UNION OFFICIAL AT SPP PROTEST FENDS OFF POLICE PROVOCATEURS

More creeps creating problems wherever they think they can suck alittle energy off of other people in the process… CANADIAN PRESS Protesters are accusing police of using undercover agents to provoke violent confrontations at the North American leaders’ summit in Montebello, Que. . . A video, posted on YouTube, shows three young men, their faces masked by bandannas, mingling Monday with protesters in front of a line of police in riot gear. At least one of the masked men is holding a rock in his hand. The three are confronted by protest organizer Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Coles makes it clear the masked men are not welcome among his group of protesters, whom he describes as mainly grandparents. He urges them to leave and find their own protest location. Coles also demands that they put down their rocks. Other protesters begin to chime in that the three are really police agents. Several try to snatch the bandanas from their faces. Rather than leave, the three actually start edging closer to the police line, where they appear to engage in discussions. They eventually push their way past an officer, whereupon other police shove them to the ground and handcuff them. Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot. Kevin Skerrett, a protester with the group Nowar-Paix, said the photos and video together present powerful evidence that the men were actually undercover police officers. . . The three do not appear to have been arrested or charged with any offence. http://www.thestar.com/News/article/248608

Sheriffs protest fed drug-war fund cuts

PORTLAND, Ore. – From Arizona to Oregon and east to Kentucky, county sheriffs are bracing for stiff cuts in a federal funding program that has helped them battle drug cartels. Congress in January cut funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant by two-thirds, from $520 million to $170 million for fiscal 2008. Local agencies say that’s a threat to the officers who do much of the law enforcement spadework. The Byrne program is not without controversy, having drawn allegations of abuse. But many enforcement organizations consider it essential to their local efforts. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson of Josephine County in southwest Oregon said pending cuts in Byrne money and in federal payments made to counties to offset the loss of timber revenues have essentially disbanded the Josephine Interagency Narcotics Team (JOINT). “We’ve just withdrawn from JOINT,” he said. “There’s no funding. And we know the (Mexican) cartels are at work.” The Bush administration has argued that the program should end because crime is down and the money is needed elsewhere. That assessment clashes with reports from many states of record hauls of drugs, especially methamphetamine and marijuana, and increased activity by drug gangs. “If we don’t get some funding back we’ll be in deep trouble when it comes to drug enforcement,” said Iowa drug enforcement chief Gary Kendall. He said 85 percent of the state’s new cases last year were by county interagency drug teams that get Byrne grant money, but the funding cuts will reduce those agencies’ employees from 59 to 20. Kendall said Iowa’s problem is methamphetamine, which now comes mostly from Mexico since Iowa tightened access to over-the-counter medications that contain ingredients used in home meth labs. Money from the Byrne program can be used for other programs as well, including anti-gang efforts, some prosecution costs and child and spousal abuse prevention. But critics say the program has been tainted by abuse and corruption, sometimes racially based, with many complaints coming from Texas. Best-known is a case in Tulia, Texas, where a 1999 Byrne-funded investigation led to the cocaine arrests of 46 people, most of them black, on evidence so flimsy that 38 were pardoned by Gov. Rick Perry in 2003. The undercover agent responsible for the arrests was convicted of perjury and the defendants got a $5 million settlement from the state. The Texas ACLU has identified more than a dozen other Byrne-funded operations it says were abusive and several other states have investigated similar complaints. Texas has imposed strict limits on Byrne-funded drug task forces. Some national drug enforcement leaders say it makes more sense to go after the higher-ups rather than fill local jails with lesser offenders. “But where the rubber meets the road, it’s the local sheriff and police departments” who do the groundwork, said John Cary Bittick, sheriff of Monroe County, Ga., and the congressional liaison for the National Sheriffs’ Association. In Oregon, local drug agents last year pulled up a record 262,000 marijuana plants, double the number for 2006, but their Byrne funding will drop from $3.4 million last year to $1.2 million this year. Most seizures of marijuana “grows” in Oregon are made in the state’s southwest corner, but counties there already are on the ropes from sharp cuts in federal payments made to offset revenue losses resulting from cutbacks in logging on national forests. The sheriff of one county in that region, Mike Winters of Jackson County, says Mexican cartel activity has spilled into his jurisdiction from Northern California. “The Mexican cartels are growing it and if they plant 100 gardens and get 50 taken off, they still make a lot of money,” he said after last year’s growing season. Kentucky, the second-largest marijuana producer after California, is in similar straits. “Local governments have already put up money and they can’t put up any more,” said Van Ingram, branch manager for compliance for the Kentucky Office of Drug Compliance. ___ On the Net: Sheriffs Association: http://www.sheriffs.org

