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2010 November 4 | Activist News

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 »


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 »

jeff olsen

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 »


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: November 4, 2010

SocialMiner: New software allows employers to spy on Twitter, Facebook, social networks

Raw Story
November 4, 2010
By Eric W. Dolan

Now, it seems, you have nowhere to hide.
New software released by Cisco Systems Inc. on Wednesday makes it much easier for banks, retailers, and other businesses — including your employer — to monitor the mountain of data on social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The new SocialMiner software tracks the status updates, forum posts, and blog posts of customers and potential customers in real-time, giving businesses immediate information about consumers’ opinions and preferences. It’s pretty cheap, too: “It can also be purchased for use with a non-Cisco contact center system, Cisco officials say. In each case, SocialMiner costs $1,000 for the server and $1,500 per agent license.”

“With more and more Web-based conversations taking place over these social platforms, it’s now more critical than ever that businesses are aware of what their customers are saying about them and are able to respond to general inquiries or rectify customer service issues so as to enhance and protect brand reputation,” Cisco states in its SocialMiner press release.

According to The Nielsen Company, the average global consumer spent more than five and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009.

Nielsen also reports that over a million tweets are sent out every hour and 34 percent of Americans have used Facebook, Twitter or other social media to talk about a product or company.

Being able to monitor this vast ocean of information and respond to customers’ concerns has the potential to greatly increase a brand’s reputation, Cisco officials said.

The systematic tracking of information on social networking websites is nothing new. Software such as WhosTalkin and Social Mention already allow companies to compile user-generated data from social media and social networking sites.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/software-monitoring-social-networks-breeze/

In book, Bush strongly defends use of waterboarding

November 4, 2010
By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When then-President George W. Bush was asked to approve a tough interrogation technique known as waterboarding on September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wasted little time in deciding.

“Damn right,” he said.

Bush’s approval of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning condemned by human rights activists as torture, to try to wrench information from captured al Qaeda operatives was among the most controversial decisions he made during eight years in the White House.

In his memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush strongly defends the use of waterboarding as critical to his efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He says waterboarding was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, is to hit bookstores on Tuesday. He writes that his ability to prevent another September 11 attack on U.S. soil was “my most meaningful accomplishment.”

Waterboarding, which human rights groups contend is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, was banned by Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, shortly after taking office in 2009. Interrogators are now required to follow interrogation guidelines laid out in the U.S. Army Field Manual.

During Bush’s presidency, the United States came under international criticism for its treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan and foreign terrorism suspects held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bush writes that waterboarding was first approved for Abu Zubaydah, an al Qaeda figure arrested in Pakistan in 2002 who was suspected of involvement in a plot to attack Los Angeles International Airport.

When Abu Zubaydah stopped answering questions from the FBI, CIA Director George Tenet told Bush he thought the detainee had more information to offer.

Bush writes that CIA and Justice Department lawyers conducted a careful legal review and came up with an “enhanced interrogation program,” which he said complied with the U.S. Constitution and all applicable laws, including those that ban torture.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101104/pl_nm/us_bush_book_waterboarding

EU wants to give people power to vanish from Internet

November 4, 2010

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Europe’s justice chief Viviane Reding called Thursday for new rules to give citizens more control of their online personal data, with the “right to be forgotten” from Facebook or Google.

Reding unveiled proposals to update a European Union rule on data protection that dates back to 1995, years before the proliferation of social networking websites and web search engines.

“The protection of personal data is a fundamental right,” the European justice commissioner said.

“To guarantee this right, we need clear and consistent data protection rules. We also need to bring our laws up to date with the challenges raised by new technologies and globalisation,” she said.

Her services want people to reclaim ownership of their digital imprint, including photographs, in an age when many users complain it is virtually impossible to avoid a permanent trace being left on mainframe computer servers the world over.

“People should be able to give their informed consent to the processing of their personal data, for example when surfing online, and should have the ‘right to be forgotten’ when their data is no longer needed or they want their data to be deleted,” the European Commission said.

There are growing fears about Facebook’s influence on people’s careers and social and private lives, including failed job interviews and divorces, with cases of “Facebook suicide” increasing.

The commission launched a two-month public consultation on its proposals with the aim of drafting legislation in 2011.

The EU executive wants to limit the collection and use of personal data to the strict minimum necessary.

“Individuals should also be clearly informed in a transparent way on how, why, by whom, and for how long their data is collected and used,” the commission said.

