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2010 October 26 | Activist News
Disobey

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 26, 2010

US slips to historic low in global corruption index

Reuters
October 26, 2010
By Dave Graham

(Reuters) – The United States has dropped out of the “top 20″ in a global league table of least corrupt nations, tarnished by financial scandals and the influence of money in politics, Transparency International said on Tuesday.


Somalia was judged the most corrupt country, followed by Myanmar and Afghanistan at joint second-worst and then by Iraq, in the Berlin-based watchdog TI’s annual corruption perceptions index (CPI).

The United States fell to 22nd from 19th last year, with its CPI score dropping to 7.1 from 7.5 in the 178-nation index, which is based on independent surveys on corruption.

This was the lowest score awarded to the United States in the index’s 15-year history and also the first time it had fallen out of the top 20.

In the Americas, this put the United States behind Canada in sixth place, Barbados at 17th and Chile in 21st place.

Jointly heading the index — in which a score of 10 indicates a country with the highest standards, and 0 as highly corrupt — were Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore with 9.3. They were also at the top of the table last year.

Somalia scored 1.1. The watchdog group said its table was based on “different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions.”

U.S. “INTEGRITY DEFICIT”

Nancy Boswell, president of TI in the United States, said lending practices in the subprime crisis, the disclosure of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and rows over political funding had all rattled public faith about prevailing ethics in America.

“We’re not talking about corruption in the sense of breaking the law,” she said. “We’re talking about a sense that the system is corrupted by these practices. There’s an integrity deficit.”

Various financial scandals at state and city level had encouraged the impression that the regulatory oversight was weak and that influence could be bought, she added.

The index showed a number of countries — including Iran — climbing up the chart significantly from 2009, though TI said this could often be ascribed to the fact that different surveys were being used that offered no direct comparison to last year.

The fact that nearly three quarters of the countries scored 5.0 or less showed corruption was still a major global problem, said Robin Hodess, director of policy and research at TI.

However, the watchdog identified Bhutan, Chile, Ecuador, Macedonia, Gambia, Haiti, Jamaica, Kuwait, and Qatar as states where improvement had been made over the past year.

Full Article Here – http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69P0X620101026

UN says lack of crop diversity threatens food supply

AFP
October 26, 2010

Tony Blair ‘to be called back’ to Iraq war inquiry to answer questions about ‘gaps’ in his evidence

Daily Mail
October 26, 2010
By Daily Mail Reporter

Tony Blair is to be recalled by the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War to answer new questions about ‘gaps’ in the evidence he gave earlier this year.

The former Prime Minister is likely to be asked to clarify the political build-up to the 2003 American-led invasion. He is also expected to further explain the legality of Britain’s participation in the controversial war.

Sir John Chilcot will write to Mr Blair next month to ask him to attend a public hearing in early 2011, reported The Times.

During his six-hour testimony earlier this year, Mr Blair mounted a vigorous defence of the invasion and insisted he had no regrets over removing Saddam Hussein. He denied he took the country to war on the basis of a ‘lie’ over the dictator’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

At the end of his session one member of the audience shouted: ‘What, no regrets? Come on’ while others heckled ‘You are a liar’, ‘And a murderer’.

Tony Blair is to be recalled by the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War to answer new questions about ‘gaps’ in the evidence he gave earlier this year.
The former Prime Minister is likely to be asked to clarify the political build-up to the 2003 American-led invasion.
He is also expected to further explain the legality of Britain’s participation in the controversial war.

Polling Places Removed From Native Reservation

Care2
October 26, 2010
By Natasha G.

Residents of Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota are protesting the county’s decision to remove three polling places from the tribe’s three precinct vicinity.

The Benson County Board of Commissioners cited the high costs of running the polls and training staff as reasons for their decision. Spirit Lake leaders offered to front the costs for recruiting and training poll workers as well as provide rent-free facilities, but the board declined, saying the costs would still be too high and that mail-in ballots are cheaper.

In a county where Natives account for 50 percent of all voters, this move will most certainly disenfranchise them. With only one poll location in the entire county, they will have to travel further and have a longer waiting time to cast their vote. While mail-in ballots may be cheaper, every voter should have the same methods available to cast their vote as every other voter in the U.S.
The tribe filed a lawsuit against the board earlier this month, but the judicial system will have to act quickly considering Election Day is near.

Full Article Here – http://www.care2.com/causes/civil-rights/blog/polling-places-removed-from-native-reservation/

Looking for a place called home

Toronto Star
October 25, 2010
By Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and John Cruickshank

“Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience,” the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said once wrote. “It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.”

Today, nearly 50 million people around the world live in exile from their homes, displaced by conflict, persecution or natural disaster. And this tragic number is growing daily.

More than 27 million of these people have been uprooted and relocated within their own countries. Others have sought shelter across foreign borders among strangers.

In refugee camps where violence breeds as quickly and fiercely as disease, many lead lives of wasted talents and blighted dreams.

