Tag: TMC Politics

Obama Still Protecting US War Criminals

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Obama administration is still protecting US war criminals from prosecution in the International Criminal Court. A little noticed clause in the UN Security Council resolution that brought sanctions against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadafi and his regime forbids the prosecution of the mercenaries from nations which are not signatories to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which protects many of the mercenaries Gadaffi has hired to kill Libyan protesters.

“6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State;

That clause was inserted at the insistence of the US and was a deal breaker if it was not included. Why would the US do that? After all. hadn’t US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said that all those “who slaughter civilians” would “be held personally accountable”? Well, my dears, it is once again an attempt to prevent a precedent that would permit the prosecutions of Americans  by the ICC for alleged crimes in other conflicts.

So now while protecting US war criminals from justice. Obama is protecting the foreign mercenaries from countries who are not signatories to the ICC from accountability. Good going there, Mr. Rule of Law.

h/t Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com

Anonymous Strikes Again

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While we were all watching the Academy Awards, making predictions and ogling over fashion, the hacker group, Anonymous struck again, hacking into the Koch brother funded web site, Americans for Prosperity (sorry, no link, I won’t give them the honor of a page hit). The Koch brothers own the Georgia-Pacific paper manufacturing plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin and, obviously, have a vested interest in seeing the union right of collective bargaining ended.

The AFP site is back up. This is the entire message that was left by Anonymous:

Dear Citizens of the United States of America,

It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch–the billionaire owners of Koch Industries–have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back.

Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin. Governor Walker’s union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process. The Koch’s have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state’s power supplies.

The Koch brothers have made a science of fabricating ‘grassroots’ organizations and advertising campaigns to support them in an attempt to sway voters based on their falsehoods. Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and Citizens United are just a few of these organizations. In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed. Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America’s broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere. As such, we have no choice but to spread the word of the Koch brothers’ political manipulation, their single-minded intent and the insidious truth of their actions in Wisconsin, for all to witness.

Anonymous hears the voice of the downtrodden American people, whose rights and liberties are being systematically removed one by one, even when their own government refuses to listen or worse – is complicit in these attacks. We are actively seeking vulnerabilities, but in the mean time we are calling for all supporters of true Democracy, and Freedom of The People, to boycott all Koch Industries’ paper products. We welcome unions across the globe to join us in this boycott to show that you will not allow big business to dictate your freedom.

In case you want to boycott Georgia Pacific products here is a list: Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Soft N’ Gentle, Brawny Industrial, Vanity Fair, Sparkle, Dixie and Mardi Gras.

To identify these brands, please look for the following logo anywhere on the packaging:

Photobucket
 

Reporting the Revolution: 28.02.2011

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>This is The Guardian Live Blog from Libya.

Al Jazeera English also has a Live Blog stream that is up dated regularly.

Last Saturday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to to impose sanctions and called for an investigation of war crimes by Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and his inner circle of advisers. The vote, only the second time the Security Council has referred a member state to the International Criminal Court, comes after a week of bloody crackdowns in Libya in which Colonel Qaddafi’s security forces have fired on protesters, killing hundreds. In the capitol of Tripoli there are bread lines, barricades and doctors telling foreign journalists that the bodies of the dead  and wounded were being carried away from the hospitals by “Gaddafi cars”.

Christiane Amanpour interviewed Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and this morning, reported an interview with Gaddafi, himself, who is more delusional than Charlie Sheen.

I interviewed Col. Moammar Gadhafi this morning, when he told me he cannot step down because he is not a president or king, and claimed there have been no demonstrations in the streets of Libya’s capital.

“My people love me. They would die for me,” he said.

“I’m surprised that we have an alliance with the west to fight al Qaeda, and now that we are fighting terrorists they have abandoned us,” he said. “Perhaps they want to occupy Libya.”

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, delivered a strong message from the White House calling for Gaddafi to step down and for his government to be held accountable. In Behghazi, the new National Libyan Council was announced. Led by  former justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil to put a political face on the revolution and to lead the country while it prepares for elections.

Libya, Iraq, Egypt – The Uprisings Continue

Refugee Agency Speaks of ‘Emergency’ on Libya’s Borders

PARIS – The United Nations refugee agency says almost 100,000 people have fled Libya’s fighting to neighboring Tunisia and Egypt in what it called a humanitarian emergency.

The numbers seem to have increased over the weekend as armed rebel forces moved closer to a showdown with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and his loyalists who were standing their ground in Tripoli, the capital, and a handful of other places.

The executive director of the World Food Program was traveling to Tunisia on Monday to meet with government officials on refugees’ needs and the impact on the region. In Geneva, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States Agency for International Development was dispatching two teams to Libya’s borders in Tunisia and Egypt to assess the need for emergency assistance. USAID, she said, had set aside $10 million funds for humanitarian assistance and begun an inventory of American emergency food supplies.

U.S dispatches aircraft carrier to waters near Libya

By NANCY A. YOUSSEF, JONATHAN S. LANDAY AND WARREN P. STROBEL

McClatchy Newspapers

BENGHAZI, Libya — The United States is moving naval and air forces, including an aircraft carrier, into the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, U.S. officials said Monday, as the Obama administration and its allies consider how to respond to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s brutal efforts to suppress a widespread rebellion among civilians and army troops.

