It is an interesting video, though.
According, again, to that article (which, however, has a potentially odd sequence of publication and update dates below its byline), weapons-capable drones are currently being considered by the HPD:
New Police Drone Near Houston Could Carry Weapons
Author: Stephen Dean
Published On: Nov 10 2011 01:51:31 PM CST Updated On: Oct 29 2011 05:38:32 AM CDT
In 2007, Local 2 Investigates uncovered a secret Houston Police Department test of a different kind of drone, fueling a nationwide debate over civil liberties and privacy.
A constitutional law professor and other civil liberties watchdogs told Local 2 Investigates that questions about police searches without warrants would crop up, as well as police spying into back yards or other private areas.
HPD fueled that 2007 controversy even further by suggesting that drones could be used for writing speeding tickets.
The backlash prompted Mayor Annise Parker to scrap HPD's plans for using drones when she took office.
It seems that the mayor (the same Annise Parker: http://www.houstontx.gov/mayor ) still has plans for the use of drones.
The recently considered drones, however, are from a different company than the one which was reported in the 2007 video:
not from (as then) Insitu, http://www.insitu.com ,
but from (now) Vanguard Defense Industries, http://vanguarddefense.com .
Another indication of the age of the video is the reference in the video (at time index 1:50 - approximately) of drones being used "last month" to "snuff out" California wildfires: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2007/10/25/w... .
Here is the list of fires in California from 2011: http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incid... .
No wildfires are listed for November of 2011 - only three small fires.
"Most of us wage earners are paying 39.6 percent in taxes and add in another 12 percent in New York state and city taxes and we're paying 50 percent of our income in taxes," Dimon said in defense of his fellow Wall Street bankers.
The JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO just got a $17 million stock bonus for 2010. That is the richest reward for a Wall Street chief so far this bonus season and pushes Dimon's pay back toward the levels that prevailed before the financial meltdown of 2008.
I'll bet most "wage earners" would like the ability to get a stock bonus of $17 million.
The rule of law in this country is not worth a damn.
This old New Yorker article is still worth reading:
Trial by Fire
Did Texas execute an innocent man?
by David Grann
September 7, 2009
The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Diane raced down the street to get help he found a stick and broke the children’s bedroom window. Fire lashed through the hole. He broke another window; flames burst through it, too, and he retreated into the yard, kneeling in front of the house. A neighbor later told police that Willingham intermittently cried, “My babies!” then fell silent, as if he had “blocked the fire out of his mind.”
Diane Barbee, returning to the scene, could feel intense heat radiating off the house. Moments later, the five windows of the children’s room exploded and flames “blew out,” as Barbee put it. Within minutes, the first firemen had arrived, and Willingham approached them, shouting that his children were in their bedroom, where the flames were thickest. A fireman sent word over his radio for rescue teams to “step on it.”
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09...
This more recent article claims that the objections to the arson investigators' conclusions were brought up only after the execution. This is contradicted by what is stated in the New Yorker.
Board Approves Report on Willingham
by Aziza Musa
The Forensic Science Commission voted out an amended version of a report on convicted arsonist Cameron Todd Willingham's case, but won't rule on professional negligence until the attorney general says whether they have jurisdiction to do so.
The final version will be available to the public on Monday. The original draft report, released Thursday, made recommendations to fire investigators, lawyers and judges and explicitly says the board will not rule on professional negligence while Attorney General Greg Abbott's decision is pending.
Willingham was convicted of setting fire to his Corscicana home and killing his three daughters in 1991, but he maintained his innocence. Following his execution in 2004, fire science experts questioned the evidence used to convict him.
The commission received a request from the Innocence Project, a New York-based ciinic that seeks to exonerate wrongfully convicted people, to review the Willingham case for professional negligence in 2006 and took up the case three years later. But Gov. Rick Perry replaced his appointees on the commission and named Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley as chairman.
Read more http://www.texastribune.org/texas-dept-cri... -/
Here Governor Perry's restaffing of the Texas Forensic Science Commission is discussed along with the eventual replacement of Perry's political appointee, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley:
New Head of Forensic Science Panel Takes On Arson Case
by Brandi Grissom
FORT WORTH — With a smile and a friendly laugh, Dr. Nizam Peerwani offers coupons for free autopsies to visitors to his office.
Death and the science of it have dominated Peerwani’s 30-year career in the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office. Now, Peerwani is taking on a very live controversy as chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission: the continuing investigation into the arson science that led to the conviction and 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.
“His background and his temperament give him the unique ability to make sure the commission is focused on the science of forensics instead of the science of politics,” said Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who helped created the nine-member commission in 2005.
