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2011 October 8 | 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 »


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Daily Archives: October 8, 2011

Stop the War Coalition demo in London marks 10th anniversary of Afghan war

Oct. 8, 2011

The names of 120 servicemen and women who died serving in Afghanistan were read out at a protest in central London to mark the 10th anniversary of the war.

Hundreds of people attended the Stop the War Coalition demonstration in Trafalgar Square, led by a former soldier who refused to fight and a 106-year-old peace activist.

Ten dozen balloons were released into the air after protesters heard the names of the dead listed – one for each month since the war started.

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who was court martialled and jailed for refusing to serve, read out a letter to the prime minister signed by more than 20 British and American former servicemen.

He said: “We are making this statement in defiance of the propaganda and the lies in support of the so-called war on terror for the last 10 years.

“We know that these wars have nothing to do with democracy or security or women’s rights or peace or stability. They are fought for money and power and nothing else.

“Our comrades’ blood has lubricated the ambitions of the few.”

Hetty Bower, who was born in 1905, told demonstrators how she remembered the start of the first world war, and said “lies” were still told in order to justify conflict.

“I hear my father clearly saying: ‘So, we are at war. This is where the lies begin.’ And begin they did,” she said.

“We learned the Germans were cutting off the hands of the children in Belgium.

“The lies have changed, but they continue. May peace in the world prevail.”

Demonstrators applauded the speakers, who were introduced by the Stop the War Coalition
campaigner and Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Other people who addressed the crowd included Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of the former British prime minister Tony Blair, the campaigner Anas Altikriti and the Guardian journalist Seumas Milne.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/08/stop-the-war-coalition-demo 

Afghan Civilians Bear the Brunt of War Casualties

Voice of America
Oct. 8, 2011

By Sean Maroney

Statistics posted on iCasualties.org, an independent monitoring group, show that more than 2,700 foreign troops have died during the past 10 years in Afghanistan. But since the start of the decade-long war, Afghans themselves have suffered the brunt of the conflict with thousands of civilians being caught in the cross-hairs of the fight.

The start of the U.S.-led invasion against the Taliban 10 years ago marked the beginning of a new chapter in Afghanistan. Representatives with human rights groups say it should have ushered in a time of peace and prosperity after decades of war.

“After the Taliban regime was toppled, the public assumed that the wars had ended and innocent people would not be harmed and killed anymore,” said Ahmad Nadir Nadiry, Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

But those hopes did not last long, as insurgent and coalition attacks resulted in civilian deaths.

Four years ago, the United Nations’ Assistance Mission to Afghanistan started keeping track of the casualties.

Each year, the civilian death toll has risen, from more than 1,500 dead in 2007 to more than 2,700 in 2010. And in the first half of this year, the U.N. office reported there were 2,400 civilians killed in war-related incidents, causing grief to new families.

Full Article Here – http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Afghan-Civilians-Bear-the-Brunt-of-War-Casualties-131374253.html

2 Tibetans set selves on fire in latest protest

Associated Press
Oct. 7, 2011

BEIJING (AP) — Two Tibetan men set themselves on fire in southwest China in the latest self-immolation protest against the Chinese government, state media and a rights group reported Saturday.
The two former monks, 18-year-old Thongan and 20-year-old Tenzin, set themselves on fire in Aba county in Sichuan province’s Aba prefecture Friday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Xinhua cited an Aba county spokesman as saying the monks were rescued and were being treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

They are the fourth and fifth Tibetans to set themselves on fire in Aba county in the past two weeks. Aba prefecture has been the scene of numerous protests in past years against the Chinese government. Most are led by monks who are fiercely loyal to Tibet‘s exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled the Himalayan region in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and is reviled by Beijing.

Overseas Tibet activist groups gave slightly different accounts of the self-immolations. The Washington, D.C.-based International Campaign for Tibet said the two men were named Choephel, 19, and Kayang, 18, and that they clasped their hands together as they set themselves alight.

It and the London-based Free Tibet group said there were unconfirmed reports that Choephel died at the site.
Free Tibet said that it has heard that pamphlets were being distributed saying that if Chinese policies at Kirti monastery and in Aba town continued, “many more people were prepared to give up their lives in protest.”
Kirti monastery has seen recurring unrest against Chinese rule for the last three years. In March, Rigzin Phuntsog, a 21-year-old Kirti monk, died after setting himself on fire. Phuntsog’s death was seen as a protest against China’s heavy-handed controls on Tibetan Buddhism and provoked a standoff between security forces and monks.

Full Article Here  – http://news.yahoo.com/2-tibetans-set-selves-fire-latest-protest-020559143.html

11 Facts You Need To Know About The Nation’s Biggest Banks

Oct. 7, 2011
By Pat Garofalo

The Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York City more than three weeks ago have now spread across the country. The choice of Wall Street as the focal point for the protests — as even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said — makes sense due to the big bank malfeasance that led to the Great Recession.

