Posts Tagged ‘crime and justice’

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The War On Christmas

The War on Christmas has been funny, and sad, and it doesn’t even include the biggest threat to the Christmas Tradition as reported by the Washington Post:

This year has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.

Scientists said… that the world is experiencing serious climate change, driven in part by human activity. Researchers recently found by drilling ice cores that there is a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any time in the last 650,000 years, which reflects that humans are burning an increased amount of fossil fuels to power automobiles and utilities.

It’s seems clear here at the Adirondack Almanack that the War of Christmas is a distraction from sinister attacks on American Civil Rights, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

An outrageous attack on civil liberties has occurred in Albany, where student activists are being watched by the our new secret police.

So let’s get this straight:

Secret Police
Secret Prisons
Torture

And now, another $453 Billion for the a war that “may never end,” not to mention the true cost of the war locally.

Say Merry Christmas! Or Else! You athiest commie hippie homo immigrant welfare mothers on drugs!


Monday, November 21, 2005

Adirondack Representative John [S]weeney in a Bar Fight?

Even if he wasn’t actually involved in full-blown fist-a-cuffs, this story says something about the kind of man representing [a-hem] us in Washington.

A gossip column in Thursday’s New York Daily News reported Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, took a blow from a Red Sox fan who’d had enough of Sweeney’s pro-Yankees banter one evening earlier this month at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson flatly denied the report, saying the alleged incident was nothing more than a “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

Sweeney has been criticized for failing to meet with any of his constituents, and refusing to discuss his (and his party’s) plans for Social Security. Apparently he’s been too busy over the past five years with the much more important “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

I know one local newspaper editor who no doubt finds it an important and timely debate at a critical time for America.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Adirondack Native Alice Green – Albany’s Next Mayor? Esmond Lyons Who?

Adirondack native Alice Green has been getting some good press lately. Capital News 9 reports that she is opposing a new corporate giveaway convention center and Times Union recently gave her good placement on her plan for a criminal justice center. The popular Albany political blog Democracy in Albany has been giving her generally good marks all around.

Closer to home – the Glens Falls Post Star, which we suggested should be required to register as a PAC, has been busy ignoring independent candidates. Matt, of Matt’s Angry Letters, has finally cancelled his subscription and Brian the Fairly Young Contrarian has been giving them hell as well. Meanwhile… the local Glens Falls Democrats have had a webpage since the campaigns began that offers NOTHING, that’s not a rhetorical nothing, that’s an absolute nothing – apparently that’s their plan for the city.

The question is – what will the independent candidates do about it? How about filing a complaint with election officials? Demonstrating at their offices? Something! Anything! Clearly the Post Star is out of control, undemocratic, and illegally promoting certain candidates.


Thursday, August 4, 2005

Ticonderoga Plane Crash: Murder-Suicide?

What do the band Phish, the regional airline Capital Airlines, a Connecticut scam artist, and Old Fort Mountain near Ticonderoga have in common?

Maybe a murder-suicide.

A year ago this month, an experienced pilot from Connecticut named Milton Marshall was flying his own twin-engine Piper Navajo chartered by 40-year-old Michael Keilty when the two crashed mysteriously into Old Fort Mountain just south of Ticonderoga cutting a “500 foot long swath through 60 foot [old growth] trees” (Press-Republican, Part I, Part II). Keilty said he was a pilot himself interested in becoming an investor in Marshall’s company.

Marshall had started his career as a professional pilot at the regional airline Capital Airlines in 1952. Capital became a part of United Airlines in 1961 but when Marshall retired in the 1980s he started a new Capital Airlines, a Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 On-Demand Air Carrier (certificate number VRWA687I). “Quite a bit smaller in size, but not at heart,” the company’s website read.

Now, Marshall’s daughter Kathy Leonzi thinks the crash was no accident.

And oh yeah… Phish… who could forget the 1996 party they threw at the abandoned Plattsburgh Air Force Base in honor of the founder of the original Capital Airlines – Clifford Ball – and what a party it was (audio of the shows and photos) – it was the first of the annual Phish summer festivals and made Plattsburgh (temporarily) the ninth largest city in New York State.


