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2010 October 7 | Activist News
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The Road to World War 3

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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

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »

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The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

Daily Archives: October 7, 2010

Hungary: Toxic red sludge has reached the Danube

Associated Press
October 7, 2010
By PABLO GORONDI

KOLONTAR, Hungary – The toxic red sludge that burst out of a Hungarian factory’s reservoir reached the mighty Danube on Thursday after wreaking havoc on smaller rivers and creeks, and downstream nations rushed to test their waters.

The European Union and environmental officials fear an environmental catastrophe affecting half a dozen nations if the red sludge, a waste product of making aluminum, contaminates the Danube, Europe’s second-longest river.

Officials from Croatia, Serbia and Romania were taking river samples every few hours Thursday but hoping that the Danube’s huge water volume would blunt the impact of the spill.

The Hungarian reservoir break on Monday disgorged a toxic torrent through three villages and creeks that flow into waterways connected to the Danube. Creeks in Kolontar, the western village closest to the spill site, were still swollen and ochre red days later and villagers said they were devoid of fish.
The red sludge reached the western branch of the Danube early Thursday and its broad, main stretch by noon, Hungarian rescue agency spokesman Tibor Dobson told the state MTI news agency.
Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_hungary_sludge_flood

No evidence of Afghan abuse, general insists

The Canadian Press
October 7,  2010
By Murray Brewster

OTTAWA – A former senior commander who oversaw Canada’s war in Afghanistan clashed sharply Wednesday with a human rights lawyer over what constitutes evidence of torture.

Retired lieutenant general Michel Gauthier told a hearing that marks on a prisoner’s body and a pair of suspicious cables nearby weren’t ironclad evidence of torture, although it was “certainly possible” the man was abused.

“What more facts do you need general?” asked Paul Champ, lawyer for Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

Gauthier, the highest-ranking soldier to testify before the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into torture in Afghanistan, replied: “In that particular instance, it was clear to us that there was cause for concern and for action.”
Champ was undeterred.

“What more information could you get, aside from a Canadian Forces soldier or diplomat being in the room while the man was being beaten? What more solid evidence would you need to be satisfied that it was likely the person was tortured?”

Gauthier said that wasn’t an issue for the army.

“Getting to that level and determining whether he’d actually been tortured was less an issue to us than dealing with the issue of (and) the question of the willingness of Afghans to comply with the (transfer) arrangement and ability to comply with the arrangement,” he testified.

The two sparred before an inquiry which is looking into complaints that Canadians turned prisoners over to Afghan officials, knowing they were at risk of torture.

The federal government acknowledges that one prisoner was likely abused by his Afghan jailers in early November 2007.

The Gauthier-Champ exchange goes to the heart of the debate over possible abuse. International law prohibits transferring captives between states if there is a risk they’ll be tortured and the onus is on those who do the handovers to verify that conditions are safe.

Full Article Here – http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/101006/national/afghan_cda_prisoners

Bill Clinton lobbies for earthquake aid to Haiti

Associated Press
October 7, 2010
By Jonathan Katz

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Former President Bill Clinton said desperately needed U.S. aid is coming to Haiti despite delays after listening on Wednesday to refugees in a sprawling homeless camp complain of a lack of food, jobs and housing nine months after a devastating earthquake.

Clinton, the co-chair of the commission overseeing Haiti’s reconstruction, expressed frustration with the slow delivery of promised funds by donors who have delivered about $732 million of a promised $5.3 billion in funds for 2010-11, along with debt relief. Most notably absent is the United States, which has yet to deliver any of its promised $1.15 billion.

“First of all, in the next day or so it will become obvious that the United States is making a huge down payment on that,” the former U.S. president and husband of the current secretary of state told reporters without providing details. “Secondly I’m not too concerned — although I’m frustrated — because the Congress have approved the money that the Secretary of State and the White House asked for.”

The stakes were made clear in a morning visit to a storm-battered hillside former golf-course in Port-au-Prince now home to 55,000 increasingly desperate Haitians, who told Clinton amid mosquito swarms and fraying tarps that they need money, jobs, houses and education to get out of the dangerous and inhospitable camp where they are stuck.
Hours later Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive stood in the sweltering heat before the former U.S. Embassy that is now Bellerive’s office to announce $777 million in projects for education, business, rubble removal and other areas freshly approved by the commission they jointly lead.

Clinton singled out, without naming, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn for holding up an authorization bill that could have eased the flow of money. Coburn’s secret hold on the bill — used because he objected to a $5 million provision to create the office of a senior Haiti co-ordinator of U.S. policy — was revealed by an Associated Press investigation last week.

Citing “a rather bizarre system of rules in the United States Senate,” Clinton said that “barely over one-half of 1 per cent of the money that’s been approved is holding up all the rest.”

“Since I believe that we are still essentially a sane as well as a humane country I believe the money will be released, and when that happens that will also give a lot of other donors encouragement to raise their money,” Clinton said.

This week the U.S. funds were prepared for release with the approval of a State Department spending plan. But in part because of a lack of detail it will take at least weeks and perhaps more for the funds to start being delivered on contracts such as rubble removal, a congressional staffer said.

