Man who picks up wallet to help feels discriminated against by cops
DAILY NEWS ^ | December 5th 2007, 4:00 AM | BY CHRISTINA BOYLE
Posted on 12/09/2007 4:24:33 PM EST by Dan Evans
He was trying to do a good deed – but ended up feeling like a common criminal.
Freelance photographer Carlos Alayo says he was late for a business meeting when he spotted a wallet lying abandoned on a subway platform bench.
He picked it up and put it in his bag, with every intention of later finding its owner, but as he rushed to board the 6 train last Wednesday at Grand Central, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Where’s the wallet?” the undercover cop asked him.
Alayo, 32, is one of the latest New Yorkers ensnared in the NYPD’s clampdown on thieves – known as Operation Lucky Bag.
After giving the officers the wallet, he was frisked, made to put his hands against the wall and hand over his identification so they could do a criminal history check.
“It wasn’t even crossing my mind what was inside [the wallet]. I was trying to get to my appointment,” Alayo said.
“It made me feel like I was a criminal, like I did something wrong. The look on [the cop's] face, it was like he already knew that I was arrested.
“He said, ‘Don’t lie to me, just tell me how many times you’ve been arrested.’
“That just stabbed me right there in the heart.”
Alayo, who is from Peru, felt the eyes of all the rush-hour commuters on him as he was searched by officers.
“I was so ashamed, my face went red and people were looking,” he said.
“God knows what they were thinking, a Spanish guy on the platform surrounded by cops. It made me feel very uneasy inside.
“I’ve been in this country 17 years and not felt discriminated against until that day,” Alayo said.
The decoy operation involves planting shopping bags, purses, backpacks and wallets around the subway system, where unsuspecting passersby are watched to see how they react.
The plants used to be worth a few hundred dollars at most.
Now they contain real American Express Cards, issued under pseudonyms to the Police Department. Theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a Class E felony, so anyone cops believe has the intention of stealing the decoy wallet or bag could face up to four years behind bars.
“Even property which is lost or mislaid can be stolen,” said NYPD Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne. “A person who takes or finds property which is lost or mislaid has a legal obligation to make efforts to return the property to its owner, which can include delivering the property to the police.”
Last year, the NYPD’s Transit Bureau arrested 101 individuals with prior arrest histories through the decoy program. Those 101 people had a combined total of 761 prior arrests, Browne said. On at least 178 other occasions, the bag left on the bench or seat was turned over to proper authorities.
Alayo says he has no criminal record – save for one summons several years ago for public urination. The cops let him go last week when they found no outstanding warrants – or reason to charge him.
The NYPD is under fire for targeting minorities for its stop-and-frisk policies, and the New York Civil Liberties Union believes Operation Lucky Bag needs to be abandoned.
“Policies like this are hellbent on stopping people from being good Samaritans,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“A process like this is a pretext for racial profiling. I’m sure the NYPD has far more sophisticated tactics at their disposal than dropping wallets on the train.”
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December 9, 2007
Holzer interviews on “Archangel 1918 to Hanoi 1972″ and “Savaging CAIR.”
This is a taped interview I did the other day on my recent “Archangel 1918 to Hanoi 1972″ and “Savaging CAIR” articles.
From: Editor, New Media Journal
Sent: Sunday, December 09, 2007 9:05 AM
To: ‘Henry Mark Holzer ‘
Just a reminder that the show will air today at 12pm CT. You are the second segment after Dr. Walid Phares.
You can hear the show live at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/newmediajournal or by logging on to NMJ any time afterward and clicking on the radio widget in the right border or on the NMJ Radio page.
NewsTarget.com printable article
Originally published December 8 2007
Big Brother U.S. Government Subpoenaed Amazon.com to Obtain Book Purchasing Records of Customers
by Mike Adams
(NewsTarget) Newly unsealed court records have revealed that the U.S. government issued a subpoena to Amazon.com seeking to obtain the identities of customers purchasing books through the Amazon marketplace. The snooping attempt was blocked by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker who wrote in a recently-unsealed ruling, “Well-founded or not, rumors of an Orwellian federal criminal investigation into the reading habits of Amazon’s customers could frighten countless potential customers into canceling planned online book purchases.”