The U.S. decision comes as Gadhafi appeared to be making a concerted effort to retake control of Zawiya, a town about 30 miles west of Tripoli that has been in rebel hands since last week. Two people reached separately by phone said heavy fighting had broken out in the early evening Monday as militias loyal to Gadhafi attacked from both the east and the west.

World’s message to Libyan leader Gaddafi: time to end your regime

Russia and China join west in UN war crimes ruling as Britain revokes immunity for leader and family

Aramco Ready to Make Up Any Shortfall as Libya Exports Cut

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state oil company, is ready to compensate for any shortfall in crude supply, Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al-Falih said, as oil prices rally on potential shortages from Libya.

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Feb. 22 that his country and other OPEC members would make up for any production losses. The International Energy Agency said in a Feb. 25 statement that Saudi Arabia has been offering extra crude supplies to offset lost Libyan barrels.

Zawiyah: 30 miles from Tripoli, the city on the frontline of Libya’s revolt

The city of Zawiyah, controlled by rebels but surrounded by Gaddafi loyalists, is a metaphor for the current stalemate

Libya crisis: Britain mulling no-fly zone and arms for rebels, says Cameron

Prime minister tells MPs he has asked defence ministry to work on plans for military no-fly zone over Gaddafi’s riven country

Italy suspends friendship treaty with Libya

(CNN) — Italy has suspended a treaty it signed three years ago with Libya that includes a nonaggression clause, a spokesman for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

“The friendship treaty is null and void,” said Aldo Amati, deputy press secretary for the ministry, in a telephone interview. Under the 2008 treaty between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Italy paid Libya $5 billion to compensate Libya for the colonial rule.

“We no longer consider the Gadhafi government as our interlocutor, so we don’t think it’s applicable right now.”

Egypt unveils political reform

As constitutional amendments are rolled out , restrictions on religious political parties remain.

A panel of experts set up by Egypt’s ruling military council to amend the constitution has unveiled the first set of political reform since the revolution.

Sobhi Saleh, a member of the judicial committee appointed by the military council, told Reuters news agency, that the army is set to cancel a law which gave ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s administration the power to decide who

was allowed to form a party, .

The panel is also expected to call a referendum in March on historic changes to the constitution unveiled on Saturday, including reforms that will open up competition for the post of president which Mubarak held for 30 years.

Hosni Mubarak barred from leaving Egypt

Attorney general announces travel ban and freeze on Hosni Mubarak’s domestic assets in possible prelude to prosecution

The measures extend to Mubarak’s wife and children – including his youngest son, Gamal, a former banker and close associate of many of Egypt’s leading businessmen – and may be the prelude to a formal prosecution.

A number of former ministers from the deposed regime have already been made subject to travel bans and asset freezes since Mubarak was forced out of office on 11 February, and many are now facing possible trial on charges ranging from corruption to the unlawful killing of protesters.

Until now Mubarak had seemed to be shielded from investigation by the ruling military council, a source of much anger among pro-change demonstrators who accuse army generals of cutting a deal with the former leader.

Oman protests spread, road to port blocked

SOHAR, Oman (Reuters) – Demonstrators blocked roads to a main port in northern Oman and looted a nearby supermarket on Monday, part of protests to demand more jobs and political reform that have spread to the sultanate’s capital.

A doctor said six people had been killed in clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police on Sunday in the northern industrial town of Sohar. Oman’s health minister said one person had been killed and 20 wounded.

Hundreds of protesters blocked access to an industrial area that includes the port, a refinery and aluminum factory. A port spokeswoman said exports of refined oil products of about 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the port were unaffected.

US ‘committed to defence relations’

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, during his talks with Bahrain’s leadership, reaffirmed his country’s strong commitment to the military relationship with Bahraini defence forces, said Captain John Kirby, the admiral’s spokesman.

Admiral Mullen thanked Bahraini leaders “for the very measured way they have been handling the popular crisis here”, during his meeting with His Majesty King Hamad and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, said the spokesman.

US supports ‘national dialogue’ in Bahrain: Obama

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama extended US support for a “national dialogue” in Bahrain, and said it should be “inclusive, non-sectarian and responsive” to the people of the Gulf kingdom.

Obama’s statement came a day after King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa reshuffled his cabinet and allowed the return to the country of an exiled opposition leader after 13 days of protests.

As protests continued Sunday in Bahrain, Obama welcomed the king’s changes and reaffirmation of his commitment to reform.

Exposing the Dirty Tricks

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” Sir Walter Scott

The plot to undermine the Wikileaks attack on banks is certainly one of those tangled webs. The recent revelations the not only were Bank of America  and the Chamber of Commerce involved but the United States Air Force. They all had either hired or consulted a little known cyber-security firm HBgary to learn about and discredit their detractors. The plot was exposed by one of their targets, Anonymous, who hacked not just HBgary’s computers but hacked the private e-mail from its CEO,s i-phone and his Twitter account.

Another of HBgary’s targets, Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald, has been making rounds talking about the plans to discredit journalists. He has made appearances on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report and Democracy Now! discussing the implications of this plot. Mr. Greenwald also talked with Cenk Uygur specifically about this plan, the latest revelations of the use of psy-ops against American citizens, specifically, US Congress members to get them to support the Afghan war and the Obama administration’s vigorous crack down on whistle blowers.

Reporting the Revolution: 26.02.2011

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>This is The Guardian Live Blog from Libya.

