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Photograph of the Vigil for the 40 Year Anniversary of America’s War on Drugs
|| 6/17/2011 || 10:53 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Today I setup the sound system for a somber vigil outside of the White House. Forty years ago today President Nixon declared a War on Drugs at a press conference and since then the United States has wasted trillions of dollars on an unwinnable war against the personal freedoms of American citizens. As you can read below, Nixon did not explicitly use the term “War on Drugs” at that press conference but instead used terminology that references combat. I can’t help but wonder, how much longer until this war is over?



Richard Nixon speaking….

Ladies and gentlemen:

I would like to summarize for you the meeting that I have just had with the bipartisan leaders which began at 8 o’clock and was completed 2 hours later.

I began the meeting by making this statement, which I think needs to be made to the Nation:

America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.

I have asked the Congress to provide the legislative authority and the funds to fuel this kind of an offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive dealing with the problems of sources of supply, as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad, wherever they are in the world. It will be government wide, pulling together the nine different fragmented areas within the government in which this problem is now being handled, and it will be nationwide in terms of a new educational program that we trust will result from the discussions that we have had.

With regard to this offensive, it is necessary first to have a new organization, and the new organization will be within the White House. Dr. Jaffe, who will be one of the briefers here today, will be the man directly responsible. He will report directly to me, and he will have the responsibility to take all of the Government agencies, nine, that deal with the problems of rehabilitation, in which his primary responsibilities will be research and education, and see that they work not at cross-purposes, but work together in dealing with the problem.

If we are going to have a successful offensive, we need more money. Consequently, I am asking the Congress for $155 million in new funds, which will bring the total amount this year in the budget for drug abuse, both in enforcement and treatment, to over $350 million.

As far as the new money is concerned, incidentally, I have made it clear to the leaders that if this is not enough, if more can be used, if Dr. Jaffe, after studying this problem, finds that we can use more, more will be provided. In order to defeat this enemy which is causing such great concern, and correctly so, to so many American families, money will be provided to the extent that it is necessary and to the extent that it will be useful.

Finally, in order for this program to be effective, it is necessary that it be conducted on a basis in which the American people all join in it. That is why the meeting was bipartisan; bipartisan because we needed the support of the Congress, but bipartisan because we needed the leadership of the Members of the Congress in this field.

Fundamentally, it is essential for the American people to be alerted to this danger, to recognize that it is a danger that will not pass with the passing of the war in Vietnam which has brought to our attention the fact that a number of young Americans have become addicts as they serve abroad, whether in Vietnam, or Europe, or other places. Because the problem existed before we became involved in Vietnam; it will continue to exist afterwards. That is why this offensive deals with the problem there, in Europe, but will then go on to deal with the problem throughout America.

One final word with regard to Presidential responsibility in this respect. I very much hesitate always to bring some new responsibility into the White House, because there are so many here, and I believe in delegating those responsibilities to the departments. But I consider this problem so urgent–I also found that it was scattered so much throughout the Government, with so much conflict, without coordination–that it had to be brought into the White House.

Consequently, I have brought Dr. Jaffe into the White House, directly reporting to me, so that we have not only the responsibility but the authority to see that we wage this offensive effectively and in a coordinated way.

The briefing team will now be ready to answer any questions on the technical details of the program.



Citation: Richard Nixon: “Remarks About an Intensified Program for Drug Abuse Prevention and Control.,” June 17, 1971. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3047



Girls, Girls Everywhere In Washington, But Not A Man To Wed – The Washington Times, July 12, 1908
|| 12/10/2009 || 3:03 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Lately I have been republishing content found on the Chronicling America historic newspaper collection that relates to the struggle for suffrage in the District of Columbia and unique maps that I’ve found along the way. Today’s entry is a social commentary on the role of women in the workforce of the District of Columbia and how the ratio of women to men in the District of Columbia has not changed much over the last 100 years.

Girls, Girls Everywhere In Washington,
But Not A Man To Wed

The Washington Times, July 12, 1908

The city of Washington, the Nation’s Capital, flings defiance in the face of all the land, challenging them to compete with her in available matrimonial timber, so far as the fair sex is concerned. She draws the dead line and double dares the bachelors from corn-tasseled Oklahoma, from the rock-ribbed slopes of the West, from the snows of Alaska, to cross it at the risk of getting hitched.

