Archive for the ‘law’ Category
‘We are very concerned that a 47-story skyscraper that collapsed was not properly investigated.’
09 Jul 2014 New York City voters may get to vote on 9/11 truth in November. A group funded by 9/11 conspiracy theorists has rounded up enough signatures to mount a ballot referendum questioning if 7 World Trade Center was really taken down as a result of the terror attack that fateful day. The referendum would require the Buildings Department to investigate the collapse, even though two previous reports declared it had been caused by fires spread from the burning Twin Towers.
The Washington Post’s report last week also shows that the NSA also collected information on President Obama, both as president-elect and as president:
A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.
While the particular NSA reports discussed by the Washington Post don’t specifically mention Obama by name, the Post notes:
[These minimization attempts] border on the absurd, using titles that could apply to only one man.
But these new reports add some weight to the allegations of high-level NSA whistleblower Bill Binney, who told Washington’s Blog that NSA surveillance allows the government to target:
- “[CIA head] General Petraeus and General Allen and others like [New York State Attorney General] Elliot Spitzer”
- “Supreme Court Judges, other judges, Senators, Representatives, law firms and lawyers, and just anybody you don’t like … reporters included”
Binney also told us on Monday:
Bulk collection of everything gives law enforcement all the data they need on every citizen in the country. And, it gives NSA all that info on everyone too. Makes them akin to a J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids.
FBI head Hoover was famous for blackmailing everyone … including politicians. The New York Times reports:
J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.
Alfred McCoy – Professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison – provides details:
Upon taking office on Roosevelt’s death in early 1945, Harry Truman soon learned the extraordinary extent of FBI surveillance. “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police,” Truman wrotein his diary that May. “FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail.”
After a quarter of a century of warrantless wiretaps, Hoover built up a veritable archive of sexual preferences among America’s powerful and used it to shape the direction of U.S. politics. He distributed a dossier on Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson’s alleged homosexuality to assure his defeat in the 1952 presidential elections, circulated audio tapes of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philandering, and monitored President Kennedy’s affair with mafia mistress Judith Exner. And these are just a small sampling of Hoover’s uses of scandal to keep the Washington power elite under his influence.
“The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” recalled William Sullivan, the FBI’s chief of domestic intelligence during the 1960s, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter…’ From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”
After his death, an official tally found Hoover had 883 such files on senators and 722 more on congressmen.
With a few hundred cable probes and computerized decryption, the NSA can now capture the kind of gritty details of private life that J. Edgar Hoover so treasured and provide the sort of comprehensive coverage of populations once epitomized by secret police like East Germany’s Stasi. And yet, such comparisons only go so far.
After all, once FBI agents had tapped thousands of phones, stenographers had typed up countless transcripts, and clerks had stored this salacious paper harvest in floor-to-ceiling filing cabinets, J. Edgar Hoover still only knew about the inner-workings of the elite in one city: Washington, D.C. To gain the same intimate detail for an entire country, the Stasi had to employ one police informer for every six East Germans — an unsustainable allocation of human resources. By contrast, the marriage of the NSA’s technology to the Internet’s data hubs now allows the agency’s 37,000 employees a similarly close coverage of the entire globe with just one operative for every 200,000 people on the planet.
In the Obama years, the first signs have appeared that NSA surveillance will use the information gathered to traffic in scandal, much as Hoover’s FBI once did. In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA has, since 2010, applied sophisticated software to create “social network diagrams…, unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible…, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner.”
By collecting knowledge — routine, intimate, or scandalous — about foreign leaders, imperial proconsuls from ancient Rome to modern America have gained both the intelligence and aura of authority necessary for dominion over alien societies. The importance, and challenge, of controlling these local elites cannot be overstated. During its pacification of the Philippines after 1898, for instance, the U.S. colonial regime subdued contentious Filipino leaders via pervasive policing that swept up both political intelligence and personal scandal. And that, of course, was just what J. Edgar Hoover was doing in Washington during the 1950s and 1960s.
According to James Bamford, author of two authoritative books on the agency, “The NSA’s operation is eerily similar to the FBI’s operations under J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s where the bureau used wiretapping to discover vulnerabilities, such as sexual activity, to ‘neutralize’ their targets.”
The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer has warned that a president might “ask the NSA to use the fruits of surveillance to discredit a political opponent, journalist, or human rights activist. The NSA has used its power that way in the past and it would be naïve to think it couldn’t use its power that way in the future.” Even President Obama’s recently convened executive review of the NSA admitted: “[I]n light of the lessons of our own history… at some point in the future, high-level government officials will decide that this massive database of extraordinarily sensitive private information is there for the plucking.”
Indeed, whistleblower Edward Snowden has accused the NSA of actually conducting such surveillance. In a December 2013 letter to the Brazilian people, he wrote, “They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation.” If Snowden is right, then one key goal of NSA surveillance of world leaders is not U.S. national security but political blackmail — as it has been since 1898.