While the Dodd-Frank financial reform law did a lot to ensure that a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis won’t occur — through regulation of derivatives, a new consumer protection agency, and new powers for the government to dismantle failing banks — the biggest banks still have a firm grip on the financial system, even more so than before the 2008 financial crisis. Here are eleven facts that you need to know about the nation’s biggest banks:

Bank profits are highest since before the recession…: According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., bank profits in the first quarter of this year were “the best for the industry since the $36.8 billion earned in the second quarter of 2007.” JP Morgan Chase is currently pulling in record profits.

…even as the banks plan thousands of layoffs: Banks, including Bank of America, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse, are planning to lay off tens of thousands of workers.

Banks make nearly one-third of total corporate profits: The financial sector accounts for about 30 percent of total corporate profits, which is actually down from before the financial crisis, when they made closer to 40 percent.

Since 2008, the biggest banks have gotten bigger: Due to the failure of small competitors and mergers facilitated during the 2008 crisis, the nation’s biggest banks — including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo — are now bigger than they were pre-recession. Pre-crisis, the four biggest banks held 32 percent of total deposits; now they hold nearly 40 percent.

The four biggest banks issue 50 percent of mortgages and 66 percent of credit cards: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup issue one out of every two mortgages and nearly two out of every three credit cards in America.

The 10 biggest banks hold 60 percent of bank assets: In the 1980s, the 10 biggest banks controlled 22 percent of total bank assets. Today, they control 60 percent.

Full Article Here – http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/10/07/338887/1-facts-biggest-banks/

Protests Swell in Bahrain After Boy’s Death

New York Times
Oct. 7, 2011

Large numbers of people filled the streets west of Bahrain’s capital, Manama, on Friday as a funeral march for a 16-year-old boy — who activists said was killed by the police — grew into one of the largest demonstrations in the tiny Gulf nation in recent weeks.

Toward evening, activists said the police began using tear gas and sound grenades to disperse the crowd as protesters lingered on a central highway after the funeral procession had broken up. Al Jazeera reported on its live blog that at least one person had been severely injured in the face. There were also reports of gunfire, though it was unclear what type of bullets were being used.

The protest, among the largest in the country since the Sunni monarchy put down an uprising in March with the help of forces from neighboring Saudi Arabia, was touched off by the death on Thursday of the teenager, identified by authorities as Ahmed Jaber.

It was the second time in two months that activists blamed the death of a young person on violent actions taken by Bahrain in response to ongoing — if diminished — protests around the country. In late August, a 14-year-old-boy died as security forces in Sitra, a restive village to the south of the capital, broke up a small protest; witnesses said he was hit in the chest by a tear gas canister.

Friday’s clashes followed a week in which the government of Bahrain took steps to present a less punitive approach to antigovernment protesters. On Wednesday, the government’s top prosecutor nullified harsh prison terms for medical workers handed down last week and ordered retrials. The prosecution of the medical workers had attracted negative international attention.

Activists at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights on Thursday said Ahmed had been killed in a confrontation with security forces during a protest near the capital in which he was fired on with a shotgun at close range.

The Bahrain News Agency confirmed the boy’s death but said there was confusion surrounding the circumstances in which he was killed and that an investigation had been ordered by the Interior Ministry. The news agency said that “a report by forensic experts of the Public Prosecution indicating that the death was the result of an injury by a police birdshot” — similar to what the activists described — but that another report from the hospital where he was taken attributed his death “to a severe drop in the blood circulation and the respiratory system that led to heart failure.”

The hospital, Bahrain International Hospital, is located in the Jidhafs area of the capital, and sits along Budaiya Highway.

Full Article Here – http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/protests-swell-in-bahrain-after-boys-death/

Homeland Security moves forward with ‘pre-crime’ detection

Oct. 7, 2011

An internal U.S. Department of Homeland Security document indicates that a controversial program designed to predict whether a person will commit a crime is already being tested on some members of the public voluntarily, CNET has learned.

If this sounds a bit like the Tom Cruise movie called “Minority Report,” or the CBS drama “Person of Interest,” it is. But where “Minority Report” author Philip K. Dick enlisted psychics to predict crimes, DHS is betting on algorithms: it’s building a “prototype screening facility” that it hopes will use factors such as ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate to “detect cues indicative of mal-intent.”

The latest developments, which reveal efforts to “collect, process, or retain information on” members of “the public,” came to light through an internal DHS document obtained under open-government laws by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. DHS calls its “pre-crime” system Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST.

“If it were deployed against the public, it would be very problematic,” says Ginger McCall, open government counsel at EPIC, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

It’s unclear why the June 2010 DHS document (PDF) specified that information is currently collected or retained on members of “the public” as part of FAST, and a department representative declined to answer questions that CNET posed two days ago.

Elsewhere in the document, FAST program manager Robert Middleton Jr. refers to a “limited” initial trial using DHS employees as test subjects. Middleton says that FAST “sensors will non-intrusively collect video images, audio recordings, and psychophysiological measurements from the employees,” with a subgroup of employees singled out, with their permission, for more rigorous evaluation.

