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 »

anon

‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

Business Insider Mar. 2, 2012 By Michael Kelley Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted More »

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Ex-cops go to prison in post-Katrina killing

Associated Press
Mar. 31, 2011
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

NEW ORLEANS – Calling the crimes inexcusable and barbaric, a judge sentenced two former New Orleans police officers to prison Thursday for their roles in the shooting death of an unarmed man whose body was later set on fire in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The 25-plus years David Warren received for shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover to death was the stiffest punishment so far in the Justice Department’s investigations of post-Katrina police misconduct. Ex-officer Gregory McRae was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for burning Glover’s body after he was gunned down.


U.S. District Judge Lance Africk rejected the notion that the cases would deter officers in the future from staying after a storm to protect the public. When Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, many officers fled the city, leaving the police department with depleted forces. The National Guard was eventually dispatched to help prevent looting and control much of the city.

Warren said he thought Glover had a gun and posed a threat when he shot him outside a police substation at a strip mall. The judge called his testimony absurd.

“Henry Glover was not at the strip mall to commit suicide. He was there to retrieve some baby clothing,” Africk said. “You killed a man. Despite your tendentious arguments to the contrary, it was no mistake.”

Prosecutors said Glover wasn’t armed when Warren shot him in the back. A good Samaritan drove Glover’s body to a police compound at a school. McRae commandeered the vehicle and set it on fire nearby.

“Your conduct was barbaric,” Africk told McRae. “The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was made uglier by your disturbing actions. … At a time when more was expected of you, you failed miserably.”

Lawyers for the men argued they deserved some leniency, partly because of the horrific conditions and chaos following the hurricane.

“I’m not saying what Mr. McRae did was right,” said his attorney, Frank DeSalvo. “It was foolish (but) there’s no way he anticipated the pain and suffering it would cause another man’s family.”

McRae could have received 50 years and Warren faced up to life in prison. Both faced mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said the judge’s sentences fell within the guidelines, but he couldn’t elaborate. Africk also ordered Warren to pay Glover’s family $7,642 for funeral expenses.

Edna Glover, Henry’s mother, said after the hearing that she was satisfied with the punishments.

“I forgive these men because if I don’t forgive them Jesus won’t forgive me,” she told the judge.

Rebecca Glover, Henry’s aunt, said she had expected Warren and McRae to get stiffer sentences.

“It’s a joke and I’m very, very upset about it,” she said.

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

No haven for many of world’s refugees

The Toronto Star
Mar. 30, 2011
By Olivia Ward

As Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vows to evacuate 6,200 refugees fleeing North African turmoil from the island of Lampedusa, hundreds more are headed for its shores in rickety boats.

Meanwhile, refugee camps on the borders of Tunisia and Egypt house thousands of destitute migrants who fear violence in Libya.

And millions of Iraqis and Afghans are still homeless after years in exile from continuing conflicts.

Although numbers of people seeking refuge in the West from turmoil and repression dropped to about 360,000 in 2010, the Middle Eastern uprisings may bring another spike by the end of this year.


About 15 million people are currently refugees outside their own countries, according to the UN’s refugee agency, and a record 27 million are internally displaced by violence and natural disasters.

The urgent needs of refugees are one of the biggest ethical challenges of our times. But says Canadian writer Andy Lamey, author of a new book, Frontier Justice, many western countries are failing to meet it, including Canada.

And he says there must be new solutions that neither ignore their right to refuge nor the sovereignty of countries that are asked to take them in.

“Most western states are disappointing in this area,” says Lamey, who lives in Australia. “Refugees represent the shadow side of ourselves that we don’t want to think about or look at. Often the public is indifferent about extending protection, and governments are responding to that.”

Insisting on the right to asylum, he says, isn’t the most effective way to help refugees, at a time when countries are growing more resistant to newcomers and the global financial crisis has helped to harden attitudes.

Instead, countries should embrace the right of “non-refoulement,” not necessarily granting asylum, but allowing refugees to be transferred to a country that would accept them.

But, he admits, finding a “liberal state” that accepts refugees is becoming more difficult as countries close ranks and shun the burden of asylum-seekers.

“A race to the bottom is a common occurrence. As one country makes access more difficult, it puts pressure on others. Even if their systems become harsher, they still have a problem if they aren’t as harsh as their neighbours.”

Full Article Here – http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/966090–no-haven-for-many-of-world-s-refugees

Liberal groups call for GE’s Jeffrey Immelt to resign from White House jobs council

Washington Post
Mar. 30, 2011
By Perry Bacon Jr.

Two liberal groups Wednesday called for General Electric Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt to step down as the head of the White House’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness following a report that GE paid no federal taxes last year despite more than $14 billion in profits.

