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2010 November 16 | 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 »

greed3

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 »

freedom-of-the-press

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 16, 2010

Time for Schools to Stop Damaging Children

Huffington Post
November 15, 2010
By Ruth Bettelheim, Ph.D.

Our schools are turning millions of normal children into dropouts and failures. This isn’t because of a few bad teachers or principals, but because the natural learning behaviors of children are routinely penalized instead of praised. Initiatives like “No Child Left Behind” and “The Race To The Top” won’t change this, because they don’t adequately take into account research about how children learn. As Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel says, children have “enormous capability that they’re born with and often school takes it out of them.”

Our classrooms are based on outdated ideas, functioning like mid-20th century factories. Each child is offered an identical curriculum, like a car moving along an assembly line. However, children aren’t units of production and this approach is failing. Since 1970, the rate of high school graduation has declined, and the United States has fallen from first to twelfth among developed nations in education.

This is inexcusable given the well-documented research about what makes children effective learners. Contemporary neuroscience has confirmed the findings of Freud, Piaget, and Dewey: that children’s learning is largely dependent on inherent interest, emotional engagement, social interaction, physical activity and the pleasure of mastery.

These findings are ignored in traditional classroom approaches. If children are not interested, they won’t learn, but we don’t structure our schools to capture students’ individual interests. Instead, everyone studies the same texts at the same time. Teachers often reprimand children for failing to change gears with the rest of the class. Students are told to be quiet, sit still, and listen passively, when we know that social, emotional, and physical engagement enhance learning.

Freedom to make mistakes and benefit from them is the basis of intellectual growth. If researchers or entrepreneurs were forbidden to make errors, innovation would cease. But when teachers are required to prioritize standardized test preparation, children are necessarily taught that being wrong is unacceptable.

The traditional classroom needs an overhaul based on the findings of cognitive neuroscience. Rather than lecturing to passive observers, teachers should act as facilitators, introducing individual students to new concepts based on their interests and developmental state. Children should be free to move around and to choose when, for how long, and with whom they will work at each task. Instead of being told facts, children should learn by acting on instructional materials, experimenting and observing until answers are found.

Children need to experience themselves as emotionally engaged, triumphant problem solvers. This experience is, in part, what makes computer games addictive. As with video games, in an ideal classroom students should only go on to the next level after mastering the previous one, taking as long as they need to solve each problem, and staying with it as long as it holds their interest. The satisfaction of curiosity and the exhilaration of accomplishment are the inherent rewards of this approach.

Full Article Here – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ruth-bettelheim/post_1262_b_783651.html

Met closes down anti-police blog

Guardian
November 16, 2010
By Paul Lewis

Scotland Yard last night forced the closure of an anti-police blog which was being used by disseminate advice to protesters pictured at the student fees demonstration.

The website Fitwatch was suspended after the its hosting company received contact from C011, the Metropolitan’s public order branch, stating that the blog was “being used to undertake criminal activities”.
The move appears to have taken place after a blog posted on the website gave guidance to students who feared they might be arrested for their involvement in the occupation of the Millbank office complex, which houses the Tory party headquarters.

A largely peaceful march against the proposed increase in tuition fees turned violent on Wednesday when a minority of the 50,000 students targeted Millbank.

Around 200 entered the building and some accessed the roof. During a period of rioting, windows and furniture were smashed and, in the most serious act of violence, a fire extinguisher was thrown towards police from the roof.

The Fitwatch blogpost, which last night had reappeared on several other websites, recommended that students “get rid” of clothes they wore at the demonstration and change their appearance.

“Perhaps now is a good time for a makeover,” said the post. “Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn’t a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent.”

Hours later, the Met’s “e-crime unit” informed Fitwatch’s website hosting service – JustHost.com – that the blog was being used to attempt to pervert the course of justice by providing guidance to “offenders”.

“We hereby request [you] de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months,” it said in a letter seen by the Guardian. “The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in central London.

“The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested, with a major police operation under way to identify and arrest further offenders.”

The letter stated that authority to close “the website and IP address” had been given by Will Hodgeson, an acting detective inspector at C011.

The Telegraph and the rightwing blogger Guido Fawkes both launched campaigns last week to identify student protesters, posting photographs of activists they suggested had been involved in criminal activity.

Criticising the campaign as “an irresponsible and frenzied ‘shop-a-student’” initiative, Fitwatch yesterday issued its own advice to students who might be “worried” that they would become suspects because of their involvement in the demonstration.

The guidance ranged from suggesting that students contact a lawyer or stay away from demonstrations for a while, to advising them to get rid of clothes they were wearing at the protests, as well as spray cans and “dodgy texts/photos on your phone”.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/16/student-anti-police-website-closed

1 in 8 households struggling with hunger: report

AFP
November 15, 2010

WASHINGTON — Some 17.4 million US households struggled to get enough food to eat last year because money was tight, the US Department of Agriculture said Monday.

