Mexican president elect Enrique Pena Nieto survived a legal challenge to his election and was declared president elect last week.
Meanwhile, his opposition, the Partido de Revolucion Democratica (PRD) and Partido Accion National (PAN) are combining for a common strategy to counter Pena Nieto's party,the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), in the national Chamber of Deputies, even as politics both within and outside that coalition threaten that unity.
The Obama administration is making it easier for bureaucrats to take away guns without offering the accused any realistic due process. In a final rule published last week, the Justice Department granted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) authority to "seize and administratively forfeit property involved in controlled-substance abuses." That means government can grab firearms and other property from someone who has never been convicted or even charged with any crime.
It's a dangerous extension of the civil-forfeiture doctrine, a surreal legal fiction in which the seized property -- not a person -- is put on trial. This allows prosecutors to dispense with pesky constitutional rights, which conveniently don't apply to inanimate objects. In this looking-glass world, the owner is effectively guilty until proved innocent and has the burden of proving otherwise. Anyone falsely accused will never see his property again unless he succeeds in an expensive uphill legal battle.
Such seizures are common in drug cases, which sometimes can ensnare people who have done nothing wrong. James Lieto found out about civil forfeiture the hard way when the FBI seized $392,000 from his business because the money was being carried by an armored-car firm he had hired that had fallen under a federal investigation. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Mr. Lieto was never accused of any crime, yet he spent thousands in legal fees to get his money back.
Law enforcement agencies love civil forfeiture because it's extremely lucrative. The Department of Justice's Assets Forfeiture Fund had $2.8 billion in booty in 2011, according to a January audit. Seizing guns from purported criminals is nothing new; Justice destroyed or kept 11,355 guns last year, returning just 396 to innocent owners. The new ATF rule undoubtedly is designed to ramp up the gun-grabbing because, as the rule justification claims, "The nexus between drug trafficking and firearm violence is well established."
The main problem is that civil forfeiture creates a perverse profit motive, leaving bureaucrats with strong incentives to abuse a process that doesn't sufficiently protect those who may be wrongly accused. Criminal forfeiture is more appropriate because it's tied to a conviction in a court with the option of a jury trial and evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Innocents like Mr. Lieto have to fight against the might of the U.S. government with a watered-down standard that stacks the legal deck so prosecutors can get a quick win.
This administration has turned a blind eye to our markets. Previous prosecutions were over a thousand even under Clinton. None so far with O. Madoff for example had connections that never paid a price as he did. They all knew but made great sums of money. Like a home or business appraisal or loan. Everyone pushed the bubble.
They take the little guy and push him around.
Milk IS a controlled substance - at least infant formula is - in some hospitals it is now dispensed like prescription medicine. To encourage breast feeding ( a fine thing) they make the new mother listen to her baby cry for 1-3 hours until the counselor can come lecture her on feeding and the appropriately licensed person can open the locked formula cabinet.
Posted by: Water Modem ||
When milk and bread become "controlled-substances" we may have a problem.
Read the Food Safety Act or whatever it was called, I think it was passed last year or 2010. Very scary, it can be interpreted in so many ways. I expect they will try and tell people soon enough, that they cannot eat anything they have grown themselves. TSA and VIPR checkpoints on the highways.
Oof. I guess we're going to have to 'Go Wolverines' on the oppressors.
Posted by: Secret Asian Man ||
Law enforcement agencies love civil forfeiture because it's extremely lucrative.
I call it government over-reaching greed and a suspension of due process. Our founding fathers created the Constitution to protect citizens when government runs amok. They had experienced such losses of freedom and came to the America to escape tyranny.
You can bring about any result you desire if you ignore the law, suspend rights, or redefine the law to suit your ideological desires. There is not such a far distance between this gun grab and gun grabs in Nazi Germany. It was not very long before Nazi Germany had a ruthless totalitarian regime that did as it pleased at a great cost to whatever groups they decreed enemies of the state.
"Fast and Furious" is an example of government gone wild. I am still waiting for people to be impeached or go to jail over that one.
I've been toying with the idea of setting up a trust to own firearms for the benefit of my family. Don't think it would prevent criminal forfeiture, but it should be able to defeat civil forfeiture.
My first narcotics task force meeting to plan a major raid on a smugling and distribution operation in Southern California in the early 90s was eye opening. After a description of the trafficking organization structure and its three disparate operational sites and personnel, what followed as a very detailed and well researched inventory of property, bank accounts, vehicles, and major assets that would be seized at each site and their value. Then, as the operation plan was discussed, agency contribution to the task force in terms of personnel and manhours, and % share of seizures were defined,. The the op was timed so the most lucrative site was taken down first, while the other two were monitored and containment planned, clearly making the point that assest forfeiture wasw a major component in decision making. This is nothing new, just sad.
