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2011 December | 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: December 2011

Bank CEOs Earn Big Bucks Even as Stocks Get Slammed

Dec. 30, 2011
By Jeff Cox

Banks may have gotten hammered this year in the stock market, but the CEOs who run them are doing just fine.

While the nation’s biggest financial institutions saw their market capitalization drop by an average of 11.1 percent, bank CEO compensation averaged $7.74 million, according to calculations by Rochdale Securities analyst Dick Bove.

That means the banking heads earned 50 to 100 times the average worker and did much better than their shareholders, who saw bank stocks as a group plunge about 26 percent this year.

Take JPMorgan Chase.  The Wall Street titan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, will earn just shy of $42 million this year for a bank that lost nearly a quarter of its market cap—or 23 percent—during the year, according to Bove’s numbers.
There’s also Bank of America head Brian T. Moynihan, who will earn a comparatively small $2.26 million this year while his bank’s market value dropped 60 percent — the worst in Rochdale’s study. 
Goldman Sachs head Lloyd Blankfein’s compensation was $21.7 million, while the investment bank he runs lost 46.4 percent of its market cap. Richard B. Handler, who runs Jefferies, earned $21.4 million for a firm that a few months ago came under the gun for its potential exposure to European debt, the Rochdale analysis shows.
Bove concedes his numbers may not be perfect — computing CEO pay “is, in fact, rocket science,” he said — but believes the numbers to be accurate as they rely on base pay combined with various other stock and option benefits the bank chiefs receive. He formulated the numbers in conjunction with SNL Securities and a private consultant.
Full Article Here – http://www.cnbc.com/id/45817416 

Defence Act Affirms Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens

Inter Press Service
Dec. 30, 2011
By Matthew Cardinale

ATLANTA, Georgia, Dec 30, 2011 (IPS) – Civil liberties groups and many citizen activists are outraged over language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) that appears to lay the legal groundwork for indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial.

David Gespass, president of the National Lawyers Guild, called it an “enormous attack on the U.S. and our heritage” and a “significant step” towards fascism, in an interview with IPS.

“For a very long time the U.S. has been moving towards what I personally think of as fascist – the integration of monopoly capital with state power, that’s combined with an increased repression at home and greater aggression around the world. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I do see that we’re going in that direction,” Gespass said. “I think the… act is a significant step in that direction.”

“It’s quite severe. If this continues, people will not be able to count on constitutional protections at all,” Debra Sweet, national director of the group World Can’t Wait, told IPS.

Subtitle D of the act contains several controversial provisions on indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.

The executive branch – starting with the George W. Bush administration shortly after Sep. 11, 2001 – began indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

When those detentions were challenged in the courts, the federal government argued that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by the U.S. Congress on Sep. 18, 2001, allowed for the detentions to occur. In 2004, the Supreme Court agreed in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

“I know a lot of people who voted in favour of it (AUMF) back then didn’t think they voted in favour of what ended up happening, but what it said is the president is authorised (to do) whatever is necessary,” Gespass said. “The language as I recall it is not at all restrictive.”

The current language in the NDAA seeks to legislatively affirm that the U.S. has the right to detain people, even though the courts already ruled, at least in the case of Hamdi, a prisoner captured during armed conflict in Afghanistan, that it already has that power.

Section 1021 defines who can be detained by the military.

The definition of “covered persons” under the provision includes not only those who planned, authorised, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2011, but also “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including anyone who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Critics say problems with this language include the vagueness of the terms “substantial support”, “belligerent act”, or “directly supported”.

Moreover, because the act allows for individuals suspected of support or belligerence to be held indefinitely without trial – until the end of the “war on terror”, which could be never – there could be no opportunities for these individuals to challenge the vagueness of the charges against them.

Section 1021(e) says the act does not alter any rights of U.S. citizens, meaning that the Bill of Rights of the Constitution remains intact. It might be up to the courts, however, to eventually determine whether the application of these NDAA provisions to a U.S. citizen would be constitutional.

However, if they are being detained indefinitely with no lawyer, then how does anyone know they are there, to appeal to the civilian courts on their behalf?

Full Article Here – http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106339 

Hackers plan space satellites to combat censorship

BBC News
Dec. 30, 2011
By David Meyer

Computer hackers plan to take the internet beyond the reach of censors by putting their own communication satellites into orbit.

The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

The project’s organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.

Longer term they hope to help put an amateur astronaut on the moon.

Hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit – usually only for brief periods of time – but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.

The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. He said that the increasing threat of internet censorship had motivated the project.