Is the U.S. government trying to profile the psychology of its citizens by secretly data mining their book purchasing habits? Since 9/11 and the passage of the ill-designed Patriot Act (which, if anything, is traitorous, not patriotic), it seems that the U.S. government is aggressively expanding its powers to search records, tap phones and surveil electronic messages, all in an effort to conduct Gestapo-like profiling operations on its own citizens. It is now a well-known fact, for example, that domestic phone calls and e-mails are now tracked and recorded by the U.S. government, then mined for “dangerous” words which are linked back to those callers.
“The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their knowledge or permission,” Judge Crocker wrote in his ruling. “It is an unsettling and un-American scenario to envision federal agents nosing through the reading lists of law-abiding citizens while hunting for evidence against somebody else.”
Welcome to Police State Amerika
This News.com story by Declan McCullagh documents how AT&T opened up its massive telecommunications network to U.S. government security agents who used it to profile the telecomm behaviors of AT&T customers. Curiously, the Bush Administration jumped in and classified key AT&T documents, preventing them from being presented in federal court (so we’ll never know what they really said).
For years, the FBI has been operating its ultra-secret Carnivore program that surveils emails, capturing keywords in e-mail communications across the internet. You can read about it on this Wikipedia page. There’s also the Total Information Awareness program from DARPA which sought to create a massive domestic surveillance system that would keep tabs on virtually every electronic transaction made by Americans. Congress defunded the project once its existence was made known by a New York Times reporter. In response, the Feds simply renamed it, refunded it from other “shadow” funding sources, and continued to build the project. It is now up and running behind the scenes here in America. (You can keep tabs on this program and other shadow government operations at the ultra-popular www.Rense.com website, which posts daily headlines on this topic.)
Increasingly, the U.S. government is operating in secret, using greatly expanded police state power to spy on its own citizens. This attempt at acquiring Amazon.com book records is just the latest round in an ongoing campaign of secret police tactics being used against the American people by its own government… a government that was once created “Of the People, By the People and For the People” but now seems a lot more interested in terrorizing the people through fear-based politics and war mongering propaganda.
This is no conspiracy theory, it’s present-day Amerika
None of this is “fringe” information or conspiracy theory guesswork. Every statement made in this article is a matter of fact that’s easily verified through publicly-available records and news reports (not to mention common sense observation skills of what’s really happening). It’s not even a secret anymore: The U.S. government openly admits it is spying on U.S. citizens through various programs, but claims it’s all necessary to protect the public from “terrorism.” Remarkably, most U.S. citizens actually agree with the government on these points, and they happily surrender their privacy and freedoms in exchange for the (empty) promise of security.
These people claim, “If you haven’t done anything wrong, there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to domestic surveillance.” In doing so, they firmly establish themselves as the reincarnated ghosts of Nazi Germany war criminals, who used the same distorted logic to justify police state laws and round-em-up policies that eventually led to the mass murder of millions of innocent civilians.
Why governments are more dangerous than terrorists
Speaking from historical fact, there is no entity more dangerous to the safety of human beings than a government. More people have been murdered, tortured and imprisoned by governments than by any other definable group (including those involved in the religious crusades). This is precisely why the founding fathers of the United States of America were careful to place the People in charge, establishing a system where the government answered to the People, and where power was never centralized in any single government office or department.
Examine this list of the worst genocides in the 20th century , and you’ll notice one fact that stands out: Almost all of them were committed by governments against their own people! Even more importantly, these were all committed by governments where power became too centralized and the People were stripped of their freedoms, rights and privacies.
Do you notice the pattern throughout history, and do you see where the U.S. is logically headed?
The stripping away of the power of the People is, historically, a consistent prelude to mass genocide. That’s why keeping power distributed throughout society was crucial to the engineers of the original United States of America. Shared power is safe power. A government with checks and balances that actually work is a much safer government than one where the President, for example, can bypass the legislative process by issued Executive Orders. (How many executive orders has Bush issued? Click here to see the list yourself.) Concentrated power is almost universally dangerous, and the use of executive orders to bypass Congress and create whatever laws one person wants to create is a dangerous sign of a growing dictatorship. Shared power is essential in any free society.
