Posted: 15 Aug 2008 12:01 PM CDT
The children were seen surrounding the national flag and were supposed to represent China's 56 ethnic groups.
Another portion of the Beijing Olympics has been exposed as being faked. The opening ceremony included a segment which supposedly showed children from 56 different ethnic groups. The problem is, they were all from the same ethnic group.
The Telegraph reports that the children were dressed in different costumes all associated with China's ethnic minorities, meant to display "national unity", yet in reality, all the children were from the same ethnic group, the Han Chinese which is the majority ethnic group in China making up over 90 percent of the population.
The official guide to the opening ceremony said that the children did not just represent but "came from" China's ethnic groups.
When the executive vice-president of the Beijing organizing committee, Wang Wei, was asked about the misrepresentation, his reply was, "I think you are being very meticulous," and he claimed it was traditional to use dancers from other ethnic groups in this way. He continued on to say, "I would argue it is normal for dancers, performers, to be dressed in other races' clothes. I don't know exactly where these performers are from."
It may very well be traditional in Wei's mind, but given the statement from the official guide to the opening ceremonies saying outright that the children did not just represent the minority ethnic groups but were actually from those specific ethnic groups, the two statements do not coincide.
This is just the latest news in fakery which surrounds the Beijing Olympics.
It was reported previously that the girl that sang "Hymn to the Motherland" was actually faking it and it was really sung by a child that was deemed not pretty enough to appear in front of the crowd. It was also reported that the footprint fireworks show that was televised internationally was also digitally enhanced and pre-recorded and not all the footprints seen were real.
Posted: 15 Aug 2008 11:17 AM CDT
As CBS5.com reports, 37 year-old James Barany who is a high school teacher, was arrested on Tuesday at 4:15 pm, after allegedly initiating an online chat room conversation with a Detective that was posing as a 13 year-old girl.
A Santa Jose, California, high school teacher was arrested on Tuesday after he allegedly solicited sexual favors from a Santa Cruz police detective posing as a 13 year-old girl.
Barany, who is a music teacher at William C. Overfelt High School in San Jose, arranged to meet the "girl" he believed to be 13 years old, at a location in Santa Cruz, which is where he was arrested.
According to the district attorney's office, formal charges will be filed against Barany this week.
After being arrested the police notified the Santa Clara County school officials, who immediately put Barany on administrative leave until an investigation can be conducted.
Superintendent Bob Nunez said the district procedure when teachers are arrested is to put them on paid administrative leave until an employment investigation can be performed. Barany originally resigned following his arrest, but today asked that his resignation be reconsidered.
ABC reports that detectives are investigating to discover whether Barany had contact with any other children and according to the Internet chat room conversation that led to his arrest he was planning on "committing lewd acts with a teenager."
Zach Friend with the Santa Cruz police stated, "It's disturbing to think anybody of his age and position of authority would say the things he said to a 13-year-old girl."
Barany was not the only teacher accused of soliciting sex with a 13-year-old girl, as an Ontario, Oregon social studies teacher was also caught in a sting similar to the one that Barany was arrested for, reported Seattlepi.com.
Joseph Garner was charged with online sexual corruption of a child after a three-month investigation touched off by a private organization that identifies sexual predators on the Web.
These arrests come on the heels of two new bills that have been approved in California by the State Assembly, that are geared to close loopholes in California's teacher licensing laws that allow teachers that have been accused and/or convicted of serious crimes, to remain in the classroom.
The Daily News reports that this legislation, sponsored by Sen. Bob Margett, R-Arcadia, and Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena and were "prompted" by an Associated Press investigation last year, into sexual misconduct by teachers, will "allow the state to revoke licenses from teachers who plead no contest to certain sex crimes or drug offenses or have had their licenses revoked in another state."
Both bills passed the Senate and State Assembly and are awaiting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature to become law, but he has refused to sign any legislation until the state budget has been passed.
Both bills were also sponsored by the state credentialing commission after the AP published the results of their seven-month investigation, and both bills were opposed by the California Teachers Association.
An analysis by the California Teacher Credentialing Commission following AP's report found that about two-thirds of the educators who face revocation or other serious action are convicted following a plea of no contest to a serious offense.
According to the current law, the results of misconduct accusations are sealed after one year by credentialing commission which hinders schools abilities to confirm a teachers' complete background, if they later learn that teacher lied on their applications.
One of the bills, the one sponsored by Margett, would keep those records open and available for five years instead of one.
The other bill that was approved by the State Assembly, the one sponsored by Scott, would "automatically suspend teachers' credentials if they have had their license revoked in another state for misconduct."
Scott's bill would also require the credentialing commission to automatically revoke a teachers' license if a prior criminal conviction had limited their contact with children.