“The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. Let’s take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities,” Mr Farr said.
Beyond balloons

He cited the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the United States as an example of the kind of threat facing online freedom. If passed, the act would allow for some sites to be blocked on copyright grounds.

Whereas past space missions have almost all been the preserve of national agencies and large companies, amateur enthusiasts have in recent years sent a few payloads into orbit.

Nick Farr Hackerspace Global Grid project
These devices have mostly been sent up using balloons and are tricky to pinpoint precisely from the ground.

According to Armin Bauer, a 26-year-old enthusiast from Stuttgart who is working on the Hackerspace Global Grid, this is largely due to lack of funding.

“Professionals can track satellites from ground stations, but usually they don’t have to because, if you pay a large sum [to send the satellite up on a rocket], they put it in an exact place,” Mr Bauer said.

In the long run, a wider hacker aerospace project aims to put an amateur astronaut onto the moon within the next 23 years.

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16367042 

Oakland protesters who took over foreclosed home arrested

Dec. 30, 2011
By Mary Slosson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A dozen anti-Wall Street protesters who had taken over a foreclosed home in Oakland were arrested on Thursday, protest organizers said.
The home, which protesters said they were using as housing for formerly homeless individuals and as a community meeting space, was taken over on December 6 during a national day of action they said aimed to support homeowners as they resisted evictions from foreclosed homes.
The Occupy movement, which argues the U.S. economic system is unfair with too much wealth and power held by a few, began in New York in September and quickly spread, with tent camps sprouting in many cities.

But many of the encampments have since been cleared by authorities, often on the basis that they had become unsanitary or had growing safety and crime problems.

The December 6 day of action had also been an attempt to revive the national Occupy Wall Street movement. A handful of previous attempts to take over vacant or foreclosed property in the Bay area failed when protesters were evicted by police.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/oakland-protesters-took-over-foreclosed-home-arrested-145553173.html

Permit extended for Washington protesters

Dec. 29, 2011
By Robert MacPherson

WASHINGTON — A Washington offshoot of Occupy Wall Street has won a green light to keep occupying until February 28, officials said Thursday, so long as it shares its space with a conservative group.

Occupy Washington DC in Freedom Plaza, which grew out of an anti-war protest in early October, had previously held a permit from the National Park Service — which owns the square near the White House — to remain until New Year’s Eve.

“We will plan to go and speak to people and do actions, stuff like that,” Sarah Hines of Occupation Washington DC told AFP, confirming the permit extension and the encampment’s plans to widen the reach of its protests.

But the tent city, housing several dozen activists, will be rubbing shoulders with the free-market National Center for Public Policy Research, which has a permit for lunchtime rallies in Freedom Plaza from February 12.

“They have to share space, or make space, when others want to use Freedom Plaza,” said National Park Service spokesman Bill Line, adding that Occupy Washington DC has done just that on previous occasions.

Spokesmen for the conservative center — which campaigns for “a strong national defense (and) free market solutions to today’s public policy problems” — could not be reached for comment.

Washington’s other open-ended protest, Occupy DC, pitched camp on October 1 in McPherson Square, in the heart of the K Street lobbying district, where by federal law no permit is needed for gatherings of fewer than 500 people.

A third group, Occupy Congress, has meanwhile applied for a permit to demonstrate in conjunction with Occupy DC on the National Mall on January 17, the day Congress returns from its winter break.

Washington is host to the longest-running occupations in the United States after police shut down protests in other cities, including the original Occupy Wall Street in New York City on November 15.

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g3rNeyhx7a6dl9zgu5iQidF8ZN2g?docId=CNG.008f37e075e8246666ba7f1fd81b17b7.9e1 

Egypt police raid offices of human rights groups in Cairo

Dec. 29, 2011

Egyptian security forces have launched raids on a series of high-profile human rights and pro-democracy organisations based in Cairo, including the US National Democratic Institute, founded by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, and the International Republican Institute.

During the raids riot police confined staff to their offices and forbid them from making phone calls. Seventeen Egyptian and international groups were targeted as part of a widespread investigation into foreign funding of Egyptian civic society groups.

The raids on NDI and IRI, however, both of which have received US state department funding for their operations, are likely to cause friction with the US government, which underwrites military aid to Egypt to the sum of $1.3bn (£843m) annually.

In recent months, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has accused local non-governmental organisations of receiving money from abroad, and has argued that the recent unrest in the country is by “foreign hands”.

Hana el-Hattab, an NDI staffer trapped inside her office, tweeted: “We’re literally locked in. I really have no idea why they are holding us inside and confiscating our personal laptops.”