But today’s U.S. federal government has long since abandoned any ideas of shared power. Today, it steamrolls over the People of this country, tapping their phone lines without warrants, searching them without probable cause, arresting and imprisoning them but not charging them with any crime, arbitrarily adding their names to “no fly” lists used by commercial airlines, and engaging in other serious transgressions. This example of the U.S. government attempting to acquire customer records from Amazon.com is not any real deviation from the consistent behavior of the U.S. government today: It wants to gather information on the People, surveilling everyone and then selectively declaring who is a “criminal” and who isn’t.
Could it really be true?
Many people, when faced with these facts about domestic surveillance and the dangers of a police state society, simply cannot believe any of it is true. They naively think their government would never violate their rights. The U.S. government is here to protect the People, right?
It’s an incredibly naive belief. To get the facts on how the U.S. government really treats its people, step back a few decades and look at the U.S. Civil Rights movement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as local government police and law enforcement personnel, repeatedly engaged in heinous crimes against the “Black Power” leaders of the day. They planned and carried out literally hundreds of attacks, bombings and executions of black leaders. (This is not conjecture: It’s all on-the-record testimony from former FBI agents.) And when the Freedom Riders boarded buses and drove through the American South to protest the accelerating violence against the black people, law enforcement personnel took part in the beatings, shootings and violence perpetrated against these innocents. And the FBI? It said that it would do nothing to protect the rights of these black civilians against racial violence, but that if black people were actually killed in the attacks, it would “investigate.”
The history of the Civil Rights movement is a damning indictment of the State. It shows, in gruesome detail, the way in which the U.S. government protected itself at the expense of the freedoms of its people. Even U.S. Congresspeople, Senators and Presidents stood by and did nothing while blacks were being shot, stabbed, beaten and bombed all across the nation. For decades, the U.S. government passed empty laws making racism illegal then did absolutely nothing to enforce those laws. (Read more gruesome historical details in the eye-opening book A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.)
Can a government really treat people in this way? The answer is a resounding YES! And it’s not just any government, it’s the American government. Today, the U.S. government stands as the only first world government on the planet that openly condones the kidnapping and torturing of civilians from other nations, neither charging them with crimes nor declaring them war criminals under which they would be protected by the Geneva Convention (which the U.S. openly ignores). Today, Guantanamo Bay holds prisoners who have been held for six years and never charged with a crime! It is a violation of both domestic and international law, and that’s why the Bush Administration chose to kidnap and imprison these people on non-U.S. land — it was a way to attempt to avoid adhering to U.S. laws establishing the basic rights of those charged with criminal acts. (Yes, even criminals have basic rights, like the right to legal representation and the right to know what crime they’re being charged with.) The behavior of the U.S. in these matters is very much like Nazi Germany and is nothing less than a series of war crimes being perpetrated against not just men from Middle Eastern nations, but also U.S. citizens.
The U.S. government is also the only government in the world to have ever dropped nuclear weapons on predominantly civilian populations (Japan, World War II), and today, the U.S. government is openly engaged in the widespread use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan through the use of depleted uranium shells. They will irradiate the Iraqi soils for generations to come, destroying the genetic code of an entire race. This is a case of mass genocide against civilians being carried out right now by the U.S. government, with the full awareness of the President, the Congress and the mainstream media. The long sought-after Weapons of Mass Destruction have finally been found: They’re being used by the U.S. military!
Heard enough? We’ve barely scratched the surface. As far as the crimes of the U.S. federal government go, tapping into Amazon.com‘s records is little more than a drop in the bucket. It’s just a tiny glimpse of the outright betrayal of the U.S. Constitution and the American People that’s going on every day in our nation’s capitol.
So what can we do about it?
As citizens we have both the right and the responsibility to take our power and freedoms back from the hands of the corrupt, pro-war, fear-mongering tyrants who now operate it. I have consistently advocated non-violent protests and grassroots action campaigns that can work towards a better future for all Americans.
I believe that we must do everything in our power — in a non-violent way — to take back our freedoms, our privacy and our power. And we must do it NOW, before the United States of America collapses into a bankrupt police state, drowning in a worthless U.S. dollar, with rampant hyperinflation and a massive expansion of police powers.