The overgrown country village by the Potomac lays claim to a possession of a higher percentage of women of marriageable age with a lower per cent of opportunity than any community over which floats the Stars and Stripes, not excepting the man-deserted sitting rooms of the high-browed and austere dame of the hub of the universe nor rural Virginia where the coy and clinging lass of the Southland has been left in solitude while her possible mate sought elsewhere realms of greater activity. To substantiate which claim, though she likes them not, the burg of the broad avenue and the bouqueted beauty quotes the figures.

A recently completed police census reveals the fact that there are 17,000 more women in the city than men, which is rather startling majority out of a total of less than 330,000. It signifies that for each 100 men there are 111 women in the running. These discouraging figures, however, are but a shadow of the real plight in which a woman in Washington finds herself, for the social conditions that surround men in the Government service who largely make up the lists of possible matrimonial candidates are such as to discourage marriage and where there is a tendency shown to fly in the face of this restraint the victim is picked so soon that the rank and file have little chance at him. There are many more than 17,000 unmarried women in Washington, for the Government clerk is not marrying man and there is a doomed spinster in the city for every one of those who persists in his narrow selfishness.

The social conditions are peculiar. In the Government service there is the occasional man of exceptional ability who succeeds in riding rough-shod over red tape and getting to a place that is worth while without losing his official head in the attempt. Practically the only route to high places, however, is through secretaryships to Cabinet officers and these places are for but the few. The rank and file of the men of the departments are, then, reduced to two classes, the young clerk who serves four or five years and in the meantime studies law or medicine, and the crusty and confirmed clerk who has never mustered the courage to break away.

The first of these is bending all of his energies toward a given end with his eye always on the old home, a future professional career and possibly a sweetheart waiting for him under the old elm tree. He is not a man who will marry. The members of the second class have not found to give up their sure salary from the Government or merely of the capacity of clerks and incapable of anything further. These men marry often, but as often are cynical and blase, self-centered and satisfied with the attentions they receive from the numerous opposite sex and travel the road to the end complainingly in their narrow rut.


Washington is a city with activity outside of that which is in connection with the administration of the affairs of the Government. Industry has always been discouraged because of the national pride in the beauty of the Capital and the indisposition to begrime it with the soot of the smoke stack. The men in the departments cannot bequeath their places to their sons and Washingtonians being nobody’s constituents have small opportunity for appointment. The young men as a result go elsewhere to carve themselves out careers, but the young women remain at home.



What Attracts the Women.

There are many things that add to this local tendency on the part of Washington to become a city of women. There is the constant pull of the Government upon the women every section. The stenographer who is but ordinarily efficient is able to secure $20 a month more in the Government service than out of it. The girl who gets $5 a week in a store will more than double her income if she takes a place in any of the Government departments, to say nothing of a month off each year for vacation, eight hours a day, and all the holidays.

These attractions, of course, draw the women. But, alas, when the years have begun to bring the gray hairs and the home-making instinct long stifled gnaws their hearts away they realize the folly of leaving the telephone booth, the typewriter, or the cashiership at the restaurant in their native towns. They come to realize that in these positions they would have met the active young men of business, the men who really do things worth while, but who are too busy to follow the social whirl, so get their wives from the women they meet in the pursuit of their careers. This heritage of opportunity has been greater than their sisters of wealth and social prominence, but they have bartered it away.

There are 7,358 women in departments in Washington. These are unmarried with the exception of a few, for the general rule is that a woman severs her connection with the Government when she marries. They are mostly women who support dependent members of their families, usually mother or sisters, who add again to the unattached female population.

Of this army of women less than 16 per cent are under the age of twenty-five years. This is a striking contrast with the figures showing the age of the female breadwinner throughout the country, for of these latter 44 percent are under the age of twenty-five. The average age of the women in the departments thirty-seven years and there are 253 of them that have passed the age of sixty-five. But one per cent are under the age of twenty and these promise to get over it.

The woman who enters the departments very rarely marries. There is a minimum of opportunity even when she is young and in those days she is proud of her independence and the salary she draws and slow to give it up where two have to live on a similar salary. Work in the departments at Washington means an almost certain spinsterhood.

A City of Women.

Aside from the Government service Washington is strongly a city of women. Members of Congress and others from the outside coming to the Capital for the session bring their wives and daughters, but the sons have business and stay at home. The formal functions of society appeal to the women and they bring their daughters to be presented at court as it were.