The exact wording in that bill is:
The commission also would be required to revoke the credential of a holder when it receives notice that the ability of the holder to associate with minors has been limited as a term or condition of probation or sentencing resulting from a criminal conviction in this state, another state, or the United States, or the holder has been ordered to surrender a credential or certification document as a term or condition of probation or sentencing resulting from a criminal conviction in this state, another state, or the United States, except as specified. The person whose credential is so revoked would be prohibited from applying for reinstatement of the credential until the terms or conditions imposed by the conviction are lifted.
Margett's legislation can be found here (9 page PDF file)
Scott's legislation can be found here (8 page PDF file)
Posted: 15 Aug 2008 02:16 AM CDT
Could it happen here?
Once again, North Osettia is in the news, and once again the news is violent and alarming. It has been almost exactly four years since that horrific event that outraged the world, the bloody siege of North Ossetia's Beslan School No. 1. More than 1,000 hostages were taken at the Beslan school in the early hours of September 1, 2004, by guerrillas demanding an end to the war in nearby Chechnya. A standoff ensued until September 3, when Russian personnel stormed the school and ended the siege with a series of loud explosions and a final assault. When the smoke had cleared the total number of dead was more than 330 people, half of them children.
The Chechen jihadist leader Shamil Besayev had warned the Russian government the winter prior to the attack: "Praise Allah, we are dreaming of dying in jihad, we are dreaming of dying on the way of Allah, so that we could earn paradise and mercy of Allah."
This is the war we are in. We must not allow ourselves to be misled or confused by sins of omissions or purposeful obfuscations. We must learn to connect the dots. We must learn to see these seemingly anomalous events for what they really are, not isolated tragedies, faraway and removed from our everyday world, not individual maniacs freaking out and killing our children in front of our very eyes on our university campuses; but rather as part of that great Islamic Jihad against the West, against the infidel. From the Munich Olympics to 9/11, from the streets of Mogadishu to the bombing of the Cole -- it's the same ruthless enemy, the same bloodthirsty child-killing jihadist Muslims. They are "dreaming of dying in jihad". And, have no doubts about it America, we are still on their list.
Last December 2007, Radarsite ran a truly alarming article, cross posted from Deb Hamilton's Right Truth, on the threats received by a number of elementary and high schools in Florida. A series of post cards [see above] were sent to several different schools in the area promising "an explosive surprise". Fortunately, nothing came of it. Whether it was proven to be a stupidly cruel hoax, or whether an actual attack had been thwarted we may never know. But, as they say, the writing was on the wall. How many similar plots have been silently thwarted we will quite possibly never know. But we can be certain of this: the minds that thought up the bloody siege of Beslan are still thinking. Could it happen here? A more pertinent question might be, why hasn't it happened here yet? Are we that good? Or have we just been lucky?
A couple of years ago I made a trip back to my childhood home for the first time in over 50 years, Of course, much had changed, some of it was completely unrecognizable, and some of it looked exactly as I had remembered it all those years. But one of the most disquieting changes that I came across on that sentimental journey were the new additions to my old elementary school. The small friendly brick building was now ringed with an ominous row of concrete traffic barriers. I found that I couldn't even get inside to visit my old school without first making an appointment and being cleared by security.
So, it seems we have adapted. We've tightened up our loose ends. We've put up the money required to install the latest access control technologies: traffic barriers, security doors, high-tech iris scanners, metal detectors, and we've developed more stringent security procedures. And, so far, so good.
Are we psychologically and emotionally prepared for a well planned and executed three day Beslan type siege? Are we strong enough to handle the unbearable pressure? Can we withstand the horrific drama being played out 24 hours a day for three days on our widescreen TVs? Do we have the will power to resist their inevitable outrageous demands? Will we release terrorists from Gitmo? Or pressure Israel to make some deadly concessions? What are we willing to do and not to do? Have we even seriously thought about it?
We certainly have the technology. We have the equipment. And we have the most proficient and courageous first responders, police, firemen, and SWAT teams in the world. But do we have the strength of character to stand back and let them do their jobs without interference? For the sake of our children's lives will we sacrifice our national security? Will we open the door for more deadly blackmail in the future?
Are we prepared to face the terrible enormity of this possible scenario?
Can we ever be truly prepared for such a horror?
But we had better at least start thinking about it. Because our enemies most certainly have.
Posted: 14 Aug 2008 09:40 PM CDT
Crossposted from STACLU:
After years of litigation a verdict was finally reached for Salim Hamdan, Osama Bin Laden's driver and detainee accused of war crimes. While cleared of conspiracy he was convicted on multiple counts of material support for terrorism. Legal groups like the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights quickly criticized the ruling. Certain media elements were not far behind. Much of the criticism was understandable, and much was distorted through the lens of bias. Most of the criticism ended up being deflated after a surprisingly lenient sentence of five and a half years, including five years and a month already served. This sentence fell short of the thirty years to life the prosecutors wanted. Even one of Salim's defense attorneys admitted the verdict was fair and just. However, a fair outcome doesn't necessarily reflect a fair process. So, are the military tribunals for the Guantanamo detainees fair? To answer this question we must critically look at both sides of the argument, the details of the process itself, and understand how we arrived at this point.