Willingham was convicted of setting the 1991 fire that decimated his Corsicana home and killed his three young daughters. Shortly before he was executed, an internationally known arson scientist retained by defense attorneys reviewed the evidence used to secure his conviction and concluded it was flawed. Both the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry declined to stay the execution.
Read more http://www.texastribune.org/texas-dept-cri... /
Here Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott rules that cases which occurred before 2005 should not be considered by the Texas Forensic Science Commission:
Texas AG Ruling May End Willingham Probe
by Brandi Grissom
The Texas Forensic Science Commission’s investigation of the science used to convict Cameron Todd Willingham — executed in 2004 for an arson that killed his three children — may be at an end after the state’s top attorney Friday ruled that the panel cannot consider evidence in cases older than 2005.
Attorney General Greg Abbott’s ruling is the latest development in the years-long controversy over the commission’s handling of the high-profile case. Advocates on both sides of the issue claimed the ruling as a victory, though it does narrow the scope of what the commission is allowed to investigate.
The commission's former chairman, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, said the decision vindicated his argument that the commission did not have jurisdiction to investigate evidence in cases that occurred before lawmakers created the panel in 2005.
“We should be spending much more time focusing upon these modern forensic science issues,” said Bradley, who requested the ruling in January. Lawmakers did not confirm Bradley’s appointment this year, and so his term ended with the legislative session. “This AG opinion will correct the course of the Forensic Science Commission.”
Read more http://www.texastribune.org/texas-dept-cri... /
Here the Texas Forensic Science Commission meets under its new chairman, Dr. Peerwani:
Advocates Urge Panel to Continue Willingham Probe
by Brandi Grissom
The Innocence Project is urging the Texas Forensic Science Commission to forge ahead with its investigation of the Cameron Todd Willingham and Ernest Ray Willis arson cases despite a recent ruling from the state’s top lawyer that seemed to limit the panel’s authority.
“As these cases so vividly demonstrate, your investigation is a matter of justice or wrongful convictions; indeed, it is a matter of life or death,” Steven Saloom, policy director at the New-York based organization, wrote in a letter Tuesday to the commission.
The commission is meeting today and Friday for the first time since Gov. Rick Perry appointed Dr. Nizam Peerwani chairman, replacing firebrand prosecutor and Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley. It’s also the first meeting since Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a ruling in July concluding that the panel cannot consider evidence in cases older than 2005. Willingham was convicted of igniting the 1991 blaze that killed his three young daughters. He was executed for the crime in 2004. Willis was convicted based on similar arson investigation techniques and was exonerated in 2004.
The Innocence Project in 2006 asked the Forensic Science Commission to investigate the science used to convict the two men. Since the commission agreed in 2008 to take up the matter, it has become a proxy fight between death penalty abolitionists and proponents.
Read more http://www.texastribune.org/texas-dept-cri... /
One should now examine Governor Perry's proud statement regarding the practice of execution in Texas:
Death Penalty: Applause for Rick Perry’s ‘Ultimate Justice’ at Republican Debate
By Arlette Saenz
Sep 8, 2011
Texas Gov. Rick Perry apparently loses no sleep over authorizing 234 executions in more than a decade as Texas governor.
Perry has authorized more executions than any governor in the history of the United States. He said at a Republican presidential debate Wednesday that he has never worried that the state of Texas has executed an innocent man.
“I’ve never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place,” Perry said. “When someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that’s required.”
Perry said the death penalty should be dealt with on a state-by-state basis but supports the decision of Texas to uphold the death penalty, calling it the “ultimate justice.”
Read more http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/... /
So, not only has Texas Governor Rick Perry proudly executed a possibly innocent man, Cameron Todd Willingham, but, additionally, he has brazenly broken a treaty to which the US is a party, the Vienna Convention, in the Garcia case.
Now, that is some record.
(The apartment door opens.)
Hard Working (Yet Derided) Progressive Canvasser: "Good afternoon, (Potential Democratic Voter)! I am here to ask you to vote for the re-election of President Barack Obama."
HW(YD)PC: "Oh...well, yes, I am sorry that you are unemployed...Yes, I...I am sorry that you lost your home..."
HW(YD)PC: "You don't EVEN want to consider the re-election of President Obama?...BUT I assure you that he has done many, many good..."
HW(YD)PC: "Yes, I know the economy is not doing well....Yes, but the Republicans...No, I know he did not go after the banks....He had to support them fully so that the economy would...."
HW(YD)PC: "Yes, the Wall Street Bankers DID cause this...BUT THE Republicans...Yes, I can see that you are still unemployed, and I am sorry that that is...."