Al Jazeera English also has a Live Blog stream that is up dated regularly.

Protests and violence continued across the region on Friday. The International community is considering its options and in a rare move the UN Human Rights Commission took sanctions against one of its own members, Libya. Meeting in Geneva, the commission voted unanimously recommending suspension of Libya from the Geneva-based body and decided to conduct an independent probe into violations by the Qadhafi regime, which has launched a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.  

The United States closed down the embassy in Tripoli as the last of its diplomatic personnel were airlifted to safety. President Barack Obama signed an executive order freezing the assets of Gaddafi, his family and top officials, as well as the Libyan government, the country’s central bank and sovereign wealth funds.

Thousands demanded reform in Jordan and in Bahrain more changes. Virtually isolated in Tripoli, the military still loyal to Gaddafi opened fire on unarmed protesters.

As Libya uprising reaches Tripoli Gaddafi vows to ‘open up the arsenals’

Gaddafi gives a defiant speech to cheering supporters, as witnesses report indiscriminate firing on demonstrators

Libya’s uprising reached the heart of Tripoli on Friday as anti-regime demonstrators defied a security clampdown to demand Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow amid hopes that key military units in the west of the country would defect.

Gunmen in cars reportedly opened fire on protesters as they streamed out of mosques after Friday prayers. Witnesses described shooting in streets near Green Square in the heart of the city.

Information remained patchy, confused and sometimes contradictory, but up to seven people were reported shot dead in Janzour, Fashlum, Bin Ashour, Zawiyat al-Dahmani and other urban areas. “Security forces fired indiscriminately on the demonstrators,” said one resident.

Later, Gaddafi appeared in Green Square to give another angry and defiant speech to crowds of supporters waving banners and cheering him – a message that he is alive and in control – as he pledged to “open up the arsenals”.

Gaddafi vows to crush protesters

Libyan leader speaks to supporters in the capital’s Green Square, saying he will arm people against protesters.

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has appeared in Tripoli’s Green Square, to address a crowd of his supporters in the capital.

The speech, which also referred to Libya’s war of independence with Italy, appeared to be aimed at rallying what remains of his support base, with specific reference to the country’s youth.

“We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people,” Gaddafi said, in footage that was aired on Libyan state television on Friday.

“I am in the middle of the people.. we will fight … we will defeat them if they want … we will defeat any foreign aggression.

“Dance … sing and get ready … this is the spirit … this is much better than the lies of the Arab propaganda,” he said.

Libya: International response gathers pace after Gaddafi counterattacks

No-fly zone or sanctions among options being considered as world bids to force Libyan leader to end the violence

International efforts to respond to the Libyan crisis are gathering pace under US leadership after a still defiant Muammar Gaddafi launched counterattacks to defend Tripoli against the popular uprising now consolidating its hold on the liberated east of the country.

The White House said Barack Obama planned to call David Cameron and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to discuss possible actions, including a no-fly zone or sanctions to force the Libyan leader to end the violence. Switzerland said it had frozen Gaddafi’s assets.

Gaddafi, in power for 42 years, has used aircraft, tanks and foreign mercenaries in eight days of violence that has killed hundreds in the bloodiest of the uprisings to shake the Arab world. Up to 2,000 people may have died, it was claimed by a senior French human rights official.

Friday protests grip Middle East

Opposing political camps rally in Yemen while protesters vent anger after prayers in Jordan, Iraq and Bahrain.

Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president, have held rival rallies in the capital, Sanaa.

Protesters outside Sanaa University repeated slogans demanding that the country’s longtime president step down immediately, chanting: “The people demand the downfall of the regime.”

About 4km away, loyalists shouted support for the president, who they described as holding the fractured and impoverished tribal country together. “The creator of unity is in our hearts. We will not abandon him,” they chanted.

Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Sanaa, said that while the situation is calm in the capital, due to the huge presence of police and military, there have been reports of protesters being killed in the south of the country.

“The situation in Aden [in the south] is very tense, two people have been killed and at least 24 pro-democracy protesters were injured in clashes with security forces [today],” he said.

“Security forces have been asked by the ministry of the interior to block the main square to put an end to the escalations there, as it is the stronghold of the secessionist movement who want to break away from the north.

“There have been huge rallies in the province of Sadah, the stronghold of the Houthi fighters. They have said they are joining the protesters and that their fight will be similar to the fight of thousands of protesters who are asking for an end to the political regime.”

Yemen has been swept up in protests inspired by the recent successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The demonstrators are demanding that Saleh, in power for 32 years, step down.

Deaths in Iraq pro-reform rallies

At least 12 protesters killed by security forces, amid nationwide “day of rage” against corruption and poor services.

Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets across the country to protest against corruption and a lack of basic services in an organised nationwide “day of rage”, inspired by uprisings around the Arab world.

In two northern Iraqi cities, security forces trying to push back crowds opened fire on Friday, killing at least 12 demonstrators.

In Baghdad, the capital, demonstrators knocked down blast walls, threw rocks and scuffled with club-wielding troops.

Hundreds of people carrying Iraqi flags and banners streamed into Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, which was under heavy security.

Military vehicles and security forces lined the streets around the square and nearby Jumhuriya bridge was blocked off.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said there was a violent standoff between the protesters and the riot police on the bridge that leads to the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Ahmed Rushdi, head of the House of Iraq Expertise Foundation, tried to join the protests in Baghdad but was prevented from doing so by the army.

