Voices from Russia

Friday, 11 January 2013

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Launches Gun Control Campaign in USA

00 Gabrielle Giffords. 11.01.13

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On Tuesday, on the second anniversary of the mass shooting in Tucson AZ that left her critically injured and six people dead, former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) launched a high-profile campaign against gun violence in America by taking aim at her former colleagues in Congress. Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, in a USA Today op-ed published Tuesday said, “In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimised tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary… nothing at all. Special interests purporting to represent gun owners, but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe, have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission… as a result, we’re more vulnerable to gun violence”.

With that, the husband-and-wife team announced their new Americans for Responsible Solutions initiative, which aims to raise enough money to balance the influence of the powerful pro-gun lobbying group the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others in the gun industry. The announcement comes just days after Giffords and Kelly had an emotional meeting with family members of those killed in the December shooting massacre that claimed the lives of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. They said, “We can’t just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next. Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources”.

The couple is pushing for comprehensive background checks for anyone purchasing private firearms, and advocate more effective treatment for those who are mentally ill. Kelly said in an interview with ABC News, “I bought a gun at Wal-Mart recently and I went through a background check. It’s not a difficult thing to do. Why can’t we just do that and make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns?”

The man who shot Giffords was deemed incompetent to stand trial and was sentenced in November to seven life terms plus 140 years in prison without parole. Giffords wrote, “America has seen an astounding 11 mass shootings since a madman used a semiautomatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to shoot me and kill six others. This country is known for using its determination and ingenuity to solve problems, big and small… but when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we’re not even trying… and for the worst of reasons”.

The new initiative launches as the national debate over gun control heats up with a series of White House meetings this week on how best to curb gun violence in America. The administration invited gun owners, victims’ groups, educators, mental health experts, and video-game industry figures for high-level discussions on possible changes in policy. A task force on gun control led by Vice President Joe Biden is set to submit recommendations to President Barack Obama by the end of the month.

8 January 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20130108/178648626/Injured_Former_Congresswoman_Launches.html

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Saturday, 1 December 2012

There’s GOOD SHIT Out There… Photo of NYPD Cop Helping Homeless Man Goes Viral

00 NYPD Cop and Homeless Guy. 01.12.12

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A photo of a NYPD cop helping a barefoot homeless man on a frigid November night by buying him new boots and socks went viral on the web and captured the hearts of thousands for his random act of kindness. On Friday, when asked on NBC’s Today show about why he felt compelled to buy new boots for a homeless man he saw sitting on the sidewalk near Times Square, NYPD Patrolman Lawrence DePrimo said, “The two things that really stuck out in my mind that night was just how cold it was and that this was the most polite gentleman I ever met, and I knew I had to help him”.

Jennifer Foster, a tourist visiting New York from Arizona, witnessed DePrimo squatting down on the ground and putting socks and shoes on the homeless man and she told the Today show that the “man’s face lit up like it was Christmas and like he had been literally given a million dollars”. Foster, without DePrimo’s knowledge, took a snapshot of the officer’s generosity and sent it to the NYPD, which then posted the picture to its Facebook page, where it instantly became a hit, and garnered more than 430,000 likes. Foster, who worked for 17 years in law enforcement as a dispatch manager for a sheriff’s office in Arizona, said, “I knew what I was looking at. I knew it was remarkable”.

The 25-year-old cop was on counterterrorism patrol the night of 14 November when he discovered the homeless man, who had blisters on his feet. DePrimo said that he stopped and asked the man, “‘Where’s your socks, where’s your shoes?’ He was like, ‘It’s OK, officer; I never had a pair of shoes'”. Then, DePrimo went to a nearby shoe store and bought the man a pair of socks and boots with 75 USD (2,320 Roubles. 58 Euros. 47 UK Pounds) of his own money, and said that he keeps the receipt as an “important reminder that some people have it worse”. DePrimo found that his new fame is “surreal” and “humbling”, saying, “It’s a great experience. I think it’s a lot about the people, though, because you see such great comments. People are saying that their faith in humanity is restored and that’s the biggest thing that I can take away from all of this”.