Full Article Here – http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/101007/world/cb_haiti_earthquake

Indigenous Triqui Women, Fired Electrical Workers, Live and Protest on Mexico City Streets

Truthout
October 6, 2010
By David Bacon

Mexico City, Mexico – Indigenous Triqui women and their children protest against a wave of killing in their hometown, the autonomous community of San Juan Copala in Oaxaca. The Triqui protesters are living in tents in the zocalo, the main plaza in the center of Mexico City, calling on the government to act to protect people in Oaxaca. Other Mexico City activists join them. While their parents meet, children play, sleep and eat in the tent in the zocalo, under the tables where their families make jewelry to sell in the streets.

The women accuse the governor of Oaxaca, who is about to leave office, Ulisses Ruiz, of supporting an organization, UBISORT, that has murdered and raped women as a tactic of political repression. In the latest incident on September 7, Natalia Cruz Bautista and Francisca de Jesus Gracia, two active supporters of the autonomous community, were attacked. They were returning from meeting with the families of Alberta “Bety” Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola, a Finnish solidarity activist, who were both murdered in a caravan seeking to lift UBISORT’s blockade of the town in Oaxaca.
The old ruling party of the Institutionalized Revolution was defeated for the first time in Oaxaca’s history in July, when voters elected Gabino Cue, the candidate of a joint opposition. A statement by Triqui women activists says, “we are convinced that those who commit these acts of aggression enjoy impunity given by the federal government, and are intended to pressure Oaxaca’s new government.”

Joining the Triqui women in the zocalo is Elva Nora Cruz, the sister of a fired member of the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (SME), the Mexican Electrical Workers Union. Workers and their families have been protesting for a year the actions of the Mexican government in firing 44,000 electrical workers and smashing their union, in October, 2009. Cruz is a member of the SME’s women’s organization, Mujeres de Luz, Luchando con Fuerza (Women of Light and Strength), a play on the name of the company dissolved by the government in its effort to smash the union and privatize electricity, Luz y Fuerza del Centro.

Full Article Here -http://www.truth-out.org/indigenous-triqui-women-fired-electrical-workers-live-mexico-city-streets-and-protest63883

Afghan War: In 10th Year, No End in Sight

Politics Daily
October 6, 2010
By David Wood

Ten years on, the war in Afghanistan, which started as a violent, feel-good strike back for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has ballooned into a nasty and dirty conflict whose purpose is unclear and end point unknown.

But the growing price tag — in money and lives — can be roughly tracked: on average each month sees $5.7 billion in direct costs and 40 American battle dead and 79 wounded, not counting those struggling with traumatic brain injury as well as combat stress and other non-physical consequences of repeated combat tours.

And no end is in sight. Winning the war, Gen. David Petraeus says, “is going to be a long-term proposition, without question.”

American troops have been deployed in Afghanistan since the first Special Forces, Marines and Army Rangers began landing there Oct. 7, 2001. Within 10 weeks, with the help of spectacular air strikes, they had demolished the Taliban regime which had provided safe haven for Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda operatives who had planned the 9/11 attacks at a mud-walled compound just outside Kandahar.
In the following eight years, U.S. strategy in Afghanistan shifted and drifted and military assets — Special Forces, intelligence-gathering drones, armored vehicles, ammunition, fresh troops — were diverted to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. Taliban fighters flowed back across the border from Pakistan, newly trained and equipped, funded by the opium trade and wealthy Gulf extremists. And the relatively few soldiers and Marines there to oppose them struggled and fought and died. In direct engagements, the Taliban proved no match for Americans and allied troops. But the U.S. troops, about 10,000 to 12,000 strong during 2003 and 2004, simply were out-manned.

Administration officials argue that the war didn’t really begin in earnest until President Obama took office and almost immediately sent 21,000 troops into the fight and ordered a strategy review to figure out how to win, or end, the war. Rejecting an earlier Pentagon demand that the U.S. “defeat” the Taliban, Obama declared a new, narrowed goal: to deny al-Qaeda a safe haven, to “reverse” the Taliban’s momentum and prevent it from coming to power, and to strengthen Afghanistan’s own army and police.

The last of those Obama “surge” troops arrived in Afghanistan only a few weeks ago, enabling officials to ask for more patience.

In a meeting with reporters last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, ” it’s really only been, I would say, since the beginning of 2009, with the president’s first decision to add another 21,000 troops, and then his decision in December to add another 30,000, and the increase in civilians, that we have actually begun — and I would say a tripling of the foreign — of our partners’ troops — that we have actually got the resources in Afghanistan to partner with the Afghans and have some prospect of dealing with a resurgent Taliban.”

Gates and other senior officials are fond of saying that at last the U.S. has got the “inputs” right in Afghanistan — the right strategy, enough troops and other resources — and now it’s time to let those inputs work. And they have to work before next July, when the president has promised to begin withdrawing U.S. troops, on the assumption that Afghan security forces will be good enough, and the Taliban battered enough, that fewer Americans will be needed.

