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The Corporate Prison Boom, Immigration and the Law

Friday, March 07, 2008

By Tilda Sosaya

Prison construction is booming in the USA, and New Mexico has been the guinea pig for the largest of the private prison corporations such as CCA, Cornell, GEO (aka Wackenhut, Group 4 Falk) and MTC. In NM more than 40% of our prisoners are in private, for-profit prisons and jails, while the national average is less than 10%. Wexford, the former scandal ridden medical provider, and Aramark, delivering poor quality food - have had their hands full of cash from our state coffers but having been proven less than adequate in providing these services, eventually lost their contracts earlier this year. A state commissioned study into levels of violence found that Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs – a GEO facility - had the highest number of injuries among all the state prisons. During one period – from December ’98 until August ’99, five inmates and one guard were killed in NM – all in GEO facilities. In addition, NM has the highest number of prisoners in solitary confinement – a whopping 25% of the male prison population is confined 23 hours per day, and 24 hours per day on weekends. New Mexico is also top of the scale in this regard, with Texas following second at 10% by comparison. Furthermore, we have among the highest rates of recidivism – at least 70% - in the nation elaborated further in this article.

All the “privateers” have their hands in the prison potty here – as do many of our elected officials. Private for-profit lock-ups are nothing new … they’ve been around now for more than a couple of decades. The Hamilton County jail in Chattanooga, Tennessee was the first local jail in the U.S. to “go private.” CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) was awarded the contract in 1984 to operate the “secure adult facility.” And a few years later, CCA built the first private prison in New Mexico, which opened in Grants in 1989 under the administration of Governor Garrey Carruthers. It is only since the Gary Johnson administration, however, that the prison corporations have created a whopping boom-economy in the marketing and trade of human flesh, as our State so clearly exemplifies....(Click here for remainder of Sun News Santa Fe article).

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EPA Chief Under Fire for Ignoring Scientists

by Aaron Glantz
Published on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 by One World.net


SAN FRANCISCO - The vast majority of scientists and other specialists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have withdrawn from a key labor-management partnership, citing rising distrust of the agency’s chief Stephen Johnson.

In a letter to Administrator Johnson, trade unions representing the workers complain that Johnson retaliates against whistle-blowers and union officers, “abuses our good nature and trust,” and ignores the agency’s Principles of Scientific Integrity.

Johnson has faced mounting criticism from within his own agency and a Congressional investigatory panel for allegedly ignoring scientific findings when they have contradicted the Bush administration’s political aims.

The letter, which is signed by 19 union presidents representing 10,000 EPA employees across the country, is the latest fallout from Johnson’s December decision to block California and at least 16 other states from implementing tough new restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions on cars and trucks.

“Whatever reservoir of good will and credibility that Stephen Johnson had as a career employee is fast evaporating,” said Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch in a statement. “On a host of critical issues, the nation is looking for EPA to lead, but Johnson cannot be an effective leader from inside a bunker.”

In an interview with OneWorld, EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said Johnson has no regrets about preventing California’s greenhouse gas regulations and has great respect for the agency’s workers....(Click here for remainder of Common Dreams article).

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World Can ‘Afford’ To Solve Its Environmental Woes: OECD



The world could solve many of the major environmental problems it faces at an “affordable” price, the OECD said Wednesday, warning that the cost of doing nothing would be far higher.

In a report presented in Oslo, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development suggested a range of measures to address what it said were the greatest global environmental challenges through 2030: climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and the impact on human health of pollution and toxic chemicals.

“It’s not cheap. It is affordable, but also it is considerably less onerous for mankind and for the economy than the alternative of inaction,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria told reporters.

The suggested measures would cost just over 1.0 percent of the predicted global gross domestic product in 2030, meaning world wealth would grow on average 0.03 percentage points less per year over the next 22 years, the organisation said.