When war has been declared the United States has made use of military tribunals to try captured enemies outside the scope of conventional civil and criminal matters, historically providing a trial for combatants acting in violation to the Rules of War. The Geneva Conventions established what most countries have adopted as the international standard regarding such rules.
The perception pushed by some is that combatants held at Guantanamo deserve protection under the provisions provided by the Geneva Convention. Others argued that the essence of the Convention is the distinction between lawful combatants and civilians and that terrorists violate this by being non-uniformed, negating this distinction and endangering innocent civilians. This argument applies that Prisoner of War status and the rights that come with that should not extend to those that violate its rules. The Supreme Court settled this argument in 2006 in favor of extending many of these rights to captured combatants held at Guantanamo. This decision was Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld which extended certain rights to the detainees and placed limits on the authority of the executive branch. This decision was the catalyst for Congress to pass the Military Commissions Act of 2006 authorizing the establishment of military commissions within the parameters set by the Supreme Court.
The 5-4 ruling in Boumediene vs. Bush threw another wrench into the efforts to prosecute prisoners at Guantanamo by determining that habeas corpus rights extend to these prisoners and that the Military Commissions Act unconstitutionally suspended those rights. Defense lawyers used this ruling in an attempt to delay the military trial of Salim Hamdan, but were unsuccessful in their argument that the procedures violated certain constitutional rights. District Judge James Robertson ruled against delaying the trial on the grounds that these arguments could be raised on appeal after the completion of the trial. How this ruling's precedent will affect future proceedings against Guantanamo detainees is yet to be seen.
Determining whether the military commission process is fair requires looking at several factors. Hamdan's trial served as a test case for the government prosecutors and the detainee defense lawyers. Behind Hamdan there are around 80 other Guantanamo detainees, including five alleged September 11th plotters, the Pentagon intends to try before the commissions. It is important to observe Hamdan's case to determine the probability of fairness in future military commissions because of the precedents it has set.
Most of the key criticisms in Hamdan's case were addressed. The concern that evidence obtained through coercive interrogation would be used was alleviated when the judge excluded statements obtained from Hamdan prior to his arrival at Guantanamo. Concerns remained over allowed statements obtained after his arrival due to defense allegations they were obtained through abusive procedures. However, no convincing evidence was presented to prove these allegations. Defense attorneys were also given adequate opportunity and access to challenge secret evidence. Many other points exist in favor of the fairness in this trial including the fact that Hamdan's conviction is automatically appealed to a military appellate court. That court can reduce, but cannot increase, his sentence. Hamdan can then appeal to U.S. civilian courts as well. However, many legal concerns remain such as the question of whether his prosecution violated the Constitution's prohibition of ex post facto laws. Concerns addressed in Hamdan's case do not guarantee future trials will be addressed similarly, but recognized respect of precedent makes it probable.
In my opinion, Salim Hamdan received a fair trial and a lenient but just sentencing. The system in place for future military trials is still not perfect, but provides more protections and rights for captured enemy combatants than ever provided in history. Certain elements definitely need to be addressed while others are yet to be determined. The legal journey to refine the process has only begun.
Posted as a part of a Stop the ACLU Blogburst. Visit Stop the ACLU if you would like to participate...email jay-at-stoptheaclu-dot-com.
Posted: 14 Aug 2008 01:11 PM CDT
They are treating it as a mere formality, but considering the lousy weeks Obama has had as of late, and the pressure her supporters are putting on delegates and superdelegates, it is within the realm of possibilities that the first round of balloting might not produce enough official votes for either Clinton or Obama to hit the magic number (2,118), then it will be left to the second round to crown the official nominee which they state clearly will be Obama.
The statement, via The Trail:
If the first round of balloting doesn't not give Obama the number needed and a second round has to be taken, that will be quite an embarrassment and show a division within the party.
Clinton will release her delegates and then Obama will be crowned the official nominee, but I am not sure how treating it as a mere formality and not a serious vote will play with her supporters that are determined not to vote for Obama due to his inexperience.
I also have to wonder what type of strong arming will go on in the next couple of weeks to assure the DNC that Obama is officially nominated on the first round of balloting to save him that type of embarrassment.
On a related note, showing that the tensions are still strong, the Barack Obama campaign snubs Charles Rangel, because he supported Hillary Clinton.
So much for unity.
Also discussing this:
The Caucus and The Corner.
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