Tag Archive: WikLeaks Founder Assange Loses U.K. Extradition Appeal


Politics and Legislation

UK minister denies colluding with Murdochs

Published on May 31, 2012 by

Britain’s culture minister has denied having inappropriate contacts with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in testimony before a public inquiry, as pressure continues to mount on Prime Minister David Cameron’s government over the issue.

Jeremy Hunt, appearing before the Leveson media standards inquiry on Thursday, admitted that he was “sympathetic” towards US-based News Corporation’s failed bid to control British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Sharp reports from London.

GOP 2012 Voter Suppression Begins in Florida

Published on May 31, 2012 by

From the Majority Report, live M-F 12 noon EST and via daily podcast at http://Majority.FM:
Thousands upon thousands of eligible voters are being told they cannot vote in Florida…

‘ACTA could turn honest citizens into criminals by mistake’

Amazing  how  they  can see through  this move in  Europe  and no one  can seem  to  see their way  clear  of the  subterfuge hidden  within  this legislation here  in the United  States!  Makes  you  wonder  huh ?

Published on May 31, 2012 by

The controversial ACTA anti-piracy agreement has been dealt a blow by the European Parliament. Three key committees have voted against the treaty, citing concerns over its legality. ACTA sparked Europe-wide protests, with activists saying online freedom of speech is being put at risk.

Rick Falkvinge from the Swedish Pirate Party says the treaty is confused at best.

FISA: US under total surveillance

Published on May 31, 2012 by

On Thursday, US lawmakers discussed whether or not the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act should be renewed. FISA gives government the power to monitor phone calls, emails and other forms of electronic communication. Critics believe that FISA can now be used to target citizens all in the name of homeland security. Andrew Blake, RT’s web producer, joins us with more on the controversial legislation and discusses other legislation such as CISPA, SOPA and PIPA.

 

 

House rejects bill penalizing doctors for sex-selective abortions

By Pete Kasperowicz

The House on Thursday rejected a Republican bill that would impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions for the sole purpose of controlling the gender of the child, a practice known as sex-selective abortion.

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, was defeated in a 246-168 vote. While that’s a clear majority of the House, Republicans called up the bill under a suspension of House rules, which limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass. In this case, it would have required more support from Democrats.

 

Twenty Democrats voted for the bill, while seven Republicans opposed it. The bill would have needed 30 more yeas to pass.

Suspension votes are normally used for noncontroversial bills, but the GOP-backed measure was clearly controversial. Republicans have occasionally put controversial bills on the suspension calendar in order to highlight that Democrats oppose certain policies.

In some cases, Republicans have rescheduled these bills for regular consideration after they have failed, allowing for passage by a simple majority. But Republicans gave no sign that they would try again with PRENDA.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated that the issue of stopping sex-selective abortion is important enough that they would try again, but he was not specific.

 

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Who Will Benefit From Haiti’s Gold Rush? Haitian Govt Embraces U.S., Canadian Mining Firms

Published on May 31, 2012 by

Democracynow.org – After years of rumors that mining companies were exploring in Haiti, Canadian and U.S. corporations now confirm they have permits to mine gold in more than 1,000 square-miles in northern Haiti. Haiti’s new prime minister says the estimated $20 billion worth of minerals in Haiti’s hills could help liberate it from dependency on foreign aid, and rebuild from the devastating 2010 earthquake. But many worry the mines will be a boom for foreign investors and a bust for local communities. We speak to Jane Regan, lead author of “Gold Rush in Haiti: Who Will Get Rich?” The report by Haiti Grassroots Watch was published Wednesday in The Guardian and Haïti Liberté. “You have a perfect storm brewing where you have giant pit mines in the north in a country that is already environmentally devastated and giant pit mines being run by Canadian and American companies,” Regan says. “Most of the money and gold dug up will go straight north.”

To watch the complete weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org/

Indian anger over economic woes

Published on May 31, 2012 by

Thousands of labourers have walked off the job in India in protest over fuel prices.

The strike on Thursday was organised by the country’s main opposition party after the government announced a new set of price hikes.