The Toronto Star is dedicating today’s special edition to the plight of these exiles and will chronicle the history and courage of displaced persons, including the 4,000 Tibetans who live in the Greater Toronto Area.

We believe that the worst of the problems we face today: violent conflict, the despoliation of nature, poverty, hunger, religious and ethnic persecution are man-made problems which can only be resolved through human effort, understanding and the development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood.

We need to cultivate a universal responsibility and a universal empathy for one another.

Star reporters and editors acting on behalf of generous readers have learned a little about this very directly in Haiti during the terrible months since the devastating earthquake there. Several Star staff members have become personally involved, arranging schooling and basic medical care for children who have lost homes and families.

The experience in Haiti has shown how complex such aid giving is in a precarious community where many thousands are displaced and many critical human services unavailable.

Canada has a long and honourable tradition of accepting refugees.

In 1971, Canada under the leadership of then prime minister Pierre Trudeau started accepting Tibetan refugees. The first 228 refugees arrived in March of that year. Since then, the Canadian Tibetan community has grown to now number about 5,000, most of them in Ontario, including 4,000 in the Toronto area.

Canada has a record of accepting refugees that is among the best in the western world. It generally accepts more than 25,000 refugees a year.

Full Article Here – http://www.thestar.com/news/world/dalailama/article/880298

US to build £8bn super base on Pacific island of Guam

Telegraph
October 25, 2010
By Praveen Swami
  
The US is building an £8 billion super military base on the Pacific island of Guam in an attempt to contain China’s military build-up.

The expansion will include a dock for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a missile defence system, live-fire training sites and the expansion of the island’s airbase. It will be the largest investment in a military base in the western Pacific since the Second World War, and the biggest spend on naval infrastructure in decades.
However, Guam residents fear the build-up could hurt their ecosystem and tourism-dependent economy.

Estimates suggest that the island’s population will rise by almost 50 per cent from its current 173,000 at the peak of construction. It will eventually house 19,000 Marines who will be relocated from the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the US force has become unpopular.

The US‘s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that this could trigger serious water shortages. The EPA said that dredging the harbour to allow an aircraft carrier to berth would damage 71 acres of pristine coral reefs.

The EPA’s report said the build-up would “exacerbate existing substandard environmental conditions on Guam”.

Local residents’ concerns, however, have been sidelined by the US-China strategic competition. China has significantly expanded its fleet during the past decade, seeking to deter the US from intervening militarily in any future conflict over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, and to project power across disputed territories in the gas and oil-rich South China Sea.

Full Article Here – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/guam/8085749/US-to-build-8bn-super-base-on-Pacific-island-of-Guam.html 

Socialism? The Rich Are Winning the US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer

Truthout
October 25, 2010
By Bill Quigley

The rich and their paid false prophets are doing a bang-up job deceiving the poor and middle class. They have convinced many that an evil socialism is alive in the land and it is taking their fair share. But the deception cannot last – facts say otherwise.
Yes, there is a class war – the war of the rich on the poor and the middle class – and the rich are winning. That war has been going on for years. Look at the facts – facts the rich and their false paid prophets do not want people to know.
Let Glenn Beck go on about socialists descending on Washington. Allow Rush Limbaugh to rail about “class warfare for a leftist agenda that will destroy our society.” They are well compensated false prophets for the rich.
The truth is that for several decades the rich in the US have been getting richer and the poor and middle class have been getting poorer. Look at the facts, then make up your own mind.
Poor Getting Poorer: Facts

The official US poverty numbers show we now have the highest number of poor people in 51 years. The official US poverty rate is 14.3 percent or 43.6 million people in poverty. One in five children in the US is poor; one in ten senior citizens is poor. (Source: US Census Bureau.)

One of every six workers, 26.8 million people, is unemployed or underemployed. This “real” unemployment rate is over 17 percent. There are 14.8 million people designated as “officially” unemployed by the government, a rate of 9.6 percent. Unemployment is worse for African-American workers, of whom 16.1 percent are unemployed. Another 9.5 million people who are working only part-time while they are seeking full-time work, but have had their hours cut back or are so far only able to find work part-time, are not counted in the official unemployment numbers. Also, an additional 2.5 million are reported unemployed, but not counted because they are classified as discouraged workers in part because they have been out of work for more than 12 months. (Source: US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics October 2010 report.)
The median household income for whites in the US is $51,861, for Asians it is $65,469, for African-Americans it is $32,584, for Latinos it is $38,039. (Source: US Census Bureau.)
Fifty million people in the US lack health insurance. (Source: US Census Bureau.)
Women in the US have a greater lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related conditions than women in 40 other countries. African-American US women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. (Source: Amnesty International Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA.)
About 3.5 million people, about one-third of which are children, are homeless at some point in the year in the US. (Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.)
Outside Atlanta, 33,000 people showed up to seek applications for low-cost, subsidized housing in August 2010. When Detroit offered emergency utility and housing assistance to help people facing evictions, more than 50,000 people showed up for the 3,000 vouchers. (Source: News reports.)

Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered

Guardian
October 25, 2010
By Ian Cobain

The British military has been training interrogators in techniques that include threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness in an apparent breach of the Geneva conventions, the Guardian has discovered.

Training materials drawn up secretly in recent years tell interrogators they should aim to provoke humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear in the prisoners they are questioning, and suggest ways in which this can be achieved.
One PowerPoint training aid created in September 2005 tells trainee military interrogators that prisoners should be stripped before they are questioned. “Get them naked,” it says. “Keep them naked if they do not follow commands.” Another manual prepared around the same time advises the use of blindfolds to put prisoners under pressure.

A manual prepared in April 2008 suggests that “Cpers” – captured personnel – be kept in conditions of physical discomfort and intimidated. Sensory deprivation is lawful, it adds, if there are “valid operational reasons”. It also urges enforced nakedness.

More recent training material says blindfolds, earmuffs and plastic handcuffs are essential equipment for military interrogators, and says that while prisoners should be allowed to sleep or rest for eight hours in each 24, they need be permitted only four hours unbroken sleep. It also suggests that interrogators tell prisoners they will be held incommunicado unless they answer questions.

The 1949 Geneva conventions prohibit any “physical or moral coercion”, in particular any coercion employed to obtain information.

The revelations come after the Guardian published US military documents leaked to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks revealing details of torture, summary executions and war crimes in Iraq.

All the British classified training material was produced after the death of Baha Mousa, the Iraqi hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in Basra in September 2003. Some of it was created after a UK army inquiry into the abuse of Iraqi civilians concluded, in January 2008, that while a number of cases had been a cause for “professional humility”, ill-treatment had not been endemic.

The leak of the material comes at a time when British military detention and interrogation practices are coming under increasing scrutiny.

Last month the Guardian reported that British soldiers and airmen have been suspected of responsibility for the murder and manslaughter of Iraqi civilians in addition to Mousa. The victims include a man who was allegedly kicked to death on board an RAF helicopter, another who was shot by a soldier of the Black Watch after being involved in a traffic incident, and a 19-year-old who drowned after allegedly being pushed into a river by soldiers serving with the Royal Engineers.

Next month, at the high court in London, lawyers representing more than 100 Iraqis who were held and interrogated by British forces, between the March 2003 invasion and April 2007, will argue that there is compelling evidence that they were tortured in a systematic manner.

The abuse, documented by a team of lawyers led by a Birmingham solicitor, Phil Shiner, includes 59 allegations of detainees being hooded, 11 of electric shocks, 122 of sound deprivation through the use of earmuffs, 52 of sleep deprivation, 131 of sight deprivation using blackened goggles, 39 of enforced nakedness and 18 allegations that detainees were kept awake by pornographic DVDs played on laptops.

At a preliminary hearing, a high court judge said it appeared to be accepted by the MoD that there were “arguable cases of ill-treatment” and added: “It appears also to be accepted that there is an arguable case of something systemic.”

The court is not thought to be aware of the recent training material seen by the Guardian, however.
This material was created for the instruction of “tactical questioners”, who conduct initial interrogations of prisoners of war, as well for the instruction of servicemen and women from all three branches of the armed forces who conduct “interrogation in depth”.

The courses were run by interrogators operating within a military unit known as F Branch, part of the Joint Services Intelligence Organisation (Jsio), at the Jsio’s Bedfordshire headquarters.

One PowerPoint aid, entitled Any Questions?, explains that the techniques have been developed over decades by British military interrogators serving in Borneo, Malaya, South Arabia, “Palastine” (sic), Cyprus and Northern Ireland. It explains that interrogators have faced “adverse pulicity (sic), investigations and problems” in the past. During operations in Cyprus in the 1950s, it says, such problems were created by members of parliament, and in Aden by the International Committee of the Red Cross. In northern Oman, trainees are informed, the problems were created by “our own side!”.

Interrogators are advised to find a discreet place to conduct interrogations, preferably somewhere that looks “nasty”. Shipping containers are said to be ideal places that offer “privacy for TQ and Interrogation sessions”.
The chosen location should always be “out of hearing” and “away from media”.One of the documents states: “Torture is an absolute No No.” However, it then goes on to recommend methods of ill-treatment that can be employed by interrogators.

Prisoners should be “conditioned” before questioning, with conditioning defined as the combined effects of self-induced pressure and “system-induced pressure”. Harsh questioning – or “harshing” – in which an interrogator puts his face close to the prisoner, screaming, swearing and making threats, is recommended as a means to provoke “anxiety/fear”. Other useful responses include “insecurity”, “disorientation” and “humiliation”.

The training material recommends that after a prisoner’s clothes are removed, the interrogator ensures he is searched behind his foreskin and that his buttocks are spread. This is part of the conditioning process, rather than as a security measure. One section of the training course is entitled “positional asphyxiation – signs and symptoms”.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/oct/25/uk-military-interrogation-manuals