HW(YD)PC: "Well, no, he did not end the Bush Tax cuts...BUT THE Republicans were willing to destroy the economy...Yes...Yes...I know that that does not help you feed your family or get your home back....You say that it was illegally foreclosed upon?...I see...Yes...Yes...President Obama DOES want to help Main Street...He wants to help you, BUT THE REPUBLICANS have...."
HW(YD)PC: "Ok...ok...I see that you feel now that the Democrats only care about the Wall Street bankers, but I assure you that President Obama cares about Main...Why did he support Wall Street over Main Street you ask? Well, he thought that....Why did he choose people from Wall Street to take positions of power you ask? Well, he thought that it was necessary to do that to save the...Yes, I...I know....You are still unemployed, and you still have lost your home...."
HW(YD)PC: "I...I am sorry about those things, but can you imagine how bad a REPUBLICAN...Ok...Ok...Just please remember that President Obama was given the worst possible circum...Yes, he did have a Democratic majority in the House and in the Senate, BUT THE REPUBLICANS...Ok...Ok...just please consider giving President Obama your vote for president this November. Thank you for your time."
(The apartment door closes.)
Excerpts from the Obama Iowa Speech - August 15, 2011 - Part 2 - (See www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX4aGqRg8zg to watch the speech.):
President Obama (time indices 1:51 to 3:09):
"Now that...that doesn't mean that we defend every single government program. Everybody's gotta make sacrifices. There are programs that aren't workin' well. And sometimes there are those in my party who...will defend everything...even if it is not workin'.... What we...we do have to make some...some cuts on things that we don't need...and...and that allows us to invest in the things that we do..., but there's gotta be balance... and there's gotta be fairness...and that's not just my view: the majority of Republicans agree with that view. Although I have to tell you when I saw the other day...uhh...(unclear)...my...uhh...friends in the Republican presidential primary...uhh....They...they were asked - "Would you take a deal...in which for every one dollar of tax increases we cut ten dollars in government spending?" ...ten-to-one ratio... And nobody was willing to take that deal. And what that tells me is - okay, you...you've gotten to the point where you're just thinkin' about politics, you're not thinkin' about common sense. (applause) (stridently) You've got to be willing to compromise...(applause)...in order to move the country forward...(applause)."
President Obama (time indices 3:35 to 3:53):
"And until we have fixed the problems that caused me to run for president in the first place...so that we're growin' a middle class and people have basic security and they know if they're followin' the rules...if they're workin' hard...if they're lookin' after their families and meeting their responsibilities...that they've got a chance at the American Dream."
President Obama (time indices 4:41 to 4:46):
"I...I understand that..uhh...after this last midterm you voted for divided government...."
President Obama (time indices 5:11 to 5:19):
"And what I've said is...the last thing the people need for confidence right now...is to...watch folks on Capitol Hill arguin' all over again."
President Obama (time indices 5:48 to 6:55):
"I want you...to help hold all of us accountable - me included. I am enlisting you in this fight, because if you are...i.if you're makin' your voices heard...if you're letting people know that...enough is enough - it is time to move forward. It is time for us to win the future. If...if your voices are heard, then sooner or later these guys have to start paying attention. And if they don't start paying attention then they're not gonna be in office. And we'll have a new Congress in there that will start paying attention to what is going on all across America. I am confident in the power of your voice. I am confident in your values. Those are the values that we share. I don't care whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent...all of us here are patriots and everybody here cares about our country and puts it first. And if...if we can have that kind of politics then nothing can stop us. Thank you very much everybody. God bless you....(applause)"
Your reply contains a collection of links that is, at best, tangentially related to what is stated in Greenwald's article and is not even related to my points. Some of your links are to your own posts. Some of your links are duplicated within your posts. ProSense, thanks for providing them, but maybe you should address the post instead of addressing your fantasy of what the post contained.
President Obama has utterly failed at messaging and defining a core set of Democratic policies. Some of the chief progressive (originally: Democratic) policy aims are: human rights, education, social welfare, fiscal responsibility and health care.
In each of these, his lack of articulation of a clear and forceful message to the opposition has hurt the Democrats. Mostly, your links bring up bureaucratic issues that are much less than what is expected of President Obama. In weighing what President Obama has accomplished, one should recall the latter part of Luke 12:48 - "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?searc... ) It is not legitimate to pretend that he was not given a great advantage in the results of the 2008 elections.
Human rights is a fail on messaging and policy: President Obama appointed a milquetoast who has neither prosecuted those who illegally invaded Iraq nor prosecuted those who ordered torture. Instead, his appointee has swept it under the rug, so that it may be brought out again the next time a Republican president is in office. I cannot defend President Obama this choice.
