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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U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

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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 »

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‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Reports: Police raid on Occupy LA encampment imminent

MSNBC
Nov. 30, 2011

LOS ANGELES — A raid on Occupy LA’s City Hall encampment was imminent Tuesday night as several local news sources reported that Los Angeles Police were gathering at Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided to evict the protesters after learning that children were staying in the camp.

Occupy LA’s Facebook page said city buses would be staged near City Hall between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., NBC station KNBC reported.

It was not known exactly when police would clear the area out, but about half the tents were gone, the KNBC report said.

Full Article Here – http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/30/9105583-reports-police-raid-on-occupy-la-encampment-imminent 

Lawsuit Filed In SF Says Police Used Excessive Force Against #OccupyCal

San Fransisco Appeal
Nov. 29, 2011
By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

Students and community members filed a lawsuit in federal court today alleging that police used excessive force against them during an Occupy Cal protest at the University of California at Berkeley on Nov. 9.

Attorney Ronald Cruz of the group By Any Means Necessary said 24 plaintiffs are named in the suit but he expects that number to increase because he believes many people suffered at the hands of police during the protest, which involved hundreds of people.

Cruz said the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeks unspecified general and punitive damages for the physical and emotional injuries the protesters suffered.


Named as defendants are UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau, other senior university administrators, UC Berkeley Police Chief Mitchell Celaya, Alameda County Sheriff Chief Gregory Ahern, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan and several police officers.

Cruz said the 41-page complaint includes detailed accounts of peaceful protesters being clubbed in the face, yanked by their hair, forcefully jabbed in their chests, stomachs, and groins, and beaten while lying on the ground.

Cruz said police continued to beat protesters even after they destroyed the protesters’ tents.

Full Article Here – http://sfappeal.com/news/2011/11/lawsuit-filed-in-sf-says-police-used-excessive-force-against-occupycal.php

Day of strikes as millions heed unions’ call to fight pension cuts

Guardian
Nov. 29, 2011
By, , and

The UK is experiencing the worst disruption to services in decades on Wednesday as more than 2 million public sector workers stage a nationwide strike, closing schools and bringing councils and hospitals to a virtual standstill.

The strike by more than 30 unions over cuts to public sector pensions started at midnight, leading to the closure of most state schools; cancellation of refuse collections; rail service and tunnel closures; the postponement of thousands of non-emergency hospital operations; and “horrific” delays at airports and ferry terminals.


The TUC said it was the biggest stoppage in more than 30 years and was comparable to the last mass strike by 1.5 million workers in 1979. Hundreds of marches and rallies are due to take place in cities and towns across the country.

Pickets began to form before dawn at many hospitals, Whitehall departments, ports and colleges.

The strikes have been called over government plans to overhaul pensions for all public sector workers, by cutting employer contributions, increasing personal contributions and, it emerged on Tuesday, increasing the state retirement age to 67 in 2026, eight years earlier than originally planned.

Union leaders were further enraged after George Osborne announced that as well as a public sector pay freeze for most until 2013, public sector workers’ pay rises would be capped at 1% for the two years after that.

In Scotland an estimated 300,000 public sector workers are expected to strike, with every school due to be affected after Scottish headteachers voted to stop work for the first time.

The UK Border Agency is braced for severe queues at major airports after learning that staffing levels at passport desks will be “severely below” 50% despite a successful appeal for security-cleared civil servants to volunteer.

“We will have the bare minimum to run a bare minimum service,” said a Whitehall insider. Many major public buildings and sites, including every port, most colleges, libraries, the Scottish parliament, major accident and emergency hospitals, ports and the Metro urban light railway around Newcastle and Sunderland will be picketed.

At Holyrood, Scottish government ministers and MSPs in the ruling SNP, the Liberal Democrats and Tories are expected to cross picket lines to stage a debate on public pensions; Labour and Scottish Green party MSPs will join the protesters.

Here are some of the actions across the country:

• In London up to 2,000 schools will be shut or affected, and ambulance crews will strike, there will be pickets in Whitehall, at universities, hospitals and a TUC regional march through the city from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to the embankment.

• In Scotland union leaders including Rodney Bickerstaff, general secretary of Unison, will march through central Edinburgh to a mass rally outside the Scottish parliament, with protests at Edinburgh castle, a major march and rally attended by Scottish union leaders in Glasgow, where civil servants will picket MoD and tax offices. There will be marches and protests in Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen.

• In southern and south-west England and Wales unions will hold marches and rallies in towns and cities including Brighton, Southampton, Bristol and Exeter, while a New Orleans-style marching band will lead a march through Cardiff.

