious re-examination of policy by both Israel and the United States.

The Israeli policy review was driven in part by the Iranian actions, and in part by Israel's own intelligence assessment regarding the Iranian nuclear programme, made in August 2004 .

This assessment held that Iran was 'less than a year' away from completing its uranium enrichment programme. If Iran was allowed to reach this benchmark, the assessment
went on to say, then it had reached the 'point of no return' for a nuclear weapons programme. The date set for this 'point of no return' was June 2005.

Israel's Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, declared that 'under no circumstances would Israel be able to tolerate nuclear weapons in Iranian possession'.

Since October 2003 Israel had a plan in place for a pre-emptive strike against Iran's major nuclear facilities, including the nuclear reactor facility in Busher (scheduled to become active in 2005).

These plans were constantly being updated, something that did not escape the attention of the Bush White House.

The Israeli policy toward Iran, when it comes to stopping the Iranian nuclear programme, has always been for the US to lead the way.

'The way to stop Iran', a senior Israeli official has said, 'is by the leadership of the US, supported by European countries and taking this issue to the UN, and using the diplomatic channel with sanctions as a tool and a very deep inspection regime and full transparency.'

It seems that Tel Aviv and Washington, DC aren't too far removed on their Iranian policy objectives, except that there is always the unspoken 'twist': what if the United States does not fully support European diplomatic initiatives, has no interest in letting IAEA inspections work, and envisions UN sanctions as a permanent means of containment until regime change is accomplished in Tehran, as opposed to a tool designed to compel Iran to cooperate on eliminating its nuclear programme?

Because the fact is, despite recent warm remarks by President Bush and Condi Rice, the US does not fully embrace the EU's Iran diplomacy, viewing it as a programme 'doomed to fail'.

The IAEA has come out with an official report, after extensive inspections of declared Iranian nuclear facilities in November 2004, that says there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme; the Bush administration responded by trying to oust the IAEA's lead inspector, Mohammed al-Baradei.

And the Bush administration's push for UN sanctions shows every intention of making such sanctions deep, painful and long-lasting.

Curiously, the date for the Bush administration's move to call for UN sanctions against Iran is June 2005.

According to a US position paper circulated in Vienna at the end of last month, the US will give the EU-Iran discussions until June 2005 to resolve the Iranian standoff.

'Ultimately only the full cessation and dismantling of Iran's fissile material production efforts can give us any confidence that Iran has abandoned its nuclear weapons ambitions,' the US draft position paper said.

Iran has called such thinking 'hallucinations' on the part of the Bush administration.

The American media today is sleepwalking towards an American war with Iran
Economic sanctions and military attacks are not one and the same. Unless, of course, the architect of America's Iran policy never intends to give sanctions a chance.

Enter John Bolton, who, as the former US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security for the Bush administration, is responsible for drafting the current US
policy towards Iran.

In February 2004, Bolton threw down the gauntlet by stating that Iran had a 'secret nuclear weapons programme' that was unknown to the IAEA. 'There is no doubt that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons production programme', Bolton said, without providing any source to back up his assertions.

This is the same John Bolton who had in the past accused Cuba of having an offensive biological weapons programme, a claim even Bush administration hardliners had to distance themselves from.

John Bolton is the Bush official who declared the European Union's engagement with Iran 'doomed to fail'. He is the Bush administration official who led the charge to remove Muhammad al-Baradai from the IAEA.

And he is the one who, in drafting the US strategy to get the UN Security Council to impose economic sanctions against Iran, asked the Pentagon to be prepared to launch 'robust' military attacks against Iran should the UN fail to agree on sanctions.

Bolton understands better than most the slim chances any US-brokered sanctions regime against Iran has in getting through the Security Council.

The main obstacle is Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council who not only possesses a veto, but also is Iran's main supporter (and supplier) when it comes to its nuclear power programme.

Since October 2003 Israel had a plan in place for a pre-emptive strike against Iran's major nuclear facilities John Bolton has made a career out of alienating the Russians. Bolton was one of the key figures who helped negotiate a May 2002 arms reduction treaty signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

This treaty was designed to reduce the nuclear arsenals of both America and Russia by two thirds over a 10 year period.