DIRTY SECRETS OF IRAQ WAR POURING OUT IN COURT RECORDS

CHICAGO TRIBUNE – The dirty secrets of Iraq war profiteering keep pouring out. Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the war’s largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand. . . Federal prosecutors in Rock Island have indicted four former supervisors from KBR, the giant defense firm that holds the contract, along with a decorated Army officer and five executives from KBR subcontractors based in the U.S. or the Middle East. Those defendants, along with two other KBR employees who have pleaded guilty in Virginia, account for a third of the 36 people indicted to date on Iraq war-contract crimes, Justice Department records show. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Rock Island sentenced the Army official, Chief Warrant Officer Peleti “Pete” Peleti Jr., to 28 months in prison for taking bribes. One Middle Eastern subcontractor treated him to a trip to the 2006 Super Bowl, a defense investigator said. . . A common thread runs through these cases and other KBR scandals in Iraq, from allegations the firm failed to protect employees sexually assaulted by co-workers to findings that it charged $45 per can of soda: The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-kbr-war-profiteers-feb21,1,5231766.story?page=1

TELECOMS AGREE TO RESUME ILLEGAL WIRETAPS

REUTERS – The Bush administration said on Saturday U.S. telecommunications companies have agreed to cooperate “for the time being” with spy agencies’ wiretaps, despite an ongoing battle between the White House and Congress over new terrorism surveillance legislation. . . On Friday U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said telecommunications firms have been reluctant to cooperate with new wiretaps since six-month temporary legislation expired last weekend. As a result, they told Congress, spy agencies have missed intelligence. Democrats accused the Bush administration of fear-mongering and blamed it for any gaps. President George W. Bush has said he would not compromise with the Democratic-led Congress on his demand that phone companies be shielded from lawsuits for taking part in his warrantless domestic spying program.

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN2229053420080224?rpc=92

WITHOUT IMMUNITY, TELECOMS BACKING OFF ILLEGAL WIRETAPS FOR BUSH REGIME

NEWSWEEK – It’s been barely a week since the Democratic-controlled Congress allowed a temporary electronic spying law to lapse. But U.S. intelligence agencies are already encountering problems maintaining and expanding vital operations, the Bush administration claims. In a letter sent late on Friday to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey claimed that in the six days since the temporary law expired, some “partners” in intelligence operations have “reduced cooperation.” According to two government officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive material, the “partners” referred to in the letter are (unnamed) U.S. telecommunications companies, who-with administration backing-have been aggressively lobbying Congress for a controversial clause in new electronic spying legislation. The clause would effectively wipe out a series of private lawsuits seeking damages against the telecoms for their cooperation with what civil libertarians and administration critics claim was an illegal expansion of electronic spying against targets inside the U.S.-an expansion authorized by President Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. http://www.newsweek.com/id/114572

Federal Decrim Bill for Pot announced

For the first time in nearly 25 years, NORML is spearheading a campaign in Congress to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. Congress created cannabis prohibition, and the courts say time and again to reformers: ‘Congress is the place to change marijuana laws.’

Bi-Partisan Support in Congress for Reform
To wage this long-overdue effort, NORML has teamed up with two of our closest Congressional allies: Democrat Congressman Barney Frank from Massachusetts and Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.  Over the past several months I have worked closely with these courageous Representatives to draft legislation that would strip the federal government of its authority to enforce marijuana possession laws.  This legislation is now pending before Congress as House Bill HR 5843, an ‘Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults.’

Yes indeed, for the first time in more than two decades, we have legislation in Congress that, if enacted, would end the federal prosecution of adult marijuana consumers!