The commission also wants to revise rules on protecting data in the police and criminal justice sphere and ensure a high level of protection for information shared beyond EU borders.

The European consumer rights group BEUC welcomed the proposals, saying: “Online business practices do not always respect the current data protection directive requirements and such breaches fuel a lack of consumer confidence.”

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101104/tc_afp/euconsumerprivacyjusticedatainternet_20101104165056

Illinois officer acquitted in videotaped beating

Associated Press
November 4, 2010

PEORIA, Ill. – A jury has acquitted one of three central Illinois police officers charged with beating and shocking a man with a stun gun after a 2008 car chase.

The jurors on Wednesday found Andrew Smith not guilty of beating Bryce Scott.

The (Peoria) Journal Star reports that the other two Peoria officers have yet to go to trial. All three were charged with official misconduct.

The traffic stop that followed the chase was videotaped by a squad car camera. It showed Scott being kicked, punched and shocked by a stun gun. The tape didn’t show what Scott was doing at the time.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101104/ap_on_re_us/us_peoria_officers_arrested_1

ACLU sues over ‘stop and frisk’ searches in Philly

Associated Press
November 4, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – A civil liberties group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging the use of “stop and frisk” searches by Philadelphia police, alleging that the policy is violating the rights of blacks and Latinos who have done nothing wrong.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed the lawsuit on behalf of eight men — including a state lawmaker — it says were subjected to illegal searches since the city started using “stop and frisk,” a controversial element of first-term Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2007 mayoral campaign.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU cites city data showing that 253,333 pedestrians were stopped last year, compared with 102,319 in 2005. More than 70 percent of the people stopped last year were black and only 8.4 percent of the total stops led to an arrest, the ACLU said.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, seeks unspecified damages and a court injunction. It also alleges that police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has failed to train and discipline officers.

Using “stop and frisk” to reduce crime can be legal, but officers must have a reason for suspicion, said Mary Catherine Roper, an attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

“Our belief is that people are being stopped because of their race and not because of any individual activity that should raise any suspicion by police,” said Roper, adding that stops were made by both black and white officers.

The use of “stop and frisk” searches has been a focal point of Nutter’s campaign to slow violent crime, which is down since he took office in 2008. Both Nutter and Ramsey are black.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Nutter declined comment on the lawsuit itself, but said the department’s officers were well trained and capable of balancing the need to respond “aggressively” to crime with respect for citizens’ rights.

“We will never ever tolerate inappropriate behavior by our officers,” Nutter told the AP.

The department has dramatically increased its interactions with citizens over the last few years, but citizen complaints have not spiked, Nutter said.

The police department said Ramsey would not be commenting on the suit.

In New York City, civil rights advocates have also challenged the use of “stop and frisk”; a lawsuit filed against the New York Police Department by the Center For Constitutional Rights is pending.

Darius Charney, a staff attorney for the group, said 85 percent of the people stopped in New York over the past six years have been black or Latino.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101104/ap_on_re_us/us_stop_and_frisk

Nearly 100 Toronto officers to be disciplined over summit conduct

Globe and Mail
November 3, 2010
By Gloria Galloway and Anna Mehler Paperny

Nearly 100 Toronto police officers will be disciplined for removing their name tags at the G20 summit, says the city’s police chief who also admitted charges were thrown out against roughly 100 people because the force failed to obtain appropriate arrest warrants.

Police Chief Bill Blair was called before the Commons public safety committee on Wednesday to explain his officers’ actions during the June summit which resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 people.

Many of the people who confronted police over the tumultuous three-days of protests that closed down Toronto’s core said officers were not wearing badge numbers or name tags on their uniforms – allegations that were bolstered by photographs in the media.

“I have a rule in the Toronto Police Service, it’s my rule, it’s in accordance with the policy of my police services board, that our officers will wear their names displayed on their uniforms,” Chief Blair told the committee.

Faced with numerous complaints, the force launched an investigation and pored over 22,000 hours of closed-circuit videotape to identify “approximately 90” officers who were not wearing their name tags, said the Chief.

“Disciplinary processes have been initiated,” he said. When asked what kind of punishment would be handed out, Chief Blair said that has yet to be determined “but the discussion, I believe, is the loss of a day’s pay.”
That would amount to about $300 for a first-class constable.

Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said no G20-related disciplinary action has yet been taken.