But that treaty - to Russia's immense displeasure - now appears to have been made mute thanks to a Bolton-inspired legal loophole that the Bush administration had built into the treaty language.

John Bolton knows Russia will not go along with UN sanctions against Iran, which makes the military planning being conducted by the Pentagon all the more relevant.

John Bolton's nomination as the next US Ambassador to the United Nations is as curious as it is worrying. This is the man who, before a panel discussion sponsored by the World Federalist Association in 1994, said 'There is no such thing as the United Nations.'

For the United States to submit to the will of the Security Council, Bolton wrote in a 1999 Weekly Standard article, would mean that 'its discretion in using force to advance its national interests is likely to be inhibited in the future.'

But John Bolton doesn't let treaty obligations, such as those incurred by the United States when it signed and ratified the UN Charter, get in the way. 'Treaties are law only for US domestic purposes', he wrote in a 17 November 1997 Wall Street Journal Op Ed. 'In their international operation, treaties are simply political obligations.'

John Bolton believes that Iran should be isolated by United Nations sanctions and, if Iran will not back down from its nuclear programme, confronted with the threat of military action.

And as the Bush administration has noted in the past, particularly in the case of Iraq, such threat must be real and meaningful, and backed by the will and determination to use it.

And the Bush administration's push for UN sanctions shows every intention of making such sanctions deep, painful and long-lasting. John Bolton and others in the Bush administration contend that, despite the lack of proof, Iran's nuclear intentions are obvious.

In response, the IAEA's Muhammad al-Baradai has pointed out the lack of a 'smoking gun' which would prove Iran's involvement in a nuclear weapons programme. 'We are not God', he said. 'We cannot read intentions.'

But, based upon history, precedent, and personalities, the intent of the United States regarding Iran is crystal clear: the Bush administration intends to bomb Iran.

Whether this attack takes place in June 2005, when the Pentagon has been instructed to be ready, or at a later date, once all other preparations have been made, is really the only question that remains to be answered.

That, and whether the journalists who populate the mainstream American media will continue to sleepwalk on their way to facilitating yet another disaster in the Middle East.

Scott Ritter former UN Chief Weapons inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998 author of 'Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy', published by I.B.

The opinions expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of Aljazeera.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

(0) comments

Boy Scout director charged with having child porn 

MSNBC.com


Organization 'dismayed and shocked ' by news

NBC News and news services
Updated: 8:11 p.m. ET March 29, 2005

DALLAS, Texas - A longtime Boy Scouts of America official who directed a national task force to protect children from sexual abuse has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, was accused of receiving images over the Internet in February of children engaging in oral sex, intercourse and other sexually explicit conduct. The charges were filed by federal prosecutors March 21.

“We’re shocked and dismayed to learn of this,” said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, based in the Dallas suburb of Irving. “Smith was employed by the Boy Scouts for 39 years and we had no indication of prior criminal activity.”

Sources in the U.S. Attorney's office told NBC that Smith, 61, was expected to plead guilty.

Law enforcement officials indicated the pictures did not show boys who were with the Boy Scouts organization, Shields said.

Smith was a national program director and staff adviser of the Boy Scout’s renowned Youth Protection Task Force. Shields said Smith took over the task force a couple of years ago when another employee retired. Smith managed the distribution of literature, video tapes, a Web site and other resources that teach children and adults at schools, churches and Boy Scout troops how to detect and prevent child abuse.

Smith’s job did not involve working directly with children, Shields said. Smith was put on leave immediately after the Boy Scouts officials learned of charges, then chose to retire, he said.

Smith, reached Tuesday at his home in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, referred all questions to his attorney, Jack Strickland, who said: “He’s not taking this well. I’ve got to tell you, this is a good man and I would hate to see the entirety of his life and the good things he’s done defined by one incident.”

Smith’s indictment was the result of a joint investigation between German and U.S. authorities to look into child porn distributed over the Internet.

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department, declined to talk specifically about Smith’s case, but said it is the kind that authorities take special care to investigate.

The Scouts have been under fire in recent years for refusing to allow gays, atheists or agnostics into the organization.

“That’s totally irrelevant to this,” Shields said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

(0) comments

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?