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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Woman Claims Deceased Father Was Zodiac Killer

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor





Debra Perez claims she knows the identity of the notorious Zodiac Killer. The southern California woman has come forward claiming her late father, Guy Ward Hendrickson,was the man responsible for the shocking murders forty years ago.

On Wednesday, Perez held a news conference outside the San Francisco Chronicle,where she and her attorney gave details about her father, and how she had arrived at her gruesome conclusion. If she is right, this could bring closure to a mystery that has haunted residents of San Francisco for decades.

Perez claims that as a child, her father took her along for the ride on at least two occasions. She also claims to have heard gunshots while waiting for her father in the car as he went inside a residence. According to Perez, her father told her the noises were “firecrackers”. "He kept telling me he was sick and he killed many, many people. I had no idea." Perez stated.

The Zodiac Killer is blamed for several murders in the San Francisco area during 1968 and 1969. Although no-one has ever been charged, others in the past have been suspected of the crimes, including convicted child molester Arthur Leigh Allen, who died in 1992. Hendrickson died of cancer in 1983.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is the Party of 'No' Becoming the Party of No-One?

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor




With the defection of long time GOP stalwart Arlen Specter to the Democrats, could the Republican Party be facing irrelevance?

Tuesday’s announcement that Arlen Specter was bolting from the Republican party caught many by surprise. True, Specter has not been in lock step with the GOP for some time. Still, the senior senator from Pennsylvania had recently reiterated his loyalty to the party. How quickly the realities of politics can change the political landscape.

It’s no secret the GOP is in trouble. The ancient astronauts calling the shots at party HQ just don’t seem to get it. They are determined to play the game their own way, even if it ultimately means playing it alone. And playing it alone is no fun in politics. Just last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to Democrat. Specter understands. He gets the math. If the senior senator from Pennsylvania wants to stay relevant, he needs to represent.

With the Republican party facing a dismal 22 percent approval rating, one would be hard pressed to find good news, or good will, for that matter, within the party. Their highly publicized power struggle has only served to further the ever growing fissure splitting the GOP apart.

Conservative blowhards such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have been no help, continually fanning the flames of discontent. Can you say “scorched Earth”? It's hard to figure what these folks think they stand to gain.

I am not a Republican, and I don‘t mind saying so. I think the party is caught in an untenable time warp, racing toward obscurity. It is a party in disarray, represented by talking heads with no palpable conscience, only acerbic rhetoric. But then, these days, I’m not even certain the GOP has a pulse.

Will the last out the door, please turn off the lights as you leave?

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter of Change - GOP Senator Becomes a Democrat

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor





Arlen Specter, long time Republican senator from Pennsylvania, has announced his intent to change party affiliation, bringing the Democrats closer to a much wanted, 60 seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Specter, facing an uncertain future among fellow Republicans in Pennsylvania, has seen his favorability rating drop in recent polls. More than half of those Republicans polled said they preferred a change in leadership. Polls show Specter trailing in hypothetical senate primary match-ups.

Specter has been under the gun from Republicans since supporting President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan. He was one of only three Republicans who voted in support of the plan. Specter, the fifth oldest senator in Congress was first elected to the Senate in 1980, and is the senior senator from Pennsylvania.

The Democrats having been awaiting the final results of the highly contested Minnesota Senate race between former comedian Al Franken, Democrat, and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. Franken currently holds a 225 vote lead, and is ultimately expected to win the seat. With Arlen Specter switching to the Democratic party, their long sought after filibuster-proof Senate majority may suddenly be within grasp.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bad Cop, No Doughnut

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor




The jury is still out, but so far 2009 appears to be shaping up as the year of the bad cop. The year started off with a bang, when an Oakland, California cop shot an un-armed man in the back, and for the boys in blue it’s all been downhill ever since.

It all started January 1st, shortly after revelers rang in the new year, when Johannes Mehserle, an Oakland transit officer shot Oscar Grant, while Grant was lying face down on the pavement. Officers at the scene of the shooting attempted to confiscate all videos of the incident, but ultimately, several damning videos surfaced, showing the officer acted inappropriately. Officer Mehserle has since been charged with homicide and removed from duty.