In this case Lieto used an armored car service which was under investigation (I doubt he would know this even if he did due diligence on the company) to haul money from his business. The assets of the armored car service as well as his money in the armored car were confiscated.
This latest gun grab gives authority to "seize and administratively forfeit property involved in controlled-substance abuses." I hope this doesn't mean elders could get their guns confiscated because they may (or may not)abuse pain medications. Abuse could be defined broadly as whatever the ATF decides? Suppose some old guy has a great firearm collection and the ATF decides to kick down his door, plant some drugs, and confiscate his collection? Some people got their gun collections confiscated at the time of Katrina because someone thought that would be a good idea. They played hell getting them back.
It seems that guilt is assumed and one has to prove they are innocent.
The only real recourse anyone has when the government ignores the law is to start using their guns.
The trust idea is really just about not being the low lying fruit. When corrupt officials start looking around for goodies to grab, a thin layer of insulation is better than nothing.
If the guns are owned by a trust, then a beneficiary losing his ownership rights doesn't forfeit the gun. If the cops demand all his guns, he can truthfully say he doesn't own any. The trust might also help with grandfathering ownership rights when gun laws change.
Civil/criminal forfeiture is an ugly aspect of US law, though we don't hear about it much. Henry Hyde used to be a champion against these laws, but since he retired I don't know that anyone else has taken up the cause. The essential idea is that the property is guilty. This idea comes to us from admiralty law and has been upheld by the SCT, sadly.
Property doesn't have any Constitutional rights whatsoever. No probable cause, No due process. No innocent until proven guilty. No right to an attorney. No beyond a reasonable doubt. Also, the cops are not liable for any damage / loss to property they have seized, so after you spend money on lawyers and years in court to get your illegally seized property back, they hand you junk. Every time. Cops hate having their acts questioned. They will make sure you pay.
The problem - as usual - is the misuse of tools. These laws are legal tools that have legitimate purposes if used PROPERLY and with common sense. For example, it's a good idea to seize weapons belonging real drug cartels. The PROBLEM, however, is ambitious and over-reaching Gov't officials who are trying to make a personal name for themselves. Those kinds of people can do enormous harm.
Laws are like firearms ... they are effective when used properly and responsibly.
The party that nominated Dole, McCain, Romney? The party that maxed out the government credit cards when it controlled both Congress and the White House under Bush? The party that banned 100 watt light bulbs and passed TARP? Deluded? How could that be?
Its the Part of Evil/Party of Stupid conumdrum.
When the evil is pretty and unknown, and the Stupid is apparent and open, evil wins. If the evil is apparent and in coide tells you what it is going to do, stupid is the preference. ANd by stupid, I really mean naive in the way people of principle, honor, decency and loyalty to the greatest nation ever created are stupid about their adversary, because we inpute to them qualities akin to our own that they really don't have. Obama is, as Eastwood so brilliant quipped, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
[Dawn] THE shameful incarceration of a young Christian girl on trumped-up blasphemy charges has provoked outrage across a wide cross section of ordinary people in Pakistain and beyond, and expectedly so.
What has followed, however, was most definitely not in the script. The religious right, clearly conscious of the bad press that has been generated by the targeting of a mentally challenged girl, actually appears to have been forced into a measure of retreat.
The star witness in almost every blasphemy case is some no-name holy man similar to the one who accused the girl of blasphemy, and the 'evidence' upon which such accusers rely is usually just as dodgy as in this particular instance. So what explains the twist in the tale? Might the tables actually be turning in favour of this country's long-suffering religious minorities, both in the realm of public opinion and with regard to the state's posture?
I think not. Quite apart from the fact that the girl is still in jail, if there is a less unhappy conclusion to this case it will be because both objective and subjective factors have conspired to produce an aberration, not because a new norm has been established. Progressives should be wary of counting their chickens before they have hatched.
Instead, we should be engaging in much more introspection than we are typically wont to do during and after such episodes. Moral indignation is all good and well, but only insofar as it precipitates meaningful political action.
