Category Archives: Law

Getting roofied: College drink-spiking documented


From the study, "Just a Dare or Unaware? Outcomes and Motives of Drugging (“Drink Spiking”) Among Students at Three College Campuses."

From the study, “Just a Dare or Unaware? Outcomes and Motives of Drugging (“Drink Spiking”) Among Students at Three College Campuses.”

A pioneering study provides evidence that college students are unwittingly drugged by drinking spiking, what was known in esnl‘s day as “getting slipped a mickey finn” and today known as “getting roofied.”

From the American Psychological Association:

Google the term “spiked drink,” and you’ll get more than 11 million hits, directing you to pages that describe being slipped a mickey, tips on how to avoid becoming a victim and even kits to test drinks for illicit drugs. So is drink spiking a growing problem or are these tales of people who just drank too much? Or is this phenomenon merely an urban legend?

A research team led by Suzanne C. Swan, PhD, of the University of South Carolina, sought to answer some of those questions. Their study [open access, PDF], published by the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychology of Violence, sought to determine the prevalence of drink spiking by looking at survey data from 6,064 students at three universities.

What the researchers found was 462 students (7.8 percent) reported 539 incidents in which they said they had been drugged, and 83 (1.4 percent) said either they had drugged someone, or they knew someone who had drugged another person.

“These data indicate that drugging is more than simply an urban legend,” Swan said.

The study found significant gender differences. Women were more likely to be the victims of spiking and reported more negative consequences than men, the study found, although men comprised 21 percent of the victims. Women were also more likely to report sexual assault as a motive while men more often said the purpose was “to have fun.” Other, less common reported motives included to calm someone down or make someone go to sleep.

“Even if a person is drugging someone else simply ‘for fun’ with no intent of taking advantage of the drugged person, the drugger is still putting a drug in someone else’s body without their consent — and this is coercive and controlling behavior,” Swan said.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Map of the day: Some of what’s at stake in Brazil


While the government of suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had blocked attempts to clear yet more of the Brazilian rain forest, the measure is moving forward under acting President Michel Temer, sponsored by a senator who is also the nation’s leading soybean producer,.

From the Washington Post, a map of what’s already been lost between 1988 and 2013:

BLOG Deforested

Pentagon whistleblowers face a stacked deck


John Crane, who investigated whistleblower complaints for the Pentagon for a quarter-century, and author Mark Hertsgaard talk with Democracy Now! about the stacked deck faced by would-be whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

With Mark Hertsgaard, who details Crane’s allegations in a new book, Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden, Crane talks about the story of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, and the Pentagon’s notoriously abysmal record of investigating abuses reported by employees.

Given such a record, Edward Snowden could realistically expect no action on his discovery of massive illegal surveillance of American citizens, leaving him only one sure out for exposing what he had found.

From Democracy Now!:

Part 1: Source Reveals How Pentagon Ruined Whistleblower’s Life and Set Stage for Snowden’s Leaks

Part 2: Source Reveals How Pentagon Ruined Whistleblower’s Life and Set Stage for Snowden’s Leaks

Part 3: Source Reveals How Pentagon Ruined Whistleblower’s Life and Set Stage for Snowden’s Leaks

From the transcript:

JOHN CRANE: Yes, yes. I think that in terms of when you think whether or not you should be a whistleblower, that you’re concerned about whether or not the system works. And there are various statistics out there, from the IG DOD semi-annual report, for instance, that in regard to the way the IG even investigates senior officials, over a two-and-a-half-year period, regarding senior officials in the Army, that the IG DOD received 482 allegations, accepted 10 allegations, substantiated one allegation.

AMY GOODMAN: Of 404, the Inspector General’s Office in the Pentagon, in the Department of Defense—

JOHN CRANE: Substantiated one, which is 0.2 percent. The Army, however, also investigating senior officials, under IG DOD oversight, they had 372 allegations. They investigated all 372 allegations. They had 102 substantiated. They had a 27 percent substantiation rate. So, this is a very major statistical anomaly. Why does the Army, looking at the same group of senior officials, have a 27 percent substantiation rate versus the IG with a 0.2 percent?

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to the case of Tom Drake.

JOHN CRANE: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: You allege documents were destroyed.

JOHN CRANE: I don’t allege that. Documents were destroyed. Because when the IG DOD—

AMY GOODMAN: You said you don’t allege that, that in fact you know that documents were destroyed.

JOHN CRANE: Because that is what the IG DOD said. Documents were destroyed according to a standard document destruction policy. And that was a statement that they made to the Department of Justice in regard to the Drake trial, because Drake’s attorneys wanted to find exculpatory information. The IG DOD response was, it just doesn’t exist.

AMY GOODMAN: It had existed.

JOHN CRANE: It had existed, and it should have existed.

MARK HERTSGAARD: Yeah, they made sure it didn’t exist.

Spanish designer busted for a cat-praising tote


Belén Lobeto tweeted an image of the offending tote bag.

