Best pic from the weekend holiday


Click to enlargeREUTERS/CHP/Handout

A man dressed as the Easter Bunny is given a warning by California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Griffiths in this CHP handout photo in La Mesa, California March 31, 2013. The man was stopped on his motorcyle for not wearing a proper safety helmet and because his costume might impair his vision.

Har.

$150 million drug bust at sea was – ‘peaceful’


HMCS Toronto boarding party

A Canadian navy crew was all smiles after making one of the largest heroin seizures ever on the high seas…when it intercepted a boat transporting between $150-million and $250-million worth of drugs on the Indian Ocean.

The Department of National Defence said HMCS Toronto seized about 500 kilograms of heroin from the boat on Friday. The exact location of the incident was undisclosed, because it’s part of a Canadian Forces counter-terrorism operation…

The discovery began late Thursday night when a naval helicopter — codenamed Raptor, after Toronto’s basketball team — spotted the small fishing boat in the water and began tracking it. Patchell told CBC News that fishing vessels called dhows are often used in that region of the world to carry drugs.

A team boarded the vessel Friday morning and began to search.

“Very early on in the boarding, we got the reports back that they found one or two suspicious packages,” Patchell said. “Didn’t take too long before three packages turned into 500 packages of heroin…”

“I had some intelligence that indicated some of these vessels we’ve been tracking may be carrying narcotics, but certainly nothing of this size was expected,” Patchell said…

Canada’s naval ships have been patrolling the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

Uh, why? The 9-11 attacks didn’t originate there. Bin Laden hasn’t been near that part of Africa since the mid-1980’s. It would be nice if this Anglophone Navy was spending their time interfering with piracy in the region – but, no special mention of that as a goal from the Commander.

We get to hear on a daily basis about activities that have somehow prevented dozens of attacks upon every one of our nations – with no evidence whatsoever because it’s “classified”. Sometime – a century from now – someone will open a couple of sealed vaults and possibly list the results of millions of dollars per hour spent on Homeland Security.

Driver attacks Walmart shoppers after crashing into store

A Walmart store erupted into chaos and at least four people were hurt Sunday when a man rammed an Oldsmobile Cutlass through the entrance, then attacked an employee and shoppers with a blunt object, police said.

At 11:15 a.m., the unidentified driver in the red, two-door Cutlass Salon struck two other automobiles in the Walmart Supercenter parking lot, at 777 Story Road, in East San Jose and then crashed through the pharmacy and market entrance and continued a few dozen feet until colliding into a beer display. After leaving his car, he picked up an object inside the store and assaulted people, seriously injuring at least one, said San Jose Police Officer Albert Morales…

The assailant, described as a man in his 30s, was tackled and tied up by bystanders, according to one shopper who did not want her name used. Police said the driver was arrested and is being treated at a local hospital. As of Sunday afternoon, police had not identified him, Morales said, and would only say his injuries are not life-threatening

Paramedics treated the injured and placed them in ambulances. Police cordoned off the parking lot…

Police did not identify the victims, nor their conditions.

Or the nutball.

America’s Zombie Prison


Alcatraz – prisoners convicted in a court of law, more light, more space – than Gitmo

Why add to something that is not supposed to exist?

The something in question is the United States’ prison in Guantánamo Bay, for which the Pentagon recently requested $49 million in extra funding. Despite Barack Obama’s promise in 2009 – one of his first as President – to shut down “Gitmo,” the US evidently has no intention of doing so anytime soon. In fact, the only thing concerning Gitmo that the Obama administration has shut down is the office of the special envoy, Daniel Fried, who had been tasked with its closure. The US State Department reassigned Fried in late January, and he will not be replaced.

How better to memorialize that decision than with a building boom at the prison? The new facility for which the money is to be earmarked will house 106 prisoners (the precise number is uncertain) who have been neither tried nor charged.

Eight of the prisoners are now entering the second month of a hunger strike. According to the spokesman for the US Southern Command, which oversees Gitmo, the hunger strikers are disillusioned, because they believed Obama’s pledge to close Gitmo. Indeed, they are cleared to leave, and it is only Obama’s failure to keep his promise – and the US Congress’s failure to legislate their transfer – that is keeping them there…

One reason why the Pentagon needs to build a costly new facility has to do with the role of private contractors in driving detention policy. …The vast, often undocumentable profits that flow to these companies go a long way toward explaining why facilities like Gitmo – and privately owned and operated prisons in the US itself – never close. The transfer of public money to private corporations is far more attractive than old-fashioned market capitalism…

Then there is the brutality of the prison. I recently toured Alcatraz, the former US federal prison in San Francisco Bay. Like Gitmo, Alcatraz was created, in the 1930’s, to house what was then “the worst of the worst”…Yet I was struck by how much more humane the facility and regime at Alcatraz were compared to Gitmo.

For starters, prisoners at Alcatraz who broke rules or were violent were punished by being put in “D Block,” where the cells had no windows; at Gitmo, all the cells that journalists are shown lack windows or natural light. Solitary confinement in D Block was seen as the harshest punishment, and it was never used for more than 48 hours at a time. At Guantánamo – and in other US facilities – prisoners are placed in solitary confinement for days or weeks at a time…At Gitmo, contrary to Red Cross rules, prisoners may not receive visits or mail from family, their reading is dramatically curtailed, and news is censored. They are not even notified of the deaths of parents and children…

…How is it that a prison too brutal for gangsters, too un-American to house the worst of the worst, was more humane than a place that Americans are spending millions to enlarge?

Yet, President Obama has promised more than once to put an end to Gitmo. I still wait to hear something more than opportunism, wobbly inability to press a case for the United States to live up to internationally-accepted standards of justice.