“This is not a political protest, but a protest by the people of Iraq. We want social reform, jobs for young people and direct supervision because there is lots of corruption,” Rushdi told Al Jazeera.

“If [prime minister Nouri] al-Maliki does not listen, we will continue this protest. He told everyone that we are Saddamists, but that is not right. We are normal Iraqi people.”

Eight years after the US-led invasion which ousted Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, development in the country remains slow and there are shortages of food, water, electricity and jobs.

Protesters confirmed that they were protesting for a better life and better basic services.

“We are free young men and we are not belonging to a certain ideological movement but we ask for our simple legitimate demands that include the right of education and the right of decent life,” Malik Abdon, a protester, said.

Reporting the Revolution: 24.02.2011

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>This is The Guardian Live Blog from Libya.

Al Jazeera English also has a Live Blog stream that is up dated regularly.

Libyan “madman” Muammar Gaddafi again took to the public airways via a telephone statement that the rebellion is being run by Al-Qaeda and that the young protesters were being drugged by Osama bin Laden. Tripoli is paralyzed and, according to foreign reports, food and fuel are in short supply contradicting  Libyan official reports that everything is “normal”. Phone and internet service is intermittent.

Mustafa Abdel Galil, who resigned three days ago as justice minister, speaking to Al Jazeera, said that Gaddafi had chemical weapons and would not hesitate to use them. The United Nation’s Human Rights Council will meet in Geneva to decide to send a team to investigate violations of international human rights law in Libya.

In the east, the cities of Benghazi and Tobruk are now under the control of a civilian council of lawyers and doctors with the aid of military officers who turned on Gaddafi. Ferries have docked in Benghazi to aid in the evacuation of foreign residents and tourists. The eastern border with Egypt has been opened and tent hospitals and aid stations have been set up to care for the wounded and sick. Doctor Without Borders is sending a team from France to help the Egyptians.

Even as Gaddafi digs in, much of the country is out of his control and the military is deserting him. His assets in foreign banks have been frozen. Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, one of Gaddafi’s top security official and a cousin, defected and left the country on Wednesday evening, stating differences over “grave violations to human rights and human and international laws”. It would seem that it just a matter of time before Gaddafi is gone. The cost to be rid if him will be high.

Oil prices soar to 30-month high amid uprisings

Oil prices climbed to their highest level in 30 months in London today as Libya’s uprising reduced shipments and sparked fears of unrest spreading across the Middle East.

Brent crude hit 119 US dollars a barrel for the first time since August 2008, while benchmark crude for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up nearly four dollars at 101.67 US dollars.

Foreigners flee Libyan chaos

Countries around the world step up efforts to evacuate citizens, but some warn an exodus of refugees could spark crisis.

Nations around the world are evacuating thousands of people from the violent unrest in Libya, amid fears in some countries that the situation will lead to an exodus of illegal immigrants.

On Thursday, European nationals and thousands of Chinese people landed on the Greek island of Crete, after boarding chartered ferries from Libya, while scores of Britons were evacuated via military plane to the Mediterranean island of Malta.

Gaddafi daughter denies fleeing

Aisha Gaddafi, the daughter of the Libyan leader, appears on state TV to deny reports that she tried to flee to Malta.

Aisha Gaddafi, the daughter of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has appeared on state television, denying a report she tried to flee to Malta.

There had been reports on Wednesday that a Libyan plane carrying Gaddafi’s daughter had been turned back from Malta after it was denied permission to land.

Algeria repeals emergency law

Scrapping the draconian law to placate growing discontent had been a major demand made by the opposition parties.

Algeria’s cabinet has adopted an order to lift a 19-year-old state of emergency in a concession designed to avoid the tide of uprisings sweeping the Arab world, but protesters said the measure did not go far enough.

A draft law approved by the cabinet would repeal the emergency law as soon as it is published in the government’s official journal, the official Algerie Presse Service reported on Wednesday.

Hosni Mubarak’s cronies face corruption charges in Cairo court

Three stalwarts of the deposed Egyptian president are greeted by angry crowd at courthouse

Three former stalwarts of Hosni Mubarak’s regime have appeared in a Cairo court to face charges ranging from abuse of state power to squandering public wealth.

The trio – former housing minister Ahmed Maghrapi, former tourism minister Zuheir Garana and Ahmed Ezz, steel tycoon and one-time secretary general of Hosni Mubarak’s NDP party – arrived in police cars clanging with the sound of pelted stones and got out at the courthouse to a chorus of deafening insults.

Yemen to ‘protect protesters’

President Saleh instructs security forces to protect demonstrators after at least 15 protesters have been killed.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president, has issued a directive ordering his security forces to protect demonstrators trying to end his 32-year rule, after at least 15 people have been killed in the country’s recent unrest.

The statement, relayed by the Yemeni press attaché in Washington on Thursday, said Saleh had “demanded security services to offer full protection for the demonstrators”.

“Late this evening [Wednesday] … Saleh instructed all security services to thwart all clashes and prevent direct confrontation between pro- and anti-government protesters,” it said.

“Furthermore, the government calls on protesters to remain vigilant and take all precautionary steps to prevent the infiltrations of individuals seeking to carry out violent actions.

“The government … will continue to protect the rights of its citizens to assemble peacefully and their right to freedom of expression,” the statement said.