- The NSA is spying on and blackmailing its overseers in Washington, as well as Supreme Court judges, generals and others
- The agency started spying on Barack Obama when he was just a candidate for the Senate.
Who is the true patriot, Hillary Clinton or Edward Snowden? The question comes up because Clinton has gone all out in attacking Snowden as a means of burnishing her hawkish credentials, eliciting Glenn Greenwald’s comment that she is “like a neocon, practically.”
On Friday in England, Clinton boasted that two years ago she had favored a proposal by a top British general to train 100,000 “moderate” rebels to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, but President Obama had turned her down. The American Thatcher? In that same interview with The Guardian she also managed to get in yet another shot against Snowden for taking refuge in Russia “apparently under Putin’s protection,” unless, she taunted, “he wishes to return knowing he would be held accountable.”
Accountable for telling the truth that Clinton concealed during her tenure as secretary of state in the Obama administration? Did she approve of the systematic spying on the American people as well as on others around the world, including the leaders of Germany and Brazil, or did she first learn of all this from the Snowden revelations?
On Saturday, a carefully vetted four-month investigation by The Washington Post based on material made available by Snowden revealed that while Clinton was in the government, the NSA had collected a vast trove of often intimate Internet correspondence and photos of innocent Americans, including many users of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other leading Internet companies. The Post reported many files “described as useless by the [NSA] analysts but nonetheless retained … have a voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes.”
The Post concluded after four months of reviewing the documents and checking with government agencies that the material supplied by Snowden was invaluable in evaluating the NSA program: “No government oversight body, including the Justice Department, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, intelligence committees in Congress or the President’s Privacy and Civil Oversight Board, has delved into a comparably large sample of what the NSA actually collects—not only from its targets but from people who may cross a target’s path.”
Did Secretary of State Clinton know that such massive spying on the American people was going on and, if not, why isn’t she grateful that Snowden helped to enlighten her? With her scurrilous attacks on Snowden, Hillary Clinton is either a fool or a liar.
Too harsh? Consider her continued insistence that Snowden could have addressed his concerns over the massive NSA spying on Americans and the rest of the world by going through normal channels instead of turning over the documents as he has entrusted to respected news organizations that won the Pulitzer Prize for their efforts.
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Numerous high ranking British politicians are being investigated for their involvement in an extensive pedophile ring, however the full scope of this scandal can’t be fully appreciated without looking at the other side of the Atlantic.
It wasn’t that long ago that those who claimed that there was a massive pedophile ring involving officials in the highest levels of government were written off as conspiracy theorists and kooks. That is no longer the case, at least in the U.K. It turns out that this so called conspiracy theory was true, and is finally being officially investigated. The coverup isn’t going well at this point. The British government is even coming under heat for the convenient disappearance of key files regarding the allegations. At least forty British MPs are implicated, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg.
The scandal, which initially centered around rape and child abuse accusations against the well connected BBC presenter (and knight) Jimmy Savile (who died in 2011) expanded in scope after victims testified that the abuse involved an organized pedophile ring which was operated out of the BBC. This organized pedophile ring apparently involved at least 40 British MPs. Another aspect of this scandal involves a close friend of Savile, former British MP Cyril Smith (also a knight). Police claim to have “overwhelming” evidence that Cyril physically abused young boys in the 1960s. It’s worth noting that Savile wasn’t just well connected, he was known to rub shoulders with the royal family itself.
Whether those involved actually get brought to justice or not is another story altogether. It’s too late to bring down Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith. They’re both dead already. The question now, is whether the rest of the ring will be prosecuted. This is a scandal that has been successfully suppressed for decades in spite of testimony from numerous victims. Indeed the BBC fired the reporter who first attempted to expose the abuse in 2012. Once you look at the profile of those involved it’s easy to see why. This time however, the internet seems to be making it a bit harder to sweep under the rug.
Posted in government, law, politics, science, tagged Clinton, democratic party, Genetically modified food, GMO'S, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, major political parties on July 9, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
The darling of the Democratic Party, Hillary Rodham Clinton, says she supports genetically modified food, making her no different from most other American politicians from both major political parties.
In a recent speech before the world’s largest biotechnology meeting in San Diego, Clinton — who commands speaking fees of about $225,000 per speech — was enthusiastic in her support for the use of GMOs in farming and agriculture in general. She also spoke positively of using taxpayer-funded federal financial subsidies as payoffs to American companies, to keep them from relocating outside the United States.’
The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee is refusing to cooperate with an insider trading investigation, saying its employees are “absolutely immune” from having to comply with subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe ordered the committee last week to explain why it hadn’t responded to the SEC’s year-long request for documents, phone records and the testimony of staff director Brian Sutter, as part of a probe into whether he or other House members leaked private information about health care policy to insurance companies.
Rather than turning over the information, top House lawyer Kerry W. Kircher answered the order by requesting that the case be dismissed.
Kircher claimed that the request for documents violates the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, which protects members of Congress from outside inquiry into “legislative acts” during their time in office.
“What the SEC has done is embark on a remarkable fishing expedition for congressional records — core legislative records,” Kircher said in a court filing.
