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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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

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The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

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‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Righthaven faces PR problem in suit against N.C. man

Las Vegas Sun
Feb. 28, 2011
By Steve Green

One of the Righthaven LLC copyright infringement lawsuits over the Denver Post “TSA enhanced pat-down” photo has turned into a public relations debacle for Las Vegas-based Righthaven.

Defendant Brian D. Hill of the North Carolina-based website uswgo.com has been telling his story to The Associated Press, North Carolina and Virginia television stations and to Colorado media outlets.

He’s often portrayed as a sympathetic victim of Righthaven with Hill, 20, saying in his court response he can’t afford to pay for a lawyer or Righthaven’s $6,000 settlement offer and that he has diabetes, hyperactive attention disorder and mild autism.

The lawsuit is reminiscent of earlier image problems for Righthaven when it sued Las Vegas Review-Journal source Anthony Curtis over a story he had made possible and when it sued unemployed Boston cat blogger Allegra Wong over a post on her nonprofit site.

In the Colorado case, look for Righthaven to quickly offer a more favorable settlement to Hill.


Otherwise, Righthaven is going to be dealing with attorney David Stevens Kerr of Santangelo Law Offices P.C. in Fort Collins, Colo., who has stepped up to defend Hill. Santangelo Law Offices specializes in intellectual property litigation, i.e. patent, trademark and copyright lawsuits.

Full Article Here – http://www.lasvegassun.com/blogs/business-notebook/2011/feb/28/roundup-righthaven-faces-pr-problem-suit-against-n/

More tiny dolphins wash ashore in Mississippi and Alabama

Sun Herald
Feb. 28, 2011
By KAREN NELSON

GULFPORT — The phenomenon of new born or stillborn baby dolphins washing ashore from the Gulf or the Mississippi Sound continued through the weekend and today.

The total in Mississippi and Alabama alone is 36 calves and eight adults or young adults, as of mid-day today.

The number is higher, if you include all four of the northern Gulf states effected by the BP oil spill. But researchers in Mississippi and Alabama that are concerned about the sharp spike in the number of dead newborns along the coasts of the two states before the birthing season for dolphins gets fully under way.
At this time last year, there had been two reported and in the first two months of 2009, there had been one.
On Saturday, one calf was confirmed dead on Cat Island. On Sunday, calves were found on West Point Island near Dauphin Island, near a river in Mobile Bay and on the beach in Gulfport. Today, there was one in Gulfport and one in Pass Christian.

Special Report: U.S. cables detail Saudi royal welfare program

Reuters
Feb. 28, 2011
By Simon Robinson

LONDON (Reuters) – When Saudi King Abdullah arrived home last week, he came bearing gifts: handouts worth $37 billion, apparently intended to placate Saudis of modest means and insulate the world’s biggest oil exporter from the wave of protest sweeping the Arab world.

But some of the biggest handouts over the past two decades have gone to his own extended family, according to unpublished American diplomatic cables dating back to 1996.

The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Reuters, provide remarkable insight into how much the vast royal welfare program has cost the country — not just financially but in terms of undermining social cohesion.


Besides the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives, the cables detail various money-making schemes some royals have used to finance their lavish lifestyles over the years. Among them: siphoning off money from “off-budget” programs controlled by senior princes, sponsoring expatriate workers who then pay a small monthly fee to their royal patron and, simply, “borrowing from the banks, and not paying them back.”

As long ago as 1996, U.S. officials noted that such unrestrained behavior could fuel a backlash against the Saudi elite. In the assessment of the U.S. embassy in Riyadh in a cable from that year, “of the priority issues the country faces, getting a grip on royal family excesses is at the top.”

A 2007 cable showed that King Abdullah has made changes since taking the throne six years ago, but recent turmoil in the Middle East underlines the deep-seated resentment about economic disparities and corruption in the region.

A Saudi government spokesman contacted by Reuters declined to comment.

MONTHLY CHEQUES

The November 1996 cable — entitled “Saudi Royal Wealth: Where do they get all that money?” — provides an extraordinarily detailed picture of how the royal patronage system works. It’s the sort of overview that would have been useful required reading for years in the U.S. State department.

Full Article Here – http://ca.news.yahoo.com/special-report-u-cables-detail-saudi-royal-welfare-20110228-024349-974.html

Libya: African mercenaries ‘immune from prosecution for war crimes’

Telegraph
Feb. 27, 2011
By Jon Swaine

The UN Security Council agreed on Saturday evening to freeze international assets belonging to the Gaddafis and their key aides, to ban them from travelling and to block all arms sales to Tripoli. It also called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the killings of demonstrators.
This inquiry could lead to senior Libyan ministers and officials being indicted to stand trial for crimes against humanity at The Hague and being given lengthy prison sentences.
But it has been widely alleged that many of the attacks were in fact carried out by foreign mercenaries hired by Colonel Gaddafi. And the US insisted that the UN resolution was worded so that no one from an outside country that is not a member of the ICC could be prosecuted for their actions in Libya.

