Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive in his home for more than a decade pleaded not guilty Wednesday on an expanded indictment charging him with 512 counts of kidnapping and 446 counts of rape, among other crimes.
The charges returned Friday by a grand jury against Ariel Castroexpanded on a 329-count indictment filed earlier that covered only part of the time frame of the alleged crimes. He previously pleaded not guilty to that indictment.
Castro, 53, has been jailed since his arrest on May 6 shortly after the women escaped to freedom. As in past court appearances, he kept his head down Wednesday, typically responding to a judge's questions with one-word answers.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Pamela Barker repeatedly told Castro to raise his head and keep his eyes open during the brief court appearance.
"Sir, please keep your eyes open so I make sure that you are listening to me and understanding what I'm saying, OK," the judge asked.
"I'm trying," said Castro, who in past court appearances has kept his head down and his chin tucked on his chest.
The judge continued his bond at $8 million.
Besides kidnapping and rape, the new 977-count indictment also charges him with seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felonious assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing criminal tools.
He previous was charged with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, charges alleging that he purposely caused the unlawful termination of the pregnancy of one of the women.
The women appeared in a YouTube video last week to thank people who donated to a fund created to benefit them. They otherwise have sought to stay out of sight and have appealed for privacy.
Castro is scheduled for trial on Aug. 5, a date that could be delayed if the defense requests more preparation time. His legal team has hinted Castro would plead guilty if the death penalty was off the table.
Defense attorney Craig Weintraub said after the arraignment that he didn't expect a trial postponement.
"We have a trial date of Aug. 5, so either we're going to have a plea or we're going to trial Aug. 5," he said.
The prosecution has said it would be ready for that date.
Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges say one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.
Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with Dejesus' family and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.
Berry has a 6-year-old daughter fathered by Castro, authorities said.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the three women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearances and after they were found.

Monday, July 15, 2013

 cops take on verdict    I think what we have in George Zimmerman is a person who very likely has tried to be a police officer many, many, many times but couldn't for some very good reasons. He has probably tried to apply to police departments and could not pass the entry requirements.  Now from the surface you would say this is because of his size.  You may surmise that he probably couldn't meet the weight or fitness standard. But I disagree.  I would wager that Mr. Zimmerman has probably never gotten past the psyche evaluation.  I'm sure laws prohibit the release of applicant information but I would bet that he has applied to at least 2 or more sheriff or police departments in the area and has been declined.  You see even in a big city it's a relatively small community.  Once you begin applying and fail a polygraph or fail a psych, that follows you.  Chances are he's failed a few and has likely been blacklisted.  Judging from his demeanor and some of the witness statements he may have some delusions as well.  As many voter purges as FL has done it is amazing that this man was able to purchase a weapon after an altercation with police and a DV but I assume that is what having a father in law enforcement will get you.  Just from the 30,000 foot view Zimmerman probably never should have been able to purchase a gun.  Zimmerman never should have held the job that he did. And Zimmerman never should have been able to get away with murder but he did.

That is what is so infuriating and confusing about this case.  Good police officers that I know personally very well, that I have policed with, bled with, have taken sides on this case that are completely contrary to everything they have ever demonstrated in their entire professional lives.  People that would be pulling their eye teeth out with pliers if they had to deal with a guy like Zimmerman on their beat are cheering his acquittal. People that supervise officers.  If this scenario had played out with one of their subordinates shooting an unarmed teen after pursuing them under these circumstances they would have recommended termination at the least and gone all in on an Internal Affairs Investigation are saying the prosecution never had a case.  I am sure that my old department would not have hesitated a moment to prosecute any off duty police officer if they had done the same thing that George Zimmerman did. But for some reason this case triggered some sort of collective fugue state that has clouded every bodies mind.  At some point this became a basketball game for them, our team versus their team. Now we've got defense lawyers doing victory laps, cops cheering prosecutors losing a case and 60% of the country feeling like a guilty man is going free.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

maybe not

NEW YORK (AP) — From New York toCaliforniademonstrators are rallying against aFlorida verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
In Manhattan on Sunday, Rev. Jacqueline Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church wore a pink hooded sweatshirt and told her congregation, "We're going to raise our voices against the root causes of this kind of tragedy."
Protests are planned around the country Sunday, a day after a jury found the former neighborhood watch volunteer not guilty. The case unleashed debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.
After the verdict, some angry protesters in Oakland, Calif., broke windows, burned flags and started small street fires. In Florida, about 200 demonstrators marched in Tallahassee carrying signs that said "Racism is Not Dead" and "Who's Next?"

Friday, July 12, 2013

left dixie?
When Americans talk about the South, they tend to be talking about the past. When they talk about Southern politics, they tend to be talking about the old, stereotyped “Solid South”—that uniformly conservative, racist, anti-union, snake-handling cluster of former Confederate states that voted en masse for Democrats from the pre–Civil War through civil rights, then switched their allegiance to the former “party of Lincoln” beginning in the 1970s. Once LBJ and the Democrats betrayed the cause of white supremacy and Richard Nixon cooked up the “Southern Strategy,” the region became as solidly Republican as it once was Democratic. End of story.