Al Jazeera’s Prerna Suri reports from New Delhi, India.

 

Moody’s cuts ratings for 9 Danish banks

LAST UPDATE
Moody’s Investors Service has cut its credit ratings for nine Danish banks, citing the impact of the ongoing eurozone crisis on bank loan quality and on their fund-raising capacity.

The ratings agency lowered the debt ratings of the banks, along with the Finnish subsidiary of one of the banks, by up to three notches on Wednesday, AFP reported.

The banks are Danske Bank, Jyske Bank, Sydbank, Spar Nord Bank, Ringkjobing Landbobank, Nykredit, Realkredit, DLR Kredit, and Danmarks Skibskredit. Moody’s also downgraded Danske Bank’s Finnish arm Sampo Bank.

“Danish financial institutions face sluggish domestic economic growth, weakening real estate prices, and higher levels of unemployment, as well as the risk of external shocks from the ongoing euro area debt crisis,” Moody’s said.

“Asset quality is deteriorating, and these pressures are expected to continue,” it added.

The agency also noted that the significant reliance of most of the financial institutions on market funding has enhanced their vulnerability to the eurozone crisis.

“Structural changes to that market have increased refinancing risk, posing a particular concern for mortgage credit institutions whose access to alternative funding is limited,” Moody’s stated.

Europe was hit by a serious financial crisis in 2008 and the situation has intensified over the past few months.

GJH/MHB/AS/HN

 

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Wars and Rumors of War

Freed Bahraini Activists Nabeel Rajab & Zainab Alkhawaja Urge End to U.S.-Backed Crackdown

Published on May 31, 2012 by

DemocracyNow.org – We go to Bahrain to speak with two recently released political prisoners, Zainab Alkhawaja and Nabeel Rajab, both jailed for protesting the U.S.-backed monarchy. Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was released on bail after being held for nearly a month. “We always thought that America and Bahrain’s good relations would benefit our fight for freedom and democracy in our region, but it has turned out to be opposite,” he says. “They are supporting a dictator here, the oppressive regime. … We have to suffer for being a rich region.” Alkhawaja, who was jailed in April after protesting the detention of her father, Abdulhadi, vows: “We are going to carry on protesting … It doesn’t matter if we get arrested five, six, 10 times, it’s not going to stop. In the end, we have sacrificed a lot for democracy and freedom.”

To watch the complete weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org/

Rwanda ‘training rebels to fight Congo army’

Published on May 31, 2012 by

A group of defectors fighting for the M23 rebel movement against the Congolese army say that they were recruited and trained in neighbouring Rwanda against their will.

The revelations come after weeks of fighting in the east of the country and would be the first direct evidence that Rwandan troops are involved in the fighting that has displaced thousands from their homes.

The allegations made by the rebel defectors across the border in Congo will strain relations with Rwanda, but so far officials from both sides have held back, and are talking about a joint investigation to get to the bottom of the matter.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb reports from Kigali.

Israel returns remains of Palestinians

Published on May 31, 2012 by

The bodies of 91 Palestinians who died in Israel have been handed over to the Palestinian Authority.

The remains had been buried in unmarked graves in a cemetery controlled by the Israeli army. Some had been there for more than three decades.

Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton reports from Ramallah.

‘Rebels behind Houla massacre, US plan to destabilize & save Syria in full swing’

Published on May 31, 2012 by

The Syrian government says the massacre of more than a hundred people in the Syrian town of Houla was the work of armed terrorist gangs. This, as the U.S. Secretary of State admits military planning for action in Syria is already going ahead, but Moscow has vowed to block any moves for outside interference at the UN.

Activist Sara Flounders talks to RT. She says Washington was never interested in a diplomatic solution in Syria.

 

 

Mosaic News: Egypt’s Shafiq vows to crush revolution and restrain Islamists if he wins election

Published on May 31, 2012 by

Egypt’s Shafiq vows to crush revolution and restrain Islamists if he wins the election, Sudan pulls troops from Abyei amid new bombing accusations by the South, prominent Bahraini activist Zainab al-Khawaja released on bail, and more.