Three women, two Liberians and a Yemeni, win Nobel Peace Prize

Los Angeles Times
Oct. 7, 2011

By Jeffrey Fleishman and Robyn Dixon

Reporting from Cairo and Johannesburg, South – Three women from Africa and the Middle East who symbolize nonviolent struggles to improve their nations and advance the role of women’s rights were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Sharing the award were Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state; her countrywoman Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist who challenged warlords; and Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni human rights leader seeking to overthrow an autocratic regime as part of the regionwide “Arab Spring” movement.

“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society,” said the citation read by Thorbjorn Jagland, head of the Nobel committee, based in Oslo.

The Norwegian panel said it hoped the award would help end “the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.”

The trio joined an exclusive group of about a dozen female Nobel peace laureates among the scores of men who have won the honor over the decades.

Gbowee’s associates have termed her a “warrior” for peace, and both Karman and Johnson-Sirleaf, who is facing a reelection vote Tuesday, have been nicknamed the “Iron Lady” in their countries.

There was “a lot of dancing and whooping and hollering” in Liberia’s presidential office, a Johnson-Sirleaf aide said, after the 72-year-old Harvard-educated economist heard the news.

Johnson-Sirleaf said that she was humbled by the prize, but that the credit went to the people of Liberia,

“We were really happy because it was a real surprise for us,” Elva Richardson, Johnson-Sirleaf’s personal administrative assistant, said in a phone interview. “We are conveying to [Liberian women] that this is a celebration, a prize for all Liberian women. They’re ecstatic.”

Full Article Here – http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-nobel-peace-women-20111008,0,5816697.story

Protesters take anti-war message to White House

Oct. 7, 2011

More than 200 protesters filed past the White House on Friday, denouncing the war in Afghanistan, as activists kept up their campaign in the US capital against corporate power.
“Drones flying, children dying, stop the war now,” chanted the marchers as they streamed through the heart of Washington, carrying model drones and banners that demanded an immediate NATO pullout from Afghanistan.
Some uniformed police stood by, mainly for traffic control, while a few of the protesters were seen mingling with foreign tourists who regularly gather on the public terrace outside the White House.

The late-morning march was part of a Stop the Machine rally that pitched camp in Freedom Plaza, mid-way between the Capitol and the White House, on Thursday, echoing the demands of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.
Stop the Machine is separate from Occupy DC, a younger group of about three dozen protesters that has settled into McPherson Square on K Street, where many political lobbyists have their offices.

Green Activist John Stewart Denied Entry To United States

Huffington Post
Oct. 7, 2011

Being escorted by six policemen at JFK Airport is a great way to jump the lines, green activist John Stewart tells The Huffington Post.

Stewart, chairman of Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN), was on his way to the U.S. for a cross-country tour to discuss aviation impacts and HACAN’s success in preventing expansion at Heathrow Airport. Instead, he was escorted by policemen off his Delta Airlines flight once it landed at JFK on September 29.

Reports of the incident said Stewart was escorted off the plane last Thursday because he had made a vague threat to President Obama during the flight, but he told HuffPost this is not what happened:

“We landed at JFK airport and all the passengers were moving around and an announcement came over asking everyone to take their seats. A moment or two later, six policemen came through the door. I didn’t think anything of it until they came up to me, they asked me if I was John Stewart, and then they escorted me off the plane,” he said.

“The sergeant asked, ‘Have you been making threats against the President and America?’ and I said, ‘No, of course not!’ Clearly, he had been told something and he wasn’t sure what to make of it. He started making calls, asking, ‘What are we doing with this guy?’”

Stewart was labeled Britain’s most effective green activist by the Independent on Sunday for his success in bringing together aviation-impacted communities, climate activists and fiscal conservatives. HACAN, Stewart’s organization, challenges the U.K. government’s policies on aviation. According to the website “Aviation Justice Express,” which is providing information about Stewart’s U.S. tour, many are concerned about the industry’s impact on the environment: “Aviation is the fastest-growing source of U.K. greenhouse gas emissions: aviation emissions had doubled since 1990, while emissions from all other activities had fallen nine percent.”

Stewart said he was escorted and held by immigration authorities for seven hours, where he was questioned at length by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“None of them asked me about threats. It seems a call had been made that a passenger, i.e. me, had been making threats against the President, and so my visa waiver was cancelled while I was in the air.
We heard later that the plane was given special approval to land early,” Stewart said.

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program allows residents from participating countries to travel to the U.S for business or tourism for 90 days or less without applying for a full travel visa.

“There was no mention of threats after the initial question by the policeman,” Stewart said. “It’s my own thinking that somebody rang them who clearly knows who I am, maybe someone in the aviation industry, but we’ll never know who. It might also have been a ploy just to interview me, I don’t know.”

Stewart said the FBI “didn’t seem to know much about” him and asked him questions about his tour. He said he handed them a booklet about the tour that mentioned civil disobedience and Dan Glass, who is involved in the U.K.-based, non-violent, direct-action organization Plane Stupid. The Daily Mail reported Glass superglued himself to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in July 2008 in protest of the Heathrow airport expansion. Stewart told HuffPost that Glass is still waiting for a full visa into the U.S. to be approved.

Full Article Here – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/06/john-stewart-denied-us-entry_n_996336.html?ir=Travel