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2010 November 19 | 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 »

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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: November 19, 2010

Texas businessman settles military food fraud case for $15 million

Los Angeles Times
November 19, 2010
By P.J. Huffstutter and Andrew Blankstein

A Texas businessman has agreed to pay $15 million to settle federal allegations of defrauding the government by selling old and potentially dangerous food to the U.S. military to supply combat soldiers serving in Iraq, according to a new federal complaint.

Prosecutors had alleged that Samir Mahmoud Itani and his company American Grocers Ltd. profiteered off the war in Iraq by buying food products with a short shelf life, paying a deep discount for them – and changing the labels to make them seem fresher than they really were.

Itani’s privately held American Grocers purchased core staples from some of the country’s leading food manufacturers, including Kraft Foods International Inc., the Hershey Co., Frito-Lay North America, Sara Lee Corp. and ConAgra Foodservice, according to the civil complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Houston and interviews with the whistleblower in the case.

Itani allegedly ordered employees to alter the packaging of a long shopping list — which included boxes of potato flakes, salad dressings, containers of lobster and ground hamburger patties among other things — in order to meet military procurement contractor requirements for freshness. And as the country’s military presence grew in the Middle East, Itani’s business boomed.

Prosecutors said that Itani, 51, two family members and a tight-knit group of business acquaintances used this scheme to sell at least $36 million worth of adulterated food products to the government from about 2003 to 2006 during the Iraq War, also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“All it took,” according to the complaint, “was false promises, a warehouse and a few hundred buckets of nail polish remover.”

After semi-trucks loaded with pallets of raw Jennie-O turkeys, blocks of Kraft cheese and vats of J.M. Smucker’s peanut butter arrived at the warehouse and unloaded the goods, employees used acetone, spray paint or a small drill to erase the expiration dates on the product labels, according to court filings unsealed this week.

Full Article Here – http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-1120-military-food-fraud-20101116,0,6883535.story

Sick Sept 11 workers agree to $712 million settlement

Reuters
November 19, 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than 10,000 workers suffering health problems stemming from the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center have agreed to a $712 million settlement with New York City, officials said on Friday.

More than 95 percent of the 10,563 workers had to agree to the deal for it to go ahead.

The Garretson Resolution Group, which has been assessing the claims, said in a letter to the federal judge overseeing the case that 95.1 percent of the workers — 10,043 — had submitted documents agreeing to the settlement.

The money will come from a federally financed insurance fund, the WTC Captive Insurance Company, created in 2004 with a $1 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Full Article Here – http://us.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AI4C820101119?ca=rdt 

Senate approves $4.6B for black farmers, Indians

Associated Press
November 19, 2010
By MARY CLARE JALONICK

WASHINGTON – The Senate has approved almost $4.6 billion to settle longstanding claims brought by American Indians and black farmers against the government.

The money has been held up for months in the Senate as Democrats and Republicans squabbled over how to pay for it. Both of the class action lawsuits were filed over a decade ago.

The settlements include almost $1.2 billion for black farmers who say they suffered discrimination at the hands of the Agriculture Department. Also, $3.4 billion would go to Indian landowners who claim they were swindled out of royalties by the Interior Department. The legislation was approved in the Senate by voice vote Friday and sent to the House.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101119/ap_on_go_co/us_black_farmers_indian_money

Guam groups sue military over live firing range

Associated Press
November 18, 2010
By Audrey Mcavoy

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Groups and citizens in Guam have sued the U.S. military, alleging it violated federal environmental and historic preservation laws by choosing an ancient village as the site of a new live firing range.

The Navy, in a decision announced in September, said it wants to build the training site at one of two sites in Pagat village. The range would be used by Marines due to move to the U.S. territory from Okinawa, Japan.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu said the Navy failed to adequately consider alternative locations that would have less of an impact on the environment and historic sites. It further alleged the Navy failed to adequately examine the environmental consequences of its actions.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, whose senior officials are named as defendants in the suit, said it was unable to comment on ongoing litigation.