There is only one Presidential candidate who even has a shot at delivering this, and his name is Ron Paul. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, a Democrat, a Green Party member, a Libertarian or Independent: If you believe that power should be returned to the People, and that America should cease to be an imperialist, police state nation, then there is only one candidate in the running right now that can even come close to delivering the kind of changes that matter to you. That’s Ron Paul.
In fact, I will offer a prediction right here: If Ron Paul is not elected President in 2008, the United States of America will self destruct by 2025 , having suffocated under terminal debt, its currency worthless, its international reputation in shambles, its people impoverished and starving, and its leaders fleeing indictment for their crimes against their own people. It may self-destruct anyway, even if Paul is elected, because much of what has been set in motion is not easily reversible. Read articles by Paul Craig Roberts to learn more…
We have one last desperate effort to turn this around, and that’s the ballot box. It is our last hope to save this nation from near-certain collapse. It is also the last way to avoid the inevitable violence and crimes against humanity that will sadly emerge from the economic and political turmoil that’s almost certainly in our future if something doesn’t radically change for the better. We CAN create a better future for ourselves and our children, but not if we keep electing tyrants and ignoring the increasingly thunderous march of government-sponsored tyranny that seems to set the tone in Washington today.
The signs of economic collapse can no longer be ignored
Skeptical of all this? Look around you. The U.S. dollar is collapsing faster than a skyscraper packed with demolition charges. China is threatening to dump the U.S. currency and start selling all the debt it has purchased from the wild-party-spending United States government — a move that would send the dollar into a tailspin. A secret meeting among OPEC members revealed that they, too, are fleeing the dollar and looking to trade oil in Euros.
The collapse of the U.S. dollar means there will be no more buyers in the world for U.S. debt, and that means immediate hyperinflation of the currency as the government tries to bail itself out of endless debt. Hyperinflation will wipe out the savings of every person in the country with money held in banks. Retirement accounts? Gone. Savings? Wiped out. FDIC insurance? Worthless. Real estate? Collapsed into a decades-long depression. (Think the FDIC will save you? Don’t be so gullible: The FDIC can only bail out a tiny percentage of failed banks in a massive, national bank run, perhaps 2 to 3 percent.)
Just last week, Citibank itself reached out to the Abu Dhabi government, desperately seeking a loan of cash to bail it out of a house-of-cards debt collapse scenario. It agreed to pay a whopping 11 percent interest on a loan to save it from collapse. That technically makes Citibank a sub-prime borrower itself! (When the largest banks desperately need high interest rate loans to bail themselves out of bankruptcy, you know something is seriously wrong with the debt bubble…)
Oil is now flirting with $100 a barrel, a price level that virtually all economists and politicians thought was laughable just two years ago. But smart-minded economics like Stephen Leeb saw this coming well ahead of the masses. If you want to know what’s in the picture for the near future, I recommend Leeb’s newest book: The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel . You can get it, ironically, at Amazon.com, the very online retailer where the feds were trying to snoop into customer records:
Meanwhile, the Fed is pumping money into the economy in a desperate move to delay the inevitable popping of the massive U.S. debt bubble. It’s buying up bad bank debt as fast as it can, much like a group of frantic sailors trying to bail water out of a rapidly sinking ship. Only a financial fool could look at the current situation and have any degree of confidence in the future of the U.S. economy, and much of this has been caused by outrageous national debt spending by our current pro-war president.
Ron Paul cannot reverse all this overnight, but if the People use their voting power to eject all the criminals, hucksters, war mongers and corrupt fat cats that currently run this country, we could begin the economic and political healing processes that, in fifty years or so, might return this country to something resembling an honest society. It will take at least two generations to pay off the national debt, and that’s if we radically slash government spending on war and health care right now.
Of course, there is no candidate other than Ron Paul who has any intention of even thinking about paying off the national debt. The issue is simply ignored from one presidency to the next in a great pass-the-buck game that can only end in a sudden a total collapse of the U.S. economy (and its currency). Recent news reports reveal the U.S. debt is now increasing at the rate of $1 million a minute!.
Ron Paul believes in honest currency (having the currency backed by gold, so that savings cannot be stolen from the People through the Fed’s planned hyperinflation). He believes in health freedom and in getting the U.S. out of wars in the Middle East. He believes in returning America to its Constitutional roots, where the People don’t have to live in fear of the U.S. Gestapo police who wiretap their phones, surveil their e-mails and steal their Amazon.com book purchasing records.