At the theaters there is often caustic comment upon a display of a box full of most magnificent girls accompanied by one or two narrow-chested Government clerks that you remember seen while doing the departments.

The predominance of women in connection with Washington even prevails in the tourists that visit it. One does not meet the same class of people on the sight-seeing wagon there as in New York. It is a different race of people that files through the corridors of the Smithsonian Institution from that which trods the Great White Way.

The tourists who come to Washington are mostly women of the educational class. They are interested in storing the mind with knowledge of a recognized class such as may be paraded before the Friday Night Literary Club when they get back home. They want to tell their friends that they sat in the same chair that held the Father of His Country and have climbed all 510 of the steps leading up Washington’s Monument. Were they men they would be the class take their wives with them rather than those who travel for pleasure.

But they are not men. The tourists who visit Washington are 50 per cent women school teachers laying up stores of information for the edification of young America or seminary girls en tour likewise for instruction as their conductors believe but with more eyes for a flirtatious, wicked man than for the spot where Braddock landed to march into the wilderness. But they are withal a studious, serious lot on the surface and are looking for the light of learning that edifies and feels strangely at home in Washington for the whole people have come to assume an air of learned dignity in the Capital City that is in touch with its history and institutions and is on the whole very lady-like.

Under these conditions Washington throws down the gantlet to Boston. She declares she will give any determined bachelor in the world a longer run for his money than can be found elsewhere on the map. She offers him variety for her women are made up from all the grades that the broad expanse of the country can furnish. There is the hale fellow girl of the Pacific coast who will pat him on the back and call him “old man,” and the girl with the drooping eye and lisp from Mississippi. There is the corn-fed girl of liberal dimensions from Missouri and the girl from Ohio who makes her Rs a clarion call. The maid from Massachusetts who knows it is not done right elsewhere will vie with the girl of the Rockies who is aware that the Utes do not come from Utah. They will all be after him in the nation’s capital with a handicap for the girl who saw him first and the devil take the hindmost.


Related DC History Entries:

+ MORE



PRESIDENT OPPOSED TO SUFFRAGE IN DISTRICT – The Washington Post, May 9th, 1909
|| 10/4/2009 || 9:40 am || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

PRESIDENT OPPOSED TO SUFFRAGE IN DISTRICT


Mr. Taft, in Speech at Dinner,
Favors One-Man Rule.


ANSWERS JUSTICE STAFFORD


Jurist Had Made an Eloquent Plea for Votes for Citizens of Washington– Executive Defends Wisdom of Early Statesmen in Denying Right of Ballot to Capital City– Declares That People Here Are Envied by Those of Other Municipalities.



With great vigor and with that clear insight into the ultimate meaning of the Constitution of the United States which has made him reckoned one of the foremost constitutional lawyers of the country, President Taft defended last night that provision of the Constitution which places the District of Columbia under the Federal government. He declared unequivocally that the whole people of the United States should have in its charge the government of the District, through its representatives in Congress, and that the people of the District must bow to the wisdom of the forefathers who declared in favor of this plan of government for the National Capital. The President stands, therefore, absolutely opposed to granting to the people of the District the right of suffrage.

President Taft made it equally clear that he is inclined to favor a single head for the District government as opposed to the triumvirate form of government which now exists here. He said, indeed, that he has not yet made up his mind just what changes in the form of government for the District he will recommend to Congress next fall. But he declared, in discussing the merits of the single head and the triumvirate, that he was convinced the single head was preferable where the functions of that head were merely executive. If legislative functions were attached to the head of a government, he said, the triumvirate was the better. Inasmuch as the head of the District government is merely executive, without legislative functions, the inference is clear that the President favors “one-man” rule for the District.

The President’s speech was delivered at the banquet tendered him in the New Willard ballroom by the business men of Washington. It was a dramatic finale of what resolved itself into a joint debate between the President of the United States and Justice Stafford, of the Supreme Court of the District. Justice Stafford, in an eloquent speech brought forth round after round of applause and made the blood tingle in the veins of every Washingtonian who heard him, pleaded for a voice in the national government for the people of the District. He pleaded that the 350,000 people of the District be not cut off forever from their birthright of freedom and no taxation without representation.

