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2011 July | 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 »

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Former Bush NSA director calls for ‘digital Blackwater’

Raw Story
July 30, 2011
By David Edwards

The man who headed the NSA and CIA under President George W. Bush suggested Friday that mercenaries were needed to deal with growing cyber threats.

Gen. Michael Hayden told the Aspen Security Forum that in the near future, the Department of Defense may have to allow the creation of a “digital Blackwater.”

Private sector offense “might be one of those big new ideas in terms of how we have to conduct ourselves in this new cyber domain,” Hayden explained. “You think back long enough in history and there are times when the private sector was responsible for its own defense.”

“We may come to a point where defense is more actively and aggressively defined even for the private sector and what is permitted there is something that we would never let the private sector do in physical space… Let me really throw out a bumper sticker for you. How about a digital Blackwater?” he suggested.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/07/former-bush-nsa-director-calls-for-digital-blackwater/

Police: 50,000 protest soaring housing prices in Tel Aviv

July 30, 2011
From Guy Azriel

Tel Aviv, Israel (CNN) — An estimated 50,000 demonstrators swept through the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to rail against soaring housing prices in Israel.

Tens of thousands of others took to the streets in nine other cities across in the Jewish state, voicing similar sentiments, said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, who also provided the crowd estimate in Tel Aviv.

Saturday’s protests were the latest and largest in a series of organized demonstrations, led by members of Israel’s middle class, over high cost of living that have posed a serious challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Activists have set up tent cities across the country to demand affordable housing and protest against what they describe as social injustice.

Demanding government action, many of the Tel Aviv marchers Saturday held up signs that read “the people demand social justice”, “welfare state now” and “when the government is against the people, the people are against the government.”

“I think it’s about time to say enough,” Liran Gurbacha, a protester in Tel Aviv, told CNN. “They open too many doors for rich people to make their own rules, to take our money to get richer. This is a democracy, it should act like that.”

While the majority of demonstrators were in their 20s and 30s, many senior citizens also came out to show their concern.

“When we were young and we left the kibbutz, we had nothing but we had hope,” said Miri Gilat, noting that young Israelis work hard with minimal return. “Now the young people don’t have any hope, and I cannot help them.”

Hundreds of policemen have been deployed nationwide related to the demonstrations, there were no reports of problems or violence, authorities said.

Full Article Here – http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/07/30/israel.protests/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Tank assault on Syria’s Hama kills 9: residents

July 30, 2011

Syrian forces killed at least nine civilians and wounded dozens in a major tank assault on the city of Hama that began at dawn on Sunday to crush pro-democracy demonstrations, residents said.

One of the residents, a doctor, said there were 51 people wounded at Badr hospital alone, which was running short of blood for transfusions. He said tanks had surrounded another main hospital, al-Horani.

Full Article Here – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/31/us-syria-idUSTRE76T02020110731

Teachers march on Washington

Washington Post 
July 30, 2011
By and Sarah Khan

There are many reasons thousands of teachers traveled across the country to protest in front of the White House on Saturday — including to oppose charter schools, to fight for equal funding for poor schools, and to have more say in public education policies.

But at a noisy rally starting at noon under soaring temperatures, their message boiled down to one point, which was summed up by the sound check before the first speaker took the stage:

Tap. Tap. “No testing, no testing, 1-2-3.”

The assembled teachers, education advocates and parents vented a frustration they said has been building since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, which made standardized testing the centerpiece of a school reform agenda championed by George W. Bush.

With the election of Barack Obama in 2008, many thought their long-standing complaints, about how the policy has imposed unfair penalties on the poorest schools and how it has narrowed curriculum to make time for test preparation, would finally be heard.

But three years later, the law is still intact, more schools are being labeled as failing, and standardized tests are starting to be used to make teacher tenure and termination decisions.

“We had reason to believe from his campaign promises that Obama was going to reverse the damage that this law has caused,” said Jonathan Kozol, a public education activist and author. “He has betrayed us. . . . That’s why we are here today.”

And so about 5,000 people, according to the organizers’ estimates, stood on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument and waved posters that read “Boycott NCLB” and “Teach Me, Don’t Just Test Me.”

A row of white tents on the edge of the crowd offered shade next to an art display of a graveyard meant to represent “the very real destruction that NCLB has brought to the important experiences and processes of learning.” Most teachers baked on the lawn, waving fans emblazoned with the Washington Teachers’ Union logo.