Today’s headlines in full:

Egypt’s Shafiq vows to crush revolution and restrain Islamists if he wins election
Al-Alam, Iran

Sudan pulls troops from Abyei amid new bombing accusations by South
Dubai TV, UAE

Prominent Bahraini activist Zainab al-Khawaja released on bail
BBC Arabic, UK

Afghan rage over sharp increase in civilian casualties
Press TV, Iran

Israel lacks courage to wage war on Iran, says Supreme Leader’s aide
Press TV, Iran

Iran’s foreign ministry in talks with Saudi Arabia over jailed Iranians
Press TV, Iran

Iran hit by ‘Flame’ computer virus as Israel keeps mum on speculated involvement
IBA, Israel

Turkey authorizes arrest warrants for ex-IDF chiefs over 2010 flotilla deaths
IBA, Israel

Israeli forces turn Palestinian family home into prison
Palestine TV, Ramallah

Mood ‘deeply disturbed’ by executions in Syria
Future TV, Lebanon

Iraqis rally for national unity as government faces no-confidence vote
Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq

Image: Flyers of Egyptian presidential candidate and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq are seen on the ground outside his campaign headquarters in Cairo May 29, 2012:L REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Mosaic is a Peabody Award-winning daily compilation of television news reports from the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Iran. Watch more Mosaic at http://www.linktv.org/mosaic

 

 

 

Syrian ‘rebels’ (CIA, Mossad, MI6) issue ultimatum to Assad: Capitulate or we blow your country apart

Irish Times

Syrian ‘rebels’ pose for the camera

Syrian rebels have given president Bashar al-Assad a 48-hour deadline to comply with an international peace plan otherwise they would renew their battle to overthrow him.

The ultimatum was issued after UN observers reported the discovery of 13 bodies bound and shot in eastern Syria, adding to the world outcry over the massacre last week of 108 men, women and children.

The latest developments emphasised how the peace plan drafted by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has failed to stem 14 months of bloodshed or bring the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiating table.

Col Qassim Saadeddine of the rebel Free Syrian Army said its leadership set a deadline of 9am tomorrow for Mr Assad to implement the peace plan, which includes a ceasefire, deployment of observers, and free access for humanitarina aid and journalists.

If it fails to do so “we are free from any commitment and we will defend and protect the civilians, their villages and their cities,” Mr Saadeddine said in a statement posted on social media.

Both sides in the conflict have violated a tenuous ceasefire over the past two months but Mr Assad’s forces have been by far the worst offender, according to UN monitors.

Outrage at last Friday’s massacre in the town of Houla, led a host of Western countries to expel senior Syrian diplomats on Tuesday and to press Russia and China to allow tougher action by the UN Security Council.

Major-general Robert Mood, the Norwegian head of the observer mission, said the 13 corpses found yesterday in Assukar, about 50 km (east of Deir al-Zor, had their hands tied behind their backs. Some had been shot in the head from close range.

Mr Mood called the latest killings an “appalling and inexcusable act” and appealed to all factions to end the cycle of violence.

He did not apportion any blame but Syrian activists said the victims were army defectors killed by Mr Assad’s forces.

Video footage posted by activists showed the bodies face down on the ground, hands tied behind their backs, with dark pools of blood around their heads and torsos.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said in New York on Tuesday that the Syrian army and “shabbiha” militiamen supporting Assad were probably responsible for killing the 108 people in Houla with artillery and tank fire, guns and knives.

The government denied any responsibility and blamed Islamist “terrorists” – its term for rebel forces.

The uprising began last March with street protests against Mr Assad, who succeeeded his late, authoritarian father Hafez al-Assad 11 years ago to perpetuate the family dynasty.

While initially a pro-democracry movement, the struggle has grown into an armed struggle increasingly involving sectarian rivalries pitting the Sunni Muslim majority against the Alawite sect, to which the Assad clan belongs.