Belén Lobeto tweeted an image of the offending tote bag.

Yep, cops in Madrid are really, really sensitive about perceived insults, even when they very, very subtle – indeed, when they don’t even mention police and the insult is in another language altogether.

Graphic designer and music promoter Belén Lobeto found that out the hard way, when she was slapped with a ticket for a tote bad she was carrying. If upheld on the appeal she has announced she will file, she could be hit with a fine of between 100 and 600 euros [$112 to 673 dollars].

From El País:

A Madrid resident has been fined by the police for carrying a bag depicting a cat’s face and the slogan “All Cats Are Beautiful.”

According to her own version of events, posted on Facebook and Twitter, Belén Lobeto was returning home on Sunday when two police officers approached her. An argument ensued over allegations that the slogan was really a stand-in for “All Cops Are Bastards.”

The phrase “All cops are bastards” has been documented since the 1970s, and became popular after a British punk band named 4 Skins used it in a 1980 song. It has also been adopted by some soccer hooligans.

>snip<

The sanction is based on Article 37 of the new Citizen Safety Law – popularly referred to as the Gag Law because of its restrictive nature, particularly when it comes to capturing images of police officers or holding public protests.

According to the riot officers who fined her, Lobeto incurred in “disrespect for a member of law enforcement in the exercise of his or her duties to protect citizen safety.”

Bet American cops would love a law like that these days.

Greece surrenders to the troika, more austerity


As thousands of Greeks demonstrated in Syntagma Square outside the national legislature, the national parliament drank the Kool-Aid and passed the austerity measures demanded by the Troika of international lenders, a move that may foreshadow the end of the Syriza Party’s term at the helm of the national government.

Alexis Tsirpras and his party emerged as the victors last year on a promise to overwthrow the yoke of imposed austerity.

Instead, they have embraced it.

From eKathimerini:

Greek MPs approved on Sunday night a multi-bill containing a range of measures, including another 1.8 billion euros in tax hikes and the framework for a vast new privatization fund, paving the way for the Eurogroup to release more loans to Athens.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saw 152 of his 153 MPs back the controversial package of legislation, meaning the government’s slim parliamentary majority was not put at risk.

Vassiliki Katrivanou voted for the legislation “in principle” but against the articles regarding the privatization fund and an automatic mechanism applying fiscal cuts if the primary surplus target is not met.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Tuesday to decide whether Greece has done enough to complete the first review of its latest bailout program. If the green light is given, Athens is set to receive a minimum of 5.7 billion euros in fresh funding. However, there are still questions regarding whether the eurozone creditors and the International Monetary Fund will agree on how to reduce Greece’s debt or whether this will prove an obstacle to the next disbursement.

Some of the reaction to the vote and more on the measures embraced from the Guardian:

“They are with the exception of the Acropolis selling everything under the sun,” said Anna Asimakopoulou, the shadow minister for development and competitiveness. “We are giving up everything.”

The multi-bill, which also foresees VAT being raised from 23% to 24%, is part of a package of increases in tax and excise duties expected to yield an extra €1.8bn in revenue. Earlier this month, Tsipras’s leftist-led coalition endorsed pension cuts that were similarly part of an array reforms amounting to €5.4 bn, or 3% of GDP.

At the behest of the EU and International Monetary Fund, the government has agreed to adopt tighter austerity in the form of an automatic fiscal brake – referred to as “the cutter” in the Greek media – if fiscal targets are missed.

Despite official claims that goals will be achieved, there is a high degree of scepticism as to whether this is feasible. The Greek economy has seen a depression-era contraction of more than 25% since the outbreak of the debt crisis in late 2009, and with high taxes likely to repulse investment, economic fundamentals are also unlikely to improve.

The Associated Press examines the causes and more of the effects:

Greece now hopes the creditors will complete the first assessment of its third bailout program, freeing loan disbursements that will allow Greece to meet its obligations and avoid default.

>snip<

[I]t will have to navigate differences between the International Monetary Fund, which call for a generous debt cut albeit with more austerity measures, and the Europeans, chief among them German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who want no such cuts.

At the end of an acrimonious four-day debate, including in committee, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras blasted the main conservative opposition and other centrist parties for having supported last August’s third bailout deal, but not the laws that have been voted on as prerequisites for concluding the assessment.

Opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis countered that the bailout terms never included the superfund, which will expire in 2115. He said the precise terms were the results of Tsipras’ failure to negotiate reforms he and his leftist party have never believed in. He said he would prefer spending cuts to higher taxes and would negotiate with the creditors for lower annual levels of budget surpluses (2 percent of GDP instead of 3.5 percent) from 2018 onward.

The government majority was momentarily shaken Saturday when the junior partner, right-wing Independent Greeks, objected to freezes in pay hikes for so-called “special categories” of civil servants, including military, police, diplomats, judges, public health service doctors and university professors.