Education is a fail since it seems destined to be corporatized at the hands of President Obama's appointee, Arne Duncan. I cannot defend his position on this choice, either.
Social welfare programs seem to be heading towards cuts that, if President Obama had any political foresight, would never have been needed. In fact, the whole debt crisis is one that has been manufactured by the Republicans. President Obama has accepted their messaging as valid and has run with it. More is to be expected of him.
Fiscal responsibility is a fail. The banks have gotten away with their ill-gotten gains. This point will be the hardest one to explain to an independent voter. Why have there been no prosecutions of those who have destroyed the economy, and why have they been allowed to profit by its destruction? Appointing Elizabeth Warren would have been a minor victory compared to actually taking the banks to task over their malfeasance, but President Obama could neither muster the fortitude necessary to appoint her nor to challenge the banks openly and strongly.
Health care is, sadly, also a fail. Single payer health care was taken off the table by President Obama, so that he could make a deal with the pharmaceutical companies. Everyone deserves access to health care. Instead of being strong, President Obama let Senator "They're-Gonna-Pull-The-Plug-On-Grandma!" Grassley et al. dictate the message. Thus, the message shifted to health insurance for all instead of health care for all.
So, is President Obama a weak, ill-focused, worthless politician or does he not share core Democratic (recently rebranded as progressive) values with his base? As stated before, he is neither weak nor incompetent. He just does not share core convictions with the people who have been variously known as Democratic, liberal or progressive and who are a significant and important part of his base, and, therefore, he will never fight for any of these important policy choices.
Though I will likely vote for him due to having no other choice, it will be a cold day in hell before I give his campaign either my time or my money again.
It always has been up to President Obama to define and articulate the Democratic side of any political argument. After all, he has the bully pulpit and is the leader of the Democratic Party. This articulation of Democratic principles is important because, without a clear articulation of these principles, there is no defined middle ground on which a compromise can be reached: the middle ground is defined by point and counterpoint - the Democratic and Republican positions, respectively. When President Obama suggests publicly what policies are acceptable to him (i.e., to progressives this may be read as compromises preemptively ), he thus defines the middle ground and, invariably, it lies to the right of center. If he supported progressive principles (what generally have been considered to be Democratic principles), this negotiation strategy would be tantamount to political malpractice or, simply put, blatant incompetence.
However, President Obama would likely not have risen to his present position if he were incompetent, so it remains that he does not support what have in the past been considered to be Democratic principles. Further, it seems that these formerly Democratic principles have been relabeled as progressive so that modern Democratic politicians may achieve separation from them yet retain the support of the Democratic base. As evidence that President Obama does not believe in progressive values and prefers separation from them, one has the recent quotation of President Obama by Sen. Sanders: to wit,
"Obama held up a half-full glass of water and told him: 'That's the problem with you progressives. You see this as half-empty.' "
A current statement of President Obama's probable political legacy is compactly presented in Glenn Greenwald's current article - of which the following four paragraphs seem to be the core:
Therein lies one of the most enduring attributes of Obama's legacy: in many crucial areas, he has done more to subvert and weaken the left's political agenda than a GOP president could have dreamed of achieving. So potent, so overarching, are tribal loyalties in American politics that partisans will support, or at least tolerate, any and all policies their party's leader endorses – even if those policies are ones they long claimed to loathe.
This dynamic has repeatedly emerged in numerous contexts. Obama has continued Bush/Cheney terrorism policies – once viciously denounced by Democrats – of indefinite detention, renditions, secret prisons by proxy, and sweeping secrecy doctrines.
He has gone further than his predecessor by waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, seizing the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process far from any battlefield, massively escalating drone attacks in multiple nations, and asserting the authority to unilaterally prosecute a war (in Libya) even in defiance of a Congressional vote against authorising the war.
And now he is devoting all of his presidential power to cutting the entitlement programmes that have been the defining hallmark of the Democratic party since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The silence from progressive partisans is defeaning – and depressing, though sadly predictable.
Presuming that one were again to canvass on behalf of President Obama, how should this legacy be defended to the potential Obama voter? Which principles that have President Obama's full support should be named?
Should it be said that he defended Wall Street, that he allowed the Republicans to manufacture a debt crisis, that he failed to produce a cohesive political messaging strategy and led the Democratic party to defeat in the 2010 elections, that he failed to close Guantanamo Bay, that he failed to stand up for human rights and international law, that he was overpowered by Republicans while they were in the minority in both houses or that he was willing to entertain changes to the social safety net? Which of these should be named?
Instead, should it be said that he means well (and as such is better than his Republican opponent) or, simply, that he is a nice guy?