Doughnut

Then on March 1st came the disturbing story of the King County Sheriff’s deputy who “beat down’ the fifteen year old girl in a cell. Once again, the brutal beating was caught on tape. The Deputy, officer Paul Schene, has been charged with fourth degree assault, including kicking the girl in the stomach, pulling her hair, slamming her head against the wall, and punching her while she was on the ground. This, all because the fifteen year old had referred to the officer as “a pig”.

Are you squirming in your seat yet? This is not the stuff I like to read about, nor is it the kind of story I prefer to write. And it just gets creepier from here. Read on.

There are two disturbing stories about rogue cops in the headlines as I write. First, there’s the story about the Dallas cop who detained NFL running back, Ryan Moats' in a hospital parking lot while his mother-in-law was dying. Yes, the incident was once again caught on tape, and again, it isn’t pretty. In fact, Ryan Moats’ mother-in-law passes away during the exchange, while the officer Robert Powell continues to badger Mr. Moats. The Dallas police department has expressed embarrassment over the matter.

Finally, there’s the story about the federal marshal in El Paso Texas who skips out on bail, having been busted stealing handguns and other items belonging to the feds. Vincent Bustamante, a deputy sheriff didn’t stay on the lamb long, however. His body was found just south of the US border in Juarez Mexico. He had suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the back of his head.

During my research for this column, I found more stories of such behavior than I care to list. It saddens me, and perhaps, it frightens me. I hoping this will all turn out to be an aberration of sorts, a departure from the norm, rather than a sign of things to come. Still, I am reminded of a bumper sticker I used to see often on the bumpers of beaters rolling around New England. ‘Bad Cop, No Doughnut’, it read. No doughnut, indeed!

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Are Catholics Losing the Faith?

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor




Could some Catholics be losing faith in their religion? According to a new report released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Affairs, Catholicism in America is shedding more members than any other traditional faith.

The numbers are alarming. The Official Catholic Directory of 2008 reports there are over 67.1 million Catholics in the US, a decrease of nearly a half a million in the span of a year. The result has been the shuttering of parishes throughout much of the country.

Parts of Ohio, including Cleveland, have been hit especially hard, but closures have effected perishes throughout the US, including Allentown, Pennsylvania, Camden, New Jersey and New York City. As many as a third of those in the survey raised as Roman Catholics no longer attend the church.

Church with Barbed Wire

The cause of the migration away from Catholicism is said to be rooted in money. "Too many bishops are treating parishes as if they were Starbucks franchises," Sister Christine Schenk, a Cleveland-area nun opined. "It's about more than money. It's about mission to the people," she said. "This isn't what Jesus would do."

The Catholic church has been faced with a number of image problems in recent years, as a result of internal strife and mounting scandal. The most prominent scandal involved accusation of sexual misconduct between Catholic priests and under-age minors, usually young boys. Some priests were ultimately defrocked, while others served time in jail.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bush Officials Facing War Crimes Charges

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor




At least six former members of the Bush administration are facing criminal charges, as a Spanish court proceeds with its investigation into alleged US war crimes.

The same court that successfully brought former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to justice, has pledged to prosecute six former members of the Bush administration for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Spanish law is not limited by international borders, allowing Spain to prosecute and extradite criminals from other countries, including the US. Some of those abused were Spanish citizens, adding further credibility to the proceedings.

The Bush administration officials facing charges include former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former undersecretary of defense policy, Douglas Feith, John Yoo from the Justice Department, Jay Bybee, and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes.

Although disgraced president George W. Bush has long maintained that detainees were not tortured or abused, an abundance of evidence has surfaced, including the use of banned interrogation procedures, such as water-boarding, sensory depravation, and electrical shocks to the testicles.

Other ranking members of the Bush administration have recently expressed concerns over how the Bush administration handled matters following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. Bush and others have been described as having “panicked”, detaining scores of individuals they knew were innocent.

"There are still innocent people there," declared a former chief of Staff for Colin Powell, Lawrence B. Wilkerson. "Some have been there six or seven years." In all, over 800 prisoners have been held at the US prison facility in Guantanamo, Cuba, where Bush officials believed they could operate outside of established law. Nearly all of the prisoners have since been released, with only a handful proving to have been involved in any terrorist or anti-American activity.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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