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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

July 23, 2009

READER COMMENT EXCERPTS

LIBERALS DUCK REAL CIVIL LIBERTIES STRUGGLES

The Feds and some state prosecutors have already started to apply anti-terrorism laws to regular criminal acts. RICO is another law that is grossly abused. We repeatedly see law stretched to areas that were never intended by Congress. Crimes that depend upon the content of speech will rapidly degenerate into prosecutions of words that the police, prosecutor, or administration find distasteful. - m

What will be coming next will be some sort of corollary making it a crime to perform or plan violent acts while affiliated with a "hate' organization which they'll use to round up everybody who has a twenty-second cousin in Hamas or FARC or KKK. This is a foot in the door. Remember the Holyland Foundation was declared a terrorist organization because they were helping victims of Israeli state terrorism who might have been family members of Hamas.

Designer laws to placate the gullible will eventually be used to suppress dissent, consolidate control of the populace and destroy the Constitution. Besides, how much longer can a life sentence be and how much deader than dead can a death sentence be?

It feels good to see 'progressives' supporting the expansion of the police state - more cops, more jails, longer sentences -- in the name of tolerance.

The First Amendment is very clear: Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. Note the words "no law". It does not say no law except against yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, or no law except against using certain collections of phonemes that are obviously offensive to all right-minded people, it says "no law'. - FoE

The neocons want to take away your rights and freedom for your own protection and the neolibs want your rights and freedom to secure justice, but they both want the same smothering control and the same endless wars that will secure cheap resources for the same corporations that have funded both corrupt parties. - Cool Hand

The difference between bias crimes and other crimes is that the former includes a threat to people who are not the immediate victim of the crime, while the latter does not.

Let us suppose that a Jewish congregation purchases a building with the aim of establishing a synagogue where none was before. Let us suppose that someone defaces the building with graffiti.

If the graffiti consists of the message "Jojo was here" and the image of a horse's head, it's an act of vandalism. But it's hard to argue that it's anything more than that.

However, if the message consists of the message "Hitler was too lenient towards Christ-killers" and a swastika, it's more than a mere act of vandalism. It's a threat against all Jews. The implicit message is: "stay out of the neighborhood -- or else."

A crime motivated by bias does more harm to society than the equivalent crime without bias, as it marks aside an area where one group of people are able to do things freely while another group is threatened with extralegal punishment for doing the same things.

Finally, in many cases, the people who commit bias crimes believe that they are just doing something that the majority of people want done, but are afraid to do themselves. The act of passing a bias-crime law is an indication that the community at large does not approve of such crimes, and hence may dissuade some people from committing them. It might not keep haters from hating, but it might make them think twice about their use of threats. - DS

So, I guess we should leave the murderers of James Byrd and Matthew Shepard with simple sentences that don't include their thinking as part of the consideration of penalty. The fact that the murders would not have happened save their racism and homophobia is immaterial. - Robbie

Deciding something is/isn't a hate crime doesn't "criminalize thought". That's a hater's claim, not unlike the claim that bringing BushCo to trial would be "criminalizing political differences".

The law has always taken intent into consideration. In general, there is no crime where there is no intent, while a finding that the accused acted with "premeditation" or "malice aforethought" increases the penalty.

Distinguishing a hate crime from an ordinary crime requires no more than a closer look at the evidence of intent once the crime has been committed. It is the act that's the crime.

When people are at greater risk of being preyed upon because of their perceived membership in some involuntary group, why shouldn't the predator do bigger time for targeting them? Bigger risk for the victim group, bigger punishment for the perp. What ethical objection could you have to that?

We need a entire new fertile continent of law for lawmakers to conquer so that they can brag of their law making prowess. The entire field of thought crimes is totally underserved here in the US. This will also reduce unemployment amongst attorneys, and give more ammunition for prosecutors and enforcement to control the unwashed populace. No doubt additional prison building will help stimulate the economy.

FAMOUS BLACK PROFESSOR ARRESTED FOR TRYING TO ENTER HIS HOME

The fact that he was "detained" for four hours even after he had proven his identity should be sufficient evidence that the cops effed up. As someone else remarked: housebreakers usually aren't middle-aged and don't arrive in a cab with luggage. - Mairead

Last time I mouthed off to the police, they beat me with their baton. . . and I'm white. Looking back, I understand that I was at fault for resisting arrest. I was angry and was not doing what they asked me to do. If I had done what they asked, the outcome would have been different. In order for the system to work; police need to be able to exert their authority. - CD Ronk

The person who called the police was visiting from out of town. If anyone was profiling it was her. But she wasn't. She saw what she thought was a break in. I suppose she thought it was better to be safe than sorry. Maybe she thought that if they did own the house they would say so to the police, but he didn't. He could have given his ID but he didn't. He was angry and wanted to make a point.