He asked the people be allowed to elect a senator and two representatives, who should have equal rights with other members of Congress. The people, he declared, are becoming slothful, unmindful of their duties, under the present system, but he predicted that there would come a day when, a million strong, the people of the District would not remain quiescent under the present scheme of government.

When President Taft arose to make the reply to Justice Stafford, who, as spokesman for the people, had voiced his idea of the greatest need of the District, there was the keenest interest evinced in his reply. The several hundred prominent men of affairs of the District were not kept in doubt long. The President, without a moment’s hesitation, launched into a vigorous defense of the Constitution, so far as it relates to the government of the District. He laughed at the argument of Justice Stafford, that the people of Washington were slaves, and declared that they were the envied of the peoples of all other cities of the Union.

Nevertheless, it appears that the President and Justice Stafford did not join issues directly in their debate. For Justice Stafford argued, not for suffrage in municipal government of the country and for a voice in those separate interests which directly concern the people here. The President, on the other hand argued that the framers of the Constitution had precluded all idea of the District of Columbia being governed directly by the people of the District.

List of Guests

Those who sat at the raised table at the west of the room were:

John Joy Edson, chairman of the joint committee; President Taft, Vice President Sherman, J.H. Small, president of the Board of Trade; W.F. Gude, president of the Chamber of Commerce; Speaker Cannon, Postmaster General Hitchcock, Theodore W. Noyes, Charles -J. Bell, Representative J. Van Vechten Olcott, Secretary of Commerce and Labor Nagel, Arthur C. Moses, Scott C. Bone, Representative Samuel W. Smith, Representative Vreeland, James F. Oyster, Allen D. Albert, j.r., Representative Philip Campbell, Commissioner Macfarland, Edward McLean, Representative George A. Pearre, Commissioner West, Charles C. Glover, Representative A. S. Burleson, Commissioner Judson, Clarence F. Norment, D.J. Callahan, Representative Edward L. Taylor, A. Lisner.



…secondary list was not transcribed…



This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Prof. Gregory Favors It – The Washington Post, July 10th, 1883
|| 10/3/2009 || 12:37 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Prof. Gregory Favors It.

The Washington Post, July 10th, 1883

“Yes, I thoroughly believe in suffrage in the District,” said Professor James G. Gregory, of Howard university, to a Post reporter, in answer to the question if he favored the present agitation for giving the citizens votes. “Yes, I am in favor of it,” he repeated. “I think the people would be much more contented if they had suffrage. You can see how the people are anxious to have some part in their own government by the interest they take in the choice of the school trustees. Why, there are sometimes more than a half dozen candidates in a single district and any number of delegations going to the commissioners in favor of this or that man. This one matter serves as a sort of outlet for their political feelings.”

“What do you think is the reason for opposition to suffrage?”

“I think that one reason why many oppose giving the citizens suffrage is that they are afraid of the colored vote. They think the colored man is top ignorant to have anything to do with the District affairs. Now, this is a great mistake. Within the past seven or eight years a great change has taken place. The colored people have been greatly influenced by those of their race who have received an education. In some families, perhaps, where the parents have no had the opportunities of books, their children have, and the influence of those children on the home is very marked. Many have been admitted to the public schools and the night schools. Then many of the colored people have become educated by business. In many cases they have prospered and have become property owners. Oh, no, it is a mistake to say that there is any danger from their ignorance in giving them the franchise.”

“Do you believe in universal suffrage?”

“No, I do not say that suffrage should be without limit. Perhaps it would be well to have some property and educational qualification. That is a very broad question. I believe suffrage should be granted , because of the value it would prove the citizens as a political school. We send out children to school to be educated to become citizens, but there is another education– a political education– that the citizens should receive. As it is now very few of the citizens have much of an idea about the Government. They do not discuss the actions of the commissioners as they discuss in other cities municipal affairs. We pay our taxes and that is the end of it. We do not think. Everything is done by the commissioners merely making suggestions and asking for appropriations. This is not the way to become citizens. How do they do in other cities? Why, they meet, discuss affairs, and vote upon their intelligent and deliberate opinions. Suffrage would educate the people in government, in the finance ad in the duties of citizenship.”

“Do you think the District affairs would be managed as economically under popular government?” inquired the reporter. “Was not the opposite found to be the case when there was suffrage?”