30 November 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20121130/177846569.html

Editor’s Note:

Probably, DePrimo’s from one of the nabes that tourists never penetrate… Bensonhurst, Howard Beach, South Ozone, or Broad Channel… people are solid there. The world isn’t degenerating… distrust all who say such… most of them have an agenda. Of course, the chattering class and the political class are crank to the bone, but they’re not “the world”, are they (but they do hog most of the attention of the media and are insufferable boors to boot)? Real life goes on beneath all the hoopla… this is proof of that. Have a swig from the jug, Larry; you gave a ton of people a shot in the arm. Thanks…

BMD

Friday, 30 November 2012

Army-Surplus Tents to Have Room for More Criminals: Tent City Gaol, the Legal Gulag of Arizona

01 fat cop

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An inhumane and disgraceful situation has existed in Maricopa County, Arizona since 1993. Tent City is a gaol, where, instead of being locked up, inmates are kept outside in dirty old army-surplus tents, in a gated area. This modern gaol, which can hold up to 2,126 convicts, has an old-fashioned twist on how to deal with criminal offenses. The ham-fisted practises in this facility don’t differentiate between those gaoled for misdemeanours and felonies. Rick Edwards, a former prisoner and now CEO of an Arizona nonprofit named ExecuGive, told VOR exactly how Tent City operates. The majority of prisoners would most likely say that getting into brawls is the hardest part of their day, amongst other annoyances, but Tent City is different from other gaols. Once registered, inmates receive a black and white striped uniform, along with pink boxers, socks, and towels. Edwards told VOR, “This is to embarrass inmates and reduce theft of clothing. It’s become Sheriff Joe’s trademark”.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County is one tough cop, and an oddly creative man. It was his decision to set up army-surplus tents when his gaol reached full capacity. Instead of letting some criminals out earlier, he put up tents to accommodate them. A tall fence topped with barbed wire surrounds the tents, along with lookout posts so that prison guards can watch the facility. Edwards told us, “Inmates, criminals, and persons with direct knowledge of Arpaio and Tent City tend to hate and dislike him more than fear him. Still, many people love him and all that he stands for”. However, more and more people are speaking out against the sheriff… his “good deeds” for the county are starting to look like illogical torture for those under his authority. This past September, charges accusing Arpaio of abuse of office were dropped. Another allegation raising red flags was his usage of the county’s credit card. Reportedly, he used the card recklessly, to charge personal items. None of these claims went to court, as there was supposedly a lack of evidence. Besides all this, Arpaio barely won this past election, winning only 50.7 percent of the vote, his closest race in his 20 years of being sheriff.

Critics and ex-Tent City inmates aren’t convinced that his policing strategies are for the better. For instance, rumour has it that the food he serves is old, past its “use by” date. Instead of three meals a day, inmates only get two meals, which cost the county 40 cents (12 Roubles. 0.31 Euro. 25 UK Pence) per serving. The rules are even more rancid than the food, as he allows no tobacco, coffee, sugar, salt, or pepper. This neglect in providing proper meals isn’t the only accusation against Arpaio. A post on blog.novakazlaw.com claims that a former cook for Tent City saw cockroaches and rats crawling around the kitchen floor. Unsanitary food handling may seem minor, but the public worries about the conditions of the place, even if Arpaio isn’t letting the budget get out of hand. Edwards noted, “The heat’s a problem during the summer. You’re living outside in tents. Frequently, it’s in the 110s temperature-wise in Phoenix. The sheriff says that if it’s good enough for our military, it is good enough for criminals”.

Physically, prison is a daunting place, but Tent City is in a league of its own. Edwards, who’s a recovering addict, counsellor, and relapse prevention expert, said, “I’ve stayed in Tent City many times, some for an extended amount of time (you can be there up to two years). I’ve been treated rudely and unfairly in their continuing effort to rule by intimidation. I’ve also been denied legal rights many times. I’ve witnessed physical, mental, and emotional abuse daily. As an experienced and veteran prisoner, my inside knowledge allowed me to position myself to avoid much of the abuse. I followed the rules and used them to my advantage. Mental toughness and acuity was a strong defensive measure”. Edwards made it clear that medical care is hard to come by and, even if received, is of very poor quality in Tent City.

Edwards isn’t the only ex-inmate who remembers the dump Tent City has become, Deb Allenbaugh also experienced the jail’s “amenities” of portable toilets and fresh air. She got sent to tent city in 2004, and wrote the Tent City Survival Guide after her release. In the end, both Edwards and Allenbaugh learned to take nothing for granted, and to do everything possible to keep out of Tent City. The gaol in Maricopa County is one of a kind; inmates can barely function with inadequate food and scorching temperatures. People talk about the neglectful conditions, but they never seem to find legal proof, leaving its operation shrouded in questions. The modern American gulag has arrived; it’s here to stay, although one can hope for genuine improvements inside Tent City.