If the last two statements are the only positive, general and clearly-delineated assertions that may be made regarding President Obama and the political legacy of his first term, it would do well for him to remember the adage that nice guys finish last.
Former Governor Gary Johnson (NM): (at time index 0:23 in the video at the link ) :"Well, what you're not going to hear is you're not going to hear any candidate propose a balanced budget for the year twenty thousand thirteen which is what I would be proposing. I think we're on the verge of a financial collapse, and that'll be the bond market that collapses, and...."
That will be one large financial collapse.
"But, hey, our current teachers do a great job, and are worth every penny of the early retirement/fat pensions/nearly free healthcare they get for nine months of work a year. Sure.
My teachers from decades ago would have been ashamed to turn out ignoramuses like this. Not that they ever would have."
What an interesting presentation you have made:
All in all, yours is a pathetic attempt at argumentation, and your situation is not improved if, instead, you actually believe that you are in possession of a well-reasoned opinion regarding the subject of the linked article. That belief would surely be delusion.
As has been noted by others (particularly by Rachel Maddow at time index 3:14 in this video www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/42924561#... ), one of the most telling statements by Condoleezza Rice during the Lawrence O'Donnell interview of 5/5/2011 (at time index 9:24 of the video www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkiMCLr83oA ) is:
Condoleezza Rice: "But...you know...you don't get to get up in the morning and say...you know...my intelligence might be wrong. You have to act on the intelligence that you have...and that's the intelligence that we had...at the time."
This sounds a lot like Donald Rumsfeld's statement (at time index 0:20 of the following video www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jPgljRvzQw ):
Donald Rumsfeld: "You go to war with the army that you have...not the army that you might want or wish to have at a later time."
Both statements are indicative of a compulsion to act instead of to reflect or to prepare, respectively. In light of these sorts of statements, it is no wonder that the Bush Administration failed in virtually every one of its endeavors.
This, however, is the wrong way to look at their failures: their failures did translate to large profits for certain mercenary elements of this society. Therefore, Republican politicians and their appointees (including both Rice and Rumsfeld) specialize in uncritical thinking, hindsight-generated foresight and abysmal apparent-failure. Sadly, these specialties almost always benefit them and their true constituents greatly.
If you would listen to the video at the link below, KO does, indeed, thank his staff for their work. Cue the video to 2 min 54 sec and listen:
Would you now care to retract your comment: "Isn't it funny though that he didn't even MENTION those people who toiled day in and day out to get his progam (sic) on the air? All I heard was him thanking his VIEWERS. I didn't hear a SECOND of him thanking the people who put him on the air every day."
Before X-mas, I noted that I had received an X-mas card from the White House. Apparently, the terms "X-mas" and "Xmas" are not officially approved by USA Christians. I was called out for not using the appropriate term "Christmas".
Reason and history yield the following:
"X-mas (Xmas) has been around for a long, long time. As far as I know, it has only been recently that it has been seen as disrespectful. Apparently, modern people are not aware that the "X" in X-mas is not a capital English x, but is a capital CHI from the Greek alphabet. Also, Jesus Christ was not originally referred to in English: Latin, Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew along with many other languages referred to Jesus likely long before anyone who spoke English ever knew anything about Christianity: the people of Britain at the time did not speak English -i.e., the Angles, Saxons and Jutes were still on the northern coast of Europe when Christianity began. Even the whole word "Christ" is a transliterated Greek word, CH (CHI), R (RHO), I (IOTA), S (SIGMA), T (TAU) + its proper ending, O (OMICRON), S (SIGMA). If anything, the word "Christ" is a mutilation of the original Greek word which has had its nominative singular ending +OS lopped off - an ending which I believe changes with the grammatical context of the Greek word.
So, I don't mean any disrespect by the use of X-mas or Xmas.
Here are a couple of links to back up some of what I mentioned:
What do USA Christians have against Xmas or X-mas? Is it a bad experience with algebra coupled with a lack of historical knowledge? Is it pure brainwashing by pseudo-intellectual clergy? Is it Bill O'Reilly's Counterattack on the "War on Christmas"?
Today, I received a Christmas card from the White House. It reads:
May your holiday be filled with all the simple gifts of the season,
and may your new year be blessed with health and happiness.
Barack Obama Michelle Obama
Malia Sasha Bo
I hope that the Obama family has a nice holiday.
Recently, this video of Sarah Palin hunting in Alaska was released; namely, (http://www.mediaite.com/tv/chris-matthews-... ). The video brought to mind several questions regarding hunting, gun safety and Sarah Palin's technique. If any experienced hunters could respond to the following questions, it would be appreciated:
Thank you in advance for any answers to these questions.