“I think that the state of affairs was more the result of circumstances than the system. Before the war nothing had been done for the city. When I came to Washington it was a mudhole. After the war improvements were projected on a large scale, and what it required many years to do in other cities was done here in a short time. Perhaps Governor Shepherd went rather too fast, but you can see what has been accomplished. There are many who object to giving the poor man the ballot because they are afraid property-holders will suffer. Now, the poor man is interested in having property protected. If he has no property, he hope to acquire some, and this will keep him from making any laws injurious to property rights. I lived in Cleveland for some years, where some of the richest men in the country live, and I never saw anything to cause any alarm.”

“Do you think the citizens would take any more interest in the government, or feel any responsibility in its right management if they could vote?”

“Certainly, they would feel that they had something at stake. Then look at the injustice of the thing– to deprive a man of his highest right as a citizen. If we lived in a State of Territory we would have a vote. Why should we be refused it here?”

“Is not Congress given full control over the District?” the reporter asked.

“Certainly; but I do not believe that power implies a right to take away the citizen’s vote. There is not another city in the Union where the same thing is done.”

“What would be your plan for the government of the District?”

“Well, I believe in having three commissioners as now, and if Congress insisted on the right of representation in return for paying half the District expenses, would give to the President the appointment of the engineer commissioner. The other two should be chosen by the people. I believe something of the kind will soon come, too, for the people generally are favoring it.”


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Suffrage in the District – The Washington Post, January 24, 1880
|| 10/2/2009 || 8:52 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Suffrage in the District

The Washington Post, January 24, 1880

We cannot understand how any man who believes in the fundamental principles of republican government can seriously contend for the continued denial of suffrage to the inhabitants of the District of Columbia.

If it be true that governments derive their just power only from the consent of the governed, what justice is there in ruling this great community– a population equal to that of the State of Nevada– by a system that does not ask consent, and which assumes the right to defy the wishes of the people?

If our fathers of the Revolution were justified in protesting, rebelling, and fighting against taxation without representation, if they were not criminals, rather than heroes, for going to war on such a question, if their memories should be revered and their example held up as worthy of imitation by their descendants, how can taxes be gathered, year after year, from the property-holders of this District, who have no more votes than the negro babies Central Africa, no representation than the mummies in the Smithsonian institution?

We can conceive of no circumstances under which a Democratic Congress can deny the right of suffrage and local self-government to a peaceful, law-abiding community without direct violation of the very essence of the Democratic creed. While it is true that the Constitution devolves on Congress the duty of providing a government for this District, while it is true that the people have no recourse but to accept such provision as Congress makes, it will not be contended by any sane man that Congress has a right to violate the spirit of the Constitution and set up the most detested features of despotic systems of government in the Capital of this Republic.

Here, if anywhere on the continent, we ought to be able to present to all the world a fair illustration of the practicability and advantages of Republican institutions. But we can’t do this in cities that are denied the ballot. And when we say that this great and intelligent community is incapable of self-government and not fit to be trusted with the ballot, we present a strong condemnation of the basis of our whole system; we direct encouragement to the opponents of free institutions.

It is said that suffrage has been abused here. Granted. There isn’t a doubt that it was shamefully abused. There is no question that great wrongs were perpetrated and that numerous evils prevailed under the system that was abolished in 1874. But where is the city, where is the State, in which suffrage has not been abused? Where is the community in which righteousness has always been voted up and iniquity always voted down? Where are the people who have made no mistakes in the selection of officers? Where, on this continent, shall we look for a town, city, county or State in which the ballot has always worked for the greatest good of the greatest number? If suffrage is to be denied to all who fail to use it always with wisdom and justice, let us call in a king and down with the ballot-box.

There is reason to believe that many of the evils of the past will not be repeated here when self-government is re-established. When corruption had its carnival here it was having an equally jolly time in many other places. That era is past. All over the country there has been great improvement in municipal management. Public plunderers have been brought to grief and better men have been put in authority. With the experience of the past as a warning and guide, the people of this District would avoid the reproaches and scandals which caused the last radical change in their government.

But because it is a right; because it is a republican, because it is democratic, because it is in accordance with the great principles on which this Republic stands because no Democrat can consistently deny it, we are compelled to favor the demand that the ballot be restored to this community.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



District Representation – The Washington Post, January 22, 1879
|| 10/1/2009 || 8:16 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

District Representation

The Washington Post, January 22, 1879

With the exception of the Indian tribes, the only community within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States unrepresented in Congress is the District of Columbia.

