Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »

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U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

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‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Activist berates White House, Clinton for honoring ‘war criminal’ Kissinger

Raw Story
September 30, 2010
By Muriel Kane

It’s been more than forty years since Henry Kissinger was giving advice to Richard Nixon on the illegal bombing of Cambodia, but the 87 year old former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State remains a controversial figure.

The announcement earlier this week that Kissinger would be keynoting a Department of State conference on “The American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975″ quickly sparked a furious response from longtime anti-war activist Fred Branfman.

“Nothing more symbolizes how the temptations of power can corrupt youthful values and idealism than Secretary Hillary Clinton’s invitation to Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke to keynote a major State Department conference on the history of the Indochina war,” Branfman wrote on Tuesday, in an article titled “Hillary Clinton and State Dept. to Celebrate War Criminal Henry Kissinger, While the White House Repeats His Deadly Mistakes.”

“As an idealistic college student, Clinton protested Kissinger’s mass murder of civilians in Indochina,” Branfman continues. “But on Sept. 29 she will introduce Kissinger at the State Department Historian’s conference, giving him a platform to continue 40 years of Orwellian deception in which he has sought to blame Congress for the fall of Indochina rather than accepting responsibility for his massive miscalculations and indifference to human suffering.”

The Clinton-Kissinger relationship appears to have been developing steadily over the past two years, starting in December 2008 when Kissinger responded to reports that President-elect Obama was considering Clinton as Secretary of State by saying that “it would be an outstanding appointment.”

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/activist-berates-white-house-kissinger/

‘Slavery’ uncovered on trawlers fishing for Europe

Guardian
September 30, 2010
By Felicity Lawrence

Shocking evidence of conditions akin to slavery on trawlers that provide fish for European dinner tables has been found in an investigation off the coast of west Africa.

Forced labour and human rights abuses involving African crews have been uncovered on trawlers fishing illegally for the European market by investigators for an environmental campaign group.

The Environmental Justice Foundation found conditions on board including incarceration, violence, withholding of pay, confiscation of documents, confinement on board for months or even years, and lack of clean water.

The EJF found hi-tech vessels operating without appropriate licences in fishing exclusion zones off the coast of Sierra Leone and Guinea over the last four years. The ships involved all carried EU numbers, indicating that they were licensed to import to Europe having theoretically passed strict hygiene standards.

“We didn’t set out to look at human rights but rather to tackle the illegal fishing that’s decimating fish stocks, but having been on board we have seen conditions that unquestionably meet the UN official definition of forced labour or modern-day slavery,” EJF investigator Duncan Copeland said. A report on the abuses is published by the foundation today.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/sep/30/slavery-trawlers-europe

Brutal militia stalks south Thailand

BBC
September 30, 2010
By Alastair Leithead

In another temple, in another part of southern Thailand, another family mourns the latest victims of one of the world’s worst, but least known insurgencies.

Sa, 31, sits with her palms pressed together in prayer as the Buddhist monks chant in unison.

They are performing the nightly ceremony for her mother and father, whose pictures stand by their elaborately decorated coffins, surrounded by flowers.

Sa cremated her grandparents earlier that afternoon. All four of her family members were shot by militants, their homes burned down.

“They are very cruel. They were old and couldn’t fight back. These people, this group of terrorists, are not human,” she said in a very composed way, keeping her emotions hidden.

 
They were the last Buddhist family in the Muslim village where they had lived for decades, but their neighbours and friends could not stop the armed militia who came just after dark.

In six years of violence 4,300 people have been killed and 7,000 injured after a dormant separatist movement came to life in the deep south of Thailand on the Malaysian border.

The three modern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala used to be the historic Sultanate of Patani, officially absorbed into Thailand in 1909.

Despite Thailand’s policy of unity among its various ethnic groups, many people here see themselves as Malay Muslim, or “Malayu” first and Thai second, speaking a Patani dialect and with a written language using Arabic script.
 
Hearts and minds

Every morning at around 0830 the children at Baan Taba school, in Narathiwat gather on the dusty playing field to sing the national anthem as the Thai flag is raised.

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11437423?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Activists Say Raids Could Boost Anti-War Movement

Change.org
September 29, 2010
by Charles Davis

If the FBI was hoping to silence the anti-war movement by raiding the homes of activists across the country, as critics claim, they don’t appear to have succeeded. In fact, the bureau may just have given the movement — which indisputably waned with the election of Barack Obama — the spark activists say it needed.