If nothing is done however, global greenhouse gas emissions could rise by over 50 percent by 2050, while “one billion more people will be living in areas of severe water stress by 2030 than today, and premature deaths caused by ground-level ozone worldwide would quadruple by 2030,” the OECD report said....(Click here for remainder of Common Dreams post).

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China admits effect of pressure over Darfur

07/03/2008 06h27

BEIJING (AFP) - Global pressure on China over its ties to Sudan has spurred the Chinese government to take a more proactive stance on ending violence in Darfur, the nation's special envoy on the issue said Friday.

"Darfur is the focus of international attention and many Western nations want China to play a bigger role," Chinese diplomat Liu Guijin told journalists.

"This is why I have been appointed as the special envoy of the Chinese government on the Darfur issue."

Liu, fresh from a visit to the troubled region, was appointed China's envoy on Darfur in May last year, when an international campaign to pressure Beijing on Sudan ahead of the Beijing Olympics began to take on steam.

Although China has long opposed linking the Olympics to Darfur and other human rights issues, growing international scrutiny of Beijing's ties with Sudan has coincided with greater diplomatic activity by the Asian giant.

"Since last May, I have visited Sudan four times. In the future, if it is necessary, I will pay more visits," Liu said, who also travelled to Chad, Britain and France to discuss the conflict on his most recent trip....(Click here for remainder of Agence France Press article).

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FBI Chief Confirms Misuse of Subpoenas

Security Letters Used to Get Personal Data

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 6, 2008; Page A02


FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told senators yesterday that agents improperly used a type of administrative subpoena to obtain personal data about Americans until internal reforms were enacted last year.

Mueller said a forthcoming report from the Justice Department's inspector general will find that abuses recurred in the agency's use of national security letters in 2006, echoing similar problems to those identified in earlier audits.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine reported a year ago that the FBI used such letters -- which are not subject to a court's review -- to improperly obtain telephone logs, banking records and other personal records of thousands of Americans from 2003 to 2005. An internal FBI audit also found that the bureau potentially violated laws or agency rules more than 1,000 times in such cases....(Click here for remainder of Washington Post article).

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No Need For Lawmakers’ Approval of Iraq Pact, Administration Reasserts

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 6, 2008; Page A18


The Bush administration yesterday advanced a new argument for why it does not require congressional approval to strike a long-term security agreement with Iraq, stating that Congress had already endorsed such an initiative through its 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein.

The 2002 measure, along with the congressional resolution passed one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks authorizing military action "to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States," permits indefinite combat operations in Iraq, according to a statement by the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs.

The statement came in response to lawmakers' demands that the administration submit to Congress for approval any agreement with Iraq. U.S. officials are traveling to Baghdad this week with drafts of two documents -- a status-of-forces agreement and a separate "strategic framework" -- that they expect to sign with the Iraqi government by the end of July. It is to go into effect when the current U.N. mandate expires Dec. 31....(Click here for remainder of Washington Post article).

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Did Clinton Win Ohio on a Lie?

by Paul Rogat Loeb
Published on Thursday, March 6, 2008 by CommonDreams.org


Suppose someone in the North Korean government released a false story that shifted a key American election. If Bush were negatively affected, we might be bombing Pyongyang by now. But this just happened with what Hillary Clinton called “NAFTAgate” Without it, she might never have won Ohio, or her margin would have been minuscule. But as a Canadian Broadcasting Company story reveals, practically the entire story was a lie, one that played so central a role in Clinton’s Ohio victory as to thoroughly taint any claim she raises about a swing state mandate.

As the Ohio primary approached, Obama was steadily closing what a month earlier had been a 20-point lead in the polls. He pointed out that the NAFTA trade agreement was a centerpiece of Bill Clinton’s term and that it cost massive numbers of industrial jobs. Instead of creating a trade-fueled boom, NAFTA helped hollow out America’s industrial base, with over 200,000 manufacturing jobs disappearing in Ohio alone since the 2000 election. Even Republicans I talked with while calling the state just before the primary made clear that they thought it was a disaster.