If you believe in freedom at all, there’s only one candidate to vote for: Ron Paul.
Sure, Paul has some downsides. He’s not up to speed on global warming and the role of governments in aggressively regulating corporations. I don’t agree with Paul on everything. But for the core issues — war, the money supply, taxation, health freedom — he’s so right on that there’s simply no other candidate that even comes close.
If you believe in corruption, endless debt, secret police, a collapsing economy and an endless stream of government lies, vote for the popular, mainstream, corporate-backed candidates. But if you believe in returning honesty to government, there is only one sensible choice, and his name is Ron Paul.
The People’s Surveillance
There’s also something else happening in society today that might have a chance of helping us all win back our freedoms: People-powered surveillance and the YouTube phenomenon!
YouTube is amazing. That’s where regular people can post videos of things they’ve video recorded in society. The police hate YouTube because it puts them on the record beating innocents, tasering students, and violating people’s civil rights.
Watch how the police assault this woman with a taser:
Don’t forget the “Don’t Tase Me Bro” incident at the University of Florida:
In this next video, Canadian police EXECUTE a Polish man with a taser:
Here’s a video about a 78-year-old man being tasered by L.A. cops:
Here’s a frightening compilation of numerous police brutality videos:
(Warning: GRAPHIC, contains profanity)
Most of this video was taken by amateurs.
And don’t forget these amateur photos taken by idiot U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib:
Video is our secret weapon against the tyrants. That’s why authorities hate YouTube so much. Just this week, a group of Canadian health researchers slammed YouTube, claiming it had too many videos from people giving out “false” information about vaccines. (That “false” information, it turned out, was urging parents to avoid vaccinating their children due to the link between mercury in vaccines and autism.)
Keep those videos rolling
There are a lot of good cops out there, and local law enforcement is, of course, a necessary thing. But there are bad cops, bad soldiers and bad tyrants out there, too, and it’s the job of reasonable people everywhere to catch these perpetrators on video, post it on YouTube, and share it with the world.
A surveillance society can work both ways, you see. While the tyrants are surveilling the People, the People can also surveil the tyrants. Plus, we’ve got the internet on our side (because information WANTS to be free!), which gives us the ability to bypass the mainstream media and share information directly with the people.
The internet could be the single most important tool in the regaining of freedom and civil liberties in America and other countries.
So keep those cell phone videos rolling. Keep a compact video camera handy for all occasions. When the authorities step out of line, press the record button and try not to get your ass arrested. Book it back home, upload it to YouTube, and send me the link. We’ll spread the word. (You can reach me through our feedback form, see the Contact Us link on our home page.)
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Secret DoJ Legal Memos: Bush Determines What Is Constitutional
Friday, December 7, 2007
This morning, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) delivered an impassioned floor speech to help frame the debate over FISA reform. Using his privilege as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Whitehouse said he has “spent hours poring over” secret opinions issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) — and he took notes.
Whitehouse is a lawyer, a former U.S. Attorney, a former legal counsel to Rhode Island’s Governor, and a former State Attorney General. He said he sought and received permission to have his notes declassified because he wanted to show the public “what the Bush administration does behind our backs when they think no one is looking.”
“To give you an example of what I read,” Whitehouse said on the Senate floor, “I have gotten three legal propositions from these secret OLC opinions declassified. Here they are, as accurately as my note-taking could reproduce them from the classified documents”:
1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.
2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.
3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.
Emptywheel has the full statement and more commentary.
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Attack of white woman by 9 black kids a possible hate crime
BALTIMORE -A white woman beaten by a group of black students on a bus has prompted a hate-crime investigation, attempts by transit officials to reassure riders of the safety of the system, and radio talk-show chatter over comparisons with the Jena Six case.
The uproar prompted two leading black politicians to issue statements decrying the attack.
Sarah Kreager, 26, suffered broken facial bones and other injuries after she was punched, kicked and dragged off the bus Tuesday afternoon. Kreager’s companion, Troy Ellis, was also attacked, but not beaten as severely. Kreager has an unlisted phone number and attempts to reach her Friday were unsuccessful.