Suggested Reading

Airports: A Century of Architecture


Friday, July 15, 2005

Visit The Adirondacks: Bring Your Gas Mask and Cell Phone

OK – we’re pissed… we’re tired of the long history of selling out our unique homeland for corporate gain.

“The policy of the state shall be to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty” of the Adirondacks – that’s what NYS Constitution says.

But maybe its time for a revision to the constitution to reflect the new realities of a region that beckons city folk to bring their cash and see the last unspoiled (a-hem) forest east of the Mississippi. So, the Almanack suggests, that when you visit, you remember to bring:

Your gas mask, preferably with a modification for your cell phone so you can order music festival tickets on the way home from visiting the towers on top of Black Mountain, and bring a documentary on timber rattlers for the kids to watch in the back of the SUV while you sit in traffic. Oh and don’t forget your emergency beacon.

Well, at least we don’t have a secret prison system… er wait, maybe we do. And it ain’t fun being there either.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Faces of Fascism

We’re slipping further into fascism – how do we know? Because we’ve seen the unabashedly inhumane rule of the corporate-military-industrial complex over working people before.

Because we are now detaining well over 10,000 people without charges, without identifying who they are, without the ability to face their accusers, without allowing them to contact an attorney, without allowing them to contact their families, with no hope of ever being released, some of them are being tortured and some are being killed. If these people were all together in one place it would be a concentration camp – its obvious, and here and now only the sinister and the ignorant make excuses for it. But that’s not what today’s Almanack is really all about.

There has been a constant barrage of criticism of the corporate and mainstream press, it’s complete failure to act independently, both locally and nationally. Now, the party bent on one party rule, having eliminated the so-called opposition party by first falsely identifying them as one, and then declaring them cowards and traitors, is determined to eliminate any media that even vaguely questions thier motives or the results of their actions.

It’s nothing new… but what is new, is WAMC’s Alan Chartock acknowledging that something is fishy in his political world, it’s too bad that he has waited until now (when his income is under attack) to sound the clarion. Of course his regular fantasies and rebukes of third party politics – a third party who has shown the only real opposition to the military-corporate-industrial complex – have helped put us where we are… and where we’re going. His credibility as opposition matches that of the Democratic Party.

It’s been reported that near 2,000 “coalition soliders” have been killed in Iraq – that’s in Iraq – and nearly 13,000 wounded. Apparently, because seriously wounded troops are almost immediately loaded on planes for Germany, then not counted as deaths in Iraq when they die enroute, the real number of US deaths is near 9,000. The numbers of Iraqi deaths are somewhere above 25 ,000 and it’s only getting worse.

What local media outlet (aside from the tiny Metroland, and smaller Indies) will be the first to acknowledge what is now painfully obvious?

When? And when they do realize what they’ve done – will they have any shame? Doubtful.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Come on your honor… everyone’s doing it!

Famous pot smokers aside. Last week, in a second bid to subvert the will of voters in ten states, the Bush Administration got the US Supreme Court to rule that the Feds can prosecute the sick for marijuana crimes when they are legally proscribed cannabis in states that have medical marijuana laws – and they have wasted no time in getting it done. We already know about the high costs of prohibition (especially in the North Country). We’d like to know where the states rights conservatives stand on this one, but we’re aware that the media is in their pocket so it was no surprise that the story quickly faded from public and the tough questions were never asked – or at least never answered.

It will have an impact in Vermont though, and in New York where a half-hearted reform of the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws last year means that the battle over our last war — the War on Drugs (remember that one?), which has imprisoned millions of Americans and filled North Country jails and prisons with our non-violent neighbors, is far from over. A recent edition of public radio’s To the Point makes a good one – The War on Drugs has become the War on Pot. It only makes sense; people on the political left seem to smoke more pot after all.

A little history:

Draconian: From the Greek King Draco, whose laws were so severe they were said to be written in blood.

Marijuana Act of 1937 – First federal law to limit access to Marijuana via a tax (the original tax stamps like those that used to appear on cigarettes and booze) were recently auctioned off by the Treasury Department. Marijuana was outlawed first in the west (particularly) California and Louisiana.

In Cali (now said to be home to America’s most potent pot) the impetus was the need to eliminate immigrant Mexican labor during the depression – since they were pretty much the only folks around smoking the weed, passing laws outlawing it and then arrested and deporting them was a great way to free up jobs for Okies and other white working poor.

