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2010 October 13 | 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 13, 2010

Afghan civilian war injuries double in Kandahar conflict

Guardian
October 13, 2010
By Peter Beaumont

Wounded patients flooding into hospitals, says Red Cross, while fighting is stopping the sick getting basic medical care

The number of Afghan civilians hospitalised for serious war wounds has doubled in 12 months in Kandahar, the focus of an ongoing US-led campaign against Taliban strongholds.

In August and September, Mirwais regional hospital in the country’s second biggest city admitted almost 1,000 new patients with weapons injuries, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The total for the same period of 2009 was 500.

The Red Cross reported a “drastic increase” in the number of amputations from war injuries, reflecting the nature of the violence.
Afghan and Nato forces launched Operation Dragon Strike to retake strongholds in the insurgency’s heartland around Kandahar from the Taliban. But the area had already been the focus of escalating military operations for weeks. There are now about 30,000 international troops in the southern Taliban heartlands of Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

Describing the influx of new patients as “hitting record highs”, Reto Stocker, the Red Cross chief in Kabul, said the casualties being seen at Mirwais hospital were only “the tip of the iceberg”.

The Red Cross has been distributing emergency first aid kits at the front lines.

The latest figures from Kandahar have dramatically underlined a warning from the UN this year that civilian deaths caused by the conflict were up by a third from the previous year.

That report noted a sharp increase in suicide attacks, roadside bombings and political assassinations. Other injuries were from air strikes including drones and other military actions by the coalition forces. The UN report noted three suicide bombings a week and a 45% increase in assassinations of officials.

A second consequence of the increasing violence and instability, according to the Red Cross, has been the inability of local people to reach healthcare centres, often with devastating consequences.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/13/afghanistan-taliban

Whistleblower reveals ‘systematic’ humiliation of detainees

Raw Story
October 13, 2010
By David Edwards and Muriel Kane

Videos suggest detainees were routinely subjected to emotional assaults

A former US soldier in Iraq has come forward with video of his fellow soldiers subjecting Iraqi detainees to what he describes as “mental, emotional, degrading” abuse.

US Army Specialist Ethan McCord was a member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, the same unit that was involved in a 2007 helicopter attack in Baghdad shown in a leaked video released last April by WikiLeaks.

“I started to ‘acquire’ these videos and some pictures once I realized that what we are doing in Iraq is wrong,” McCord wrote on Wednesday in a blog entry at MichaelMoore.com. “These videos are of detainee abuse. Not the type of abuse that’s physical, but the mental, emotional, degrading type.”
In the three brief clips, soldiers are shown harassing a handcuffed and blindfolded detainee in a variety of ways. In one, a soldier repeatedly orders a detainee to hold his hands up and then put them down again — a sequence which McCord says went on for 45 minutes.

Another shows a soldier asking a terrified detainee, “Are you militia” and telling him he is “going to go to prison for that,” until being ordered to “stop talking to the detainees.” In the third, a soldier sings loudly and mockingly into the ear of a man who was detained for having an AK-47 in his home.

The use of deliberate humiliation as a means of softening up detainees prior to questioning became particularly notorious in connection with the Abu Ghraib scandal and was examined in detail in Errol Morris’s critically-acclaimed 2008 documentary Standard Operating Procedure.

“The MPs speak frankly, if not always lucidly, about conditions at the prison and the vague orders from higher-ups that allowed them to believe what they were doing was somehow OK,” Slate’s Dana Stevens wrote of the film. “They saw themselves as ‘softening up’ detainees for the real questioning that would take place later behind closed doors.”

“My two cents worth of opinion,” Morris told an interviewer, “is that this is not just a war of humiliation but a war of sexual humiliation at its core, and the entire foreign policy. I wouldn’t even think it’s fair to say that America has a foreign policy in the years since 9/11, but if it has had a foreign policy, the foreign policy is, show them whose [sic] boss, humiliate them like they have humiliated us.”

Full Article and Videos Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/10/whistleblower-reveals-systematic-humiliation/

Hunger Report Highlights Africa Food Security Issues

VOA News
October 12, 2010
By Nico Colombant

A report on hunger released this week highlights the persistent difficulties Africans face regarding food security.