Last week, FBI agents raided a half-dozen homes and offices of activists in Minneapolis — all organizers of protests outside the 2008 Republican Convention — and the homes of two others in Chicago, part of what the bureau claims is an investigation into whether members of the anti-war movement provided “material support” to designated terrorist organizations, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Hezbollah. Around a dozen others were also reportedly issued subpoenas to testify before a grand jury next month.

“It’s an attack on all of us,” says Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the group Code Pink, speaking to Change.org outside FBI headquarters in downtown Washington. Around 40 activists demonstrated outside the building on Tuesday in a show of solidarity with those raided.

Benjamin says those targeted by the FBI were only supporting peace processes in the Middle East and Colombia, and that the bureau is really engaged in more of a fishing expedition than real terrorism investigation. Indeed, despite last week’s raids and salacious allegations, not a single arrest was made. “These were search warrants only,” said FBI spokesman Steve Warfield.

But if the goal was to divide and silence the anti-war community, Benjamin says they sure haven’t succeeded.

“They made a big mistake because they picked Minneapolis and Chicago,” she says, “two places where there are huge progressive communities, very tight communities, and areas of the country where people are very proud of their First Amendment rights and their independent spirits.” (Read more after the jump.)

In a sign of the strength of activist communities there, hundreds of activists on Monday rallied outside federal buildings in both cities to protest the FBI’s raids. Solidarity rallies were also held across the country this week, from Salt Lake City to Philadelphia.

Yet despite the fact that all those targeted in the raids were members of explicitly anti-war organizations — and avowed proponents of non-violence — they could still face criminal prosecution thanks to the government’s extremely broad definition of what it means to provide “material support” for terrorism, a definition that extends to counseling others to embrace peace.

While the law is ostensibly aimed at actual terrorists and their supporters, former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement released by the ACLU this past that the government’s interpretation of “material support” — upheld by the Supreme Court this past June — threatens the humanitarian work not only of his own Carter Center, but “the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact directly with groups that have engaged in violence.” The “vague” wording of the law, he said, “leaves us wondering if we will be prosecuted for our work to promote peace and freedom.”
  
Full Article Here – http://criminaljustice.change.org/blog/view/activists_say_raids_could_boost_anti-war_movement 

Army’s largest base reeling from four apparent suicides in one weekend

CNN
September 29, 2010
By Larry Shaughnessy

(CNN) — Four soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas died over the week. In all four cases, it appears the soldiers, all decorated veterans from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, took their own lives, according to Christopher Haug, a Fort Hood spokesman.

If confirmed as suicides, it would be on top of 14 other suicides on the base this year. Base officials called a news conference for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the problem of suicides at the huge base in central Texas.

“Every one of these is tragic,” said Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, the post commander. “It’s personally and professionally frustrating as a leader.”

Grimsley did not announce any major action or response during the news conference. “I don’t think there is a simple answer,” he said.

The recent spate of incidents, began Friday Sept. 24 when the body of Pvt. Antonio E. Heath, 24, of Warren, New York, was found in Temple, Texas, the victim of a gunshot wound. Heath was deployed to Iraq for most of 2009 and earned a number of medals including the Army Commendation Medal.

The next day, Master Sgt. Baldemar Gonzales, 39, of Victoria, Texas was found dead in his residence on Fort Hood. During his service he had fought in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time he earned a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, an Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters as well as numerous other decorations.

That same day the body of Sgt. Timothy Ryan Rinella, 29, of Chester, Virginia, was found in his home in Copperas Cove, just outside of Fort Hood. He had an “apparent gunshot wound,” according to information released by Fort Hood.

Rinella served three tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.

And then on Sunday, Sgt. Michael F. Franklin and his wife, Jessie, were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds in their home on the post. The case is being investigated as a murder-suicide. They were the parents of a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Franklin served two tours of duty in Iraq in just the past four years, earning an Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and several other decorations.

The entire U.S, military has been focused for years on trying to stop or reduce suicides among service members. At times some have speculated that troops wouldn’t seek help for emotional or mental problems because it would stigmatize them in the eyes of their comrades in arms and their commanders.

But that didn’t always appear to be the case at Fort Hood this past weekend.

“Early indications are, in at least two of the cases, and I can’t speak definitively about the others, a couple had been in counseling for certain things,” Grimsley said.

Full Article Here – http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/09/29/texas.fort.hood.deaths/index.html?hpt=T2

Oilsands need more regulation: Cameron

CBC News
September 29, 2010

Alberta should put a moratorium on approving new tailings ponds until the science evolves to better handle the waste from oilsands mining, Avatar director James Cameron suggested Wednesday after a three-day tour of the controversial oil deposits.