“One of the chief ways GE avoids paying taxes is by shifting a large portion of its profits overseas,and jobs follow.
Now GE’s CEO is the person charged with helping the President create jobs here in America. That’s just perverse, “ the groups MoveOn.org and Progressives United told supporters in an e-mail message.

Full Article Here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/44/post/liberals_call_for_immelt_to_step_down/2011/03/30/AF32TW4B_blog.html?wprss=rss_politics

Shrimp Trawlers Have Started Dredging Up BP Oil In The Gulf Of Mexico

Business Insider
Mar. 30, 2011
By John Amos

As the federal government proceeds with a long and complicated legal and scientific process, the Natural Resources Damage Assessment, they are holding a series of public meetings to get input and comments from affected Gulf-area residents. At a meeting last week in Biloxi, Mississippi,

Vietnamese shrimpers said they have pulled up nets full of oil from the seafloor and have had to decide whether to report the oil to the Coast Guard, which would mean dumping their day’s catch, or pretend they don’t see the oil.
John Lliff, a supervisor with NOAA’s Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program, said no one knows how much of the seafloor is covered in oil.


Until the oil totally disappears, it seems highly likely that this will continue. But we don’t have a clue how long the oil will linger, or what the impacts of this would be on the health of fishermen, the recovery of the Gulf ecosystem, or the safety of seafood.

Bahraini “Blogfather” Mahmood Al-Yousif Arrested

Global Voices
Mar. 29, 2011

Shortly after 3am local time, prominent Bahraini blogger Mahmood al-Yousif was arrested in his home. Before leaving with police officers, the blogger tweeted: “Police here for me”. 

Al-Yousif is an influential blogger whose writings of late have been in favor of unifying Bahrainis. On March 15, he wrote:

“[I] choose to come back [to Bahrain] to continue to espouse sanity and tolerance. To continue to try to show people that regardless of their beliefs, status or wealth, our destinies as Bahrainis are intertwined and it behoves us to find equitable ways to live together and ameliorate our differences.”

Full Article Here – http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2011/03/30/bahraini-blogfather-mahmood-al-yousif-arrested/

Syria offers concessions amid wave of unrest

Associated Press
Mar. 29, 2011
By ZEINA KARAM

DAMASCUS, Syria – Facing an extraordinary wave of popular dissent, Syrian President Bashar Assad fired his Cabinet on Tuesday and promised to end widely despised emergency laws — concessions unlikely to appease protesters demanding sweeping reforms in one of the most hard-line nations in the Middle East.

The overtures, while largely symbolic, are a moment of rare compromise in the Assad family’s 40 years of iron-fisted rule. They came as the government mobilized hundreds of thousands of supporters in rallies in the capital and elsewhere, in an effort to show it has wide popular backing.

Nearly every aspect of Syrian society is monitored and controlled by the security forces, and the feared secret police crush even the smallest rumblings of opposition. Draconian laws have all but eradicated civil liberties and political freedoms.


But with the protests that erupted on March 18, thousands of Syrians appear to have broken through a barrier of fear in this tightly controlled nation of 23 million.

“Syria stands at a crossroads,” said Aktham Nuaisse, a leading human rights activist.

“Either the president takes immediate, drastic reform measures, or the country descends into one of several ugly scenarios. If he is willing to lead Syria into a real democratic transformation, he will be met halfway by the Syrian people,” Nuaisse said.

The coming days will be key to determining whether Assad’s concessions will quiet the protest movement, which began after security forces arrested several teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on a wall in the impoverished city of Daraa in the south.

The protests spread to other provinces and the government launched a swift crackdown, killing more than 60 people since March 18, according to Human Rights Watch. However, the violence has eased in the past few days and some predict the demonstrations might quickly die out if the president’s promises appear genuine.

“People are tired from all this pressure and violence and I think if he (Assad) shows he’s taken the people’s demands seriously, they might stop,” said a protester in Daraa who gave only his first name, Ibrahim, for fear of reprisals by security forces. “We’re all waiting for his speech.”

Still, tensions remained high in Daraa, where several hundred people were still staging a sit-in Tuesday, and in the Mediterranean port of Latakia, which has a potentially volatile mix of different religious groups.

Assad, who inherited power 11 years ago from his father, appears to be following the playbook of other autocratic leaders in the region who scrambled to put down popular uprisings by using both concessions and brutal crackdowns.

The formula failed in Tunisia and Egypt, where popular demands increased almost daily — until people accepted nothing less than the ouster of the regime.