“That’s currently being investigated right now, so discipline hasn’t been handed out ,” he said. “I’m aware that some of our officers – I can’t confirm the number – have been notified of an investigation in regards to the name-tag issue, so the officers are in the process of responding to that right now.”

When asked why an officer would remove his or her badge, the Chief said some of the name tags could have come off during scuffles with protesters but other officers were likely trying to hide their identities.

The chief spent the better part of two hours before the committee defending his officers’ actions to opposition MPs who said they have heard repeated stories from protesters who say they were treated inhumanely while in police custody.

Full Article Here – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/nearly-100-toronto-officers-to-be-disciplined-over-summit-conduct/article1784884/

Watch Out: The World Bank Is Quietly Funding a Massive Corporate Water Grab

November 3, 2010

By Scott Thill

Billions have been spent allowing corporations to profit from public water sources even though water privatization has been an epic failure in Latin America, Southeast Asia, North America, Africa and everywhere else it’s been tried. But don’t tell that to controversial loan-sharks at the World Bank. Last month, its private-sector funding arm International Finance Corporation (IFC) quietly dropped a cool 100 million euros ($139 million US) on Veolia Voda, the Eastern European subsidiary of Veolia, the world’s largest private water corporation. Its latest target? Privatization of Eastern Europe’s water resources.

“Veolia has made it clear that their business model is based on maximizing profits, not long-term investment,” Joby Gelbspan, senior program coordinator for private-sector watchdog Corporate Accountability International, told AlterNet. “Both the World Bank and the transnational water companies like Veolia have clearly acknowledged they don’t want to invest in the infrastructure necessary to improve water access in Eastern Europe. That’s why this 100 million euro investment in Veolia Voda by the World Bank’s private investment arm over the summer is so alarming. It’s further evidence that the World Bank remains committed to water privatization, despite all evidence that this approach will not solve the world’s water crisis.”

All the evidence Veolia needs that water grabs are doomed exercises can be found in its birthplace of France, more popularly known as the heartland of water privatization. In June, the municipal administration of Paris reclaimed the City of Light’s water services from both of its homegrown multinationals Veolia and Suez, after a torrent of controversy. That’s just one of 40 re-municipilazations in France alone, which can be added to those in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and more in hopes of painting a not-so-pretty picture: Water privatization is ultimately both a horrific concept and a failed project.

“It’s outrageous that the World Bank’s IFC would continue to invest in corporate water privatizations when they are failing all over the world,” Maude Barlow, chairwoman of Food and Water Watch and the author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Fight for the Right to Water, told AlterNet. “A similar IFC investment in the Philippines is an unmitigated disaster. Local communities and their governments around the world are canceling their contracts with companies like Veolia because of cost overruns, worker layoffs and substandard service.”

The Philippines is an excellent example of water privatization’s broken model. After passing the Water Crisis Act in 1995, the Philippines landed a $283 million privatization plan managed partially by multinational giants like Suez and Bechtel. After some success, everything fell apart after 2000, and it wasn’t long before tariff prices repeatedly increased, water service and quality worsened, and public opposition skyrocketed. Today, some Filipinos still don’t have water connections, tariffs have increased from 300 to 700 percent in some regions, and outbreaks of cholera and gastroenteritis have cost lives and sickened hundreds.

“The World Bank has learned nothing from these disasters and continues to be blinded by an outdated ideology that only the unregulated market will solve the world’s problems,” added Barlow.

But asking the World Bank to learn from disaster would be akin to annihilating its overall mission, which is to capitalize on disaster in the developing world in pursuit of profit. Its nasty history of economic and environmental shock therapy sessions have severely wounded more than one country, and has been sharply criticized by brainiacs like Joseph Stiglitz, who was once the Bank’s chief economist, and Naomi Klein, whose indispensable history The Shock Doctrine is a horrorshow of privatization nightmares. From its cultural imperialism and insensitivity to regional differences to its domination by a handful of economic elites drunk on deregulation, whose utter failure needs no further example than our continuing global economic crisis, the World Bank’s good intentions have been compromised by an unending string of terrible press and crappier deals.

“In the past, the World Bank pushed privatization as the way to increase investment in basic infrastructure for water systems,” said Gelbspan. “But since then bank officials have admitted that the transnational corporations don’t want to invest in infrastructure, and instead want only to pare down operations and skim profits. The World Bank has lowered the bar, satisfied with so-called ‘operational efficiency,’ that cuts utility workforce, tightens up bill collections and shuts off people who can’t pay.”

Full Article Here – http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion//148700/