Police are generally assholes but in this case the police were just doing there job and the good doctor was acting like a child. "You don't know who you're messing with" What an arrogant statement. I would personally be thankful if my neighbor called the police on someone breaking into my house. even if that person was me. - Chris R

LIVING UNDER THE CLOUD OF CHROME

In my 30+ years in the computer industry, I've seen a relentless push to re-centralise control over computing power even as technology has become more distributed.

We've just had a little example of why centralized control is bad: Amazon deleted copies of an Orwell book from purchasers' Kindle devices because of copyright violation by the vendor. They refunded the purchase price, but the very fact that they could void a sale post-hoc without the customer having any say in the matter is rather chilling to say the least.

BRITISH GOVERNMENT TREATS AUTHORS OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS AS POSSIBLE PEDOPHILES

Let's just ban all contact between children and adults. We can fix this problem in one generation permanently.

PLAYING GAMES WITH SCHOOL TESTING

When people put the education of their children in other peoples hands, they must accept and support whatever awfulness the institution will deliver. Schools care about the money they get, not the kids. Some individuals inside schools may really be trying to give kids a quality education, but the system will mediocre any efforts of such individuals.
If you want quality education for your kids, and you want them to learn to think for themselves, home school.

NEWS RELEASE OF THE DAY

Well, now that that's been cleared up, I for one welcome our eco-friendly vegetarian killing machines. - Boffin

LAWNS

Dandelions were imported to North America by early European settlers who needed early spring honeybee forage. White clover is great bee forage too. With all the trouble that both honeybees and native pollinators are having currently, a few dandelions and some white clover will help support bees and other pollinators. That way there will be pollinators around when the tomatoes bloom.

Personally, I have removed my lawn and have a food forest about half planted. My chestnut trees are finally fruiting this year. When I bought my home, I made sure that the neighborhood didn't have any pesky neighborhood association with rules against productive gardens and orchards in front yards. In the 11 years since I moved in, 8 other households on my street have been bought by organic gardeners, permaculturalists, and orchardists.

According to my father, grass seed used to be a mixture of various grasses And white clover - to add Nitrogen into the soil and to provide something green during the heat of the summer when the grass naturally died back. People realized that grass will naturally revive in the fall; it's not really necessary to water all summer.

I What to do about neighbors that spend hundreds of dollars on lawn-care? I tell them they have an occasional volunteer dandelion sprouting here-and-there because I pick the fragile white dandelion seed heads, gingerly carry them to their yard, and under the cover of darkness lovingly disperse the seeds with a puff of breath.

In reality, I don't do this seed dispersal. I only tell them I do, just to play with their minds. - DaTheorist

CROCS

Oh boy do Crocs make a person's feet sweat. My husband has a pair of Crocs he calls them "the cruel shoes", and only uses them reluctantly as garden clogs. My daughter tried some Crocs on in the store and could not bear to stand in them. They were terribly painful.

I had a friend who thought Crocs were OK, until she changed jobs and had to be on her feet most of the day, then she switched to Keen shoes, which are much more comfortable and better made then Crocs.

At my house we are very big on comfortable shoes, so we get Keen, and Finn Comfort shoes.

We used to get Birkenstocks, but that company has gone mad and greedy and is doing everything they can to chase off their former loyal customer base. The new Birk shoes totally suck, they now have little arch support and fall apart way too fast for the price.

The chief appeal of Crocs is that they are astoundingly comfortable. Comfort is far more important in a shoe than fashion. Apparently, yet again, women are expected to sacrifice comfort for to remain aesthetically pleasing whatever audience may happen to pass by. I'll be stocking up on Crocs.

13 Comments:

Blogger Robby said...

You have an interesting approach to lawn care! I usually get my information from www.penningtonseed.com. Keep up the blogs. I look forward to stumbling across them in the future.

July 23, 2009 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/D14DE98D380D1B73862575FA0008F3A8?OpenDocumen

July 23, 2009 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UPDATED 1:07 P.M. WEDNESDAY

When Charles Papenfus threatened to burn down the offices of St. Louis broker of extended auto-service contracts, he identified specific workers he would target and delivered the threat "without provocation," said Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce in a prepared statement released to new organizations at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Charles W. Papenfus, 43, of Fostoria, Ohio, allegedly told a sales representative during a May 18 telephone call that he would burn down the building and kill the employees and their families. He was indicted for making a terrorist threat, a Class D felony; and he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison if convicted.