Christians and other religious minorities in this country are indeed amongst the most excluded and victimised of all Paks. Liberals have long protested the legal disempowerment of non-Mohammedans, particularly following the constitutional and social interventions made by Gen Zia ul Haq ...the creepy-looking former dictator of Pakistain. Zia was an Islamic nutball who imposed his nutballery on the rest of the country with the enthusiastic assistance of the nation's religious parties, which are populated by other nutballs. He was appointed Chief of Army Staff in 1976 by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whom he hanged when he seized power. His time in office was a period of repression, with hundreds of thousands of political rivals, minorities, and journalists executed or tortured, including senior general officers convicted in coup-d'état plots, who would normally be above the law. As part of his alliance with the religious parties, his government helped run the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, providing safe havens, American equipiment, Saudi money, and Pak handlers to selected mujaheddin. Zia died along with several of his top generals and admirals and the then United States Ambassador to Pakistain Arnold Lewis Raphel when he was assassinated in a suspicious air crash near Bahawalpur in 1988... . There can be no defence of the fact that the state of Pakistain designates religious minorities as second-class citizens (even if citizenship rights are a luxury enjoyed by very few Paks, whatever their religious affiliation).
But liberals evince a curious disinterest in the other more insidious and day-to-day forms of exploitation to which a majority of non-Mohammedans in this country are subjected. Christians and Hindus in particular face the worst kind of discrimination along caste lines, suffering from what in the academic literature is called 'untouchability'. This is compounded by their occupation of the lowest rung on the class ladder.
As a general rule, Christians dominate the municipal services in urban centres. Generation after generation of young Christians are hired as 'sweepers' by government agencies, while Christian women spend the majority of their lives working as informal labourers in rich people's houses, cleaning toilets just like their male counterparts in offices.
Ironically, or perhaps not, this class of 'sweepers' live out their lives in unregulated and often filthy katchi abadis, or squatter settlements. Many survive in perilous conditions on the banks of natural drains, or nullahs, constantly facing the threat of having their mud homes washed away when the monsoon rains come.
And if nature is kind enough to spare them, the eviction crew of the local development authority makes sure to show up every few years to bulldoze their homes into the ground so as to push up the designated bhatta or simply because the formal state has decided it is time to do something 'useful' with the land. Needless to say, the 'use' value of sweepers does not translate into more permanent and humane arrangements for their housing.
Hindus are generally less visible than Christians, but no less violated. A majority of Hindus live in rural Sindh where they are considered capable only of the worst kinds of indentured labour. They are often distinguished from other (Mohammedan) castes by the clothes they wear, and in the case of women, particular kinds of ornaments.
There are more Hindus integrated into mainstream Sindhi society than, say, Christians in urban Punjab, but the difference is hardly great. Christians can be found in Punjabi villages too, and it is from here that many migrate into cities, often willingly so despite the future they know awaits them in the bastions of Pak modernity.
So why is it that class and caste oppression of non-Mohammedans is so understated in spite of the existence of so many organizations and individuals working on 'minority rights'? And why is it that the same liberals who raise a hue and cry about blasphemy and other such cases -- which of course everyone should -- are least concerned with the living and working conditions of the Christians who show up daily to clean their mansions?
These are serious questions and they demand serious answers. Unfortunately, there are too few well-to-do folks in Pakistain who wish to provide them. In fact my sense is that many upper-class liberals would much rather that katchi abadis be eliminated from the cityscape entirely, contributing as they do to a depreciation of prices of land in otherwise 'respected' neighbourhoods.
Class and caste are very real and very disturbing aspects of our shared social reality. But they are almost totally swept under the carpet in mainstream discourse, let alone politics. More troubling is the fact that progressives -- and liberals in particular -- find it utterly unproblematic to separate caste and class oppression from discrimination based on one's faith, when in fact to do so is to engage in the worst kind of obfuscation.
Like in all excluded and impoverished communities, a host of social ills plague religious minorities living in katchi abadis and in relatively isolated rural settlements. Domestic violence is common, as is substance abuse. There is no question, therefore, of romanticising the poor, or the potentialities that exist within poor communities to extricate themselves from the traps of dependency and disempowerment.
The privileged segments of society either acknowledge the structural violence that such communities face or risk pushing them into a corner and facing reaction. We have successfully chosen the latter option, and we cannot put all the blame on Zia ul Haq.
The tyranny of the majority that has left Pak non-Mohammedans struggling to protect the most basic right of all -- the right to life -- is at one and the same time a tyranny of the minority, the minority of the rich, powerful and self-obsessed. This minority may be liberal in its outlook and supportive of unlimited personal freedoms in principle, but it is content in the knowledge that in actually existing Pakistain there is no threat to its unparalleled privilege.
While Israel is naturally focused on the implications of Iran completing its drive toward nuclear weapons, there is another case of one of its bitterest enemies, who tried to accomplish the same goal once before: Saddam Hussein of Iraq. As a result of the 2003 Iraq War, the U.S. Army captured thousands of hours of recordings of highly-classified meetings of the Iraqi leadership on the subject of how they viewed the purpose of nuclear weapons in the future, as well as how they envisioned their use in the context of a war against Israel.