Mr Assad’s forces have killed 7,500 people since it began, according to a UN toll. The government, which says the unrest is the work of foreign-backed terrorists, says more than 2,600 soldiers or security agents have been killed.

Mr nnan, trying to save his peace plan from collapse, told Mr Assad in Damascus on Tuesday that Syria was at a tipping point.The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 100 people were killed in Houla the same day.

Diplomats said the UN Human Rights Council would meet in Geneva on Friday to consider the Houla massacre, the fourth time Syria has faced such scrutiny since the anti-Assad revolt broke out in March 2011.

Mr Assad has so far proved impervious to international scolding and Western sanctions for his crackdown and has failed to return troops and tanks to barracks, as required by the Annan plan.

However, the UN observers sent in to monitor a notional ceasefire were able to verify the horrors in Houla, which produced a wave of world revulsion.

Mr Assad’s heavyweight international allies, China and Russia, stuck to their rejection of any intervention or UN-backed penalties to force him to change course.

The West is itself averse to military intervention, although French president Francois Hollande said on Tuesday this could change if the UN Security Council backed it. But that is not possible unless veto-wielding members Russia and China allow it.

Turkey joined other countries including the United States, Britain, France and Germany in expelling Syrian diplomats in protest at the Houla massacre, saying unspecified international measures would follow if crimes against humanity continued.

Stung by the expulsions, Syria told the Dutch chargee d’affaires to leave. She was one of the few senior Western diplomats left in Damascus.

Despite the diplomatic deadlock, Mr Annan, a former UN secretary-general and Nobel peace laureate, is pressing on with his mission.

“It is important to find a solution that will lead to a democratic transition in Syria and find a way of ending the killings as soon as possible,” he said after talks in Jordan yesterday.

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Articles of Interest

New Yorkers Sound Off on Bloomberg’s Drink Ban

Published on May 31, 2012 by

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined a plan Wednesday to ban the sale of sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters, street carts and other venues.

Reason.tv’s Anthony Fisher took to the streets to ask New Yorkers what they thought about Bloomberg and the ban.

Approximately 2 minutes.

Camera by Kaplan Akincilar. Produced by Anthony Fisher

 

 

Propaganda Alert! Iran site buildings completely razed: US think-tank

Fredrik Dahl
Reuters
Print

A U.S. security institute has published satellite images which it said increased concerns that Iran was trying to “destroy evidence” of suspected past research relevant for developing a nuclear weapons capability, a charge Tehran dismisses.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) posted them on its website hours after diplomats said the U.N. atomic watchdog showed what appeared to be similar imagery at a closed-door briefing in Vienna.

Western envoys who attended Wednesday’s briefing earlier told Reuters that two small side buildings at the Parchin military facility had been removed, and ISIS said its pictures from May 25 showed that they “have been completely razed”.

The disclosure followed inconclusive talks between Iran and six world powers in Baghdad last week to address concerns about the nature of its nuclear activities, which Iran says are aimed at generating electricity.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly asked Iran for access to Parchin as part of a long-stalled probe into suspicions that Tehran may be seeking the ability to assemble nuclear bombs, should it decide to do so.

The Islamic state has so far refused to let inspectors visit the facility – which it describes as a conventional military complex – saying there must first be a broader framework agreement on how to address the IAEA’s questions.

The new satellite images will add to Western suspicions that Iran is “sanitizing” the site of any incriminating evidence before allowing the IAEA to go there.

Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, dismissed such accusations by Western officials, telling reporters after the briefing at IAEA headquarters that “this kind of noise and allegations are baseless”.

ISIS, which tracks Iran’s nuclear programme closely, said there were visible tracks in the images “made by heavy machinery used in the demolition process”, adding that the two buildings had been intact in early April.

No Parchin Access?

“Heavy machinery tracks and extensive evidence of earth displacement is also visible throughout the interior as well as the exterior of the site’s perimeter,” the think-tank said.

The Parchin complex is at the centre of Western allegations that Iran has been conducting research and experiments that could serve a nuclear weapons development programme. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly denied any such ambition.