Given these sentiments, Hillary chose not to defend her husband’s actions, but instead claimed Obama was distorting her position because she’d privately opposed the agreement at the time, had “long been a critic” and now similarly supported stronger labor and environmental standards. Echoing her reinvention on the Iraq War, these claims were flat-out nonsense. As David Sirota points out, she’d praised NAFTA repeatedly in public settings from the time of its inception, even praising corporations for mounting “a very effective business effort” on behalf of its passage. And as Obama highlighted their contrasting positions and approaches on this and other issues, he was gaining in the polls....(Click here for remainder of Common Dreams post).

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War profiteering by tax dodge

March 7, 2008

FOR YEARS, companies more interested in profits than patriotism have registered overseas or used foreign subsidiaries to avoid US taxes. Now a major Pentagon contractor once managed by Vice President Dick Cheney is using Cayman Islands shell companies to help it and its workers escape US payroll taxes.

KBR, the largest private contractor for the Pentagon in Iraq, has two shell companies in the Caymans, that, for bookkeeping purposes, employ about 10,500 Americans in Iraq. Because the companies are offshore, neither KBR nor the workers must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, allowing the company and its workers to avoid paying about $100 million a year, according to Globe reporter Farah Stockman.

The revelation should give impetus to bills, including one sponsored by Senator John F. Kerry, that would close loopholes for companies registering overseas. "Failing to contribute to Social Security and Medicare thousands of times over isn't shielding the taxpayers they claim to protect," Kerry said. "It's costing our citizens in the name of short-term corporate greed."...(Click here for remainder of Boston Globe article).

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US officials lean toward keeping Iraq report quiet

New assessment scheduled soon
By Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post / March 7, 2008

WASHINGTON - A new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month, according to US intelligence officials. But leaders of the intelligence community have not decided whether to make its key judgments public, a step that caused an uproar when key judgments in an NIE about Iran were released in November.

The classified estimate on Iraq is intended as an update of last summer's assessment, which predicted modest security improvements but an increasingly precarious political situation there, the US officials said.

It is meant to be delivered to Congress before testimony in early April by Army General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, according to a letter sent last week by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia....(Click here for remainder of Boston Globe article).

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Clinton camp shoots Starr smear at Obama

BY CRAIG GORDON | craig.gordon@newsday.com
March 7, 2008


WASHINGTON -- Them's fightin' words.

It's hard to think of a worse put-down from Hillary Clinton's camp than comparing someone to Ken Starr, the prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

So it shows just how nasty the campaign is getting when Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson hurled that epithet not at some Republican Hillary-basher -- but at Barack Obama.

Wolfson said Obama's plan to attack Clinton's record more sharply after losing in Ohio and Texas hearkened back to probes of the Clintons in the 1990s, including Starr's, which led to Bill Clinton's impeachment.

"I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president," Wolfson said.

Clinton is the one who turned up the temperature first in attacking Obama, accusing him of plagiarizing speeches, having ties to a "slumlord" in indicted Chicago developer Tony Rezko and being ill-prepared to be president....(Click here for remainder of Newsday article).

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Lesson of Defeat: Obama Comes Out Punching

By MICHAEL POWELL and JEFF ZELENY
Published: March 6, 2008


CHICAGO — Senator Barack Obama woke up on Wednesday talking of his delegate lead and of taking the fight to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. But after defeats in two of the most populous states, he also sounded like a chastened candidate in search of his lost moment.

Mr. Obama once again failed to administer an electoral coup de grâce, and so allowed a tenacious rival to elude his grasp. Now, after appearing nearly invincible just last week, he faces questions about his toughness and vulnerabilities — never mind seven weeks of tramping across Pennsylvania, the site of the next big primary showdown. His goal is to prove he can win states vital to a Democratic victory in November.