This means that mercenaries from countries such as Algeria, Ethiopia and Tunisia – which have all been named by rebel Libyan diplomats to the UN as being among the countries involved – would escape prosecution even if they were captured, because their nations are not members of the court.
The move was seen as an attempt to prevent a precedent that could see Americans prosecuted by the ICC for alleged crimes in other conflicts. While the US was once among the signatories to the court, George W. Bush withdrew from it in 2002 and declared that it did not have power over Washington.

The key paragraph said that anyone from a non-ICC country alleged to have committed crimes in Libya would “be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction” of their own country. It was inserted despite Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, saying that all those “who slaughter civilians” would “be held personally accountable”.

Speaking to reporters outside the council chamber, Gerard Araud, the French UN ambassador, described the paragraph as “a red line for the United States”, meaning American diplomats had been ordered by their bosses in Washington to secure it. “It was a deal-breaker, and that’s the reason we accepted this text to have the unanimity of the council,” said Mr Araud.

Full Article Here – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8350968/Libya-African-mercenaries-immune-from-prosecution-for-war-crimes.html

Wisconsin officials decide not to evict protesters from Capitol

LA Times
Feb. 27, 2011
By Abby Sewell

Reporting from Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin authorities backed away Sunday from a threat to evict hundreds of labor rights demonstrators who have occupied the state Capitol for nearly two weeks.

Hordes of union members, students and activists staged the sleep-in to dramatize opposition to Republican Gov. Scott Walker‘s attempt to eliminate collective bargaining for most government workers.

The state Department of Administration had announced Friday that the Capitol would close at 4 p.m. Sunday for cleaning and reopen at 8 a.m. Monday. As the deadline approached, some demonstrators left. But hundreds remained, preparing for arrest.


About 7 p.m., Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said the remaining protesters could stay the night as long as they otherwise continued to abide by laws.

The Capitol sleep-in has been almost uniformly peaceful, with only a few arrests on minor charges, Tubbs said. Many police are sympathetic to the protesters’ cause, although most public safety employees are exempt from the bill.

Full Article Here – http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-wisconsin-unions-20110228,0,5205116.story

Calls on Facebook to oust Syria’s Assad

AFP
Feb. 27, 2011

NICOSIA (AFP) – A Facebook page has called for mass protests in Syria and in several Western countries against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

The organisers of the page, which had 25,000 fans early on Saturday, said the date for demonstrations to be held “in all Syrian cities” was being carefully studied and “will be determined in a few days.”

It urged “peaceful demonstrations in all Syrian cities, in Canada, in the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Australia” to demand Assad’s ouster.

Assad became president in 2000 after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, and was returned for a second seven-year term in a referendum in 2007 in which he was the only candidate.

The organisers say on the page that they do not belong to any party, but are “defenders of human rights, Syrian militants inside Syria and in Europe.”


Other similar Facebook pages have cropped up recently, particularly in support of Tal al-Mallouhi, a 19-year-old Syrian blogger who was sentenced last week to five years in prison after she was accused of working for the CIA.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110226/tc_afp/syriapoliticsinternetdemo

‘Anonymous’ targets the brothers Koch, claiming attempts ‘to usurp American Democracy’

Raw Story
Feb. 27, 2011
By Stephen C. Webster

The decentralized protest group “Anonymous” has a new target: no, it’s not a middle eastern dictator, a major bank or even a bit player in the military-industrial complex.

It’s none other than tea party financiers Charles and David Koch, who were being targeted, an open letter stated, for their attempts “to usurp American Democracy.”

“Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin,” an announcement posted to anonnews.org declared.

“Governor Walker’s union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process,” they explained. “The Koch’s have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state’s power supplies.


The group, which was responsible for taking MasterCard Worldwide offline for an entire day — along with numerous other organizations that plotted against secrets outlet WikiLeaks — said it would now be “actively seeking vulnerabilities” in Koch industries.

“In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed,” the release added. “Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America’s broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere.”

They added that if one would like to withdraw their unknowing support for the brothers Koch, an array of products would need to be boycotted — and not just by Americans, but people world-wide.

“Anonymous hears the voice of the downtrodden American people, whose rights and liberties are being systematically removed one by one, even when their own government refuses to listen or worse – is complicit in these attacks,” they continued. “We are actively seeking vulnerabilities, but in the mean time we are calling for all supporters of true Democracy, and Freedom of The People, to boycott all Koch Industries’ paper products. We welcome unions across the globe to join us in this boycott to show that you will not allow big business to dictate your freedom.”

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/27/anonymous-targets-the-brothers-koch-claiming-attempts-to-usurp-american-democracy/

Oman police kill two in clashes with protesters

Reuters
Feb. 27, 2011
By Saleh Al-Shaibany

MUSCAT (Reuters) – Omani police fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing protesters demanding political reform on Sunday, killing two people, and demonstrators set government buildings and cars ablaze, witnesses said.

Hours after the violence, Oman’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos, gave an order to create 50,000 jobs for citizens in the Gulf Arab state of 2.7 million people, 70 percent of whom are nationals.

All detained protesters were later freed, state media said.