• In the north-west up to 25 Cumbrian schools may open, the Mersey tunnel is expected to be closed, while in Liverpool protesters will be urged to sound car horns, blow vuvuzela horns, clap and shout at 1pm in an action dubbed “One Noise at One”.

• In the Midlands union general secretaries including the TUC leader Brendam Barber and Dave Prentis of Unison will lead a rally at the Birmingham Indoor Arena, while marches will be held in Nottingham.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/nov/30/public-sector-workers-strike-uk

Occupy San Diego Activist Arrested Over Voter Registration Table

San Diego Reader
Nov. 29, 2011
By Dave Rice

Occupy San Diego activist and former Congressional candidate Ray Lutz was arrested this afternoon on trespassing charges after he placed a table in Civic Center Plaza and attempted to conduct an impromptu voter registration drive.

Video shows at least five police officers participating in the arrest, as Lutz calmly states “I want to do voter registration and they’re not allowing me to,” as officers place him in handcuffs and lead him away from his table.

The arrest has immediately drawn complaints of selective law enforcement from various occupiers. We reported that as late as two weeks ago, groups representing the Democratic and Republican parties had placed tables and tents in the plaza without obtaining permits or requesting permission from police or the city. Both groups operated outside a naturalization ceremony for a period of hours without interference.

The arrest of Occupy activist Ray Lutz:

Full Article Here – http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2011/nov/29/occupy-san-diego-activist-arrested-over-voter-regi/ 

Protesters’ charges to be dropped

Omaha World-Herald
Nov. 29, 2011
By Roseann Moring

The city prosecutor plans to drop charges against three members of the Occupy Omaha protest, saying they meant no harm and wouldn’t break the law in the future.

The three — Kathryn D. Heil, 28; Nathaniel P. Davis, 31; and Benjamin H. Walden, 23 — said the decision vindicates their actions.

Omaha police arrested the three on the night of Nov. 3 when they refused to leave the protest site, a public lot at 24th and Farnam Streets. Each was charged with trespassing and refusal to leave.

City Prosecutor Marty Conboy said Occupy Omaha and the city have been cooperating in discussions on where the group can locate. “I think everyone has made it clear since these arrests that it’s not the intention of these parties to break the law,” he said.

Conboy said the cooperation shows that Omaha has “a good atmosphere of respectful discourse . which I think is a tremendous thing.”


Heil, Davis and Walden agreed.

“It’s very refreshing (after) hearing all the stories about people being pepper-sprayed and people being run out in riot gear,” said Walden, referring to Occupy movements in Oakland and Davis, Calif., and elsewhere that ended in violence.

But all three also said they didn’t believe that what they were doing — protesting on a vacant public lot — was illegal.

“I think it really would have been an extended waste of the court’s time and money, because the charges were not valid, in my eyes,” Heil said.

Occupy Omaha’s next court event is a Dec. 15 federal hearing in which it will ask a judge to allow protesters to return to the 24th and Farnam Streets lot.

Some members would like to hold meetings with city officials and community members to ask how they can represent more people, Heil said.

Davis said he believes it’s his duty as a citizen to join the protests.

“I joined the Occupy movement for the same reason I joined the Army National Guard. I consider this to be patriotic,” he said.

He said he wants to fight for a mentality of “people over profits.”

Full Article Here – http://www.omaha.com/article/20111129/NEWS97/711299924/0#protesters-charges-to-be-dropped 

Bradley Manning treatment in custody concerns MEPs

Guardian
Nov. 29, 2011
By

More than 50 members of the European parliament have signed an open letter to the US government raising concerns about the treatment of Bradley Manning, the US soldier in military detention for allegedly leaking classified US documents to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks.

The call on the US government comes before a pre-trial hearing – Manning’s first appearance in court – which begins on 16 December.

The MEPs said internal investigations into Manning’s treatment in custody, which included solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, inspections by officers every five minutes from 5am onwards and removal of his clothes, had been marred by “clear conflicts of interest”.

They call for US authorities to grant Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, access to Manning.

Mendez has made repeated requests for access to the military base where Manning is held, all of which have been refused by US authorities.


Manning was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly confessing to passing thousands of documents to WikiLeaks to computer hacker Adrian Lamo, who informed the authorities. He was charged with 12 offences under the uniform code in July 2010. An additional 22 charges were added in March 2011, following the publication of the Afghan and Iraq war logs, Guantánamo files and US embassy cables.

One charge, “aiding the enemy”, carries the death penalty in the US, but army prosecutors have indicated they will not seek such a punishment in Manning’s case.