The “Save Our Schools March” was part of a four-day event including a two-day conference at American University with dozens of workshops, such as “Winning the Testing War” and “Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” There was also a half-day strategy session and a film festival, headlined by the documentary “The Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman,” a response to the 2010 film “Waiting for Superman,” which featured then-D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and which promoted charter schools.

Full Article Here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/teachers-march-on-washington/2011/07/30/gIQAz48zjI_story.html

Judge blasts prosecution of alleged NSA leaker

Washington Post
July 30, 2011

A federal judge harshly criticized U.S. prosecutors’ treatment of a former spy agency official accused of leaking classified material, calling delays in the now-closed case “unconscionable” and comparing it to British tyranny in the colonial era.

In 2007, FBI agents raided the house of Thomas Drake, then an official at the National Security Agency, but it took another 2 1 / 2 years for officials to indict him, Judge Richard D. Bennett said at a sentencing hearing earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, according to a transcript released Friday by the Secrecy News blog.

“And then, over a year later, on the eve of trial, in June of 2011, the government says, ‘Whoops, we dropped the whole case,’ ” Bennett said.

Drake was given a mild penalty for pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of exceeding authorized use of a computer: a year’s probation and 240 hours of community service. All 10 felony counts were dropped.

“That’s four years of hell that a citizen goes through,” Bennett said, according to the transcript. “It was not proper. It doesn’t pass the smell test.”

He went on: “I don’t think that deterrence should include an American citizen waiting two and a half years after their home is searched to find out if they’re going to be indicted or not. I find that unconscionable. Unconscionable. It is at the very root of what this country was founded on — against general warrants of the British.”

The prosecutor, William M. Welch III, who also headed the marred prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on corruption charges, had asked that Drake be fined $50,000 to serve as a deterrent and to “send a message” to other government employees who might contemplate leaking material to reporters.

Welch also complained that Drake had received a $10,000 prize for whistleblowing, a reference to the Ridenhour Prize given to Drake in April.

“At a minimum, the fine ought to be $10,000, but I would urge the court to impose the $50,000,” Welch said.
Bennett balked.

“There has been financial devastation wrought upon this defendant that far exceeds any fine that can be imposed by me. And I’m not going to add to that in any way,” said Bennett, who was nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2003.

Full Article Here  – http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/judge-blasts-prosecution-of-alleged-nsa-leaker/2011/07/29/gIQAfFcDiI_story.html

CIA and FBI Tried to Get U.S. Lawyer to Betray Arab Clients

Blacklisted News
July 29, 2011
By Sherwood Ross 

Federal agents from the FBI and CIA/FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force tried to get a distinguished international lawyer to inform on his Arab and Muslim clients in violation of their Constitutional rights to attorney-client privilege, this reporter has learned. When the lawyer refused, he said the FBI placed him on a “terrorist watch list.”
Law professor Francis Boyle gave a chilling account of how, in the summer of 2004, two agents showed up at his office (at the University of Illinois, Champaign,) “unannounced, misrepresented who they were and what they were about to my secretary, gained access to my office, interrogated me for about one hour, and repeatedly tried to get me to become their informant on my Arab and Muslim clients.”

“This would have violated their (clients) Constitutional rights and my ethical obligations as an Attorney,” Boyle explained. “I refused. So they put me on all of the United States government’s ‘terrorist watch’ lists.”
Boyle said his own lawyer found “there are about five or six different terrorist watch lists, and as far as he could determine, I am on all of them.” Despite a legal appeal to get his name removed, Boyle said, “I will remain on all of these terrorist watch lists for the rest of my life or until the two Agencies who put me on there remove my name, which is highly unlikely.”
“Whatever people might think about lawyers, we are the canary-birds of democracy. When the government goes after your lawyer soon they will be going after you,” Boyle warned. “Indeed,” he added, “the government goes after your lawyer in order to get to you, which is what happened to me. This is what the so-called ‘war against terrorism’ is really all about. It is a war against the United States Constitution.”
Boyle is a leading American professor and practitioner of international law. He holds doctorates in both law (cum laude) and Political Science from Harvard and has more than two decades of experience representing pacifist anti-war resisters, suspects in the so-called “War on Terror” and foreign governments such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is the author of numerous books, including “Protesting Power,” (Rowman & Littlefield), “Biowarfare and Terrorism,”(Clarity) and “Destroying World Order”(Clarity).
Writing of the attorney-client privilege, the American Bar Association has defined it as “the right of clients to refuse to disclose confidential communications with their lawyers, or to allow their lawyers to disclose them.” It further states the privilege “is viewed as fundamental to preserve the constitutionally based right to effective assistance of legal counsel, in that lawyers cannot function effectively on behalf of their clients without the ability communicate with them in confidence.”
The attempt by the government to destroy the Constitutional right of privileged communication between lawyer and client began in earnest after 9/11 when the Justice Department initiated a wave of such illegal actions. According to an article in “Criminal Justice Magazine,” Summer, 2002, “Immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a controversial order that permits the government to monitor all communications between a client and an attorney when there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ to ‘believe that a particular inmate may use communications with attorneys or their agents to further or facilitate acts of violence or terrorism.” That order “raises a wide range of constitutional concerns under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments,” authors Paul Rice and Benjamin Saul wrote.

