Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Fourth U.S.-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue

Washington, DC
June 27, 2012

Today, the United States and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic met for the Fourth U.S.-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and Vice Foreign Minister of Laos Bounkeut Sangsomsak co-chaired the dialogue. The dialogue provided an opportunity to engage in a comprehensive discussion of bilateral and regional issues that reflected our expanding relationship.

The delegations discussed matters including the forthcoming entry of Laos into the World Trade Organization, ongoing bilateral efforts to help resolve the problem of unexploded ordnance in Laos, and our cooperation on a range of activities including health, educational exchanges, counternarcotics, law enforcement, trafficking-in-persons, and environmental protection. The delegations also discussed ongoing efforts to resolve the cases of American personnel still missing in Laos from the Vietnam War period.

In the meeting, the United States reaffirmed its support for ASEAN centrality in the evolving ASEAN-led regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific and underscored the importance of ASEAN unity on pressing regional issues. The U.S. side noted the addition of Burma into the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and reaffirmed its commitment to broaden collaboration and information sharing among the six LMI partner countries. The United States highlighted the importance of the Mekong River Commission for development and environmental protection of the region.

The United States affirmed its continued robust support for educational and cultural exchange programs, including the Fulbright Scholarship Program, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and English-language training programs.

The United States welcomed the positive trends in the bilateral relationship. Both delegations look forward to continuing regular consultations on a broad range of issues, including at the next U.S.-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

Note: See Vang Pao, one of the leading figures in Laotian history.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eco-Terrorism: Oakland Woman Sentenced for Role in 2001 Arson at UW Center for Urban Horticulture

Former Evergreen Student Secured Car, Served as Lookout in Firebomb Conspiracy

More than 11 years after a devastating arson, Briana Waters, 36, now of Oakland, California, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for conspiracy, arson, possession of an unregistered destructive device, and using a destructive device during a crime of violence, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Waters was sentenced to 48 months, meaning she will return to prison for 11 months because of the approximately 37 months she has already served. One year ago, Waters abandoned her claims of innocence and admitted the firebomb devices used to destroy the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture were built at her Olympia residence and that she helped transport them and served as a lookout during the May 2001 blaze. At today’s sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton told Waters, “You have had a corrosive effect on the respect for the law.” Judge Leighton said Waters’ perjured testimony and lies about federal agents at her 2008 trial was a serious crime. “Our courts are sanctuaries; we protect the pursuit of truth,” Judge Leighton said.

“Today’s sentencing closes a chapter on one of the most dangerous and damaging acts of domestic terrorism in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “The $6 million Ms. Waters and the rest of these defendants owe in restitution will never truly compensate the researchers who lost their life’s work, their sense of security, and the endangered plants they were trying to propagate. We are fortunate no lives were lost in the fire. I commend the work of the first responders who controlled the fire and the dedicated agents and officers that tracked down these conspirators to hold them accountable.”

In 2008, a jury found Waters guilty of arson. However, Waters’ conviction was overturned after an appeals court held that a folder of documents containing anarchist materials was improperly admitted into evidence at her trial. During her trial, prosecutors showed how rental car, telephone, and bank records corroborated the testimony of two cooperating witnesses who put Waters at the scene, acting as the lookout the night of May 21, 2001, when arson destroyed the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.

In their sentencing recommendation, prosecutors noted that Waters continued to obstruct the justice system through the lies she told at her trial. “Waters’ obstruction of justice and perjury were not only fresh crimes committed by Waters in 2007, they came at great cost to our system of justice. By falsely claiming to be innocent and by making what she knows to be groundless claims of misconduct, Waters fueled perceptions of injustice....The government does not believe that it is a coincidence that a major ELF arson—in fact, the largest ELF arson in the state of Washington since the Center for Urban Horticulture arson—took place in Snohomish County, Washington, while the jury was deliberating in Waters’ case. By falsely protesting her innocence and by constantly claiming government and judicial misconduct, Waters fueled an environment in which such crimes continue to occur,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

The UW fire bombing was part of a string of 17 arsons across the west by the radical groups the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The arson spree caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. In all, 15 people have been convicted of crimes related to a string of fires across the western United States investigated under Operation Backfire. All those connected with the UW arson have been ordered to share in restitution to the University of Washington and the state of Washington totaling $6,092,649.

Three other defendants, Jennifer Kolar, of Seattle, Washington; Lacey Phillabaum, of Spokane, Washington; and Justin Solondz have each pleaded guilty and been sentenced for the arson. Solondz was sentenced in March to seven years in prison, and Kolar was sentenced to five years in prison for the UW Center for Urban Horticulture fire and other arsons. Phillabaum was sentenced to three years in prison.