William Pittard, House deputy general counsel, also sent the SEC a letter claiming that the subpoenas are “vague, confusing, overbroad, unduly burdensome, unlikely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and otherwise improper.”
Pittard called the subpoenas “repugnant to public policy.”
So-called development “aid” from corporations and banks is inherently corrupt. Genuine development and independence can only be achieved by breaking as much as possible from the global capitalist web. “At the heart of the contemporary civilizational crisis is the reductionist logic that values everything in terms of money.”
by Yash Tandon
This article was previously published in Pambazuka News.
“There is no possibility of a ‘distributive solution’ within the present system, which is structurally engineered to produce inequality.”
Much hope is placed on foreign direct investment to deliver development capital for African countries. Yet FDIs are part of the global financial capitalist system, which maintains and reproduces inequality and keeps African states dependent on Western countries and financial institutions
Africa’s political leaders are under illusion to believe that foreign direct investments (FDIs) will get them out of their development crisis. This is not to dismiss FDIs but to provide a framework for an analytical and critical understanding of “capital,” how it is generated, and what its real function is.
What is the Federal Reserve system? How did it come into existence? Is it part of the federal government? How does it create money? Why is the public kept in the dark about these important matters? In this feature-length documentary film, The Corbett Report explores these important question and pulls back the curtain on America’s central bank.
It’s politics, not science, driving climate mania: Why are environmentalists and scientists so reluctant to discuss long-term increases in southern hemisphere sea ice?
Posted in climate change, enviroment, global warming, government, law, media, politics, tagged climate science, computer simulations, global warming, politics, Sea ice on July 7, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
‘For years, computer simulations have predicted that sea ice should be disappearing from the Poles.
Now, with the news that Antarctic sea-ice levels have hit new highs, comes yet another mishap to tarnish the credibility of climate science.
Climatologists base their doom-laden predictions of the Earth’s climate on computer simulations.
But these have long been the subject of ridicule because of their stunning failure to predict the pause in warming – nearly 18 years long on some measures – since the turn of the last century.’
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the central banking model of passing off downmarket potato wedges of cheap money for high-end, luxury housing bubbles. No value has been added, no wealth created and yet the fraud continues. They talk about the reverse process of taking the National Health Service in the UK and turning it into a downmarket privatised entity. In the second half, Max interviews Jeffrey Sommers, professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee about a new book he’s edited with Charles Woolfson called, “The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model.” In particular, they discuss the economic miracle that is NOT Latvia and how Swedish bankers are acting as conquistadors in Latvia.
Posted in government, health, law, politics, tagged birth control, Obama, religious beliefs, Republicans and Democrats, Supreme court, Supreme Court ruling, surpreme court on July 4, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Republicans and Democrats alike trumped up the meaning of Monday’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling “closely held companies cannot be compelled to offer their employees birth control as part of the law if they object to the provisions on religious grounds“.
Republicans acted as if this was a major repudiation of Obamacare. It wasn’t. Rather, the Supreme Court made a reasonable ruling on religious beliefs.
Yet, step back a moment and note the hypocrisy of Hobby Lobby, one of the companies that took Obamacare to court over the mandate.
My friend Dave puts it this way:
“Hobby Lobby is obviously hypocritical as they do business in China, a country with contraception, abortion, and even forced late term abortion accomplished sometimes by brutal means — and where infanticide, although illegal, is also widely practiced. If they are true to their beliefs, they should pull out of China. Moreover, the whole Republican attack on contraceptives — not abortion, but contraceptives — is completely bewildering to me.“
Exactly. Religion and hypocrisy frequently go hand-in-hand, as do politics and hypocrisy.
Obama’s Over the Top Response
While Republicans gleefully overplayed the significance of the ruling in one direction, Obama and the Democrats chose to outdo them with political hyperbole in the opposite direction.
“If the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will,” said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.
The White House stated the “Ruling Jeopardizes the Health of Women”.
CNBC quoted the White House as follows: “The executive branch will also consider whether the president can act on his own to mitigate the effect of the Supreme Court ruling.“
And that statement played straight into Republican hands, rightfully fearful of more Obama-Mandates in lieu of real legislation.
How Obama Should Have Responded
Obama should have mentioned disappointment over the ruling.
Next, he should have made a statement that he would work with Congress to “improve” the bill instead of making threats to “act on his own”.
Finally, the president could have and should have pointed out that birth control pills are available at Planned Parenthood for perhaps as little as $15 a month and that an emergency morning after pill is available for $35.
Questions of the Day
- Is there much of anything to “mitigate”?
- Is anyone’s health really in “jeopardy” over the ruling?
- Was Obama unwise to require companies pay for birth control if they did not want to?
- Is this the end of Obamacare?
In order, the answers are no (very few people are likely to be affected), no (contraception is widely available for low cost to the few who are affected), yes (Obama knew this challenge was coming), and no.
The reaction from both sides is much ado about nothing, and everything to do with politics accompanied by extreme hype, as usual.