After news of Papenfus’ arrest was first published in Tuesday’s Post-Dispatch, some postings on blogs and Internet news sites have hailed the self-employed mechanic as something akin to a consumer folk hero. An opinion piece mentioning his case in the Irish Independent newspaper, for instance, was headlined, "Time for pitchforks and flaming torches."

In her statement, Joyce disputed the Post-Dispatch account of the case, which relied heavily on Papenfus’ lawyer, Douglas Forsyth, and Papenfus’ wife, Tracie. When asked to comment for that story, officials from the St. Louis police and the circuit attorney’s office refused to discuss the facts of the case.

In that story, Forsyth said the alleged threat was uttered several minutes into a phone call initiated by the St. Louis telemarking firm, which had called Papenfus in response to a voice-mail message. Joyce says in her statement that Papenfus, in fact, dialed the firm and delivered the threat to the employee who answered the phone. MORE METRO
Get news, columns, photos and multimedia from the St. Louis area

July 23, 2009 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Circuit Attorney’s Office has an obligation to take threatening statements like these seriously and we have proceeded accordingly," Joyce said in the statement. "Likewise, the Grand Jury has reviewed the evidence in this case and has issued a felony indictment."

A St. Louis grand jury indicted Papenfus, who was arrested in Ohio on June 27. He has been held in St. Louis since July 5, said his wife, Tracie. As of Wednesday morning, he was still being held at the city workhouse.

Circuit Judge Paula Perkins Bryant signed an order late Tuesday that reduced Papenfus’ bond to $5,000 from $45,000 late, said Matt Murphy, a court spokesman, Wednesday morning. The motion for a reduced bond was filed at a hearing Tuesday morning, though at that time Bryant did not rule on the issue.

The change should allow Papenfus to leave the city- as early as today, a source said. Papenfus, who was extradited from Ohio, has been held in St. Louis since July 5, said his wife, Tracie Papenfus.

According to court documents, Papenfus, 43, allegedly told a sales representative during a phone call that he would burn down the building and kill the employees and their families. The name of the firm hasn’t been released, but court records list its address as 300 North Tucker Boulevard, which is the address for a service-contract broker called TXEN Partners, which does business as Service Protection Direct.

July 23, 2009 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UPDATED: 10:36 A.M. WEDNESDAY with bond lowered by judge

Circuit Judge Paula Perkins Bryant has lowered the bond for Charles Papenfus, the Fostoria, Ohio, man charged with making a terrorist threat against a St. Louis firm that sells extended auto-service contracts.

Bryant signed the order reducing the bond to $5,000 from $45,000 late on Tuesday, said Matt Murphy, a court spokesman, Wednesday morning. The motion for a reduced bond was filed at a hearing Tuesday morning, though at that time Bryant did not rule on the issue.

The change should allow Papenfus to leave the city workhouse -- officially known as the St. Louis Medium Security Institution -- as early as today, a source said. Papenfus, who was extradited from Ohio, has been held in St. Louis since July 5, said his wife, Tracie Papenfus.

According to court documents, Papenfus, 43, allegedly told a sales representative during a phone call that he would burn down the building and kill the employees and their families. The name of the firm hasn't been released, but court records list its address as 300 North Tucker Boulevard, which is the address for a service-contract broker called TXEN Partners, which does business as Service Protection Direct.

July 23, 2009 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EARLIER STORY:

An Ohio man, fed up with deceptive junk mail, made the mistake of losing his temper while on the phone with a St. Louis company pitching an extended auto-service contract. Now he finds himself behind bars, where he is charged with making a terrorist threat.

According to court documents, Charles W. Papenfus, 43, allegedly told a sales representative during a May 18 telephone call that he would burn down the building and kill the employees and their families. He was indicted for making a terrorist threat, a Class D felony; and he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison if convicted.

Papenfus' wife, Tracie, said she hasn't seen her husband since his arrest on June 27, when he was lured to a Fostoria, Ohio, police station with a false story about being suspected in a tavern fight there. Charles Papenfus, a self-employed mechanic who sometimes works on the department's police cruisers, dropped by the station to clear his name, she said.

Tracie Papenfus said she still can't understand why her husband is held 450 miles from home at the St. Louis workhouse on a $45,000 bond she can't afford to pay. (That amount could be lowered at bond-reduction hearing scheduled for Monday.)

"He shouldn't have mouthed off on the phone, but this is overkill," Tracie Papenfus said. "He just can't handle it in there. He's not a criminal. ... They make it sound like he's a terrorist, and he's far from it."

Court records don't name the firm that Papenfus allegedly threatened, but they say the business is located at 300 North Tucker Boulevard. The only firm in that building that sells service contracts — popularly known as "extended warranties" — is TXEN Partners, which does business as Service Protection Direct. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.