The open letter from European parliamentarians, which follows another signed by several hundred US legal scholars, questioned the charges against Manning and warned that his pre-trial treatment may harm the UN’s work elsewhere, “particularly its mandate to investigate allegations of torture and human rights abuses”.

“In order to uphold the rights guaranteed to Bradley Manning under international human rights law and the US constitution, it is imperative that the United Nations special rapporteur be allowed to properly investigate evidence of rights abuses. PFC Manning has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. People accused of crimes must not be subjected to any form of punishment before being brought to trial,” they wrote.

“We certainly do not understand why an alleged whistleblower is being threatened with the death penalty, or the possibility of life in prison. We also question whether Bradley Manning’s right to due process has been upheld, as he has now spent over 17 months in pre-trial confinement.”

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/29/bradley-manning-concerns-mep-letter 

How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word of Fannie Rescue

Bloomberg
Nov. 29, 2011

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stepped off the elevator into the Third Avenue offices of hedge fund Eton Park Capital Management LP in Manhattan. It was July 21, 2008, and market fears were mounting. Four months earlier, Bear Stearns Cos. had sold itself for just $10 a share to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Now, amid tumbling home prices and near-record foreclosures, attention was focused on a new source of contagion: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together had more than $5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and other debt outstanding, Bloomberg Markets reports in its January issue.

Paulson had been pushing a plan in Congress to open lines of credit to the two struggling firms and to grant authority for the Treasury Department to buy equity in them. Yet he had told reporters on July 13 that the firms must remain shareholder owned and had testified at a Senate hearing two days later that giving the government new power to intervene made actual intervention improbable.
“If you have a bazooka, and people know you have it, you’re not likely to take it out,” he said.
On the morning of July 21, before the Eton Park meeting, Paulson had spoken to New York Times reporters and editors, according to his Treasury Department schedule. A Times article the next day said the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency were inspecting Fannie and Freddie’s books and cited Paulson as saying he expected their examination would give a signal of confidence to the markets.
A Different Message
At the Eton Park meeting, he sent a different message, according to a fund manager who attended. Over sandwiches and pasta salad, he delivered that information to a group of men capable of profiting from any disclosure.
Around the conference room table were a dozen or so hedge- fund managers and other Wall Street executives — at least five of them alumni of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., of which Paulson was chief executive officer and chairman from 1999 to 2006. In addition to Eton Park founder Eric Mindich, they included such boldface names as Lone Pine Capital LLC founder Stephen Mandel, Dinakar Singh of TPG-Axon Capital Management LP and Daniel Och of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC.
After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” — a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets.
Stock Wipeout
Paulson explained that under this scenario, the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, would be effectively wiped out. So too would the various classes of preferred stock, he said.
The fund manager says he was shocked that Paulson would furnish such specific information — to his mind, leaving little doubt that the Treasury Department would carry out the plan. The managers attending the meeting were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information.
There’s no evidence that they did so after the meeting; tracking firm-specific short stock sales isn’t possible using public documents.
And law professors say that Paulson himself broke no law by disclosing what amounted to inside information.
Rampant Rumors
At the time, rumors about Fannie and Freddie were tearing through the markets. The government-chartered firms’ mandate, which continues today, is to buy mortgages from banks and repackage them into securities either for their own portfolios or to sell to others. The banks can then use the proceeds from those transactions to write new mortgages.
By mid-2008, delinquencies and foreclosures were soaring, and the GSEs set aside billions of dollars against future losses. In the first six months of 2008, they racked up net losses of $5.46 billion as they slashed dividends and marked down the values of their huge inventories of mortgage-backed securities.
On Wall Street, confusion reigned. UBS AG analyst Eric Wasserstrom on July 10 cut his share price target on Freddie to $10 from $28. The next day, Citigroup Inc. analyst Bradley Ball reiterated a “buy” recommendation on the two GSEs. On July 12, the Times of London, without citing a source, reported that Paulson was contemplating a $15 billion capital injection into the firms.

Ex-Seattle chief: ‘Occupy’ police use ‘failed’ tactics

BBC News
Nov. 28, 2011
By Chloe Hadjimatheou

Police across the US have been criticised for their actions in clashes with Occupy Wall Street protesters. The man who led the police response to the Battle in Seattle protests at the 1999 WTO meeting blames the post-9/11 militarisation of American policing.

“Law enforcement across the country is pursuing the same tactics that failed so miserably in Seattle,” Norm Stamper tells BBC World Service’s Witness programme.

“There’s a lack of patience, there’s a lack of imagination and there are clear over-reactions to the challenges the police perceive. It is all so disheartening.”