Thousands of protesters were camping out for a fifth day in an impromptu tent city outside Sanaa University. Members of the university’s professors’ union also turned out to support  the demonstrators, who have one demand: that Saleh step down.

Students killed at Yemen rally

Protests turn deadly as the president’s supporters open fire on anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Sanaa.

Under the Radar: Look Over Here

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Here’s some of the other news that gets missed or relegated to the inner pages by our ratings fixated media and what some of the loonies have been “plotting”.

  • Apparently somebody at the Justice Department told the White House that defending war criminals, even in a civil law suit, just might be problematic.

    The Justice Department under President Barack Obama has quietly dropped its legal representation of more than a dozen Bush-era Pentagon and administration officials – including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and aide Paul Wolfowitz – in a lawsuit by Al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla, who spent years behind bars without charges in conditions his lawyers compare to torture.

    Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, confirmed Tuesday that the government has agreed to retain private lawyers for the officials, at a cost of up to $200 per hour. Miller said “conflicts concerns” prompted the decision. He did not elaborate.

    (emphasis mine)

  • Is New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on the White House payroll? Sure sounds like it. Again Keller, at the request of the White House withheld information from a news story. On January 27, Raymond Davis, who works at the US Embassy, killed two Pakistani men alleging they were threatening him. The White House has claimed that Davis is a diplomat and Pakistan cannot hold him. What was known but not released by the NYT, at the Obama administrations request, was that Davis, a former special forces soldier, was actually working for the CIA and, in fact, worked for Xe, aka Blackwater.

    This is not the first time that the NYT has done the bidding of the administration in power. Keller even boasted in a BBC interview that the NYT had earned the praise of the U.S. Government for withholding materials which the Obama administration wanted withheld.

    The NYT is now Pravda and Izvestia all in one.

  • Arizona may be overboard on a few issues like guns, immigration and denial of transplants under Medicare but the criminal justice system got it right in two cases.

    Jury Convicts Iraqi Immigrant in ‘Honor Killing’ of Daughter

    Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 50, also was convicted of aggravated assault for injuries suffered by the mother of his daughter’s boyfriend during the October 2009 incident in a suburban Phoenix parking lot, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

    Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that he mowed down 20-year-old Noor Almaleki with his Jeep Cherokee because she had brought the family dishonor by becoming too Westernized. He wanted Noor Almaleki to act like a traditional Iraq woman, but she refused an arranged marriage, went to college and had a boyfriend.

    Border Activist Sentenced to Death for Fatal Home Invasion

    Forde was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009, deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia Flores, 9. She was also found guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of Gina Gonzalez, Flores’ wife and Brisenia’s mother.

    Prosecutors said Forde decided to target the house in Arivaca, Ariz., because she believed Flores was a drug smuggler and would have cash in the house. She wanted money to fund her border protection group, Minutemen American Defense, prosecutors said.

  • It’s Gotta Be Bad If Even Bob Barr Gets It

    Cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Sen. Al Franken, (D-MI) has called Internet Freedom the most important free speech issue of our time. That Freedom is now being threatened by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) who have introduced a bill that would essentially give the President the authority to shut down the internet with new national emergency powers, aka a “kill switch”:

    President Obama would be given the power to “issue a declaration of a national cyberemergency.” Once that happens, Homeland Security would receive sweeping new authorities, including the power to require that so-called critical companies “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action” decreed.

    No “notice” needs to be given “before mandating any emergency measure or actions.” That means a company could be added to the “critical” infrastructure list one moment, and ordered by Homeland Security to “immediately comply” with its directives the next.

    The U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Lieberman chairs, appears to believe that it’s not necessary to include explicit judicial review of the president’s emergency authority once exercised, believing it’s implicit. Any such lawsuit filed by a targeted company would likely focus on language saying the emergency decrees should be “the least disruptive means feasible.”

    The president may declare a “cyberemergency” for 30 days, and extend it for one 30-day period, unless Congress votes to approve further extensions.

    Homeland Security will “establish and maintain a list of systems or assets that constitute covered critical infrastructure” and that will be subject to those emergency decrees.

    (emphasis mine)

    The ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson said”It still gives the president incredible authority to interfere with Internet communications.” If the Department of Homeland Security wants to pull the plug on Web sites or networks, she said, “the government needs to go to court and get a court order.” I  light of the recent erroneous seizure of 84,000 web sites by the Department of Homeland Security that took them off line even Bob Barr has weighed in with this statement:

    No government – no matter how benign or well-meaning – should be empowered to control the Internet. Moreover, the Congress should take a long, hard look at how federal agencies are using – and abusing – their existing powers to control parts of the Internet.

    Holy FSM. They’re even calling this bill “Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act.”

    Liars

    Hello!!!! Does this sound familiar?????? Egypt, Libya, anyone?????

    From Egypt to Wisconsin with Love

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Michael Moore has asked that we spread this message from the trade unions and workers in Egypt to the unions and workers in Wisconsin. Also, wear something RED today in support of the Wisconsin state workers.

    ‘We Stand With You as You Stood With Us’

    The poster in the background shows photographs of some of the recent young victims of the Mubarak government. The writing says they are among the martyrs of the 25 January Revolution.

    KAMAL ABBAS: I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, “Liberation Square”, which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights.

    From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.

    I want you to know that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.

    No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable.

    We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don’t waiver. Don’t give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.

