Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 14 September 2012

Overcrowding federal prisons highest since Bush Administration -

Overcrowding federal prisons highest since Bush Administration - 

Prison Overcrowding

The federal prison system has been unable to keep pace with the stream of inmates flooding its facilities over the last five years despite adding space for thousands of new convicts, according to a government report.

The ballooning incarcerated population puts inmates and guards in danger and holds back efforts to rehabilitate convicts, experts told HuffPost.

The already-taxed Bureau of Prisons network swelled to 39 percent above capacity through last September, and is expected to surge to more than 45 percent above its limit in 2018, says the Government Accountability Office report, entitled "Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure." The report was released on Wednesday.

Last year's overcrowding level was the highest since 2004, when federal prisons were 41 percent above maximum levels -- called the "rated capacity."

Wardens may see a spike in violence as more inmates are squeezed into tight living quarters, researchers warned. The overcrowding contributes "to increased inmate misconduct, which negatively affects the safety and security of inmates and staff," according to the report.

"If you start cramming more and more people into a confined space, you're going to create more tensions and problems," said the GAO's Director of Homeland Security and Justice David Mauer. "It creates the possibility that someone's going to snap and have a violent incident."

With more prisoners confined to limited spaces, prison officials are forced to cut back the time inmates have in the cafeteria, recreation yards and television rooms. Two and three inmates are bunked in rooms designed for one prisoner or in common areas that were never meant to be used as cells.

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STUDY: Sex Makes You Smarter, Causes Brain Growth... -

STUDY: Sex Makes You Smarter, Causes Brain Growth... - 

Results of a study recently conducted at the University of Amsterdam show that those who are sexually aroused performed better in critical thinking tests than those who did not – that sex essentially makes you smarter.

The biological benefits of sexual activity are chronicled in detail, with stress reduction and the release of happiness-inducing hormones high on the list of pros.

Evidence gathered by Dr. Jens Forster and other researchers at the University for Amsterdam reportedly found that the release offered by sexual gratification can also promote brain growth, MSN Living reported.

In the study, subjects were given sets of problems that required participants to employ critical thinking in order to solve them. Researchers allegedly observed better performances from those who were thinking about sex than from those participants who were not.

The fashion, relationship and beauty advice website additionally noted a similar study completed at Princeton University in New Jersey that supported the findings of Forster’s team.

In those experiments, scientists reportedly discovered accelerated brain cell growth in sexually active lab rats, when compared to their virgin counterparts.


Wanted: 1 goat herder, 30 goats to graze at O'Hare Airport... -

Wanted: 1 goat herder, 30 goats to graze at O'Hare Airport... - 

There aren't many places you'd associate with goats in Chicago besides the Lincoln Park zoo, The Billy Goat Tavern, and of course, that infamous curse at Wrigley Field.

Soon, you might be able to add O'Hare International Airport to that list.

Fox Chicago has learned the Chicago Department of Aviation recently put out a bid looking for someone to supply goats to graze on the grass and brush at O'Hare. It also calls for a goat herder.

It might seem crazy, but O'Hare wouldn't be the first place to try it. Atlanta's airport began using goats just this week and San Francisco has been doing it for years. And Seattle tried it, but quickly scrapped the plan.

"This area over here is very heavily vegetated as you can see from the aerial photograph," says Amy Malick, the point person for sustainability at the department of aviation.

She says the city is looking at a pilot program of getting 30 goats to eat the grass and weeds in one, hard-to-mow area just east of Mannheim.

"They may have steep slopes, very hard to get to with heavy machinery, and those machines also emit pollution," Malick explains. "They're burning fossil fuel. So as a sustainability initiative we're looking to bring in animals that do not have emissions associated with them, at least to the same extent that heavy machinery would."

Malick says the goats would be outside the security fence surrounding the airport so there's no chance they'd wander onto the runways.

Fox Chicago asked passengers at O'Hare what they thought about airport goats.

"I'm from Ohio and we had some exotic animals that ran crazy a couple years back," one passenger says.

"I think that's a pretty cool idea," says another passenger. "My favorite place in the Wisconsin dells is that restaurant that has the goats on the roof. So that would be pretty neat to have goats going around."

The city says they've already received enthusiastic responses from a couple goat farmers interested in the bid, which is capped at $100,000. If all goes well, the goat grazing could be expanded to other areas of the airport. Just keep them away from Wrigley field.

Read more: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19540560/wanted-1-goat-herder-30-goats-at-ohare-intl-airport

Topless Kate Middleton photo - see the picture here - - you know you want to see it......

Topless Kate Middleton photo - see the picture here -      - you know you want to see it......

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are hugely saddened over the "grotesque 
and unjustifiable invasion of privacy" by a magazine which published 
topless photos of Kate, a royal spokesman says.
French publication Closer printed the pictures of the duchess, taken during their private holiday in France.

The royals are now considering legal action over the case.

The Closer editor says the couple were "visible from the street" and the images are "not in the least shocking".

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell said that the royals were 
"incredulous that any magazine would have 
"I have rarely heard quite such a level of publicly expressed anger that I have heard today reflecting William's feelings. 
"He is absolutely determined to protect the privacy of his 
wife, he has always been very protective of her and that anger has 
mounted during the day."
Our correspondent said that the prince had a "look of 
absolute thunder" on his face as they left Kuala Lumpur - a stop on 
their nine-day tour of South East Asia - to travel to Sabah in north 
Kate, meanwhile, "looked composed and was smiling", he said.

Closer editor Laurence Pieau said: "These photos are not in 
the least shocking. They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the
millions of women you see on beaches."
She described the reaction as "a little disproportionate".