In more than a third of those households — around one in eight US homes — at least one person did not get enough to eat at some time during the year and normal eating patterns were disrupted.

Hardest hit by hunger were urban households with children headed by single parents and African American and Hispanic households, the USDA said in a report.

While the number of hungry people was deemed too high for the affluent United States, the report found that it had held steady from the previous year, thanks in large part to government-funded food assistance programs.

The number of people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly called food stamps — rose by about 5.3 million people a month in 2009 compared to the previous year, the report said.

One million more low-income children received free or reduced-price lunches at school, marking a 5.4 percent increase, and over 400,000 more low-income women and children participated in supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children in an average month.

The government also provided an additional 100 million dollars for emergency food assistance to the needy in 2009, which helped to stock the shelves of food pantries and other emergency organizations that distribute food to hungry Americans.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/households-struggling-hunger/

Three in four Americans support extension of federal unemployment benefits

MLive.com
November 15, 2010
By Jackie Headapohl 

Three in four Americans support extension of federal unemployment benefits
Published: Monday, November 15, 2010, 5:30 PM Updated: Monday, November 15, 2010, 8:17 PM
Jackie Headapohl

A majority of Americans believe Congress should extend federal unemployment insurance benefits, a new poll by Hart Research Associates finds, and they reject the idea that deficit concerns should lead to cuts in support for the jobless when the unemployment rate remains so high.

The post-election survey, in which nearly three in four Americans say it is too early to cut jobless benefits, comes just days before the Nov. 30 expiration of the federal unemployment benefits program.
“There is deep public support for continuing the federal unemployment programs at a time when unemployment is at 9.6 percent and millions are still out of work,” said Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project.

The poll asked people which statement they agreed with more: 73 percent of voters agree that “With unemployment at 9.6 percent and millions still out of work, it is too early to start cutting back benefits for workers who lost their jobs,” while only 24 percent of voters agree that “With the federal deficit over one trillion dollars, it is time for the government to start cutting back on unemployment benefits for the unemployed.”

Full Article Here – http://www.mlive.com/michigan-job-search/index.ssf/2010/11/three_in_four_americans_support_extensio.html

Government to compensate ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees

BBC News
November 15, 2010

Around a dozen men, who accused British security forces of colluding in their torture overseas, are to get millions in compensation from the UK government.

Some of the men, who are all British citizens or residents, were detained at the Guantamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

At least six of them alleged UK forces were complicit in their torture before they arrived at Guantanamo.

A ministerial statement on the out-of-court settlement is due to be made in the House of Commons later on Tuesday.

It is believed the government wanted to avoid a lengthy and costly court case which would also have put the British secret intelligence services under the spotlight.
 
Avoiding costs

Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Binyam Mohamed and Martin Mubanga were among those who had begun High Court cases against the government.

They had claimed that UK intelligence agencies and three government departments were complicit in their torture and should have prevented it.

In May, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government was unable to rely on “secret evidence” to defend itself against the six cases.

Then, in July, the High Court ordered the release of some of the 500,000 documents relating to the case.
BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins said that around 100 intelligence officers had been working
around the clock preparing legal cases.

He said the government wanted to avoid the cost of the court case, and that the terms of the settlement would remain confidential – something wanted by both the men and ministers.

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11762636

Paychecks for CEOs Climb

Wall Street Journal
November 15, 2010
By JOANN S. LUBLIN

The chief executives of the largest U.S. public companies enjoyed bigger paydays in their latest fiscal year, as share prices recovered and profits soared amid the country’s slow emergence from recession.

At these 456 companies, the median pretax value of CEO salaries, bonuses and long-term incentives, such as grants of stock and stock options, rose by 3% to $7.23 million, according to an analysis of their latest proxy filings for The Wall Street Journal by consulting firm Hay Group.

Investors made out well, too, with total shareholder return (based on the change in stock price plus reinvested dividends), coming in at 29%. The companies’ total net income doubled from a year earlier to $510.9 billion.

The Journal usually tracks executive compensation each spring. To provide a fuller post-recession picture, it followed up this year by analyzing pretax CEO pay at every U.S. public company with at least $4 billion in annual revenue that filed proxy statements between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010.

The results differ markedly from the April analysis, which covered 200 such companies and found median total direct compensation had dropped 0.9%.

The ranks of best-paid chiefs also changed. Ray R. Irani at Occidental Petroleum Corp. was the only CEO among the top 10 in both studies. His $52.2 million package for 2009 earned him first place in the April survey, but he slipped to third in the broader tally.