The U.S. Army made the Iraqi tapes and documents available for analysts, who have begun to publish books and academic articles on their content. Last year, two analysts, Hal Brands and David Palkki, published a study they prepared on the Iraqi records for the U.S. National Defense University (NDU). What they found was that Saddam Hussein had personally spoken about the importance of nuclear weapons as a key component of Iraqi strategy from 1978 until the Israeli strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.
Saddam's earlier obsession with nuclear weapons appears to have stopped for at least seven or eight years after the attack, according to the documents, until the late the 1980s when he began to speak about the subject again. For Brands and Palkki, the time Israel gained is a vindication of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's decision to strike Iraq.
So how did Saddam Hussein view the utility of nuclear weapons in a future conflict with Israel? The two NDU authors, Brands and Palkki, point out that contrary to the theories of many experts on international relations in the U.S., who claim that states seek to acquire nuclear weapons for defensive purposes alone in order to enhance deterrence against their neighbors, the Iraqi documents indicate that Saddam Hussein's regime clearly had offensive goals in mind.
This has contemporary relevance. In the July/August edition of the prestigious American quarterly, Foreign Affairs, that sometimes serves as a weather vane for the prevalent atmosphere in the U.S. foreign policy community, Professor Kenneth Waltz published an article entitled: "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb." He argues that an Iranian bomb would balance Israel and hence be "the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East."
Brands and Palkki believe that his kind of thinking is completely wrong. To prove their point that stability will not be the likely result of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, they cite a meeting of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council on March 27, 1979 in which Saddam presented his strategic thinking, when he was the de-facto ruler of Iraq and just about to formally become its president. His thinking was surprising for he explained that Iraqi nuclear weapons would neutralize what many believed was Israel's nuclear capacity, thereby allowing Iraq to wage conventional war against Israel.
On another occasion, Saddam envisioned an Arab war coalition attacking Israel, spearheaded by 10 Iraqi divisions (five infantry and five armored or artillery) as well as forces from Syria and possibly Jordan. According to the documents, he raised this idea with Syrian president Hafez al-Assad. What Saddam Hussein's strategy illustrates is that the military use of nuclear weapons on the part of an adversary of Israel is very different from the role nuclear weapons played during the Cold War, despite the efforts of some analysts to apply the Soviet-American experience to the current Iranian threat.
What were Saddam's war aims according to this captured material? In some cases he spoke about recovering the territories the Arabs lost in 1967. Yet when he spoke to his most trusted advisers, he called for the elimination of Israel. Thus what emerges from the Iraqi documents is that when a leader like Saddam Hussein spoke about the destruction of Israel in public, this was not just rhetoric for political purposes, but rather reflective of the operational plans he had in mind for the Iraqi army in the future.
Much has changed since the time these Iraqi documents were written, and the threats Israel might face are evolving. But it would be a mistake to imagine that they have disappeared completely and much will depend upon the question of whether Iraq becomes a truly independent state or ends up being an Iranian satellite that serves as a springboard for its forces in the future. In this context, the latest information just revealed this week that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is permitting Iranian aircraft to fly through Iraqi airspace to re-supply the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, despite the repeated requests of the Obama administration that it discontinue this activity, is extremely disturbing.
Saddam Hussein's thinking about the relationship of nuclear weapons and conventional war is important to note for one other reason. In the debate over Israel's future borders in the West Bank, it is frequently argued that in the age of missiles, especially if they are armed with weapons of mass destruction, topography, terrain, and strategic depth are no longer relevant and hence Israel can give them up in future peace arrangements. This thesis, if widely accepted, could have enormous implications for areas like the Jordan Valley, undermining Israel's goal of obtaining defensible borders in any peace settlement.
But if the purpose of nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel's enemies is to make it safe for them to return to the era of conventional wars, then Israel must make sure that it guarantees that at the end of the day it must not be forced to concede its most vital territorial assets based on the unfounded notion that they no longer matter in the nuclear era.
Sometimes you have to believe the words they speak. Dinnerjacket and the Mullahs have repeatedly and unmistakeably called for the destruction and removal of the Jewish state by violence. Only a fool would plan for that to be just rhetoric. By their own words they have reaped their own "rewards"
Posted by: Frank G ||
Iraq was invaded and the Donks are still moaning about that being the wrong war at the wrong time. At the time most of the world thought Saddam had WMDs. Had Iraq never been invaded, we would not have access to these documents. Israel had good intelligence back in 1981 when they took out the Osirak nuclear reactor. At the time many thought they did not have any nuclear aims. What they found was that Saddam Hussein had personally spoken about the importance of nuclear weapons as a key component of Iraqi strategy from 1978 until the Israeli strike on the in 1981. This raid is most likely why Iran has hardened facilities today.