In November 1999, Chief Stamper was one of the main officials charged with managing the huge numbers of demonstrators who brought the city to a standstill in protests against the launch of a new round of global trade talks.

An estimated 50,000 activists from around the world flooded Seattle and occupied strategic crossroads, blocking delegates’ access to the convention centre where the talks were to be held.

The demonstrations seriously disrupted the trade talks. The opening ceremony had to be cancelled because most delegates were unable to get to the meetings, and even US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was stuck in her hotel room unable to give the speech she had prepared.

The police responded by spraying the crowd with tear gas, That, says Chief Stamper, set the tone for the next three days.

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15929017

Occupy group intends to return to Oakland plaza

San Fransisco Chronicle
Nov. 28, 2011
By Will Kane

(11-28) 09:24 PST OAKLAND — Occupy Oakland activists said today that they intend to move back into Frank Ogawa Plaza on Tuesday to re-establish a central location for their protest against economic inequality.

Moving back into the plaza will “create a model for a new wave of Occupation protest throughout the United States,” the Occupy Oakland Vigil Committee said in a statement.

The group said it planned to occupy the plaza outside City Hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


The plaza was the site of a lengthy protest that began Oct. 10. The city cleared out about 100 tents on Oct. 25 but soon allowed protesters to return.

Police removed the tents again Nov. 14, and city officials have said they will not permit camping structures to return to the plaza.

Officers also closed down a smaller camp at Snow Park near Lake Merritt and an offshoot camp at a vacant lot at 18th and Linden Streets, leaving the Occupy Oakland protesters without a center to the movement.

Full Article Here - 
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/28/BAAP1M52AA.DTL#ixzz1f3Q2WiBj

Students shut down UC regents meeting

San Fransisco Chronicle
Nov. 28, 2011
By Jill Tucker, Carolyn Jones,Kevin Fagan

(11-28) 16:17 PST SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of students and faculty members temporarily shut down a University of California Board of Regents meeting being held simultaneously today at campuses in San Francisco, Davis, Merced and Los Angeles by standing in the conference rooms and chanting slogans so loudly the regents could no longer conduct business.

The regents at UCLA, UC Davis and UCSF’s Mission Bay reconvened their meetings in nearby rooms, where they approved a $2.7 billion expenditure plan for next year required by the state Legislature, asking that lawmakers give UC $400 million more than what the state gave last year.


The meeting in the original rooms was going smoothly until the public comment portion ended at 9:30 a.m. and several demonstrators began yelling the Occupy movement’s familiar “mic check!” call, signaling the desire to have a protest meeting.

There were about 50 students at each campus’ regents meeting, which was being conducted by speakerphone. “We’re not going away,” and “We are the majority,” the protesters chanted at each location.

After several minutes, most regents got up and left the room to the students, who conducted what they called a “People’s Regents” meeting – complete with two-minute speaker limits and votes on resolutions, including one they passed calling for several regents and UC executives to resign.

“The state has let us down. You have let us down,” Katheryn Kolesar, 27, a third-year civil and environmental engineering student at UC Davis, told regents there during the public comments portion of the meeting.

“The student movement is gaining momentum,” Kolesar said. “We have the opportunity to create change.”

At San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a regent, remained and joined the protesters for part of their meeting. The group asked him to sign a pledge to tax the 1 percent, among other things.

“You have my support for every single one of these principles, but I have an aversion to pledges because of the Grover Norquist pledge,” he said, referring to the conservative activist’s demand that Republicans nationally sign a pledge not to raise taxes.

“Let me say thank you for restoring my faith and confidence in this state and in this country,” he continued. “For the past two years there weren’t many people showing up for these meetings. … We gotta act differently. This whole system of higher education – not just UC, but CSU (California State University) too – is in peril.”

The $400 million the regents requested of the Legislature would be spent on hiring more faculty and staff, increasing enrollment, reducing class size, extending library hours and other undertakings.

After the meeting adjourned, UC President Mark Yudof said he understood the protesters’ actions.

“I wish they wouldn’t interrupt a public meeting,” he said, but “the students have taken it on the chin for the past decade … I definitely understand the students’ position.”

But, he said, students should aim their efforts to restore funding to higher education to Sacramento rather than at UC’s leadership.

“I’m sick and tired of Sacramento privatizing the university,” he said.

Many of those lined up early in the morning today to speak during the regents meeting were angry at frequent tuition hikes and state funding cuts to higher education. Others, especially at UC Davis, said regents needed to exercise more control over police who handle demonstrations on campus.