Chiquita Can’t Shuck Colombia Terror Claims

Courthouse News Service
July 29, 2011

 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – Relatives of banana-plantation workers, political and social activists, and other civilians killed by Colombian paramilitary forces may sue Chiquita over claims of torture, extrajudicial killings, war crimes and crimes against humanity, a federal judge ruled.
In a multidistrict litigation, the plaintiffs accused Chiquita Brands International and Chiquita Fresh North America of complicity in hundreds of deaths because of its direct and indirect payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish abbreviation AUC). Chiquita was also allegedly involved with arms shipments into Colombia.
The AUC was created in the 1990s to fight left-wing guerillas led by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which have been engaged in a decades-long conflict with the Colombian government. The AUC, claiming to have 11,000 members by 2001, terrorized civilians throughout Colombia, engaging in executions, rape, torture and large-scale attacks on civilians whom the AUC considered guerrilla supporters or sympathizers. The AUC also targeted “socially undesirable” groups, such as indigenous persons, people with psychological problems, drug addicts and prostitutes.
Although the Colombian government criminalized membership in and support of paramilitary groups in 1991, it allowed for the creation of private security groups known as “convivir” units, under AUC leadership. The units claimed to provide security from left-wing attacks in high-risk areas such as the Uraba region, where Chiquita operated its banana plantations.
The U.S. government designated the AUC as a foreign terrorist organization in September 2001.
The plaintiffs – all family members of AUC victims – claim Chiquita paid the AUC to drive the guerillas out of Chiquita’s banana-growing areas and used AUC forces to suppress union activity on the plantations.
Despite advice from U.S.-based counsel, Chiquita continued to pay the AUC through its Colombian subsidiary, Banadex, until February 2004. According to the plaintiffs’ complaints, Chiquita made direct payments to the AUC and also used the accounts of Banadex executives to indirectly fund the paramilitaries.

Full Article Here – http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/07/29/38588.htm

Anonymous says hacked U.S. government cyber supplier

July 31, 2011

Hackers with the loose-knit group Anonymous said on Friday they had broken into the network of U.S. government contractor Mantech International Corp and posted some NATO-related correspondence online.
Anonymous, tweeting as AnonymousIRC, offered the correspondence between Mantech and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as proof of the breach. Two involve NATO contracting offices, and one discusses deploying staffers to an unnamed “NATO Theater of Operations” for what appears to be tech services.

Mantech, which claims the U.S. Defense, State and Justice Departments among its clients, declined to comment. It offers cyber security among its services.

Hackers associated with Lulz Security and Anonymous have claimed responsibility for cyber attacks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Senate, Sony Corp websites and the website of Murdoch’s British newspaper group, News International, among others.

Authorities made some arrests in connection with the breaches, including a teenager detained at a house in the remote Shetland Islands, off Scotland’s northeast coast.

Full Article Here – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/29/us-cyber-mantech-idUSTRE76S6IB20110729?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FtechnologyNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Technology%29 

Let’s stop assuming the police are on our side

July 29, 2011

Can confidence in the Metropolitan police sink any lower? Even before the past few weeks revealed the possibility of their complicity in the News of the World hacking scandal, and the past few months their brutal attitude towards the policing of students and other protesters, there were many who already had reason to mistrust those who claim to be “working together for a safer London”.