In Louisiana, it was jazz musicians and racism that inspired the right-wing prosecutors to outlaw pot and wage a war against the evils it inspired – mainly that Negro music and it’s decadent dancing, which it was said led to white slavery, black on white rape, and you name it.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Commentary: When We’ve Had Enough

Adirondackers have a strange relationship with alcohol, especially on campus. This fact really hit struck me after a local kid, just graduated from high school left for Iraq. He was 17 when he signed up – when he comes back, he’s still won’t be able to drink legally. Sure, kill a few Iraqis, get shot at (or killed), see your buddies blown to bits, clean up some blood and gore, meet people living in unimaginable suffering and poverty, but when you come home – don’t have a glass a wine – and don’t get into your car after you’ve had two.  Between March 19, 2003 and May 7, 2005 more than 480 of the 1,589 US military deaths have been young people under the age of 22 [statistics].

Standing outside the local Nice and Easy, Stewarts, or family grocery on a weekend sees a stream of locals, tourists, and summer residents getting their beer, and lots of it. When there isn’t much to do – only the biggest towns have a movie theater, bookstore, or coffee shop – hanging around the fire with friends and a bottle of wine or a few beers has its appeal. No fireplace? Then head out to the local tavern – towns that don’t have a single other open business after 7 or 8 pm, sometimes have two or three bars. During the week, some communities are deserted, especially in winter, except for the local pub.

So why is there a war on against bar owners and their patrons? Why do towns with few local business and few residents still have a county cop shop and/or state trooper station and constant patrols? Sure, like all the new roadblocks and firehouses built around the region after 9-11 we can point to the abuse of our irrational fears by institutions already tapped into a state and federal tax redistribution system – we pay it, they take it and use it against us.

So too with the newest attack on the DWI front. The Republicans in the NYS Senate passed legislation to once again increase the penalties for driving while intoxicated (as the Republicans in the Assembly demanded last year). Ask any tavern owner and they’ll tell you that the biggest drain on their business has been the onslaught of police overzealously enforcing the DWI laws. Even restaurants point to reduced business, dinner checks that are half what they used to be, bartenders making half the money they used to, all thanks to the fear of having half a drink (or inhale) to many (according to the law – some folks get one or two) and getting a d-we on the way home.

What about the dangers of drunk driving I hear some of you shouting… well we’ve had laws on the books since the eighteen nineties that require you to stay in your lane, require you to not drive recklessly, require you to drive within the bounds of road conditions and speed limits. In Saratoga County, about 1,100 of the 8,600 arrests police make annually are for DWI – and 25 percent of people under correctional supervision have been charged with drunk driving [source].

No doubt there are horrible and needless deaths from idiots who get outrageously drunk, climb behind the wheel, and then violate all civility by driving recklessly and killing someone in the process. But guess what? Senior citizens driving when they don’t have complete control of their vehicles, young drivers on joy rides, big rig drivers who’ve been on the road too long, idiots with a penchant for speed or aggressive driving, crazy border patrol who don’t use common sense in setting up roadblocks, cute girls putting on their make-up, and businessmen and women yapping on their cell phones are all killing themselves and others behind the wheel.

“When you have people getting in the car with that type of blood-alcohol content, it just proves that people aren’t thinking when they’re drinking,” Karen Pettigrew of the Saratoga County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving told the Saratogian, “Every person caught is a potential tragedy averted,” she said – well thank god we are imprisoning people at the highest rate in the world to avert potential tragedies – of course the Saratogian duly reported that statement without question.

We don’t ban cell phones, or make-up, so why do we hunt – and that’s what’s happening out there, police are hunting for these so-called criminals who would have, using all common sense and legitimate statistics, driven home perfectly safely, and who, if they knew the right person, would have continued on their way home no matter what their blood-alcohol level. They are also hunting, using children as bait, the low-wage workers who serve them – with corporate crime on the rise, don’t officials have better things to do than this? or this? or this?

I agree with Anna over at Bad Samaritan, the folks at Modern Drunkard Magazine and the DUI Blog – there are always going to be a few boneheads who don’t follow the rules and simply aren’t civil – it’s time we ended the hysteria and the attendant police state and took a more reasonable look at our relationship to alcohol.


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