    We and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support.

    As our just struggle for freedom, democracy and justice succeeded, your struggle will succeed. Victory belongs to you when you stand firm and remain steadfast in demanding your just rights.

    We support you. we support the struggle of the peoples of Libya, Bahrain and Algeria, who are fighting for their just rights and falling martyrs in the face of the autocratic regimes. The peoples are determined to succeed no matter the sacrifices and they will be victorious.

    Today is the day of the American workers. We salute you American workers! You will be victorious. Victory belongs to all the people of the world, who are fighting against exploitation, and for their just rights.

    Reporting the Revolution: They Will Not Be Silenced (Up Date)

    Cross posted at The Stars Hollow Gazette

    class=”BrightcoveExperience”>This is The Guardian Live Blog from Libya

    The protests against repressive regimes has taken a violent turn over the last three days with police, the military and some armed counter protesters shooting and beating the unarmed, peaceful demonstrators in Bahrain, Libya and other countries in the region. Yesterday Human Rights Watch has reported at 173 protesters have been killed over the last five days in Libya and reports from hospitals there say 20 more were killed on Sunday. Other sources are putting the death toll at over 200. Reporting is hampered because journalists and the news media has been barred.  The US is relying on reports from the HRW and other observers. News coming in from CNN say that [Benghazi now in the hands of Libyan protesters and that some of the military has now gone over to supporting the protest. CNN has reports coming from citizens, on the ground in Libya, calling the network.

    Saif el Islam, Gaddafi’s son spoke on Libyan state TV. It is unknown if the telecast was live or taped.

    Gaddafi’s son talks of conspiracy

    Clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters escalate, as army unit ‘defects’ in Benghazi

    Saif el Islam, Gaddafi’s son speaking live on Libyan television says there is a plot to break Libya into small Islamic states.

    While admitting that the army and police made mistakes during protests, he said reported death tolls were exaggerated.

    He warned of a civil war that will burn Libya’s oil wealth and of a “foreign conspiracy by fellow Arabs” set in motion against Libya.

    He said protesters have seized control of some military bases and tanks.

    Appearing on Libyan state television Sunday night, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi warned of civil war in the country that would burn its oil wealth.

    He also acknowledged that the army made mistakes during protests because troops were not prepared to battle demonstrators.

    Address comes as security forces have shot dead scores of protesters in Libya’s second largest city, where residents said a military unit had joined their cause.

    .

    The Guardian has Live Blogs covering Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Morocco.

    Al Jazeera English also has a Live Blog of Libya

    Up Date: 2/21 @ 0200hrs EST:

    Rights Advocate Warns Massacre Looming in Libya

    An official of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said her organization is increasingly concerned and seriously alarmed about what she described as the ongoing murder of unarmed protesters who are demanding reforms in Libya.

    Heba Fatma Morayef, researcher for the Rights Organization for Egypt and Libya, told VOA it appears is behind the shootings deaths of the unarmed protesters since the Tunisian and Egyptian-inspired protests in the North African country.

    “The overall death toll now is at 223 and that is just in the previous days. Regardless of who is doing the shooting, in this case, whether its mercenaries, whether its plainclothes individuals with weapons, the responsibility remains (for) the state to protect the demonstrators,” said Morayef.

    Oil Rises as Libya Violence Prompts Middle East Supply Concern

    Oil for April delivery rose for a fourth day in New York as violence escalated in Libya, bolstering concern supplies will be disrupted as turmoil spreads through the Middle East and North Africa.

    Crude gained as much as 2.2 percent after Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s son warned that a civil war would risk the country’s oil wealth. Security forces have launched attacks on anti-government protesters, killing more than 200 people, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. The North African nation, holder of the largest crude reserves on the continent, pumped 1.6 million barrels a day of oil in January, equivalent of about 8 percent of U.S. consumption.

    US condemns Libya crackdown

    Top US and EU diplomats denounce violence against protesters but stop short of calling for a change of government.

    Western countries have expressed concern at the rising violence against demonstrators in Libya.

    The United States said it was deeply concerned by credible reports of hundreds of deaths and injuries during protests in Libya, and urged the government to allow demonstrators to protest peacefully.

    “The United States is gravely concerned with disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “We have raised to a number of Libyan officials … our strong objections to the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators.”

    The State Department said US embassy dependents were being encouraged to leave Libya and US citizens were urged to defer nonessential travel to the country.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice spoke out against brutal crackdowns on protesters in Libya and Bahrain but stopped short of calling for a change of government in any of the countries facing large protests.

    Gaddafi’s son warns of civil war

    Appearing on Libyan state television, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi says his father is in the country and has support of army.

    A son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has promised a programme of reforms after bloody protests against his father’s rule reached the capital, Tripoli.

    Saif al-Islam Gaddafi also hit out at those behind the violence. He said protests against his father’s rule, which have been concentrated in the east of the country, threatened to sink Libya into civil war and split the country up into several small states.

    Gaddafi’s turbulent US relations

    Libya has become a key player despite decades-long image of political pariah.

    A weedy, overgrown backyard in Englewood, New Jersey seemed likely for a time last week to become the scene of the latest flashpoint in Libyan-US relations.

    Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, is planning his first visit to the US since he seized power in a military coup 40 years ago. He is set to address the yearly UN General Assembly in September.