MTA police said evidence has not been found to support claims by the students’ parents that the children were provoked.
“We are at this point investigating it as a hate crime,” MTA spokeswoman Jawauna Greene said.
The attack immediately drew comparisons on talk radio and Internet blogs to the Jena, La. case in which a white student was attacked by a group of black students, leading to demontrations by black activists who alleged local authorities were prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. Many callers and web site posters questioned what they considered a lack of outrage over the latest attacks.
“The physical assault of any human being, regardless of motivation, is conduct that is unacceptable. As police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime, we must rise together as a community to take a stand against violence toward any of our neighbors,” Cummings said in statement issued Friday.
Dixon said after the attack that she was extremely concerned about the beating, which she described as “deplorable.”
“I will not tolerate intimidation or violence anywhere in our city,” the mayor said. “I have offered the MTA whatever assistance they need to investigate this incident and to do our part to ensure the public transportation system is safe for everyone.”
MTA Northern District Capt. David Marzola said the middle school students, three females and six males 14 to 15 years old, are also accused of menacing an elderly white passenger and assaulting the bus operator, a black male who defended his passenger.
“He probably saved this gentleman’s life,” Marzola said.
The driver was not identified because he is considered a witness to a crime, the MTA said.
Video from a surveillance camera on the bus is also being analyzed as part of the investigation, the MTA said.
The students, who ride the bus to Robert Poole Middle School, have been released into the custody of their parents, Greene said.
Col. John Gavrilis, deputy chief of the MTA Police, said MTA Police have stationed an officer on the line since Tuesday and the city school police force has assigned extra officers to the Hampden school.
Greene said the nine students have had their bus privileges revoked.
“Riding the bus is a privilege,” she said. “Public safety is our primary concern.”
MTA officials noted the system is safe with a total of 381 crimes this year on the transit system, which carries 250,000 riders a day, with property crimes accounting for the vast majority.
However, the attack was the latest in a string of high-profile crimes to have taken place on or near MTA facilities.
Nicole Edwards, 17, was fatally stabbed near a Baltimore light rail station in November, 2006, during an armed robbery of Edwards and her brother. Lataye S. King, 17, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday in the case, and a 15-year-old co-defendant is to be sentenced in February for robbery conspiracy and aggravated assault.
In October, a twice-convicted rapist was accused of attacking a woman at a light rail station in Linthicum. And an MTA officer shot and killed a robbery suspect late last year at a Reisterstown Metro station after police said he pulled a gun.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
WWII vet: Wounded Marine’s story ‘broke my heart’
* Story Highlights
* Medal of Honor recipient: I was outraged by lack of care for a wounded Marine
* Ty Ziegel was badly wounded in Iraq and had to fight VA for benefits
* Thousands of CNN viewers and CNN.com users responded to initial story
* Ziegel: Thank you for your response
By Emily Probst and Wayne Drash
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — A World War II Medal of Honor recipient couldn’t believe it when he learned about a Marine who was severely disfigured by a suicide bomber in Iraq and then had to fight the Department of Veterans Affairs to get full disability benefits.
Hershel “Woody” Williams — who won the Medal of Honor for his valor on Iwo Jima in 1945 — was one of thousands of CNN viewers and CNN.com users to express outrage over the struggle of Marine Sgt. Ty Ziegel, 25, who lost part of his skull, half of his left arm and suffered multiple other injuries in the bombing just three days before Christmas 2004. His story was first broadcast on CNN three weeks ago.
The VA’s initial assessment of Ziegel’s disabilities shocked him — from facial disfigurement rated at 80 percent to a mere 10 percent for his head trauma.
On top of that, he got nothing for his left lobe brain injury, right eye blindness and jaw fracture. It was only after he pressed the office of then-VA Secretary Jim Nicholson that he got compensation for having a traumatic brain injury and other severe injuries. VideoWatch Ziegel display his model skull »
“For him to have to go through what he did broke my heart,” Williams told CNN. “It is happening far too often.”
Williams, an 84-year-old retired chief warrant officer from Ona, West Virginia, is one of the 107 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.
He won the award for “his unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance” that helped neutralize “one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment,” his Medal of Honor citation reads.