Territories whose few inhabitants are scattered over a broad expanse like the masts of ships on the ocean, and which neither commerce nor manufactures, send their delegates to Congress to represent their interests, and procure for them such legislation as shall tend to develop their resources and afford encouragement and protection to their people the embryo state advances toward maturity.

States with half the population of this District have their representatives in the House, and have an equal voice in the Senate with the oldest, largest, richest, and most populous members of the family states.

It is only here, at the capital of a country whose government is based on suffrage, that suffrage is unknown.

Holding to the theory that governments derive their just powers only from the consent of the governed, and that the ballot is the proper mode of expressing that consent, our Government denies the ballot to the inhabitants of its capital city.

Believing and teaching that is should be no taxation without representation, and that such taxation is tyranny, our Government levies taxes on the property of this people, and if those taxes are not paid it sells the property under the red flag and the hammer of a Government auctioneer. Thousands of homes have thus been sold here during the last few years.

We cannot see how any man, whatever may have been the result of his observation here in times past, can hold to the Democratic creed, to the great underlying principles of free government, and oppose the representation of this District in the law-making department of our governmental mechanism.

And because out faith in true Democracy is a vital reality, and not a sham, we approve the proposition to have the District of Columbia represented in the House. We see no reason why this community should be an exception to the general rule- why all should have a voice in the Capitol and we be mute.

It may be urged that the horde of negroes who swarm here will be used to elect a delegate who will misrepresent our people. We do not believe it. Intelligence and social influence, if rightly employed, will so direct public opinion that the election will be a fair expression of the wishes of our people.

As the delegate will not vote, and as his influence will depend on his being in accord with the dominant party in Congress, there will be no temptation to resort to any of those schemes and tricks that brought reproach upon popular suffrage here some years ago.

But whatever may be the fears of the timid and doubtful, we see no way in which an honest believer in Democracy can deny representation to this community. The taxpayer has a right to be heard. A delegate can speak for him. Consistency demands that this proposition should not fail for want of the support of Democrats in Congress.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



As predicted, Russia Today continues to promote 9/11 Conspiracy Theories on the 8th Anniversary of 9/11
|| 9/14/2009 || 11:09 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

As I predicted last week, Russia Today continued their somewhat unusual promotion of the 9/11 Truth Movement during the 8th anniversary of 9/11. Instead of producing one or two news reports, which I expected (specifically one about the Van Jones resignation), the news organization produced no less than seven in the last week. On the flip side, there wasn’t many other articles or videos produced by any of the major news organizations in the same period that address the questions surrounding the world changing event. As I posited last week, I am still curious as to why Russia Today continues to be the only news organization covering this contentious topic. Does the Russian government believe in the conspiracy theory? Does the Russian government hope to destabilize America by producing propaganda that makes American’s question the official story? I still don’t know, but I think its important to understand why no other news organization, privately owned or state sponsored, is aggressively reporting this issue as much as Russia Today.

Below are the YouTube videos Russia Today produced in the last week:

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Text of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871
|| 1/30/2009 || 5:23 pm || Comments Off on Text of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 || ||

The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 aka “An Act to provide a Government for the District of Columbia (41st Congress, 3d Sess., ch. 62, 16 Stat. 419, enacted 1871-02-21) is an Act of Congress, which revoked the individual charters of the City of Washington, the City of Georgetown, and the County of Washington and created a new city government for the entire District of Columbia. The legislation effectively merged what had been separate municipalities within the federal territory into a single entity. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is still commonly known as Washington, D.C. However, this act was abolished in 1874, and while the name did not change, the territorial Governor was replaced with a three-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the President. This system existed until 1974 when the District of Columbia Home Rule Act allowed for District residents to elect their own mayor.

Below is the text of the bill:

Continue reading the bill:

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The Singapore 18
|| 11/7/2008 || 11:56 am || Comments Off on The Singapore 18 || ||

This morning I received an e-mail from Timothy Cooper announcing that his Op-Ed was published today in the Washington Times (below).

After I read the article, I went on to do my morning IP analysis, and guess who visited my website looking for more information? None other than the Singaporean government. The very same government the Op-Ed was written to agitate. Examples like this prove that we really do live in a small world, while at the same time showing that human rights transcend borders.