In the list of 10 countries facing the worst levels of hunger, nine of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the annual Global Hunger Index, the only non-African country on the list is Haiti. The nine African countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Chad, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Comoros, Madagascar and the Central African Republic.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, three quarters of the population are estimated to be undernourished.

The International Food Policy Research Institute, which released the report with other aid groups, says economic growth, strong agricultural performance, gender equity and an end to conflict are essential to substantially reducing hunger.

A senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Roger Thurow, has many more practical ideas. He explains the title of his recently co-authored book, “Enough.”

“We brought hunger with us into the 21st century in ever increasing numbers and that is shameful. We ought to say we have enough with the hunger issue; let us get to the bottom of it. The other meaning is that there is enough food in the world to feed everybody, for everybody to have enough caloric intake to lead an active life,” he said.

A key problem in Africa, Thurow says, is that farmers are usually left to fend for themselves when they face a drought, a flood or an insufficient harvest.

“In the United States or in Europe when a crop fails, there is usually somebody who writes a check either the government or an insurance company. In Africa, when a crop fails, people die because there is no safetynet. Nobody is sharing the risk; it is all borne by the farmers themselves.”

Although emergency relief is crucial in times of famine, Thurow would like to see more aid for long-term agricultural development and practices, such as improved grain storage.

“In Africa, maybe 30 to 50 percent of harvests of the various crops are wasted every year because there are not proper storage facilities. The markets then should be able to steer some of the surpluses in one part of the country to other places where there are shortages,” he said.

Full Article Here – http://ow.ly/2SFkV

Oil industry looks to Iraq after Gulf spill

Associated Press
October 12, 2010
By JANE WARDELL

LONDON – Iraq’s oil production is increasingly important to meet world energy demand, industry executives meeting in London said Tuesday, as they predicted that the political fallout from the Gulf of Mexico spill will have a long-term impact on U.S. production.

After years of sanctions and war, Iraq — home to some of the world’s largest reserves — is finally finding the political stability necessary for oil extraction.

“Iraqi supply is one of the largest game changers,” International Energy Agency executive director Nobuo Tanaka told the annual Oil & Money conference.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC Chief Executive Peter Voser said his company has already raised oil production from Iraq’s Majnoon field to 70,000 barrels a day, from 45,000 barrels a day previously.
Voser said that the risk of operating in Iraq had increased in recent months, but Shell’s operations were still performing well.

“We are moving and we are increasing production at this stage,” Voser said. “It’s relatively little investment as some of the infrastructure is already there.”

Earlier this month, Iraq sharply boosted the estimate on the country’s proven oil reserves to 143.1 billion barrels, an almost 25 percent increase that transforms the war-ravaged nation into the home of the world’s second-largest proven reserves of conventional crude oil.

The oil-rich nation, which was the birthplace for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has struggled to raise its oil production and exports after years of sanctions and wars left much of the vital sector in poor shape.

But two international oil licensing rounds last year opened the door for international oil firms to re-enter the Iraq market. Among the tasks they undertook were new seismic surveys of the fields which they were awarded — efforts that have contributed to raising the overall reserve estimate.

Iraq hopes that new production from the 10 oil fields awarded during the two auctions will raise overall output to 12 million barrels per day by 2017 — a level that would put it nearly on par with Saudi Arabia’s current production capacity — from around 2 million barrels currently.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101012/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_britain_oil_conference

US bankers set for record pay and bonuses for second year

Guardian
October 12, 2010
By Edward Helmore

US bankers are set for record compensation for a second consecutive year, shattering both the illusion of pay-reform and the expectation that bank bonuses would be tempered while the US economy remains weak.

With third-quarter figures from JP Morgan expected to begin a bumper profit reporting season tomorrow, a study of more than three dozen banks, hedge funds, money-management and securities firms estimates they will pay $144bn (£90bn) in salary and benefits this year, a 4% increase on 2009.

The research, by the Wall Street Journal, found pay was rising faster than revenue, which gained 3% to $433bn, despite a slowdown in stock trading.
And while profits have fallen from their 2007 peak, the percentage directed to compensation has increased by 23%.