After the war, he served in the VA for 33 years — and when he hears stories like Ziegel’s, he finds it appalling. “Our Congress, nor our Department of Veterans Affairs, neither were remotely prepared for that kind of case,” he said. Impact Your World: How to help war veterans
He was so moved by Ziegel’s story he felt compelled to reach out, sending Ziegel his military “challenge” coin, decorated with the Marine Corps emblem on the face and the Purple Heart with his signature on the back.
Why did he do it?
“I appreciated his service to our country, very, very much … and I appreciated his tenacity, so others had a role model to follow. I said to him on the phone, ‘You are a role model,'” Williams explained. PhotoSee photos of Iraq war heroes »
Ziegel — who can no longer hold a steady job because his wounds are so severe — was thrilled by the simple gesture of a fellow Marine.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s an honor to have a man of his stature — a Medal of Honor winner nonetheless — even recognize me. It’s an honor and then some.”
Ziegel also said he was overwhelmed by the response to his story, which brought a flood of phone calls, letters, e-mails and MySpace messages. He was even contacted by campaign staffers for Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico. Richardson’s campaign staffers offered to help find Ziegel the resources for reconstructive surgery, an offer Ziegel has yet to take them up on.
“It’s been really good to hear that they saw the story and care enough to want to help,” Ziegel said.
Ziegel now takes each day one at a time. He depends on his disability check to support his small-town lifestyle in Washington, Illinois. That’s why it was so astonishing initially when the VA slighted him, awarding him just under $2,700 a month in compensation — far from the $4,000 a month he expected.
Less than 48 hours after Ziegel told his story to CNN, the VA acted on his case, increasing his compensation significantly.
Now, others want to make sure the VA system changes. A presidential commission last July called for a complete overhaul of the 62-year-old disability ratings system. And just this week, veterans’ issues were front and center on Capitol Hill as Senate confirmation hearings began for President Bush’s nominee for VA secretary, Dr. James Peake.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who is the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, pushed the nominee to make fixing the disability ratings system one of his highest priorities.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the VA’s current compensation system is broken,” Akaka said.
Rep. Joe Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat, called Ziegel’s fight with the VA “infuriating.”
Donnelly, who is on the House Committee for Veterans Affairs, is pushing legislation that would give wounded veterans an instant disability rating of 30 percent within 30 days of discharge. This temporary rating would mean more money and it would be adjusted once a more comprehensive assessment could be made.
“Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to the veteran,” Donnelly said.
Marines Williams and Ziegel remain committed to change — or as Ziegel likes to say, “Semper Fi.”
All AboutU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs • Iraq War
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Stage Three of Attack Beginning on Paul – By Pat Shannan
Sat Dec 8, 2007 13:23
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: The Treatment of Ron Paul
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2007 15:42:29 -0500
From: Oceania Investigations firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Glenn Beck News email@example.com
CC: Glenn Beck GlennBeck@mail161.subscribermail.com
Stage Three of Attack Beginning on Paul
By Pat Shannan
For several months now we have watched together the unfolding of “The Treatment” by the news media in its attempt to make Ron Paul go away. He continues to frustrate the efforts.
The first stage of “The Treatment” is to just simply ignore any substantial candidate who is not “anointed” by the powers behind the scenes. Anyone who ever ran for political office wearing any label other than “Republican” or “Democrat” has experienced Stage One, and few ever got beyond it. (A visitor from Mars can see in one day that the anointed Republican is Rudy Guiliani and the anointed Democrat is Hillary Clinton.)
Hard as the talking heads of the propaganda machine tried, they just couldn’t ignore Dr. Paul for very long without continuing to make themselves look foolish. First of all, even though he attempted a shot at the presidency as the Libertarian Party’s candidate two decades ago, he has been a 10-term Republican congressman who won the early TV debates this year with simple logic, pointing out that government must obey the law, too, and the highest law of the land is the constitution that nearly every politician not only ignores today but has never read in the first place.
So when this bona fide candidate was cleverly excluded from the Iowa debates, he showed up anyway, rented the room next door and put on a campaign rally that drew twice as many as the paltry 500 attending in the debate hall.
Therefore, a higher level of “The Treatment” was necessitated around mid-2007, and this second stage in discrediting a candidate was displayed: that of poking fun in an attempt to make the candidate look foolish by quoting out of context or putting whole new pieces of deceptive text in his mouth that he never said in the first place.