    Now, wherever the long-time Libyan leader goes, he likes to take a little bit of Libya with him – in the form of a huge, air-conditioned Bedouin-style tent. He pitched his pavilion in the Kremlin during a visit to Moscow. In Rome, the tent sat prominently in a public park.

    Gaddafi initially planned to set up camp in Manhattan’s Central Park, but Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, said no dice.  So a squadron of gardeners and construction workers descended on the dilapidated estate of Libya’s UN ambassador in lovely Englewood, a suburb of 30,000 people with a large Orthodox Jewish community.

    You can guess what happened next. Protests were organised. Petitions were passed around. Lawsuits flew hither and yon.

    Perhaps unexpectedly, Gaddafi backed down. There will be no tent party in Englewood, and the Colonel will stick to Manhattan on his visit.

    Tunisia seeks Ben Ali’s extradition

    Officials have formally requested the extradition of former president from Saudi Arabia, where he fled last month.

    The 74-year-old former leader is reportedly very ill in hospital after suffering a stroke. Rumours are rife that the former leader might be dead.

    Moroccans march to seek change

    Demonstrators demand large-scale political and economic reforms in the North African kingdom.

    Calls for change sweeping the Arab world have now spread to the kingdom of Morocco, where thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital to demand a new constitution.

    The demonstrators shouted slogans calling for economic opportunity, educational reform, better health services and help in coping with rising living costs during the march on central Hassan II Avenue in Rabat on Sunday.

    A protest organiser said the turnout at the rally was more than 5,000. But police said fewer than 3,000 people had marched.

    Many in the crowd waved Tunisian and Egyptian flags, in recognition of the uprisings that toppled the two country’s long-standing rulers.

    Algerian police break up protest

    Several people are injured and others are arrested as police thwart pro-democracy rally in capital Algiers, reports say.

    Algerian police in riot gear have used batons to break up a crowd of hundreds of opposition supporters trying to take part in a protest march inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.

    Police brandishing clubs, but no firearms, weaved their way through the crowd in central Algiers on Saturday, banging their shields, tackling some protesters and keeping traffic flowing through the planned march route.

    Reports of new protests in Iran

    Security forces clashed with anti-government protesters and briefly detained the daughter of Iran’s former president.

    There are reports of renewed anti-government protests in Iran, with demonstrators taking to the streets in several cities across the country.

    There have also been clashes between protesters and security forces, posts on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter said on Sunday. There were also reports of one protester being shot dead in Tehran, a story denied by government official in state media.

    The official IRNA reported that Faezeh Rafsanjani, the daughter of ex-president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been among those arrested for particiapting in the protest. Fars news agency reported that she was released shortly thereafter.

    Shots fired at Yemen demonstration

    Leader of Yemen’s separatist movement arrested in Aden amid countrywide protests against President Saleh.

    Shots have been fired at a demonstration in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, as anti-government protests in the impoverished Arab country entered their 11th consecutive day.

    Thousands of people also staged sit-ins in the cities of Ibb and Taiz on Sunday, demanding the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who renewed his call for opposition parties to pursue a dialogue with the government.

    Reporting the Revolution: February 17 Up Date 1930 hrs EST

    Cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    class=”BrightcoveExperience”> The protests are spreading across the Middle East. What started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. Two protesters were killed in Manama, Bahrain as heavily armed police made an early morning raid on sleeping unarmed protesters in Pearl Square. Using tear gas and percussion grenades, many men, women and children were overcome and trampled in the chaos. Two people were reported killed and hundreds are in hospitals. In Libya protesters are preparing for a “day of rage” against the 40 year old repressive regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Two protesters were reported killed there yesterday

    The best English reporting is coming from Al Jazeera with a Live Blog from Bahrain

    The Guardian also continues with live updates from the region.

    Up Date: 1930 hrs EST Latest News Reports:

    Bahrain’s quiet anger turns to rage

    Demonstrators vow to avenge three men killed by police during a pre-dawn raid on their base camp in the centre of the capital

    The demonstrators have vowed to avenge three men killed by riot police during a pre-dawn raid on their base camp in the centre of the capital. The raid left their tent city in ruins and temporarily destroyed hopes of a peaceful change. They had spent the day regrouping inside the grounds of the hospital after being evicted from the Pearl Roundabout by up to 500 officers who attacked them shortly after 3.15am on Thursday.

    Their numbers had grown to around 4,000 by late afternoon, rallied by calls through social media and by a restless middle class, which until now had not been prominent in protests.

    Violent response to Bahrain protest

    Troops and tanks lock down capital of Manama after police smash into demonstrators in pre-dawn assault, killing four.

    Troops and tanks have locked down the Bahraini capital of Manama on Thursday after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators in a pre-dawn assault, killing at least four people.

    Hours after the attack on Manama’s main Pearl Roundabout, the military announced a ban on gatherings, saying on state TV that it had “key parts” of the capital under its control.

    Khalid Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, justified the crackdown as necessary because the demonstrators were “polarising the country” and pushing it to the “brink of the sectarian abyss”.

    Speaking to reporters after meeting with his Gulf counterparts, he also said the violence was “regrettable”. Two people had died in police firing on the protesters prior to Thursday’s deadly police raid.

    Bahrain uses UK-supplied weapons in protest crackdown

    MoD to review arms export licences after Bahrain clears protesters with UK-made crowd-controls weapons such as teargas and stun grenades

    The British government has launched a review of arms exports to Bahrain after it emerged that the country’s security forces were supplied with weapons by the United Kingdom.