President Obama Lists His Five Criteria for Death by Drone -

President Obama Lists His Five Criteria for Death by Drone - 

President Obama is tearing the shroud of secrecy off his once hush-hush death-by-drone program.

From his interview with Ben Swann, host of Fox 19's Reality Check, to his sit-down with CNN's chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin, the kill-list compiler-in-chief is gradually exposing details of the principles he purportedly follows before targeting someone for assassination.

The president may assume that there is little reason to try hiding something that is being publicized daily -- except in the mainstream media. In fairness, the New York Times has done fine work chronicling the expansion of the use of drones, as well as their involvement in the killing of innocents overseas caught in the blast zone of missiles aimed at alleged militants.

An exception to the official policy of silence on the matter of the death-by-drone program being carried out by the White House and the CIA was made earlier this year. In April the White House's top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, admitted for the first time publicly to the government's significant reliance on drones in prosecuting the War on Terror. Brennan said that the remote control killing of suspects on foreign soil who have been charged with no crime whatsoever, is "in full accordance with the law."

Brennan also said the United States "respects national sovereignty and international law."

Speaking with Margaret Sanger at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Brennan defended the president's drone program. "So long as AQAP [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] seeks to implement its murderous agenda, we will be a close partner with Yemen in meeting this common threat," he said.

Later in the interview, Brennan said that the president deploys drones to target only "militants" with designs on attacking the United States or its allies abroad. He admitted that American intelligence agents provide tactical support to Yemeni armed forces battling al-Qaeda on the ground.

When asked about the collateral deaths of innocent civilians during these attacks, Brennan responded that American drone pilots "make every effort" to avoid killing innocents. Said Brennan:

Today I'd simply say that all our CT [counterterrorism] efforts in Yemen are conducted in concert with the Yemeni government. When direct action is taken, every effort is made to avoid any civilian casualty. And contrary to conventional wisdom, we see little evidence that these actions are generating widespread anti-American sentiment or recruits for AQAP. In fact, we see the opposite; our Yemeni partners are more eager to work with us. Yemenese citizens who have been freed from the hellish grip of AQAP are more eager, not less, to work with the Yemeni government. In short, targeted strikes against the most senior and most dangerous AQAP terrorists are not the problem; they are part of the solution.

Describing the disregard for innocent human life as part of a "solution" is eerily reminiscent of similar statements made by despicable tyrants in the recent past.

The death toll of innocent people killed by the United States in the Middle East continues to increase. As The New American reported on September 6, 29 Yemenis were killed by U.S. drones in one week. Many of these had not even tenuous ties to terrorists and were killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When asked by CNN what process he uses to make the life or death decisions to deploy the drones to kill a "militant," President Obama listed five criteria:

• First, "It has to be a target that is authorized by our laws."

• Second, "It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative."

• Third, "It has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States."

• Fourth, "We've got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties."

• And fifth, "That while there is a legal justification for us to try and stop [American citizens] from carrying out plots ... they are subject to the protections of the Constitution and due process."

Examining this list reveals that in none of the deaths authorized by the president has any one of these criteria been met.

Let's take as a test case the remote-control murder of a young American in Yemen. What law authorized the murder of 16-year-old Abdulrahaman al-Awlaki, son of the American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also killed by Hellfire missiles fired by a Predator drone?

Neither man (both of whom were Americans) was ever charged with a crime or permitted to answer for his alleged crimes before an impartial judge -- a violation of the fifth point provided by the president.

What threat did the younger al-Awlaki pose to the United States? The Obama administration has never informed the country of any wrongdoing by this teenager other than being related to a man who posted anti-American videos on the Internet that allegedly influenced others to commit crimes. This violates the president's first criterion.

Number three above was certainly ignored by the president since no known attempt was ever made to capture this young man and take him into U.S. custody. Of course, that could be because he might actually have ended up in a court of law if he had been apprehended; and President Obama, a former lawyer, knows that trials can be long, messy, and unpredictable. It is much quicker and cleaner just to launch a missile and kill someone without going through the hassle of due process.

Finally, with regard to civilian casualties, not even the White House claims that Abdulraham al-Awlaki was a member of al-Qaeda or any associated organization. He was quite literally killed for being associated with one who was allegedly associated with those allegedly associated with al-Qaeda.

As Tom Junod wrote in Esquire:
But Abdulrahman al-Awlaki wasn't on an American kill list. Nor was he a member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Nor was he "an inspiration," as his father styled himself, for those determined to draw American blood; nor had he gone "operational," as American authorities said his father had, in drawing up plots against Americans and American interests.

He was a boy who hadn't seen his father in two years, since his father had gone into hiding. He was a boy who knew his father was on an American kill list and who [sneaked] out of his family's home in the early morning hours of September 4, 2011, to try to find him.
Furthermore, the young man was killed while eating dinner on the side of the road in the company of friends and extended family. So much for the limiting of "civilian" collateral damage. Not only was the target of the nighttime drone attack a civilian, but so were all the boys sitting with him when two American missiles lit up the area and killed them all.

Finally, when Yellin asked Obama if he personally approves the targets of the drone strikes, the president answered, "You know, I can't get too deeply into how these things work, but as I said as commander in chief ultimately I'm responsible for the process that we've set up to make sure that folks who are out to kill Americans, that we are able to disable them before they carry out their plans."

If only all advocates of constitutional due process could nonviolently through the electoral process disable those of both parties -- whether in office or seeking to be elected-- from carrying out their plans to destroy the our constitutionally protected liberty.

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