Take Ann Roberts, a special needs assistant, who was recently given the go-ahead in the high court to challenge the allegedly racist way in which stop-and–search powers are used: her lawyers claim statistics indicate that a black person is more than nine times more likely to be searched than a white person.

Or take the family of Smiley Culture, still waiting for answers after the reggae singer died in a police raid on his home in March this year. They are campaigning on behalf of all those who’ve died in police custody. Inquest, a charity which deals with contentious death, particularly in police custody, reports that more than 400 people from black and ethnic minority communities have died in prison, police custody and secure training centres in England and Wales since 1990.

Ian Tomlinson’s family may finally be able to see some justice when PC Simon Harwood comes to court in October on manslaughter charges, but if the story had not been tenaciously pursued by journalists (particularly the Guardian’s Paul Lewis) the police would no doubt be sticking to their line that a man had merely collapsed at the G20 protests and that missiles had been thrown at medics when they tried to help him.

The appointment of Cressida Dick as head of counter-terrorism following John Yates’s resignation is similarly unlikely to inspire confidence in anyone who remembers her role in authorising the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, mistaken for a terror suspect because an officer decided he had “distinctive Mongolian eyes“.

One of the positive effects of “citizen journalism” is how much harder it makes it for the authorities to disseminate disinformation, such as the stories put out by the Met concerning Tomlinson’s death. More recently, in the case of the arrests of UK Uncut protesters in Fortnum & Mason, video footage of chief inspector Claire Clark deceiving the group into a mass arrest has proved highly embarrassing to the police, who nevertheless freely admit that arrests at protests are part of an ongoing intelligence-gathering operation.
The use of undercover police officers, such as Mark Kennedy, recently found to have unlawfully spied on environmental activists, has further increased suspicions regarding the motivations for police spying, not to mention the fact that its illegality makes it wholly ineffective against those it would seek to prosecute. It is cheering to see those targeted fighting back against such criminalisation of legitimate protest, particularly among those too young to vote, such as Adam Castle, who is taking the police to court over kettling at a student protest last November.

But given the many allegations of police corruption, racism, spying and death in their supposed care, why does anyone feel safe when the police are around? Robert Reiner, professor of criminology at LSE and author of The Politics of the Police, describes the phenomenon of “police fetishism” in the following way: “the ideological assumption that the police are a functional prerequisite of social order so that without a police force chaos would ensue”. In fact, as Reiner points out, many societies have existed without an official police force or with very different models of policing in place. While it may be hard to imagine Britain without a police force of some kind, it is increasingly clear that those who “protect” its largest city are far from doing any such thing.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/26/metropolitan-police-arrests-hacking 

Anonymous no more

The Economist
July 29, 2011

IF YOUR face and name are anywhere on the web, you may be recognised whenever you walk the streets—not just by cops but by any geek with a computer. That seems to be the conclusion from some new research on the limits of privacy.

For suspected miscreants, and people chasing them, face-recognition technology is old hat. Brazil, preparing for the soccer World Cup in 2014, is already trying out pairs of glasses with mini-cameras attached; policemen wearing them could snap images of faces, easy to compare with databases of criminals. More authoritarian states love such methods: photos are taken at checkpoints, and images checked against recent participants in protests.

But could such technology soon be used by anyone at all, to identify random passers-by and unearth personal details about them? A study which is to be unveiled on August 4th at Black Hat, a security conference in Las Vegas, suggests that day is close. Its authors, Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross and Fred Stutzman, all at America’s Carnegie Mellon University, ran several experiments that show how three converging technologies are undermining privacy. One is face-recognition software itself, which has improved a lot. The researchers also used “cloud computing” services, which provide lots of cheap processing power. And they went to social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, where most users post real names and photos of themselves.

In their first experiment, the researchers collected images from 5,000 profiles of people on a popular American dating site in a particular city—most of whom used pseudonyms. They fed the pictures into an off-the-shelf face-recognition programme that compared them with 280,000 images they had found by using a search engine to identify Facebook profiles from the same city. They discovered the identity of just over a tenth of the folk from the dating site.

That might not seem a big percentage, but the hit rate will get better as face-recognition software improves and more snaps are uploaded. The researchers did a second experiment: they took webcam photos of 93 students on Carnegie Mellon’s campus, with their assent. These were fed into the face-recognition software along with 250,000 photos gleaned from publicly available profiles on Facebook. About a third of students in the test were identified.

Full Article Here – http://www.economist.com/node/21524829