Reclamation of tailings ponds isn’t yet sufficiently viable — either economically or scientifically — to offset the environmental impact of oilsands mining, and the province needs to regulate the industry more closely, he added.

” are allowed to proceed on a promise. A promise that they will make good down the line, probably after some of us are already dead. Our children and our grandchildren are going to inherit this,” he told a news conference in Edmonton.

The Canadian-born director, whose blockbuster science fiction film Avatar tells a cautionary tale of corporate greed and the fight over natural resources, was joined by a number of First Nations leaders.

They included the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Alteo; Al Lameman, the chief of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation; Gerald Amos of the B.C.-based Coastal First Nations Alliance, and activist and former Mikisew Cree chief George Poitras.

Cameron called the development of the oilsands the biggest gold rush since 1849 and called on government to provide stronger regulations on the reclamation of the land and spend more money on scientific research.
“It will be a good investment in the future to do the science and to make sure that the science is transparent, that it is open to the public, that it’s not funded by industry, that there’s independent oversight, that there’s proper peer review.”
Any movement forward must include real, not token, involvement from First Nations people, he said. Cameron said he will keep meeting with chiefs to ensure the issue is moving in a positive direction.
“I’m in for the long term.”
The oilsands are an important interim resource for weaning North America off oil from the Middle East, but he admitted his first impression of the mines wasn’t very good.
“My very first impression flying out of Fort McMurray was, ‘my God, what beautiful country …’ and then to fly into the big open pit mines and the tailings ponds and all that, it was horrific,”

Oilsands need more regulation: Cameron

CBC
September 29, 2010

Alberta should put a moratorium on approving new tailings ponds until the science evolves to better handle the waste from oilsands mining, Avatar director James Cameron suggested Wednesday after a three-day tour of the controversial oil deposits.

Reclamation of tailings ponds isn’t yet sufficiently viable — either economically or scientifically — to offset the environmental impact of oilsands mining, and the province needs to regulate the industry more closely, he added.

” are allowed to proceed on a promise. A promise that they will make good down the line, probably after some of us are already dead. Our children and our grandchildren are going to inherit this,” he told a news conference in Edmonton.

The Canadian-born director, whose blockbuster science fiction film Avatar tells a cautionary tale of corporate greed and the fight over natural resources, was joined by a number of First Nations leaders.

They included the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Alteo; Al Lameman, the chief of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation; Gerald Amos of the B.C.-based Coastal First Nations Alliance, and activist and former Mikisew Cree chief George Poitras.

Cameron called the development of the oilsands the biggest gold rush since 1849 and called on government to provide stronger regulations on the reclamation of the land and spend more money on scientific research.

“It will be a good investment in the future to do the science and to make sure that the science is transparent, that it is open to the public, that it’s not funded by industry, that there’s independent oversight, that there’s proper peer review.”

Any movement forward must include real, not token, involvement from First Nations people, he said. Cameron said he will keep meeting with chiefs to ensure the issue is moving in a positive direction.

“I’m in for the long term.”

The oilsands are an important interim resource for weaning North America off oil from the Middle East, but he admitted his first impression of the mines wasn’t very good.
 

Water map shows billions at risk of ‘water insecurity’

BBC
September 29, 2010
By Richard Black

About 80% of the world’s population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis.

Researchers compiled a composite index of “water threats” that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution.
The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people.

Writing in the journal Nature, they say that in western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature.

They urge developing countries not to follow the same path.

Instead, they say governments should to invest in water management strategies that combine infrastructure with “natural” options such as safeguarding watersheds, wetlands and flood plains.

The analysis is a global snapshot, and the research team suggests more people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow.

They have taken data on a variety of different threats, used models of threats where data is scarce, and used expert assessment to combine the various individual threats into a composite index.

The result is a map that plots the composite threat to human water security and to biodiversity in squares 50km by 50km (30 miles by 30 miles) across the world.
 
Changing pictures

“What we’ve done is to take a very dispassionate look at the facts on the ground – what is going on with respect to humanity’s water security and what the infrastructure that’s been thrown at this problem does to the natural world,” said study leader Charles Vorosmarty from the City College of New York.

“What we’re able to outline is a planet-wide pattern of threat, despite the trillions of dollars worth of engineering palliatives that have totally reconfigured the threat landscape.”

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11435522

Workers in Europe Protest Austerity

New York Times
September 29, 2010
By ALAN COWELL

PARIS — Facing unfamiliar austerity in lands that were once among the world’s most cosseted, labor unions in several parts of Europe urged followers on Wednesday to protest, launching a general strike in Spain and calling for a major march in Brussels.

