Parking Ordinance and Emilio Navarro’s Response

Council member Emilio Navarro was good enough to send a copy of the ordinance which was defeated on Thursday night. You can read the full ordinance here. Council Member Navarro provided this accompanying email:

Here is a copy of the amended ordinance that died in committee.

The argument against the ordinance was it was “anti business� and businesses are going to be driven out of Cranston and that the ordinance should not be city wide.

My biggest fear is the residents of this city are the ones that are going to be driven out because city government is letting them down and not protecting their quality of life. Their problems are falling on deaf ears and that is not good government. It is irresponsible government.

I tried putting forth a vehicle or process in which residents can voice their concerns and, if in extreme cases like the one facing the residents of Domestic Bank there would be solution, if merited, by designating resident parking areas with stickers if approved by the city council.

I’d also like to raise a question that comes from an exchange on Kmareka between Tom Cloonen and the elusive “Jesse from Cranston.” Tom Cloonen praised Emilio Navarro, calling him “one of the more honorable men I have had the pleasure to meet.” Jesse responded that “Mr. Cloonen seems to like Emilio because he’s doing his job as a first-term City Councilor: listening to vocal residents about their issues. Once this lot thing is over, I expect Emilio will find more important things to spend his time addressing.” I wonder if Jesse can further explain what he meant by this comment. In my understanding of being a legislator, listening to constituents is the main part of your job. If Emilio continues in politics, what are these “more important” things that you expect he will be doing?

Detaining Justice: A Guantánamo Tale

Almost a year ago, I wrote a piece in which I decried the rash and immoral acts perpetrated by the Bush administration since 9/11, ostensibly in the name of national security. Specifically, I took exception to the unjust and Kafkaesque detainment of alleged enemy combatants at the Guantánamo military prison. Despite some shift in the tide of public opinion (and political representation), this shameful symbol of all that has gone wrong with America these last few years remains open for business. The injustice persists. In today’s McClatchy Newspapers, Shashank Bengali reports on the unrelenting nightmare that one of the detainees, Sami al Hajj, has endured for more than half a decade now:

5 years later, cameraman still held at Guantanamo

He’s all but unknown in the United States, the country of his jailers, but in his homeland of Sudan, Sami al Hajj is a national hero. The president has spoken out about him, demonstrations have been held in his name, and a bakery in Khartoum has printed his picture on its packaging.

A 38-year-old cameraman for the Arabic news network al Jazeera, Hajj has been imprisoned as an “enemy combatantâ€? at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for five years, but never charged with any crime. He was arrested by Pakistani police in December 2001 while on his way to a news assignment in Afghanistan, but he’s denied having any links to terrorism.

The independent, Qatar-based network earned the wrath of top U.S. officials after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for airing statements by Osama bin Laden. Hajj has been interrogated approximately 130 times, according to his attorneys, and nearly every question has been about whether the network or its journalists are connected to al Qaida or other terrorist groups.

Hajj had been with al Jazeera for only a few months at the time of his arrest, and he’s told military interrogators that he knows nothing about the network’s corporate structure or financing.

Family members describe him as a soft-spoken romantic who’d dreamed since boyhood of becoming a cameraman. Before he joined the network, he had a succession of low-level jobs with private companies in Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.

“People here know him to be so calm, so respectful. He’s not a terrorist at all,� said his younger brother, Asim al Hajj, 31, who lives in the family home in a working-class suburb of Khartoum, Sudan’s desert capital. “He is caught up in this because the United States government is against al Jazeera.�

Interrogators offered to secure Hajj’s release if he agreed to spy on al Jazeera, his attorneys say, but Hajj has refused.

Sudanese officials and international human rights and press freedom groups have demanded that Hajj be tried or released. Neither appears likely. Documents released by the military suggest why Hajj continues to be held: He’s alleged to have couriered money in the late 1990s to the Azerbaijan branch of al Haramayn, a Muslim charity that provided support to extremist groups, and to have once met an unnamed “senior al Qaida lieutenant.â€?

Hajj’s attorneys said both allegations, which surfaced in an August 2005 review board hearing, stemmed from his work as an assistant to the head of a soft-drink distribution company in Dubai. In the hearing, which he attended wearing the white uniform reserved for the most cooperative inmates, Hajj refused to respond in the absence of his attorneys, who are barred from such proceedings.

“With all due respect,� he said, reading a statement, “a mistake has been made because I have never been a member of any terrorist group, and I never took part in any terrorist or violent act.� [full text]

Michael Moore Subpoenaed for Trip to Cuba

According to this article from UPI, Michael Moore has been served a subpoena to appear in court because of the trip he took to Cuba.

BURBANK, Calif., July 26 (UPI) — Michael Thursday said the Bush administration has served him with a subpoena regarding his trip to Cuba during the making of his new film, “Sicko.”

The Oscar-winning filmmaker, who appeared Thursday on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” said he was notified about the subpoena at the network’s studios in Burbank, Calif.