The Better Business Bureau recently accused the firm of sending mailers to consumers that incorrectly state factory warranties on their vehicles either have expired or will run out soon. Last year, then-Attorney General Jay Nixon sued the firm for misleading consumers, and a condition of that suit's settlement was that TXEN Partners would refer to consumers' expiring warranties only if the company believes "in good faith" that those claims are true.

Tracie Papenfus said her husband called a St. Louis telemarketing firm — she didn't know the name — after getting a mailer stating that the factory warranty had expired for the 1996 Ford Taurus driven by his 23-year-old son. The car, bought as-is for $3,000, hasn't had a factory warranty for years.

"He wanted to know, 'Why are you sending this when we've never had a warranty?'" Tracie Papenfus said.

In fact, Charles Papenfus asked that same question several times. He called the firm after receiving the mailer, then he called the company back to complain some more, said Douglas Forsyth, a local attorney representing Papenfus. The call during which Papenfus allegedly made a terrorist threat was initiated by the firm, in a response to a voice-mail message left by Papenfus, Forsyth said.

"They insulted each other," Forsyth said, adding that Papenfus called the company "a scam" and the telemarketer called Papenfus "a jackass or (an expletive) or both."

July 23, 2009 7:07 PM  
Anonymous This is where the Patriot Act has gone, Where do you think the Mathew Shepard con the dumbass liberals Act is going? said...

Forsyth said that, several minutes into the call, Papenfus said something about burning down the firm's building.

Tracie Papenfus said the outburst was unusual for her husband, who she described as "a cool-headed guy." However, she said, he hadn't quite been himself after taking prescription painkiller medication for a compound wrist fracture he received in a motorcycle accident a few days before the call occurred. Irritability can be one side effect from those drugs, Forsyth said.

Christopher Thetford, a spokesman for the BBB in St. Louis, said he isn't surprised to hear of a consumer threatening a service-contract broker.

"While it's not something we condone, it is something we can understand," Thetford said. "Oftentimes, consumers feel pushed and pushed. ... It's a frustration we hear from consumers every day when they talk about the extended-service contract industry."

Authorities would not discuss facts of the case, but one official said that business practices of a telemarketing firm shouldn't be a factor.

"I think all sorts of people get frustrated with all sorts of businesses," said Ed Postawko, chief warrant officer in the Circuit Attorney's Office. "The solution is to don't patronize that business, it's not to break the law. ... Two wrongs don't make a right."

July 23, 2009 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that home-schooling comment to be nothing short of inane. I cannot imagine what merit you think it has, Sam. Enlighten me?

July 25, 2009 11:45 AM  
Blogger TPR said...

I'm not a fan of home schooling, but I would imagine the average home schooled student would realize that a reader and not me had written the comment you object to. - Sam

July 25, 2009 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of COURSE everyone knows you didn't write it...But why on earth did YOU highlight/promote it? THAT's what I'm asking. In my opinion, it should have been filed in the wastebasket, not featured for a second reading. No one needs to hear repeated the ridiculous assertions in that comment - do they? What purpose did featuring that nonsense serve? I just don't get it.

July 25, 2009 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ridiculous assertions, 10:39? I found the comment to be right on point. Public education is a propaganda machine for producing compliant little worker bees who would never consider thinking for themselves or questioning authority. The only alternative is home schooling unless you are wealthy.

July 26, 2009 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was the comment: "When people put the education of their children in other peoples hands, they must accept and support whatever awfulness the institution will deliver. Schools care about the money they get, not the kids. Some individuals inside schools may really be trying to give kids a quality education, but the system will mediocre any efforts of such individuals.
If you want quality education for your kids, and you want them to learn to think for themselves, home school."

I say it is ridiculous to assert that 1)sending your kid to public school equates with putting their education in other people's hands, 2)sending your kid to public school forces you to "accept and support whatever awfulness the institution will deliver", 3)schools care about money not kids, 4)the system "mediocres" (!) individuals who strive to give kids a good education, 5)home schooling provides quality education and teaches kids to think for themselves.

In short, I need look no further than my own family to know every sentence in that post is untrue, and furthermore, if home schooling teaches that 'mediocre' is a verb - well, what ELSE are the kids of home-schoolers being mis-taught??

I see that post as another attempt to de-legitimize our public schools, when what we desperately need to do is support and improve public education.

It's a post Grover Norquist would be proud of, but it disgusts me for its very emptiness - and no, I'll never understand why Sam chose to highlight it.

July 27, 2009 12:07 PM  
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November 11, 2009 8:51 AM  

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