In addition to the defendants who have been convicted, the leader of the arson cell and the fifth participant in the UW Center for Urban Horticulture arson, William C. Rodgers, 40, of Prescott, Arizona, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle in connection with the case. However, Rodgers committed suicide in December 2005, while being held in the Coconino County Jail in Prescott, Arizona.

This case is the result of a 10-year investigation by law enforcement. The Seattle Fire Department battled the blaze. Participating in the extensive investigation were the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Eugene Police Department; the Oregon State Police; the University of Washington Police Department; and other state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Friedman and Thomas Woods.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Socialism in Practice: The Lethal Laboratory

By Gary North

What is the longest-running socialist experiment? What has its success been?

If someone asked you to defend the idea that socialism has failed, what would you offer as your example?

Where did modern socialism begin?

In America.

That's right: in the land of the free and the home of the braves. On Indian reservations.

They were invented to control adult warriors. They had as a goal to keep the native population in poverty and impotent.

Did the system work? You bet it did.

Has the experiment been a failure? On the contrary, it has been a success.

When was the last time you heard of a successful Indian uprising?

Are the people poor? The poorest in America.

Are they on the dole? Of course.

Last year, the US Department of Agriculture allocated $21 million to provide subsidized electricity to residents on the reservations whose homes are the most distant from jobs and opportunities. You can read about this here. This will keep them poor. Tribal power means tribal impotence.

The tribes are dependent. They will stay dependent. That was what the program was designed to achieve.

For some reason, textbooks do not offer a page or two on the corruption, the bureaucratization, and the multigenerational poverty created by tribal-run socialism. Here we have a series of government-run social laboratories. How successful have they been? Where are reservations that have systematically brought people out of poverty?

The next one will be the first.

Workers' Paradises
The Soviet Union lasted as a socialist workers' paradise from 1917 until 1991. As a direct result of that experiment, at least 30 million Russians died. It may have been twice that. China's experiment was shorter: 1949 to 1978. Perhaps 60 million Chinese died.

The system failed to deliver the promised goods. I can think of no topic more suitable for a class in economics than a discussion of the failure of socialism. The same is true of a course in modern world history. A course in political science should cover this failure in detail.

They don't, of course. They do not begin with the fundamental challenge to… (Read on)


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Silver Star to be Posthumously Presented to Cold War POW

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz will posthumously award the Silver Star to Capt. Francis Gary Powers during a ceremony at the Pentagon, Friday, June 15, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. EDT in the Hall of Heroes (2D1046).

Powers, whose U-2 reconnaissance plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, May 1, 1960, will receive the medal for demonstrating "exceptional loyalty" while enduring harsh interrogation in the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow for almost two years.

Gary Powers Jr. and Dee Powers, Powers's children, and Dick Anderegg, director of Air Force History, will be available to the media for on-camera interviews in the Office of the Secretary of Defense small television studio (2E963) on June 14 from noon to 4 p.m.  Additionally, there will be a media roundtable on June 14 at 11 a.m. in the Office of the Secretary of Defense Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).

Media wishing to attend the ceremony on June 15 or the media roundtable on June 14 should contact Air Force Public Affairs no later than 3 p.m., June 13.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event, have proof of press affiliation and two forms of photo identification.

Please contact the Air Force Press Desk at 703-695-0640 for escort into the building.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Joint Statement of the U.S.-Republic of Korea-and Japan Meeting at Shangri-La

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of Defense Kim Kwan Jin, and Japan Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister of Defense Shu Watanabe shared views on the regional security situation and reaffirmed the value of trilateral defense cooperation at their meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue on June 2, 2012. 

The three ministers concurred that North Korea's continued provocations including its sinking of the ROK corvette CHEONAN and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, and its missile launch in April 2012, pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, and the world.  North Korea needs to understand that it will achieve nothing by threats or by provocations, and that such behavior will only deepen its international isolation.

The three ministers reaffirmed the April 16, 2012 Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council, demanding that North Korea comply with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, including that it abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.  They welcomed that the Security Council made clear its determination to take action in the event of a further North Korean launch or nuclear test.  The ministers reaffirmed that North Korea’s provocative behavior threatens all three countries and will be met with solidarity from all three countries.  They agreed to continue to reinforce trilateral policy coordination in order to deter North Korean provocations. 

The three ministers affirmed the importance of trilateral collaboration for regional peace and stability, and they decided to expand the scope of this collaboration that includes humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security, protecting the freedom of navigation, and non-proliferation.  They also decided to pursue Defense Ministerial trilateral meetings at the Shangri-La Dialogue in the future.