“I haven’t even told my own family yet,” Moore said. “I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me.” [full text]

Domestic Parking Problems and Nap’s Tax Letter

Mark Lucas has written a summary of last night’s special ordinance committee meeting, which considered and ultimately rejected a proposed ordinance. I am not exactly sure what this ordinance said, so have asked to get a copy and will post it.

Also, Jesse from Cranston has suggested we discuss the tax letter recently sent out by Mayor Napolitano, the one coming from an address other than city hall and explaining that it was basically Laffey’s fault and the fault of the Democratic city council that he had to raise taxes this year. I’ve called City Hall and requested a copy of this letter, which I will also post online. Feel free to start the discussion ahead of time but please provide actual quotes from the letter or accurate summaries to make the discussion optimally fruitful.

Also, there are rumors that an agreement has been reached between the city and the concrete plant, and that the agreement involves a payout to the concrete plant in order to stop the plant from being further built or operated.

Whitehouse Joins Call for Perjury Investigation

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is joining Senators Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Russ Feingold in calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate possible perjury by Attorney General Gonzales. They have sent a letter to the Solicitor General for the Department of Justice, Paul D. Clement, asking for the special counsel to be established. From the letter to Solicitor General Clement:

Dear Mr. Clement:

We write to you in your capacity as Acting Attorney General for matters where Attorney General Gonzales has recused himself. We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside teh Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress.

We do not make this request lightly. We believe a special counsel is needed because it has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided — at a minimum — half-truths and misleading statements about the removal and replacement of US Attorneys, about his role in trying to circumvent Acting Attorney General Comey, and about the Administration’s position on the NSA wiretapping program. For example:

–Attorney General Gonzales testified on February 6, 2006 that within the Administration “there has not been any serious disagreement about the [Terrorist Surveillance Program].” Yet, Attorney General Gonzales indicated in his testimony this week that the purpose of the March 10, 2004 briefing for the “gang of eight” was to advise them “that Mr. Comey had informed us that he would not approve the continuation of a very important intelligence activity.” General Hayden stated in unclassified testimony on May 18, 2006, that the very same briefing for the “gang of eight” was on the “warrantless surveillance program.” Thus, Mr. Gonzales’s statements about the lack of disagreement regarding the surveillance programs are deeply troubling.

–Attorney General Gonzales testified that the purpose of the March 10, 2004, meeting “was for the White House to advise the Congress that Mr. Comey had advised us that he could not approve the continuation of vitally important intelligence activities,” which the Attorney General later testified was “not” the NSA wiretapping program. This is contradicted by an unclassified letter from John Negroponte, then Director of National Intelligence, to then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on May 17, 2006, describing the same “Gang of Eight” briefing as being “on the Terrorist Surveillance Program.”

–On April 19, 2007 when discussing his role in the US Attorney investigation, Attorney General Gonzales testified, “I haven’t talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven’t wanted to interfere with this investigation”; however, Monica Goodling testified before the House Judiciary Committee that she had an “uncomfortable” conversation with the Attorney General where he outlined his recollection of what happened and asked for her reaction.

The letter goes on to ask that the person who is appointed be someone who will not be hindered by conflict of interest, a person of “unimpeachable integrity, ability, and experience.” Good luck finding this person within the beltway these days.

Broadening Psychotropic Drug Use Abroad

Lo and behold, the sharply increasing use of psychotropic medication on children is not just a phenomenon unique to the United States. As reported by the Telegraph, a similar trend has occurred across the pond in Great Britain:

Child use of antidepressants up four-fold

The use of antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs among schoolchildren has more than quadrupled in the last decade, it is revealed today.

New figures show that GPs are prescribing pills in record numbers to combat stress, violent behaviour and even tiredness.

Under-16s were given drugs for mental health problems more than 631,000 times last year, compared to just 146,000 in the mid-Nineties.

The huge increase has been blamed on a rise in childhood mental illness sparked by family breakdown and high-stakes school exams.

But there are fears that family doctors are coming under pressure to prescribe drugs such as Prozac as a “quick fix” solution, when counselling would be better.

Politicians and children’s charities last night branded the rise “very dangerous” and said a generation of young people risked becoming hooked on prescription drugs.

The findings come despite the publication of research showing that children given antidepressants run a higher risk of self-harm and are more likely to attempt suicide.

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat shadow children’s secretary, who obtained the figures in a Parliamentary Question, said: “We’ve gone from a period when it was almost unthinkable to prescribe drugs to a child to amend their behaviour to a time when it is quite the norm.

“In a sense, it shows some of the pressure many youngsters are under – their lives are chaotic and there isn’t as much stability at home. But instead of trying to treat the causes and create a more stable and supportive environment for young people, we think we can solve these problems by prescribing a pill.” [full text]

“Solve these problems by prescribing a pill”? Gee, wherever would physicians (and parents) get the idea to do that?

NOTE: Side effects of reading this article may include nausea, dizziness, depression, head shaking, and moral outrage.