In other tweets she wrote: “I was on the balcony, dude with machine gun came up and told us to go in and locked it … we asked if they had a search warrant, they said the person who issues warrants is in building & doesn’t need to issue one for himself. They’re even taking history books from people’s bags.”

Heba Morayef, who works with Human Rights Watch in Egypt, said she had received a message from an NDI staffer confirming they had been confined inside their offices by riot police. Images posted on Twitter showed armed police in body armour stationed outside.

The official Mena news agency said the 17 “civil society organisations” had been targeted as part of an investigation into foreign funding of such groups.

“The public prosecutor has searched 17 civil society organisations, local and foreign, as part of the foreign funding case,” the agency cited the prosecutor’s office as saying. “The search is based on evidence showing violation of Egyptian laws, including not having permits.”

Security forces, both uniformed and plainclothes, forced their way into the offices where employees were informed that they were under investigation by the public prosecutor. According to witnesses, laptops and other documents were also seized during the raids.

The IRI put out a statement saying it was “dismayed and disappointed by these actions. IRI has been working with Egyptians since 2005; it is ironic that even during the Mubarak era IRI was not subjected to such aggressive action.

“Today’s raid is confusing given that IRI was officially invited by the government of Egypt to witness the people’s assembly elections, and was in the process of deploying a high level international delegation to observe the third phase of elections on January 3 and 4, having successfully deployed witnesses for phases one and two.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/29/egypt-police-raid-human-rights-groups  

Chile Protests Claim Another Education Minister

Associated Press
Dec. 29, 2011

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile’s student protest movement claimed its second education minister on Thursday as Felipe Bulnes stepped down, citing personal reasons, and conservative President Sebastian Pinera named a replacement.

Chile’s government also confirmed that Agriculture Minister Jose Antonio Galilea was stepping down as well and would be replaced by National Agriculture Association chief Luis Mayol. Bulnes will be replaced by economist Harald Bayer.

The resignations come as a new poll shows that Pinera’s approval rating has plunged to 23 percent, partly due to a long and bitter strike by students for reforms to Chile’s education system. The rating was the lowest since democracy returned to Chile two decades ago.

The poll by the Center for Public Studies surveyed 1,559 people across Chile with a margin for error of 3 percentage points.

A poll by the same company a year ago showed Pinera with a 44 percent approval rating.

Bulnes, who said he is resigning for personal reasons, is the second education minister to step down since Pinera took office in March 2010. He took over from Joaquin Lavin in July, two months after protests began closing hundreds of schools and led to sometimes violent clashes with police.

Economy Minister Pablo Longueira, who announced the resignations, expressed regret and called Bulnes “one of the most brilliant figures I have known.”

As education minister, Bulnes failed to end the long protest by high school and university students. A negotiation process he initiated broke off shortly after it began when the government said it would not discuss free education for all students.

Students leaders appeared ready to give Bayer the benefit of the doubt, though they expressed concern that he is an academic without political experience.

Student leader Noam Titelman at Chile’s Catholic University said “what matters is not changing faces, but changing government policies.”

Chile’s university students returned to classes in late November, pressured by a government threat to cut funding to state universities, but protest leaders said they would continue demonstrations in the new year.

The student protests have succeeded in getting the government to increase scholarships and lower interest rates on student loans. But Pinera’s government has refused to consider the deep reforms, including the elimination of for-profit universities and free tuition, that protesters had demanded.

Full Article Here – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=144459775 

Court Revives NSA Dragnet Surveillance Case

Dec. 29, 2011
By David Kravets

A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a closely watched lawsuit accusing the federal government of working with the nation’s largest telecommunication companies to illegally funnel Americans’ electronic communications to the National Security Agency without court warrants.

While the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the long-running case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the three-judge panel unanimously refused to rule on the merits of the case, of whether it was true the United States breached the public’s Fourth Amendment rights by undertaking an ongoing dragnet surveillance program the EFF said commenced under the Bush administration following 9/11.

The San Francisco-based appeals court reversed a San Francisco federal judge who tossed the case against the government nearly three years ago. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, now retired, said the lawsuit amounted to a “general grievance” from the public, and not an actionable claim.

Walker also presided over the only case that found the Bush administration illegally spied on American citizens when it unleashed the NSA on Americans’ conversations, ruling that the government violated the rights of two American lawyers for al-Haramain, a now defunct Islamic charity. The government is appealing that ruling.

Writing for the majority on Thursday, Judge Margaret McKeown ruled (.pdf) that the EFF’s claims “are not abstract, generalized grievances and instead meet the constitutional standing requirement of concrete injury. Although there has been considerable debate and legislative activity surrounding the surveillance program, the claims do not raise a political question nor are they inappropriate for judicial resolution.”