Southern politics has never been quite so uncomplicated as that. It took decades for Republicans to outnumber Democrats, and Republican control of the region has never matched the Democrats’ former hegemony. The South has been contested ground for 40 years, with the GOP dominating federal elections and gradually cutting into the Democrats’ hold on state and local offices—culminating in 2012, when Arkansas’s legislature became the last to go Republican. (Virginia’s Senate has a partisan split.)
Over the next two decades, it will become clear to even the most clueless Yankee that the Solid South is long gone. The politics of the region’s five most populous states—Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas—will be defined by the emerging majority that gave Obama his winning margins. The under-30 voters in these states are ethnically diverse, they lean heavily Democratic, and they are just beginning to vote. The white population percentage is steadily declining; in Georgia, just 52 percent of those under 18 are white, a number so low it would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


By Louise Egan
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Latin American leaders slammed European governments on Wednesday for diverting Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane on rumors it was carrying a wanted former U.S. spy agency contractor, adding a new diplomatic twist to the Edward Snowden saga.
Bolivia said Morales was returning from Moscow on Tuesday when France and Portugal abruptly banned his plane from entering their airspace due to suspicions that Snowden, wanted by Washington for leaking secrets, was onboard. Italy and Spain also banned the plane from their skies, it said.
The unusual treatment of the Bolivian military aircraft touched a sensitive nerve in the region, which has a history of U.S.-backed coups. Regional leaders, particularly from the left, rallied behind Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president and a former union leader of the country's coca farmers.
"(These are) vestiges of a colonialism that we thought were long over. We believe this constitutes not only the humiliation of a sister nation but of all South America," Argentine President Cristina Kirchnersaid in a speech in Buenos Aires.
Heads of state in the 12-nation South American bloc Unasur denounced the "unfriendly and unjustifiable acts" and called an emergency meeting of foreign ministers to take place in Lima on Thursday. A smaller group of like-minded presidents also planned to get together on Thursday in Bolivia in a show of support for Morales.
Unasur includes close leftist allies of Bolivia like Venezuela, Ecuador and Argentina as well as more centrist governments like those in Chile and Brazil.
"Latin America demands an explanation," tweeted Ecuadorean leader Rafael Correa, who said he was one of several presidents who would meet in Cochabamba, Bolivia. "If what happened to Evo does not merit a Unasur summit, I don't know what does."
Dilma Rousseff, president of regional economic powerhouse Brazil, issued a statement repudiating the European countries that denied Morales access to their airspace based on what she called the "fanciful" notion that Snowden might be on board.
The Chilean foreign ministry issued a statement saying it "lamented" what happened to Morales and that more clarity was needed on the facts.
Much more blunt was the statement from Mexico's Congress condemning what it called the "disgraceful and discriminatory" treatment Morales had received in Europe.
Bolivian officials were quick on Tuesday to accuse the United States of strong-arming the Europeans into denying access to their air space in an "act of intimidation" against Morales for suggesting that while attending an energy conference in Moscow he would consider granting asylum to Snowden if requested. Morales said earlier this week no request has been made.
The White House declined to comment on the assertion that it was behind the plane scandal.
President Barack Obama has warned that giving Snowden asylum would carry serious costs.
A spokesman at France's foreign ministry blamed "an administrative mishap," saying France never intended to ban Morales from its airspace and that there were delays in getting confirmation that the plane had fly-over permits.
Morales was expected back in Bolivia Wednesday night.
Snowden is believed to be still in the transit area of a Moscow airport, where he has been trying since June 23 to find a country that will offer him refuge from prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.
The Bolivian government said it had filed a formal complaint with the United Nations and was studying other legal avenues to prove its rights had been violated under international law.
Legal experts say Bolivia could take its case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if Austrian officials had boarded Morales' plane in Vienna, presumably to search for Snowden, without his consent.
Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra said authorities did not board the plane, contradicting an Austrian official who said the aircraft had been boarded and checked.
Morales has yet to restore full diplomatic relations with the United States after expelling the U.S. ambassador in 2008.
In May of this year, Morales expelled a U.S. development agency from Bolivia in protest after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry referred to Latin America as Washington's "backyard."
The comment was a stark reminder of the United States' history exploiting South America's natural resources and supporting some repressive right-wing regimes.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz, Marco Aquino in Lima, Brian Ellsworth in Caracas, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, Miguel Gutierrez in Mexico City; Editing by Eric Beech and Philip Barbara)


Chomsky Says Young People Don't Care About Surveillance — Is He Right?

Growing up post-9/11 with the Patriot Act, Dubya and imminent apocalypse, we are a generation somewhat jaded.