The unrest in Syria, a strategically important country, could have implications well beyond its borders given its role as Iran’s top Arab ally and as a front line state against Israel.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_on_bi_ge/ml_syria

Records Show 56 Safety Violations at U.S. Nuclear Power Plants in Past 4 Years

ABC News
Mar. 29, 2011
By PIERRE THOMAS, JACK CLOHERTY AND ANDREW DUBBINS

Among the litany of violations at U.S. nuclear power plants are missing or mishandled nuclear material, inadequate emergency plans, faulty backup power generators, corroded cooling pipes and even marijuana use inside a nuclear plant, according to an ABC News review of four years of Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety records.

And perhaps most troubling of all, critics say, the commission has failed to correct the violations in a timely fashion.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has very good safety regulations but they have very bad enforcement of those regulations,” said David Lochbaum, a nuclear scientist with the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists.
There are 104 U.S. nuclear power plants.


Lochbaum and the Union of Concerned Scientists found 14 “near misses” at nuclear plants in 2010. And there were 56 serious violations at nuclear power plants from 2007 to 2011, according the ABC News review of NRC records.

At the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant in Illinois, for instance, which is located within 50 miles of the 7 million people who live in and around Chicago, nuclear material went missing in 2007. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the operator — Exelon Corp. — after discovering the facility had failed to “keep complete records showing the inventory [and] disposal of all special nuclear material in its possession.”

As a result, two fuel pellets and equipment with nuclear material could not be accounted for.

Exelon did not contest the violation and paid the fine, a company spokesman said. “We took the learnings from that violation with respect to ways we can improve our spent-fuel practices,” Marshall Murphy said.

Two years later, federal regulators cited Dresden for allowing unlicensed operators to work with radioactive control rods. The workers allowed three control rods to be moved out of the core. When alarms went off, workers initially ignored them.

Full Article Here – http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-nuclear-power-plants-safe/story?id=13246490

Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolution

Market Watch
Mar. 29, 2011
By Paul B. Farrell

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Yes, tax the Super Rich. Tax them now. Before the other 99% rise up, trigger a new American Revolution, a meltdown and the Great Depression 2.

Revolutions build over long periods — to critical mass, a flash point. Then they ignite suddenly, unpredictably. Like Egypt, started on a young Google executive’s Facebook page. Then it goes viral, raging uncontrollably. Can’t be stopped. Here in America the set-up is our nation’s pervasive “Super-Rich Delusion.”

We know the Super Rich don’t care. Not about you. Nor the American public. They can’t see. Can’t hear.
Stay trapped in their Forbes-400 bubble. An echo chamber that isolates them. They see the public as faceless workers, customers, taxpayers. See GOP power on the ascent. Reaganomics is back. Unions on the run. Clueless masses are easily manipulated.


Even Obama is secretly working with the GOP, will never touch his Super Rich donors. Yes, the Super-Rich Delusion is that powerful, infecting all America.

Here’s how one savvy insider who knows described this Super-Rich Delusion: “The top 1% live privileged lives, aren’t worried about much. Families vacation at the best resorts. Their big concerns are finding the best Pilates teacher, best masseuse, best surgeons, best private schools. They aren’t concerned with the underlying deterioration of America or the world, except in the abstract, because they aren’t directly affected by it.

That’s not to say they aren’t sympathetic, aware, or don’t talk about the issues you bring up. They are largely concerned with protecting and enhancing their socio-economic positions, ensuring their families live well. And nothing you write about will change things.”

Warning, in 2011 that attitude is delusional, deadly, yet pervasive in America.

Super Rich replaying “Great Gatsby” age, won’t learn till it’s too late

Our top 1% honestly believe they’re immune, protected from the unintended consequences of beating down average Americans for three decades with the free-market, trickle-down Reaganomics doctrines that made them Super Rich.

They honestly believe those same doctrines will protect them in the next depression. Why? Because they have megabucks stashed away. Provisions for the long haul. Live in gated compounds with mercenaries guarding them.

They believe they’ll continue living just fine in a depression. But you won’t. Nor will your retirement. Neither will the rest of America. And still the Super Rich don’t care, “except in the abstract, because they aren’t directly affected.”

Warning: The Super-Rich Delusion has pushed us to the edge of a great precipice: Remember the Roaring Twenties? The Crash of 1929? Great Depression? Just days before the crash one leading economist, Irving Fisher, predicted that stocks had “reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

Yes, he was trapped in the “Great Gatsby Syndrome,” an earlier version of today’s Super-Rich Delusion. It was so blinding in 1929 that the president, Wall Street, all America were sucked in … until the critical mass hit a mysterious flash point, triggering the crash.

Yes, we’re reliving that past — never learn, can’t hear. And oddly it’s not just the GOP’s overreach, the endlessly compromising Obama, too-greedy-to-fail Wall Street banksters, U.S. Chamber of Commerce billionaires and arrogant Forbes 400. America’s entire political, financial and economic psyche is infected, as if our DNA has been rewired.