    After a bloody crackdown in the capital, Manama, left up to five people dead and more than 100 injured, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the government will “urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the [UK and European Union] criteria”.

    Bahrain security forces accused of deliberately recruiting foreign nationals

    Al Khalifa regime hires non-native Sunni Muslims in concerted effort to swing balance in Shia-majority Bahrain, say analysts

    Bahrain’s security forces are the backbone of the Al Khalifa regime, now facing unprecedented unrest after overnight shootings. But large numbers of their personnel are recruited from other countries, including Jordan, Pakistan and Yemen.

    Tanks and troops from Saudi Arabia were also reported to have been deployed in support of Bahraini forces.

    Precise numbers are a closely guarded secret, but in recent years the Manama government has made a concerted effort to recruit non-native Sunni Muslims as part of an attempt to swing the demographic balance against the Shia majority – who make up around 65% of the population of 1 million.

    Libya’s day of rage met by bullets and loyalists

    Gaddafi supporters clash with protesters in al-Bayda and Benghazi on the second day of unrest in the country

    Libya’s government has brought out its supporters to express their loyalty to try to stifle a planned “day of rage”, but sporadic violence has continued in the east of the country, far from Tripoli.

    Unconfirmed reports said up to 15 people have now died in the unrest.

    Clashes were reported for a second day between supporters of Muammar Gaddafi and the relatives of two men killed during a protest in al-Bayda on Wednesday, when unrest also erupted in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and opposition stronghold.

    Snipers were said to have killed four more protesters in Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, where six more dead were reported by the Libya al-Yawm news website. “There are thousands of people in the centre of town, and it is spreading, and they are being repressed,” said Ramadan Jarbou, a leading local journalist.

    Egypt detains ex-ministers

    Three former ministers close to Mubarak held on suspicion of wasting public funds in an attempt to calm public outrage.

    An Egyptian prosecutor on Thursday ordered the detention of three ex-ministers and a prominent businessman pending

    trial on suspicion of wasting public funds.

    The prosecutor dealing with financial crimes said former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli, former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana, former Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz must be held for 15 days.

    All four have denied any wrongdoing.

    ElBaradei criticizes Egypt’s military rulers

    Egypt’s new military rulers came under criticism Thursday from a leading democracy advocate as well as from youth and women’s groups for what they say is a failure to make decisions openly and include a larger segment of society.

    Five days after ousting Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising, Egyptians continued protests and strikes over a host of grievances from paltry wages to toxic-waste dumping. They defied the second warning in three days from the ruling Armed Forces Supreme Council to halt all labor unrest at a time when the economy is staggering.

    The caretaker government also gave its first estimate of the death toll in the 18-day uprising. Health Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said at least 365 civilians died according to a preliminary count that does not include police or prisoners

    Yemen clerics urge unity government

    Influential group of clerics demand transitional unity government, as two demonstrators are shot in continuing violence.

    A group of senior clerics in Yemen has called for the formation of a national unity government in order to save the country from chaos.

    The influential figures are demanding a transitional unity government that would see the opposition represented in key ministries, followed by elections in six months.

    They say the move would place Yemen in the same situation as Egypt and Tunisia, without suffering bloodshed.

    Their comments on Thursday came amid fresh clashes between thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters in Sanaa, the capital.

    The US Constitution Has Been Suspended by the GOP

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    While we were watching the Egyptians take back their country, our so-called representatives in the House were destroying ours. From John Nichols at The Nation:

    House GOP Rejects Requirement That PATRIOT Act Surveillances Be Conducted in Complaince With Constitution

    Less than a month after making a show of reading the U.S. Constitution into the Congressional Record, the leaders of the Republican-controlled U.S. House enginnered a vote to extend the surveillance authorities that both the Bush and Obama administrations have used to conduct “roving surveillance” of communications, to collect and examine business recordsand to target individuals who are not tied to terrorist groups for surveillance.

    While most Democrats opposed the extension of the surveillance authorities — rejecting aggressive lobbying by the Obama administration and its allies in the House GOP leadership — overwhelming Republican support won approval of the legislation on a a 275-144 vote. Thus, the supposedly Constitution-obsessed House has endorsed a measure that is widely seen — not just by Democrats and progressives but by Republicans and conservatives — as a constant threat to privacy protections outlined in the document’s 4th Amendment.

    As Michelle Richardson, the legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, noted Monday night: “It has been nearly a decade since the Patriot Act was passed and our lawmakers still refuse to make any meaningful changes to this reactionary law. The right to privacy from government is a cornerstone of our country’s foundation and Americans must be free from the kind of unwarranted government surveillance that the Patriot Act allows. If Congress cannot take the time to insert the much needed privacy safeguards the Patriot Act needs, it should allow these provisions to expire.”

    The 275 votes for extending the surveillance authorities came from 210 Republicans and 65 Democrats.

    snip

    More remarkable was the House vote on a motion offered by the Democrats, which sought to recommit the bill with instructions to add language ensuring that surveillances would only be conducted in compliance with the U.S. Constitution.

    That motion lost on a 234-186 vote.

    144 Americans stood up against this, 127 Democrats that included Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Michigan’s John Conyers, and 27 Republicans. Patriots all.

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