The demonstrations followed stoppages in France where workers twice protested in recent weeks against plans by President Nicolas Sarkozy to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. In Britain, much political discourse is consumed by the relatively new coalition government’s intention to cut public spending in order to combat deficit.

Across Europe, many countries are struggling with the fallout from the economic crisis that saw their governments intervening to support banks that teetered toward collapse following risky investments beginning with the sub-prime mortgage market in the United States.

The spread of economic woes forced the European Union as a whole to arrange an emergency bail-out for the near-bankrupt Greek economy while Ireland, already reeling from a banking crisis that is threatening its financial credibility, suffered another setback last week when fresh data showed that its ailing economy shrank 1.2 percent in the second quarter.

In Spain on Wednesday, a general strike got under way early in the day, news reports said, with protesters blowing whistles as they tried to prevent trucks from delivering produce to market.

The general strike is the first in eight years as workers confront widespread unemployment after a period of prosperity. The Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has introduced austerity measures that include reduced pay for public workers, reforms to the state pension plan and new labor regulations that facilitate layoffs.

The measures have curbed the central government’s deficit but proved unpopular with Spaniards who say they cannot find work and are battling to get by.

The protests in Spain were set to be matched in Greece where public transport personnel planned to halt tram, subway and national rail services on Wednesday. Hospital doctors, too, planned to strike and unions called for street protests in Athens.

In Brussels, labor unions said they hoped 100,000 workers will march on buildings associated with the European Union to protest government measures offering only higher taxes, a later retirement age and longer working hours.

“The party is over,” The Associated Press quoted a former European commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, as saying. “We shall have to work longer and harder, more hours in the week, more weeks in the year, and no state pension before the age of 67.”

Full Article Here – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/world/europe/30europe.html?_r=1&src=twt&twt=nytimes

Poor sanitation breeds disease and exploitation in Kenya’s slums

Guardian
September 28, 2010

Poor sanitation, lack of water and related disease outbreaks are making the lives of the residents of the sprawling Korogocho slums in Nairobi even harder.

“The lack of water and improper waste disposal are a big threat to our lives due to the risk of water-borne diseases,” Nancy Wangari, a community health worker and village elder in Korogocho, told IRIN. “The threat of typhoid, cholera and other diseases from poor sanitation is real.”

Although some pay-toilets have been set up, the cost remains prohibitive, forcing residents to dispose of excreta in plastic bags (so-called flying toilets), which litter the area. In the past few days, a broken sewer line running from the neighbouring Kariobangi estate has been emptying its effluence into the slum, choking the already narrow pathways between rows of houses.

The scene in Korogocho is replicated elsewhere in Kenya, where rapid urbanisation has meant more informal structures with little or no water and sanitation services are springing up. According to the 2009 census, an estimated one in five Kenyans uses the bush as a toilet – access to piped water covers only 38.4% of the urban population and 13.4% of rural residents.

While the “water and sanitation challenges themselves are formidable… their impact on other social, political, and epidemiological systems is equally significant”, notes a recent Humanitarian Futures Group (HFG) report, Urban Catastrophes: The Wat/San Dimension, which examines how water and sanitation stress drives other humanitarian crises in slums.

“As with any valuable good, the provision of clean water and sanitation facilities in slums is an attractive target for corruption, greed, collusion and exploitation,” it states. “Solutions must therefore focus on understanding local social networks.”

Korogocho resident Maurice Omondi said water vendors make a killing out of residents’ misery. “I pay two shillings (about 15p) per 20-litre jerry can but with the rampant water shortages, it may cost between five and 10 shillings for the same in the neighbouring estates,” Omondi told IRIN.

Countless communities are exposed to their own and others’ faeces. Water vendor Peter Macharia* told IRIN he had diverted the main water line running through the slum to his homestead.

“My business is now threatened as the National Water and Sewerage Company is demanding we install meters on all supplies to our homes,” Macharia said as he collected money from queuing women and children. The lack of land tenure may, however, make it difficult to ensure consistent water payments.

According to the HFG report, many urban environments have enough water in absolute terms to provide for residents’ needs. The challenge is how to equitably manage and distribute it.

In Kenya, slum infrastructure has remained inadequate as it is not government policy to support development in what are considered illegal informal settlements. Residents tamper with electricity and water connections, often resulting in clashes as security personnel are deployed to stop the connections.

According to experts, slum conditions may make the settlements a breeding ground for tomorrow’s pathogens. Health problems such as malnutrition, diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid fever are already common, especially when water is mixed with industrial and sewage effluent.

Full Article Here -  http://t.co/pOI6HYw