The suit said archaeological studies date Pagat to A.D. 700, while traditional knowledge indicates the village was inhabited 3,000 years ago. The village has up to 20 sets of carved stone pedestals, called latte, upon which the indigenous Chamorro people set buildings.

The Guam Historic Preservation Trust, one of the plaintiffs, leads hiking tours at Pagat. The suit says members ask permission to enter the sacred place before each visit.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, another party in the suit, has put Pagat on its 2010 list of the most endangered historic places in the U.S. It cited the live firing range as the reason for the listing.

Full Article Here – http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/101118/world/us_military_lawsuit_guam

Child Workers of Bolivia, Unite!

Foreign Policy
November 18, 2010 
BY HELEN COSTER

POTOSÍ, Bolivia—Edwin Choquevilla is the primary breadwinner in his family, earning $7 a day pushing a wheelbarrow inside Bolivia’s Cerro Rico mine. He spends his money on food and clothing for his mother and three siblings, who live in a 600-square-foot cement hut that doubles as a storage shack for wheelbarrows, canisters of gasoline, and clusters of dynamite. But unlike most of the other 15,000 miners who work in the Cerro Rico mine, Choquevilla wants to be a soccer star when he grows up. He is, after all, only 14 years old. “I need to help my family,” Choquevilla says. “Hopefully next year, I can go back to school.”

Choquevilla is one of an estimated 1,000 children who work in Cerro Rico — “the hill of wealth” — Bolivia’s most famous and fertile mine. In the 16th century, silver from Cerro Rico bankrolled the Spanish empire, and at one point, Potosí was one of the wealthiest towns in the world. But production peaked in 1650 and then went into a century-long decline when Mexico entered the market. Over the next 200 years, demand for silver and other minerals ebbed and flowed — and with it, miners’ fortunes. The Bolivian government nationalized the mining industry after the 1952 revolution. The state mining company, Corporacíon Minera Boliviana (Comibol), controlled the mines until the government privatized the industry in the 1980s. Today 36 private cooperatives control Cerro Rico, where miners risk their lives to extract silver, zinc, tin, and lead. But child miners aren’t just doing their boss’s bidding: They’re also organizing to defend their rights.

Across Bolivia, 10,000 working children — employed by the mines, but also cemeteries, markets, and buses — are unionizing and working with the government to rewrite labor laws. “We’re asking the government to come up with laws not because they sound good, but because they’re realistic,” says Ernesto Copa, the 17 year-old president of UNATSBO, Bolivia’s largest union of child workers. “We’re in a state of mobilization.”

Bolivian children entered the workforce en masse in the 1980s, when the privatization of national industries forced more than 100,000 adults out of work. Today child labor is ubiquitous; an estimated 800,000 children in Bolivia work full time jobs. In the capital city of La Paz, children shine shoes while wearing ski masks — to protect their lungs from pollution, or their identities out of shame, depending on whom you ask. In Cochabamba, they collect money on minibuses. In Uyuni, on the edge of the spectacular Salar de Uyuni salt flats, they work in the market selling bottled water to tourists. In the jungle outside Riberalta, they harvest Brazil nuts for several months of the year, risking malaria, snake bites, and wounds from machetes.

In 1995, NGOs like Caritas and CARE started offering education and other services for working children, who soon began organizing on their own. Children who work in cemeteries unionized in 1999, and children who work in the markets and bus terminals soon followed. Today UNATSBO — which includes children from many different sectors — has chapters in seven of Bolivia’s nine states and 600 members in Potosí alone.

While some children in Bolivia begin working as early as age 5, most who join unions do so when they’re 11 or 12, often at the encouragement of older friends. “That’s when they understand what’s going on around them and that their human rights are being violated,” says Luz Rivera Daza, an educator with Caritas, an NGO that works with unionized children.