The Collective American Brain is trapped in this Super-Rich Delusion, replaying the run-up to the ’29 Crash.

Nobody predicted 2011 revolutions in the oil-rich Arab world either

Warning: Mubarak, Gaddafi, Ali, Assad, even the Saudis also lived in the Super-Rich Delusion. Have for a long time. Were vulnerable. Ripe for a revolution. They, too, honestly believed they were divinely protected, chosen for great earthly wealth, enjoyed great armies.

Then, suddenly, out of the blue, a new “educated, unemployed and frustrated” generation turned on them, is now rebelling, demanding their share of economic benefits, opportunities, triggering revolutions, seeking retribution.

Still, you don’t believe there’s a depression ahead here in America? The third great market crash of the 21st century? A new economic revolution about to blow up in our faces? No, you don’t believe, can’t believe … you, me, we are all infected by the Super-Rich Delusion, just as Americans were in the Roaring Twenties.

Check the stats folks: The last time America’s wealth gap between the Super Rich and the other 99% was this big was just before the 1929 Crash and the Great Depression.

Full Article Here – http://www.marketwatch.com/story/story/print?guid=CA183FE6-5966-11E0-9F0E-00212804637C

Walmart’s women workers take case to Supreme Court

AFP
Mar. 29, 2011

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a potentially landmark labor case on whether 1.5 million women employed by retail giant Wal-Mart can file a discrimination lawsuit as one unified group.

Female workers at the company, which is America’s largest employer, claim that over the years, they systematically received lower pay than their male counterparts and were passed over for promotions, and are asking the US high court for the right to pursue legal action against the company as a group.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs note that women at Wal-Mart make up about two-thirds of the hourly workers, but are only a fraction of store managers.

They also point out that in nearly every job category, women earned less than men, even though most had logged more years with the company than their male counterparts.


The women are seeking back wages they believe they are owed and punitive damages against Wal-Mart, as well as a change in its pay practices, which would affect both current and past company employees.

“Plaintiffs presented evidence that Wal-Mart managers undervalued women and espoused outdated stereotypes about their roles in the workplace,” said Ariela Migdal, staff attorney with the Women’s Rights
Project at the American Civil Liberties, which has filed a friend of the court brief in the case.

“The women allege that Wal-Mart’s nationwide practice of leaving pay and promotion decisions up to local managers allowed the stereotypes to limit their opportunities. Because of this, the women should be able to pursue their class action,” said Migdal.

If the court allows the women to sue en bloc, the case would constitute the largest job-discrimination case in US history, with tens of billions of dollars at stake.

Even more significantly, the ruling is expected to set a precedent for future labor discrimination lawsuits, opening the door for a possible flood of broadly defined “class action” cases on behalf of women, minorities and people with disabilities.

Legal observers say it is unlikely to rule in favor of the women, noting the US high court’s pro-business, free market bias.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110329/ts_alt_afp/usjusticecompanywalmartsocialwomen_20110329074813 

Toxic plutonium seeping from Japan’s nuclear plant

AFP
Mar. 28, 2011
By YURI KAGEYAMA and SHINO YUASA

TOKYO – Highly toxic plutonium is seeping from the damaged nuclear power plant in Japan’s tsunami disaster zone into the soil outside, officials said Tuesday, heightening concerns about the expanding spread of radiation.

Plutonium was detected at several spots outside the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant — the first confirmed presence of the dangerously radioactive substance, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

There are strong indications some of the radioactivity is coming from damaged nuclear fuel rods, a worrying development in the race to bring the power plant under control, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday.


“The situation is very grave,” Edano told reporters. “We are doing our utmost efforts to contain the damage.”

Officials said the traces of plutonium posed no immediate threat to public health. But the latest finding appeared to feed government frustration with TEPCO, which has failed to stem the crisis more than two weeks after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant.

The failure to keep radioactive substances from seeping out of the facility was “deplorable,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The government is considering temporarily nationalizing the troubled nuclear plant operator, Japan’s top-selling daily Yomiuri said Tuesday, quoting unnamed government sources.

The huge tsunami spawned by the earthquake destroyed the power systems needed to cool the nuclear fuel rods in the complex, 140 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo.

Since then, three of the complex’s six reactors are believed to have partially melted down, and emergency crews have struggled with everything from malfunctioning pumps to dangerous spikes in radiation that have forced temporary evacuations of workers. Residents within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius of the plant have been urged to leave or stay indoors.

Confusion at the plant has intensified fears that the nuclear crisis will continue for months or even years amid alarms over radiation making its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far away as Tokyo.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_on_bi_ge/as_japan_earthquake