However, when behavior sinks to a level that might provoke lesser men into swinging a punch or at least yelling a retaliatory, mindless rebuttal, Dr. Paul does not weaken. When the CNN interviewer told him that many people considered him “flaky,” Ron just used her own words to draw some examples of the “flaky” manner in which those in charge today are handling things in Washington.
On “Face the Nation” in early November, CBS host Bob Schieffer said,
“You are anti-war, anti-abortion, anti-drug administration, anti-Medicare, anti-income tax, anti-U.N., anti-Federal Reserve and World Bank. What else do you think government should do besides deliver the mail?”
Composed and alert under fire, Paul calmly replied that in order to be “anti” anything, you have to be “pro” something else, and pointed out, “I am pro-peace, pro-life, pro-liberty, pro-hard money, and pro-States rights.”
“We don’t like $100 oil?” Paul asked and then answered, “We’ll have $200 oil if we bomb Iran.”
In June, when Paul was explaining to the TV debates audience the lack of congressional authorization of the Iraqi war and all those preceding it since WW II and the need to get out of there, someone behind the curtain at Fox News opened up Rudy Guiliani’s microphone and allowed the former N.Y. mayor to rudely cackle like a magpie. Then someone in charge of the computer buttons split the TV screen so the world could see Rudy childishly laughing while Paul made his points. A little later, host Sean Hannity treated Dr. Paul with disdain and a total lack of respect in the post-debate interview. This was Stage Two at its best, and while many of his supporters sizzled and seethed at the two obviously pre-planned and well organized cheap shots, Dr. Paul maintained his cool.
This comes from experience. In 1988, talk show host Mort Downey, Jr. stacked his audience with some of the great unwashed hippies who, along with the discourteous host, hooted derisively (much in the fashion of today’s Jerry Springer Show) until Paul succumbed to the bait and began to shout back. His microphone’s volume was then turned down and that of the others was turned up – a common trick of the insiders – in order to prevent anyone from hearing anything he said over the cacophony. Downey was the last to ever lure Dr. Paul into that trap, and the unfortunate experience must have bothered the candidate for a long time. Watching him today, we can readily see that he has learned the entrapment lesson well.
The congressman is a seasoned debater who, in addition to being unflappable, keeps up-to-date on every issue. Unlike the current president, he will never be one who will require an ear piece in order to be fed answers to questions, as those who tell the truth don’t have to memorize a script.
This may be the most likely reason that Ron Paul’s establishment adversaries have found it necessary to turn up the heat to Stage Three. His raising of over $4 million in one day on the Internet could not be ignored, and his innate ability to turn their own words against them has only helped him gain ground not lose it.
The time for spreading the lies has arrived. Some Washington newspapers are printing “the extensive and well documented facts” that Paul is “dangerous” and “has ties to the Neo Nazis.” There was never any further evidence, however, of the alleged documentation, but we can be sure that more allegations will surface.
Film critic and talk radio host Michael Medved looks over Paul’s supporters and finds “an imposing collection of neo-Nazis, white Supremacists, Holocaust deniers, 9/11 ‘truthers’ and other paranoid and discredited conspiracists.” He has not named any but even if this is true, “So what?” Would the other candidates turn down any voter?
Meanwhile, Glenn Beck, another Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh sound-alike who all are palatable 95% of the time but reveal their true colors the other 5%, is saying that Ron Paul and his supporters are “a domestic enemy” and “terrorists.” Beck claims that since the $4.2 million was raised on November 5th – and they had to go back only 400 years to come up with this gem – and it is the same day when a revolutionist named Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament in England, Ron Paul must be some kind of terrorist too. Beck’s hard evidence for his case is even more foolish: the Paul backers referred to their fund raising project on the Internet as a “money bomb.”
The Paul camp is planning another “money bomb” blast for December 16th, in celebration of the 1773 Boston Tea Party. We can’t wait to hear the next foolish allegation regurgitated by the media following this one-day event.
Get used to it, folks. The attack has just begun.
The fourth stage is known as “Dirty Tricks” – likely to begin in January where Ron Paul is hopeful of shocking them once again in the New Hampshire primary.
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