Last week, the IAEA said in a report issued to member states that satellite images showed “extensive activities” at the facility southeast of Tehran.

Western diplomats said this was an allusion to suspected cleaning at Parchin. They have earlier cited other images showing recent activity at the site, including a stream of water, as suggesting Iran is trying to remove evidence.

Iran, which denies Western accusations it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons capability, has dismissed charges aired about Parchin as “childish” and “ridiculous”.

“The newest image raises concerns that Iran is attempting to raze the site prior to allowing an IAEA visit. The razing of the two buildings may also indicate that Iran has no intention to allow inspectors access soon,” ISIS said.

An IAEA report last November said Iran had built a large containment vessel in 2000 at Parchin in which to conduct tests that the U.N. agency said were “strong indicators of possible (nuclear) weapon development.”

It said a building was constructed around a large cylindrical object, a vessel designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kg of high explosives. Diplomatic sources say the suspected tests likely took place about a decade ago.

Last week, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying the IAEA had not yet given good enough reasons to visit Parchin.

Comment: Images and words about tracks in dirt made by heavy machinery is offered as proof. No mention of earlier International Atomic Energy Agency Reports where the IAEA clearly said Iran is not a nuclear threat and has no nuclear ambitions in any military capacity.

Things are starting to take a repeat roll of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The obvious target: Iran.

But, first things first: NATO’s ‘Civil War’ Machine Rolls Into Syria

By the way, construction in and around nuclear sites is not uncommon. In simple terms; a construction company who did work inside the facility leveled the lunchroom they built for their workers, since work at the site was complete. Leave it to the West to always conclude (for us) the worst, while bastardizing free decent people, whose resources the 1% intend on plundering.

 

 

 

WikLeaks Founder Assange Loses U.K. Extradition Appeal

The Vancouver Sun

Britain’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden, but put his deportation on hold to give his lawyers a final chance to reopen the case.

The court, which handed down its decision after an 18-month legal marathon, rejected Assange’s argument that the Swedish prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant over sex crime allegations was not entitled to do so.

Julian Assange

© unknown
Julian Assange

“The request for Mr Assange’s extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly dismissed,” Supreme Court president Nicholas Phillips said as he delivered the ruling to a hushed courtroom.

The seven judges were split five to two but their majority ruling was that the prosecutor was a rightful judicial authority, and therefore allowed to issue the warrant for the Internet whistleblower.

But in a new twist, Assange’s lawyer Dinah Rose asked for 14 days to consider whether to apply to reopen the case, on the grounds that the judgment referred to material that was not mentioned during the last hearing in February.

The judge granted the request, which is highly unusual in the three-year history of the Supreme Court.

“With the agreement of the respondent, the required period for extradition shall not commence until 13th June 2012,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Assange, a 40-year-old Australian national, was not in the central London court for the judgment. One of his supporters, journalist John Pilger, said he was “stuck in traffic” with his mother, who flew in from Australia for the verdict.

The Swedish lawyer for the two women who accuse Assange of rape and sexual assault said he would be extradited eventually.

“The decision was what we expected . . . It’s unfortunate that it has been delayed further, but he will ultimately be extradited,” Claes Borgstroem told AFP.

Assange is at present wanted for questioning over the sex crime allegations, but Borgstroem said he expected an indictment perhaps within a month after he gets to Sweden.

Australia said it would closely monitor the case and added that consular officials were available to help him if he wished.

“The Australian government cannot interfere in the judicial processes of other governments but we will closely monitor the proceedings against Mr Assange in Sweden,” said a spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

Assange, whose website enraged Washington by releasing a flood of state and military secrets, has been living under tight restrictions on his movement for 540 days, including wearing an ankle tag and reporting daily to police.

He has said he fears his extradition would eventually lead to his transfer to the United States, where U.S. soldier Bradley Manning is facing a court-martial over accusations that he handed documents to WikiLeaks.

Outside court, Assange’s principal lawyer Gareth Peirce confirmed that the extradition was stayed while his legal team considers whether to apply to reopen the case, although the judgment still stands.