“Until the focus of these institutions changes from revenue generation to long-term shareholder value, we will see these outrageous pay packages and compensation levels,” Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Centre for Corporate Governance, told the WSJ.
Banks say their hands are tied, arguing that firms say that do not adequately compensate risk losing their top bankers. Political pressure and regulatory reform is no match for the market forces.

Where watchdogs were successful in altering the structure of compensation, they were not able to control its levels.

At Goldman Sachs, where revenue is projected to fall 13.5% this year to $39.1bn, compensation is expected to rise 3.7% to $16.8bn.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/oct/12/us-bankers-record-pay-bonuses

Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron’s Lead Ecuador Expert Suffers Major Blow to Credibility in U.S. Trial, Court Documents Say

Business Wire
October 12, 2010

Chevron Hit With $19 Million Judgment After Jury Rejects John Connor’s Testimony

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–John Connor, Chevron’s lead American expert in its multi-billion dollar Ecuador environmental trial, suffered a major blow to his credibility when a U.S. jury rejected his testimony and delivered a $19 million judgment against the oil giant for causing mental retardation to several Mississippi residents exposed to its leaking gas tanks, according to court papers provided this week by lawyers on the case.

In the trial — which took place in Jefferson County, Mississippi — Connor conceded on cross-examination that over almost two decades of work for Chevron he has never once concluded that the impact of his client’s operations has harmed even a single person, according to the court documents. Connor testified that he knew of no circumstance where “there were any injuries of individuals that were the responsibility of Chevron or Texaco.”

Connor also tried to exonerate Chevron by testifying that any contamination must have been caused by leaks from three storage tanks owned by a smaller company in the area, not the larger tanks owned by Chevron. But when confronted on cross-examination by evidence that he had misidentified the site from a state database, Connor admitted that he had never taken any steps to definitively verify that the gas tanks actually existed on the smaller company’s property.
The clear bias in Connor’s testimony and errors in his analysis apparently shocked the Mississippi jury, which rejected his argument that Chevron had no responsibility for the cognitive deficiencies of the five plaintiffs. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $19 million in damages, said Ed Flechas, the lead lawyer on the case who made the court documents available. Chevron is appealing the decision.

“John Connor has virtually no credibility as an expert scientist given his numerous errors and dismal performance in the Mississippi trial,” said Flechas, whose clients suffered severe physical and mental retardation.

Relevant excerpts from Connor’s testimony in the trial, which took place in early April, can be found here.

Also in his Mississippi testimony, Connor admitted that he has been paid “at least” $8 million by Chevron for his work and that as much as $5 million of that amount derived from the Ecuador case, according to the documents.

Chevron is charged in Ecuador with the illegal dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste directly into the rainforest from 1964-1990, polluting an area the size of Rhode Island and creating what some experts believe is the world’s worst oil-related catastrophe. Cancer rates in the area of Ecuador where Chevron operated have skyrocketed and six indigenous groups have seen their traditional lifestyles decimated, according to evidence submitted to the court by the plaintiffs.

Full Article Here – http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20101012007332/en/Amazon-Defense-Coalition-Chevron%E2%80%99s-Lead-Ecuador-Expert

Judge orders ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ injunction

Associated Press
October 12, 2010
By JULIE WATSON

SAN DIEGO – A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday immediately stopping enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, suspending the 17-year-old ban on openly gay U.S. troops.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ landmark ruling also ordered the government to suspend and discontinue all pending discharge proceedings and investigations under the policy.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have 60 days to appeal. Pentagon and Department of Justice officials said they are reviewing the case and had no immediate comment.
The injunction goes into effect immediately, said Dan Woods, the attorney who represented the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay rights group that filed the lawsuit in 2004 to stop the ban’s enforcement.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell, as of today at least, is done, and the government is going to have to do something now to resurrect it,” Woods said. “This is an extremely significant, historic decision. Once and for all, this failed policy is stopped. Fortunately now we hope all Americans who wish to serve their country can.”

Legal experts say the Obama administration is under no legal obligation to appeal and could let Phillips’ ruling stand.

Phillips’ decision was widely cheered by gay rights organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Obama and Washington politics could not.

“This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101012/ap_on_re_us/us_gays_in_military