The pay cuts, which would have saved about 120 million euros ($135 million), were shelved and will be partly replaced by bringing forward taxes on Internet users and beer.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: A case of genocide in California


From a Los Angeles Times op-ed by UCLA historian and genocide scholar Benjamin Madley, author of the just-published An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873:

California’s Legislature first convened in 1850, and one of its initial orders of business was banning all Indians from voting, barring those with “one-half of Indian blood” or more from giving evidence for or against whites in criminal cases, and denying Indians the right to serve as jurors. California legislators later banned Indians from serving as attorneys. In combination, these laws largely shut Indians out of participation in and protection by the state legal system. This amounted to a virtual grant of impunity to those who attacked them.

That same year, state legislators endorsed unfree Indian labor by legalizing white custody of Indian minors and Indian prisoner leasing. In 1860, they extended the 1850 act to legalize “indenture” of “any Indian.” These laws triggered a boom in violent kidnappings while separating men and women during peak reproductive years, both of which accelerated the decline of the California Indian population. Some Indians were treated as disposable laborers. One lawyer recalled: “Los Angeles had its slave mart [and] thousands of honest, useful people were absolutely destroyed in this way.” Between 1850 and 1870, L.A.’s Indian population fell from 3,693 to 219.

The U.S. Army and their auxiliaries also killed at least 1,680 California Indians between 1846 and 1873. Meanwhile, in 1852, state politicians and U.S. senators stopped the establishment of permanent federal reservations in California, thus denying California Indians land while exposing them to danger.

State endorsement of genocide was only thinly veiled. In 1851, California Gov. Peter Burnett declared that “a war of extermination will continue to be waged … until the Indian race becomes extinct.” In 1852, U.S. Sen. John Weller — who became California’s governor in 1858 — went further. He told his colleagues in the Senate that California Indians “will be exterminated before the onward march of the white man,” arguing that “the interest of the white man demands their extinction.”

Whistleblower retaliation claim backs Snowden


While both Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton insists whistleblowers have nothing to fear in they take their allegation of official abuse through official channels, new revelations back up Edward Snowden’s contention that he acted out of fear of retaliation if he followed the official doctrine.

From the Guardian:

Edward Snowden has called for a complete overhaul of US whistleblower protections after a new source from deep inside the Pentagon came forward with a startling account of how the system became a “trap” for those seeking to expose wrongdoing.

The account of John Crane, a former senior Pentagon investigator, appears to undermine Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other major establishment figures who argue that there were established routes for Snowden other than leaking to the media.

Crane, a longtime assistant inspector general at the Pentagon, has accused his old office of retaliating against a major surveillance whistleblower, Thomas Drake, in an episode that helps explain Snowden’s 2013 National Security Agency disclosures. Not only did Pentagon officials provide Drake’s name to criminal investigators, Crane told the Guardian, they destroyed documents relevant to his defence.

Snowden, responding to Crane’s revelations, said he had tried to raise his concerns with colleagues, supervisors and lawyers and been told by all of them: “You’re playing with fire.”

Whistleblowers, including Drake, had exposed the secret NSA programs implemented after 9./11 intercepting, without legally mandated warrants, the communications of American citizens.

There was strong pressure for prosecution of the others even after Drake had plead guilty and received no jail time.

From Der Spiegel, an account of what happened next, during the Obama administration:

John Crane remembers his boss, in an internal meeting, presenting the idea of passing the names of the whistleblowers on to the Justice Department officials investigating the case. Crane says he objected at the time and noted that this would be in violation of the legally guaranteed protection of anonymity for whistleblowers. The dispute continued outside the meeting room and he finally even pulled out his pamphlet with the law written on it. Crane says his boss answered by saying that he was in charge of relations with the Justice Department and that he would deal with it as he saw fit.

Those affected, the Pentagon and the Office of the Inspector General declined to respond in detail to SPIEGEL inquiries about the events. Crane’s former boss cited his oath of confidentiality. He said he was confident that an investigation into the events would show he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Crane’s suspicions continued to grow, especially after important documents pertaining to the Drake case disappeared from the inspector general’s office. Drake’s lawyer Jesselyn Raddack asked the court to demand the documents, saying they would prove that Drake was only in possession of the NSA documents on his private computer because he wanted to provide them to the inspector general. This would have granted Drake source protection and prevented him from prosecution.

But the files could allegedly no longer be found in the Office of the Inspector General — it was claimed that they had been shredded. Staff had accidently “fucked up,” Crane remembers one of his superiors telling him before adding that Crane needed to be a “team player.” Crane’s superior told the judge that the disappearance of the files had resulted from an error made during the routine elimination of files. Crane didn’t believe a word of it. He was convinced that that files had been deliberately destroyed. “Lying to a judge during criminal proceedings is a punishable offense,” he says.

Crane decided against being a “team player.” He stopped toeing the line, he countered and complained. He also sent the message that he would not keep silent. As had been the case with Drake, this would result in painful personal consequences for Crane. In 2013, the then-inspector general ordered him into her office and slid his termination papers across the table. In front of the office, a security guard stripped him of his ID card.