The EFF’s allegations are based in part on internal AT&T documents, first published by Wired, that outline a secret room in AT&T San Francisco office that routes internet traffic to the NSA.

“Today, the 9th Circuit has given us that chance, and we look forward to proving the program is an
unconstitutional and illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans,” said Cindy
Cohn, the EFF’s legal director.

Full Article Here – http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/12/dragnet-surveillance-case/

San Diego Police Cite Marine Corps Vet for Carrying American Flag

Huffington Post
Dec. 28, 2011

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Police have cited Iraq war veteran Marine Lance Cpl. John Canter for carrying an American flag at Civic Center Plaza, home to the Occupy San Diego movement.

At approximately 9:40 p.m. on Dec. 22, Canter was cited under an obscure municipal code, section 53.30, which prohibits certain items at protests and other such events.

San Diego municipal code section 53.30 states: “No person shall carry or possess while participating in any demonstration, rally, picket line or public assembly any metal stake, club, or pipe, or any length of lumber, wood, or lath, unless that wooden object is 1/4” or less in thickness. and 2″ or less in width. If not generally rectangular in shape, such wooden object shall not exceed 1/2″ in its thickest dimension.”

In an interview with signonsandiego.com, San Diego Police Department assistant chief Boyd Long said officers could tell the flag pole was larger than regulations allowed.

“I don’t know that it takes an expert to make a determination on what is or isn’t thicker than one-half of an inch,” Long said. “They got back to the station. They did measure it. It was three-quarters of an inch thick. So it is in violation.”

Canter said he was in shock when they told him he couldn’t carry the flag. “I have never in my life been told I couldn’t carry an American flag. It’s clear they were just looking for a reason to cite me specifically, as a veteran,” Canter said.

Canter elaborated that many members of the Occupy San Diego movement appreciate the presence of veterans at the occupation of Civic Center Plaza and look to veterans of the community as a source of strength and pride. Canter, who served in the Al Anbar province of Iraq from April 2007 to November 2007, is a regular at the plaza in his Marine Corps desert combat uniform.

“The cops saw this as a chance to say ‘we’re not afraid to go after a veteran,’” the young Marine said. “It was a chance for them to say ‘we’re in charge.’”

Following the incident, calls went out on the Occupy San Diego Facebook page for an impromptu rally to, as described by rally organizers, take the American flag back from SDPD.

At 4 p.m., Dec. 23, protestors from Occupy San Diego, Veterans for Peace and MoveOn.org rallied at the corners of 4th Avenue and B Street in downtown San Diego. Nearly all of the protestors, numbering more than 70, carried American flags on illegal sized poles while others draped the flag around their necks.

“I was really surprised by the number of people that came out for this,” said Canter, who led the march. “We had already planned a rally in support of Occupy Egypt for later that evening but to see this many people come out for the flag was really inspiring.”

Reflecting back on his time in Iraq, Canter said he and his fellow Marines often looked to the flag as a source of pride and something they could rally around.

“It’s really important to me,” he said of the American flag, “especially when you’re away in a foreign country, to see the flag and be reminded of what America — at least used to — stand for.”

Full Article Here – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/benjamin-cossel/san-diego-police-cite-mar_b_1173565.html 

Occupy protester ‘banned’ from flight home for Christmas

The Independent
Dec. 28, 2011
By Kevin Rawlinson

A member of the Occupy London protests was stopped from boarding his flight home for Christmas after he was found carrying anarchist literature, it has been claimed.

The demonstrator, who is part of the group occupying the empty UBS building dubbed the “Bank of Ideas”, said he was told he would not be allowed on the Ryanair flight to Malaga because the pilot feared he might distribute leaflets and “upset other passengers”.

John Charles Culatto, 34, claimed he was approached by police at Bristol International Airport who told him they had seen him “acting suspiciously” on the airport’s CCTV system when he stopped to talk to fellow travellers.

He said he went to airport security an hour before his flight was due to depart, where staff found posters in his bag linked to the anarchist group Crimethinc and refused to allow him through until they had contacted the airline. He claimed he overheard security staff who were examining his luggage using the word “terrorism”.

When he finally got to the boarding gate, he claimed he was prevented from boarding by staff. Mr Culatto said: “[I was told] that because of the very remote possibility I could distribute leaflets on the plane and upset people, the captain had decided not to take me aboard.”

Full Article Here – http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/occupy-protester-banned-from-flight-home-for-christmas-6282555.html