30 November 2012

Sarah Neary

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_11_30/War-type-tents-to-have-room-for-more-criminals-Tent-City-jail-the-legal-gulag-of-Arizona/

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Nikolai Yaroshenko. Life is Everywhere. 1888

Life is Everywhere

Nikolai Yaroshenko

1888

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Editor’s Note:

There are two things to say about Arapaio’s abuse of prisoners. Firstly, the Church would condemn him for cruelty. Full stop. The Church teaches us that prisoners are human beings and deserve mercy (I’m thinking of the famous Russian painting Life is Everywhere depicting a 19th century convict transport to Siberia). Secondly, if a Russian gaol were to have only half the abuses of Arpaio’s crank operation, the US State Department would have a hissy fit. If all things are equal, that means that Joe Arpaio is a abuser and criminal himself… and deserves imprisonment. Reflect on this… the Republican Party supports the policies of this amoral monster. That’s a meaty thought…

BMD

Friday, 16 November 2012

USA Awaits Possible Russian Retaliation for Magnitsky Act

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The White House was less than enthusiastic about proposed legislation in the US Congress linking normalised trade relations with Russia to the so-called “Magnitsky Act,” a bill aimed at punishing Russian officials suspected of corruption. However, with the US House of Representatives expected to pass the combined bill on Friday… and the US Senate likely to give its stamp of approval after that… most anticipate that President Barack Obama will sign it into law anyway. The question in Washington now is… “What’s Russia going to do about it?”

American officials, lawmakers, and business lobbies have a broad and united consensus that enacting Permanent Normalised Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia would provide a boost for American exporters. However, the decision to link PNTR to the Magnitsky Act, named for Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blowing lawyer who died in a Moscow jail three years ago, angered top Russian officials, who accuse the USA of meddling in their country’s internal affairs. On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs vowed to “react toughly” to this “this unfriendly provocative act”, but it remains unclear exactly what this reaction will be and what impact it might have on bilateral ties.

Cliff Kupchan, head of the Russia and CIS team at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy in New York City, said, “The most unfortunate outcome would be a Russian response that disrupts American-Russian economic relations. If Russia responds with some proportionate blacklist of its own, my view is that the issue will be contained. If Russia responds with an extremely-expansive bill based on multiple criteria, it’d negatively affect relations”.

The bill to go before the House of Representatives on Friday would deny visas to… and freeze the assets of… officials suspected of involvement in Magnitsky’s death and other alleged human rights abuses. The Obama administration maintained that the American government already has mechanisms in place to punish such individuals, and has tried in vain to keep the Magnitsky bill separate from the PNTR issues. Russia joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in August, and, as a fellow WTO member, the USA must normalise trade relations with Russia in order to allow American businesses to capitalise on opportunities in the Russian market.

Carroll Colley, a Washington-based analyst for Eurasia Group, wrote in an essay published Thursday on the Foreign Policy website, “These advantages could be diminished by punitive bureaucratic measures targeting American companies doing business in Russia as a response to the Magnitsky Act. The measures could include unannounced tax inspections of American companies, delayed or denied licensing or registration procedures, and other bureaucratic complications”. James Collins, a former US ambassador to Russia under President Clinton, told RIA-Novosti, “Human rights have long been an issue in American relations with the USSR and Russia, and it’d be unrealistic for anyone to expect this to change anytime soon. The real question is whether the two governments can find reasonably effective ways to manage both the places where we agree and where we disagree. Or, they don’t, and, instead, let this become a disruptive part of the relationship”.

16 November 2012

Carl Schreck

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20121116/177503608.html

Editor’s Note:

What do you think would happen if Russia made a list of the American states where labour organisers are routinely brutalised and killed? What do you think that the Republican Party would do if Russia blacklisted Texas, Arizona, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas for their racially-based efforts to restrict voting by blacks and Mexican-Americans? What do think that the USA would do if Russia barred Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Joe Arapaio, and Sean Hannity from Russia on the grounds that they foment and spread extremism (although they DO such and aren’t ashamed of it, no siree)? (Orthodox people… what do you think would happen if Russia banned JP, Potapov, Rod Dreher, and Josiah Trenham for supporting Hard Right causes and for being religious kooks?) Why, there’d be a hellacious stink! You could smell it all the way from the banks of the Potomac to the Arbat!

In short, this is arrogant Anglo posturing. The people who brought you Wounded Knee, Hiroshima, and Guantánamo should know better. THIS is why the world despises the USA. It isn’t envy… its disgust. We should grow up and act like adults… but shall we?

BMD

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