In Ohio and Texas, he drew vast and adoring crowds, yet he came up short on primary day, just as he did in New Hampshire in early January. Mrs. Clinton’s attack on his readiness to serve as commander in chief seemed to resonate with some Texas voters....(Click here for remainder of New York Times article).

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Obama aides attack Clinton on foreign policy

Thu Mar 6, 2008 10:31pm EST
By Caren Bohan


CHICAGO (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton's foreign policy would be more of the same failed Republican approach, Barack Obama's campaign said on Thursday, as aides stepped up their attacks after losses in this week's Democratic presidential nominating race.

Clinton, who revived her struggling campaign with victories on Tuesday in closely watched contests in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, has been hammering away at Obama on national security, painting him as too inexperienced to handle a world crisis.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee and a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, has used a similar line of criticism against Obama.

Obama aides seized on the simultaneous attacks to accuse the New York senator of choosing to "align herself with Sen. McCain."...(Click here for remainder of Reuters article).

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Chairman Reyes responds. Our answer: Prove it.

Turn up the heat on Chairman Reyes. Contribute $25 for DFA to run ads in his district.

Our campaign demanding Chairman Reyes stand up to President Bush is working. After 1,922 reported calls, the Chairman's Chief Counsel, Jeremy Bash, contacted DFA and insisted that we were "shooting the wrong target."

Our answer was simple: Prove it.

This morning, DFA received a letter that the Chairman asked we post on our website. Sadly, the Chairman still gets it wrong:

"The issue is how to craft legislation that only protects companies that acted lawfully."

Chairman Reyes: they don't need immunity if they didn't break the law. America doesn't need parsed words and legalese, America requires leadership.

Chairman Reyes got your calls; let's make sure he gets the message. Contribute $25 right now, so we can run ads that turn up the heat on Chairman Reyes.

www.DemocrayforAmerica.com/FISAads

Chairman Reyes has stood up to President Bush before, he must do it again.

On Feb 12, the Chairman wrote "it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago."

Last August, he voted against the Administration's bill, the Protect America Act. Last month, he insisted that Congress stand firm and not simply rubber-stamp the Senate FISA bill, despite over-heated rhetoric from the President that doing so would somehow endanger the country. He knew better, and he called out the President on his false rhetoric.

But last weekend, Chairman Reyes said "after receiving documents from the Bush administration and speaking to the [telecommunication] companies" a deal was likely "within the next week."

Rep. Reyes doesn't need to make a deal with President Bush and Vice President Cheney. He must hold the Bush administration accountable and not let AT&T and Verizon off the hook for spying on innocent Americans. Contribute $25 right now and send a clear message to Chairman Reyes to stand up to President Bush.

www.DemocrayforAmerica.com/FISAads

In the Chairman's letter , he also says:

"So the issue isn't whether someone is 'for' or 'against' telecom immunity. We are all 'for' telecom immunity if the compliance is consistent with the law."

Rep. Reyes still doesn't get it. The issue is very simple:

  • If the phone companies did nothing illegal, the courts will make that determination.
  • If the phone companies did something illegal, they should be held accountable in the court of law.
  • This is America's last chance to hold the Bush administration accountable for their illegal warrantless wiretapping. Ending these lawsuits before a trial has even begun will forever let George Bush and his cronies off the hook.

Sen. Dodd and other Democrats with backbone have stood up against any and all forms of telecom immunity. Here's what Senator Dodd had to say:

"I believe that cases against the telecoms are best handled in our standard federal courts -- which, by the way, have shown time and time again that they know how to protect state secrets."

Don't sit this campaign out. Let's turn up the heat on Chairman Reyes together. Contribute $25 right now.

www.DemocrayforAmerica.com/FISAads

Thank you for everything you do.

-Charles

Charles Chamberlain
Political Director

P.S. A complete copy of the Chairman's letter to DFA is available on the home page of our website.


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