The point in question is the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, “which was never addressed in the hearing, one way or another, by either side,” Peirce added.

If Assange fails to have the case reopened in Britain, he still has the option of a last-ditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The white-haired Assange does not deny that he had sex with two WikiLeaks volunteers in Sweden while attending a WikiLeaks seminar, but insists the sex was consensual and argues there are political motives behind the attempts to extradite him.

Assange’s mother Christine told Australian television ahead of the judgment: “It’s a 24-hour nightmare because we know he is not safe and the biggest governments in the world are gunning for him.”

The former computer hacker has been fighting deportation since his arrest in London in December 2010 on the European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.

The Supreme Court is his final avenue of appeal under British law, after two lower courts ruled he should be sent to Sweden for questioning.

 

 

 

UK doctors set first strike date in 40 years

Press TV

The British Medical Association has decided to delay non-urgent patient care on June 21 after doctors voted with an overwhelming majority for the first industrial action in the profession in 40 years.

The BMA said in an open letter published in UK newspapers that the “reluctant” day of action is not meant to harm anyone and those with the most severe situations will still have access to medical care.

“On that day, doctors will be in their usual workplaces but providing urgent and emergency care only”, wrote the BMA.

“We will be postponing non-urgent cases and although this will be disruptive to the NHS, rest assured, doctors will be there when our patients need us most and our action will not impact on your safety,” it added.

The letter said the doctors are keen to have their “voice heard by the government.”

The action comes after BMA warned ministers against pushing ahead with “totally unjustified” pension contribution rises and a simultaneous increase in doctors’ retirement age.

The move puts doctors alongside a host of other public sector workers including teachers, civil service personnel and even police officers who have already announced or launched strikes in reaction to the austerity measures and changes to their pension schemes.

“We are taking this step very reluctantly, and would far prefer to negotiate for a fairer solution,” said chairman of council at the BMA, Dr Hamish Meldrum.

“But this clear mandate for action – on a very high turnout – reflects just how let down doctors feel by the Government’s unwillingness to find a fairer approach to the latest pension changes and its refusal to acknowledge the major reforms of 2008 that made the NHS scheme sustainable in the long term,” Meldrum added.

 

 

 

 

Bruce Springsteen lashes bankers during Berlin concert

The Guardian

© Britta Pedersen/EPA
Bruce Springsteen tapped into Europe’s anger at bankers while performing at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Rocker taps into anger at financial world, dedicating anti-bank song to ‘those who are struggling in Europe and Berlin’

Bruce Springsteen has touched on a nerve of widespread discontent with financiers and bankers while performing a concert in Berlin.

Springsteen played to a sold-out crowd at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, singing from his album Wrecking Ball and speaking about tough economic times that have put people out of work worldwide and led to debt crises in Greece and other countries.

“In America a lot of people have lost their jobs,” said Springsteen, 62, who performed for three hours to 58,000 fans in the stadium that hosted the 1936 Olympics and 2006 World Cup final.

“But also in Europe and in Berlin, times are tough,” he said, speaking in German. “This song is for all those who are struggling.” He then introduced Jack of All Trades, a withering attack on bankers that includes the lyrics: “The banker man grows fat, working man grows thin.”

Europe has been especially hard hit since 2008’s financial meltdown that sparked an enduring sovereign debt crisis. Unemployment on the continent has risen to levels not seen since the 1990s.

Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball tour began on 13 May in Spain, which is struggling with its crushing debt load, and runs for two and a half months with 33 stops in 15 countries before concluding on 31 July in Helsinki.

Berlin has been a special place for Springsteen since his July 1988 concert behind the old Iron Curtain in East Berlin.

Watched by 160,000 people, it was the biggest rock show in East German history, and The Boss spoke out against the “barriers” keeping East Germans prisoners in their country. Some historians have said the concert fed into a movement gaining moment at the time that contributed to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall 16 months later in November 1989.

“Once in a while you play a place, a show that ends up staying inside of you, living with you for the rest of your life,” he told the crowd on Wednesday after being handed a poster from a fan thanking him for the 1988 concert. “East Berlin in 1988 was certainly one of them.”