The Bolivian labor force is organized, to a point. Some groups — like coca farmers, truck drivers, and miners — began unionizing in the 1970s in response to military and political repression. They experienced pushback from the government, and occasional violence. When the government privatized industries in the 1980s, the mining union in particular grew in influence and exerted its power over the cooperatives.

Now is a particularly opportune moment for the unions to pursue new legal protections. Encouraged by President Evo Morales, a coca farmer and the country’s first indigenous president, Bolivians approved a new constitution last year, and legislators are currently in the process of rewriting existing laws to conform to the new legal code. The children’s unions are pushing lawmakers to reform the Code of Children and Adolescents, which governs child labor. In its current form, the code sets the legal working age at 14, and it doesn’t distinguish between labor and exploitation.

Full Article Here – http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/11/18/child_workers_of_bolivia_unite

Senate panel OKs ‘Internet censorship’ bill

AFP
November 18, 2010

WASHINGTON — The US Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Thursday that would give US law enforcement more tools to crack down on websites abroad engaged in piracy of movies, television shows and music.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which has the support of the entertainment industry but has been strongly criticized by digital rights and other groups, was approved by a vote of 19-0.

In addition to the music, movie and TV industries, the bill has received the backing of newspapers, authors and publishers but it has been condemned by the the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) as an “Internet censorship” bill.

“Blacklisting entire sites out of the domain name system,” the group said, is a “reckless scheme that will undermine global Internet infrastructure and censor legitimate online speech.”

The bill gives the Justice Department an expedited process for cracking down on websites engaged in piracy or the sale of counterfeit goods including having courts issue shutdown orders against domains based outside the United States.

“Few things are more important to the future of the American economy and job creation than protecting our intellectual property,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who co-sponsored the bill.

“That is why the legislation is supported by both labor and industry, and Democrats and Republicans are standing together,” Leahy said. “Rogue websites are essentially digital stores selling illegal and sometimes dangerous products. If they existed in the physical world, the store would be shuttered immediately and the proprietors would be arrested.”

“We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens online and the owners operate overseas,” he said. “The Internet needs to be free — not lawless.”

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/panel-oks-internet-censorship-bill/

Witness: Officer laughed after burning man’s body

Associated Press
November 18, 2010
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans police officer was laughing after he burned the body of a man who had been gunned down by police in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, a fellow officer testified Thursday.

The testimony came during the trial of officer Greg McRae and Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann, who are charged with burning the body of 31-year-old Henry Glover in a car after he was shot and killed by a different officer outside a strip mall on Sept. 2, 2005. Three other current and former officers also are charged in Glover’s death.

Lt. Joseph Meisch testified Thursday that he was standing outside a police station near the Mississippi River when he saw a car followed by a pickup truck driving on a levee. McRae was driving the car and Scheuermann was driving the truck, according to prosecutors.

Moments after the car drove off the levee, Meisch saw a plume of thick, black smoke.

Meisch didn’t know who was driving the vehicles until McRae and Scheuermann ran toward him.
Scheuermann had a blank look on his face, but McRae was laughing, Meisch said.

“Laughing like somebody had just played a joke?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Knight asked.

“It could have been humorous or nervous laughter,” he said.

Meisch said he asked what had happened, and McRae told him not to worry about it.

“I got it,” Scheuermann added, according to Meisch.

McRae’s lawyer, Frank DeSalvo, has conceded that his client burned the body. DeSalvo said in his opening statement that McRae was under stress from Katrina’s harsh conditions when he made a “very bad decision” to toss a flare in the car. Jeffrey Kearney, one of Scheuermann’s attorneys, has said his client didn’t know McRae was going to set the car on fire.

Meisch said he didn’t check on the car until four or five days later. When he looked into the back seat, he saw what appeared to be a ribcage.

“It kind of actually scared me,” he said.

But he didn’t tell anybody about his discovery, assuming Scheuermann was handling it, Meisch said.

“It did raise some suspicion in my mind,” he said. “But, again, Lt. Scheuermann said he’s got it.”

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101118/ap_on_re_us/us_katrina_burned_body