Full Article Here – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704756804575608434290068118.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

Amnesty says EU should force US to probe renditions

Reuters
November 15, 2010
By Justyna Pawlak

BRUSSELS, Nov 15 (Reuters) – The European Union should put pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama during an EU-U.S. summit in Portugal this week to investigate secret transfers of terrorism suspects, Amnesty International said on Monday.

At the same time, European governments should do more to bring to light their own involvement in the U.S. policy under President George Bush to run interrogation centres in Europe or use airports on the continent to transfer detainees.

Human rights groups say the policy has allowed violation of rights of suspects because they may have been tortured while in custody of third countries.

“With all this information coming out, with civil society making noise about it, how long can the U.S. hold out? If the EU were to add its voice, it would be another pressure point that the U.S. would have to then respond to,” Julia Hall, an Amnesty International researcher told reporters in Brussels.

A number of EU governments have acknowledged the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has used their territory to transfer or host terrorism suspects in the wake of Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

But Amnesty International said the overall effort in Europe to investigate alleged human rights violations under the so-called rendition policy was “disappointing”, while Washington has done very little to shed light on the programme.

“What we see in Europe is a very dynamic scene with respect to accountability for renditions and secret detention whereas in the United States we see a continual wall of silence,” the group said in a statement.

INFORMATION SURFACES

Britain has said it was complicit in prisoner transfers, while a Lithuanian investigation showed in December the Baltic state hosted a secret CIA prison where al Qaeda suspects may have been held.

The CIA is also believed to have run secret centres in Poland and Romania, while other countries have allowed the transfer prisoners.

Full Article Here – http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6AE18H.htm

Seven Charged in Kosovo Organ-Trafficking Ring

New York Times
November 16, 2010
By DAN BILEFSKY

PRAGUE — At least seven people have been charged with participating in an international organ-trafficking network based in Kosovo that sold kidneys and other organs from impoverished victims for up to $200,000 to patients from as far away as Israel and Canada, police and senior European Union officials said Monday.

According to the indictment, the traffickers lured people from slums in Istanbul, Moscow, Moldova and Kazakhstan with promises of up to $20,000 for their organs. Law enforcement officials say many never received a cent. The operations were performed at a private clinic in a run-down neighborhood on the outskirts of Pristina, the Kosovar capital.

While the ring was first discovered two years ago, the global scale of the network and its victims is only now becoming clear.

Officials said the ringleader was a highly regarded surgeon and professor at Pristina University Hospital, Dr. Lutfi Dervishi. The clinic was run by his son, Arban. Also charged was Ilir Rrecaj, a senior official in Kosovo’s Health Ministry when the ring was broken. They and two others are accused of crimes including trafficking in humans and body parts, unlawful medical activity, participating in organized crime, and abuse of office. All were released on bail.

The charges have shaken Kosovo, which has been struggling to integrate with the West since it declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. The case is also a test of the nascent legal institutions and rule of law as Kosovo seeks to overcome a culture of endemic lawlessness and corruption that has reached the highest levels of government.

The trafficking network’s tentacles reached far. Warrants were issued for a Turkish doctor and an Israeli financier, and two other doctors, an Israeli and a Turk, were named as co-conspirators.

The police said the ring had its roots at a medical conference in 2006 in Istanbul, where Dr. Dervishi met the Turkish doctor being sought, Yusuf Sonmez. Law enforcement officials describe Dr. Sonmez as a notorious international organ trafficker.

The Medicus clinic had been founded by a European philanthropist who aided ethnic Albanian doctors during the war in Kosovo in 1999. Dr. Dervishi, police officials said, secretly transformed it into a hub for illegal organ transplants, which were performed by Dr. Sonmez.

The indictment was first reported by The Associated Press. In it, a European Union prosecutor, Jonathan Ratel, said that in 2008, 20 foreign nationals living in “extreme poverty or acute financial distress” were “recruited with the false promises of payments.”

The police said they broke the ring in November of that year, when a young Turkish man, Yilman Altun, was found at the Pristina airport, weak and frail. Mr. Altun told the police that his kidney had been stolen. When the police raided the Medicus clinic, they discovered an elderly Israeli man who had received Mr. Altun’s kidney.

European Union officials said that the indictment in the case had been filed in district court in Kosovo and that a preliminary hearing was expected by the end of the year. If a judge confirms the charges, a trial will follow.

The European Union has a large law enforcement mission in Kosovo to combat crime and corruption. But that fight has proved difficult, with suspicions of bribes, money laundering, organized crime, fraud and now organ trafficking, ensnaring high-level government officials.

Several countries are examining the Kosovo ring, with police investigators combing through the phone records, computer hard drives and bank transfers of those charged. European Union officials said the recipients paid for the kidneys by bank transfers, helping lead the police to the main suspects.

Full Article Here – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/world/europe/16kosovo.html