The trouble in the northeastern port of Sohar, Oman’s main industrial center, was a rare sign of discontent in the normally sleepy sultanate and followed a wave of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world.


Witnesses said more than 2,000 protesters had gathered for a second day in a square in Sohar demanding political reforms, more jobs and better pay before police tried to disperse them, first with tear gas and batons and then rubber bullets.

“Two people have died after police fired rubber bullets into the crowd,” one witness told Reuters from Sohar. A third person was reported in critical condition after being shot.

Another witness said earlier police had used live ammunition, but that could not immediately be confirmed. Troops deployed in the area, but did not intervene, witnesses said.
 
Sultan Qaboos bin Said, trying to ease tensions in U.S. ally Oman, reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday, a week after a small protest in the capital Muscat. He has ruled for four decades, exercising absolute power. Political parties are banned.

RULER ISSUES JOB PLAN

“His Majesty Sultan Qaboos … issued n an order to employ 50,000 citizens,” the state news agency ONA said on Sunday. Each job-seeker would receive 150 rials ($389.6) a month, it said.

Mostly wealthy Gulf Arab countries have stepped up reform measures to appease their populations following popular unrest that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

Oman’s state news agency said riots in Sohar had destroyed public and private property but did not mention any deaths.

“Police and anti-riot units moved against this subversive group to protect citizens and their property, which led to some injuries,” the news agency said.

Smoke billowed over a square that has been the center of protests. A Reuters journalist said a local office of the Ministry of Manpower was on fire, and witnesses said the main police station and another state building were burning.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110227/ts_nm/us_oman_protests

Saudi activists call for sweeping reforms as king issues new orders to pre-empt dissent

Associated Press
Feb. 27, 2011
By Tarek El-Tablawy

CAIRO – More than 100 leading Saudi academics and activists urged King Abdullah to enact sweeping reforms, including setting up a constitutional monarchy, and he ordered Sunday that government sector workers with temporary contracts be given permanent jobs in order to pre-empt the unrest that has engulfed other Arab nations.

The activists’ statement, seen on several Saudi websites Sunday, reflects the undercurrent of tension that has simmered for years in the world’s largest oil producer. While Abdullah is seen as a reformer, the pace of those reforms has been slow as Saudi officials balance the need to push the country forward with the perennial pressure from hard-line clergy in the conservative nation.

“The current situation … is full of reasons for concern,” said the statement, which was signed by 119 academics, activists and businessmen. “We are seeing … a receding of Saudi Arabia’s prominent regional role for which our nation was known and the …. prevalence of corruption and nepotism, the exacerbation of factionalism and a widening in the gap between state and society.”


Detailing a list of economic and social ills in the kingdom, the activists said “the people’s consent is the sole guarantee for the unity and stability” and the people must be the source of power.

It said that while Saudi Arabia enjoys tremendous oil wealth, the money needs to be better distributed to the people instead of being channeled to expensive projects with few immediate benefits.

Abdullah has been pushing for reforms, setting up a coed research university in a country where the sexes are normally segregated and pressing ahead with construction of industrial and economic cities to diversify away from — and better capitalize on — the country’s oil economy.

Full Article Here – http://ca.news.yahoo.com/saudi-activists-call-sweeping-reforms-king-issues-orders-20110227-062826-541.html

G20 public inquiry needed: report

CBC News
Feb. 27, 2011

A full-scale public inquiry is needed in light of the widespread and violent trampling of civil rights by police at last summer’s G20 summit in Toronto, a report concludes.

The call for an inquiry is among recommendations in the report — by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and National Union of Public and General Employees — which is aimed at holding governments accountable and avoiding a recurrence.

“The many violations of civil liberties that occurred during the summit, such as illegal detentions and searches and excessive uses of force, cannot have simply been the actions of a few bad apples,” the report states.

“Rather, given the scope and severity of the violations of rights that occurred during the G20, it is difficult to view this situation as anything other than a failure of policy and training.”

The 59-page report — slated for release Monday — is the result of three days of public hearings in Toronto and Montreal in November.


Dozens of people caught up in the weekend mayhem last June — 1,105 people were arrested — spoke up, as did lawyers and academics.

Police refused to take part.

“Much of the testimony we heard was shocking and appalling,” said union president James Clancy. “Over and over again, witnesses recounted their experiences involving the excessive violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrators by police and the dehumanizing treatment of many of those who were detained.”

Speakers included Natalie Gray, 20, who alleges she was hit by police-fired rubber bullets while she and 150 others protested peacefully.

Among the photographs in the report is one of Revenue Canada worker John Pruyn, 58, who had his artificial leg yanked off by police who arrested him as he sat on the grass at the Ontario legislature.

The crackdown, which has spawned several lawsuits, intensified after a small group of vandals smashed windows and set fire to police cruisers as officers failed to intervene.

“In an effort to locate and frustrate a small cohort of vandals, police disregarded the constitutional rights of thousands,” the report states. “Peaceful protests were violently dispersed.”

Full Article Here – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/02/27/g20-report.html