COOPER: The Singapore 18

Prosecution or persecution?
Op-Ed by Timothy Cooper
Friday, November 7, 2008

The names Gandhi Ambalam, Chia Ti Lik, Chong Kai Xiong, Jeffrey George, Jaslyn Go, Chee Siok Chin, Govindan Rajan, Chee Soon Juan, Jufrie Mahmood, Jufri Salim, Surayah Akbar, Ng E-Jay, Seelan Palay, Shafi’ie, Carl Lang, John Tan, Francis Yong and Sylvester Lim aren’t exactly household names — but they should be. This week 18 Singaporeans — the Singapore 18 — are standing trial for purported crimes against America’s 11th largest trading partner — Singapore.

Indicted for violating the Miscellaneous Offences Act for assembling peacefully without a permit to register their concerns over escalating housing costs, they claim that they’re innocent by virtue of their right under the Singapore constitution to enjoy the guarantees of freedom of assembly and expression. Historically, however, Singapore has viewed political dissent through a lens darkly, treating protest as a threat to social tranquility and economic prosperity, rather than what it is — a fundamental right and necessity in any democracy.

While Singapore claims to be a constitutional democracy, it nevertheless routinely arrests Singaporeans for attempting to assert those rights articulated under the constitution in the open light of day. A democracy, it’s not quite.

Ironically, while their trial is about their right to public assembly in numbers more than four without a permit, and to free speech, they view it as a test about whether Singapore’s judiciary is independent enough to interpret the country’s constitution objectively. In effect, Judge Chia Wee Kiat, who’s presiding magistrate over the case, is on trial, too. Many Singaporeans will be watching how he rules. Americans should be watching, too.

That’s because Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs, Wong Kan Seng, appears to refuse to be bound by the affirmative rights guaranteed under the country’s basic law. Last February, he stated that “[w]e have stopped short of allowing outdoor and street demonstration … Our experiences in the past have taught us to be very circumspect about outdoor and street protests.” His reference is to the race riots in Singapore during the 1960s — almost 50 years ago. Which is like saying that because Washington, D.C. experienced race riots in the 1960s, the residents of Washington must be denied the right to protest government policies. That argument simply doesn’t wash.

But the judge in the case will likely rule accordingly, regardless of the plain language of the constitution.

The late Singaporean politician, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, stated in an interview shortly before his death that his main concern was that the public had the “perception that its judiciary was not independent.” He himself had been made a bankrupt by defamation lawsuits filed against him by his political opponents and the high damages awarded them by Singapore courts. After paying off his debts, he’d recently committed to heading a new political party, whose primary agenda was calling for the independence of the judiciary.

He was not alone. In July, the International Bar Association (ABA) issued a 72-page report on the state of Singapore’s judiciary noting that “there are concerns about the objective and subjective independence and impartiality of Singapore judges.” The report’s final recommendations advocate tenure be granted Singapore judges and that the transfer of judges between “executive and judicial roles” be banned. They also call on the government to prohibit defamation as a criminal offense, and forbid public officials from initiating criminal defamation suits, which detractors claim are used by government to silence its critics.

One of those critics is Chee Soon Juan. He’s been jailed seven times on a potpourri of politically-related charges, including speaking without a permit, contempt of court, and even for attempting to depart Singapore in order to attend an international rights conference. He’s been fined nearly $1 million to date and made bankrupt by defamation suits brought against him by former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong, and Singapore’s current Minister Mentor, Lee Hsein Loong. In the next few months, he faces six more trials and an indeterminate amount of jail time. Yet all he wants is for the courts to properly enforce the spirit and letter of the Singapore constitution. Barred from leaving the country, he’s been put under country arrest and is a prisoner of conscience.

Were the Singapore 18 living in China or Russia, they’d be enjoying considerable support from the U.S. Instead, they’re victims of a sad neglect. They’ve been cut loose by a nation otherwise preoccupied. But the next Congress and administration should take up the cause of freedom in Singapore. They should exert their influences on Singapore to open up its political space to peaceful dissent and to embrace the benefits of political pluralism. Economic prosperity and political freedoms are not mutually exclusive in Singapore or anywhere else.

Above all, this country should call for judicial reform in Singapore because as J.B. Jeyaretnam would no doubt agree without independence there can be no rule of law.

Timothy Cooper is executive director of the human-rights group Worldrights.



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