Skepticism on that score is deep and widespread. Traveling through Afghanistan this summer, I spoke to many ground combat commanders, all of whom felt excited and optimistic about the strategy. But all of them said it would take years to take effect.

Full Article Here – http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/10/06/afghan-war-in-10th-year-no-end-in-sight/

Woman sues KBR, claiming it’s at fault for a sexual assault

Houston Chronicle
October 6, 2010
By JAMES PINKERTON

A Houston woman has filed suit against government contracting firm KBR, alleging it created a “sexually violent workplace” that allowed a co-worker to sexually assault her at an Iraqi airbase two years ago.
The woman, now 28, was attacked by co-worker David C. Breda Jr. of Pearland while he was helping her move into new quarters at Camp Al Asad on Oct. 8, 2008. Breda, 35, a former U.S. Army recruiter who had previously been sanctioned for molesting an 18-year-old female recruit, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison in January after he pleaded guilty to assaulting the woman in Iraq.
The lawsuit in a Harris County state district court is the latest in a number of claims brought against Houston-based KBR by employees who say they were attacked by co-workers or others at jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the first was brought by Jamie Leigh Jones, formerly of Conroe, who contends she was gang-raped at a KBR facility in Baghdad in July 2005.
“If you’re raising jackals and put a rabbit in the jackal cage, you can’t turn your back and say it’s the rabbit’s fault the jackals attacked,” said Todd Kelly, who represents the Houston woman, Jones and four others with claims against KBR. “That’s what they’re doing. They put young women right in front of these men who have gotten away with this for so long and they turn their back. They do nothing to protect these women.”
Heather Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, denied the assertions in the lawsuit and said KBR’s top priority is the safety and security of its employees. KBR maintains a strong and effective sexual harassment and assault prevention and reporting program, she said.

KBR denies allegations

“KBR adamantly denies the allegations in (the lawsuit) that sexual misconduct is encouraged, tolerated, or ignored,” Brown said in a statement released by the company. “KBR responded immediately to (the) report of inappropriate sexual contact and reported it to military authorities. KBR also fully cooperated with the criminal investigation … “
Last year, an arbitrator in Houston awarded $2.93 million to Tracy Barker, the wife of an Army sergeant who said she was sexually assaulted at a KBR-operated camp in Iraq in 2005 by a U.S. State Department employee. Her attorney was critical when KBR, after fighting to keep their employee’s claims out of a courtroom, sought to reduce the arbitrator’s award.

Panel: Gov’t stopped scientists from telling worst-case spill numbers

Associated Press
October 6, 2010
By DINA CAPPIELLO

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration blocked efforts by government scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could become and committed other missteps that raised questions about its competence and candor during the crisis, according to a commission appointed by the president to investigate the disaster.

In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission’s staff describes “not an incidental public relations problem” by the White House in the wake of the April 20 accident.

Among other things, the report says, the administration made erroneous early estimates of the spill’s size, and President Barack Obama’s senior energy adviser went on national TV and mischaracterized a government analysis by saying it showed most of the oil was “gone.” The analysis actually said it could still be there.

“By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem,” the report says.
The administration disputed the commission findings, saying senior government officials “were clear with the public what the worst-case flow rate could be.”

In a statement Wednesday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco and White House budget director Jeffrey Zients pointed out that in early May, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told the public that the worst-case scenario could be more than 100,000 barrels a day, or 4.2 million gallons.

For the first time, the documents — which are preliminary findings by the panel’s staff — show that the White House was directly involved in controlling the message as it struggled to convey that it, not BP, was in charge of responding to what eventually became the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Citing interviews with government officials, the report reveals that in late April or early May, the White House budget office denied a request from NOAA to make public its worst-case estimate of how much oil could spew from the blown-out well. The Unified Command — the government team in charge of the spill response — also was discussing the possibility of making the numbers public, the report says.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101006/ap_on_sc/us_gulf_oil_spill

Professor pulls off ‘epic hack’ of voting system

Raw Story
October 6, 2010
By Muriel Kane

The District of Columbia’s plan to use a previously untried internet voting system for absentee ballots cast overseas has been raising red flags for a while. But now the ability of a team of computer experts to easily take over the system and reprogram it to play the University of Michigan fight song whenever a vote is cast has caused the whole scheme to be called off.

As blogger Brad Friedman reported on Monday, “The very short planned pre-election test phase, in which hackers were invited to try to manipulate the system, has been abruptly aborted in the wake of a, um, disturbing (if not wholly unpredictable) development,”

By the next day, Friedman had confirmed that “J. Alex Halderman, asst. professor of electronic engineering and computer science at the [University of Michigan], was, indeed, at the heart of the hack.”

Initial accounts of the hack had passed it off lightly. The Asssociated Press story described it merely as “University of Michigan students hacked a prototype D.C. elections voting site and programmed it to play their fight song.”
But the exploit — which Boing Boing described as “Alex Halderman’s totally epic hack of the DC internet voting system pilot program” — turns out to have been far more serious and far-reaching.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/10/professor-epic-hack-voting-system/