Germany has weathered the financial crisis well so far but Berlin itself is struggling with double-digit unemployment, low wages and a high incidence of poverty.

“The financial world has caused us all a lot of our problems and Springsteen has always been a critical spirit – that’s what I like about him,” said Kathleen Wapp, a 42-year-old doctor’s assistant from Wolfsburg who was at the show. “I like the way he’s not afraid to put a critical light on the key issues.”

“I think it’s great the way he’s taking on the banking industry – he’s got it dead right,” said Matthias Beck, 46, a carpenter from Leipzig. “There’s hardly anything good about banks. They take advantage of the little people and it’s always hard to find someone who’ll take responsibility when it all goes wrong.”

Source: Reuters

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Environmental

Mexican Farmers Block Monsanto Law to Privatize Plants and Seeds

By Occupy Monsanto

“The proposed modifications promote a privatizing model that uses patents and “Plant Breeders’ Rights” (PBR) to deprive farmers of the labor of centuries in developing seed.”

Article image

Progressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational corporations that seek to monopolize seed and food patents. When the corporations pushed their bill to modify the Federal Law on Plant Varieties through the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on March 14, organizations of farmers from across the country sounded the alarm. By organizing quickly, they joined together to pressure legislators and achieved an agreement with the legislative committee to remove the bill from the floor.

What’s at stake is free and open access to plant biodiversity in agriculture. The proposed modifications promote a privatizing model that uses patents and “Plant Breeders’ Rights” (PBR) to deprive farmers of the labor of centuries in developing seed. The small farmers who worked to create this foundation of modern agriculture never charged royalties for its use.

Although the current law, in effect since 1996, pays little heed to the rights of small farmers, the new law would be far worse. Present law tends to benefit private-sector plant breeders, allowing monopolies to obtain exclusive profits from the sale of seeds and other plant material for up to 15 years, or 18 in the case of perennial ornamental, forest, or orchard plants–even when the plants they used to develop the new varieties are in the public domain.

The legislative reform would extend exclusive rights from the sale of reproductive material to 25 years. Further, it seeks to restrict the rights of farmers to store or use for their own consumption any part of the harvest obtained from seeds or breeding material purchased from holders of PBRs.

The proposed law would also include genetically modified organisms (GMOs) among the plant varieties covered, converging with the so-called Monsanto Law (Law of Biosecurity and Genetically Modified Organisms). This is an absurd inclusion, since GMOs are created by introducing genetic material from non-plant species.

GMOs cannot be considered a distinct variety, because they do not result from the genetic variability that underlies natural selection. They are the result of manipulation through biotechnology that crosses the boundaries between species and realms. Another absurdity is the private appropriation of genetic information from live organisms, even those altered with genes of other species.

The proposed law would create a “Monsanto Police,” by giving the National Service for the Inspection and Certification of Seeds the authority to order and conduct inspection visits, demand information, investigate suspected administrative infractions, order and carry out measures to prevent or stop violations of PBR, and impose administrative sanctions, which are increased by the proposal. It would have a government agency promote PBRs held by individuals or corporations.

Holders of PBRs already gain exclusive rights to exploit plant varieties and material for their propagation. The bill under consideration would extend those rights over the products resulting from use of monopolized plant varieties so that, for example, a special license would have to be obtained to use the variety in foods for human consumption or industrial uses.

Read Full Article Here

Obama Leaves Monsanto in Charge of Ending Hunger in Africa

By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq., Political Director
Organic Consumers Association, May 23, 2012

At the Group of 8 (G8) meetings this past weekend, President Obama and the leaders of the rest of the world’s richest nations abandoned their governments’ previous commitments to donate $7.3 billion a year to end hunger in Africa, after disbursing only 58 percent of the total pledge of $22 billion and giving less than 6 percent in new money they pledged three years ago.

Instead, rich nations will leave the problem in the hands of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition where private corporations will invest $3 billion over 10 years — Monsanto has committed $50 million — beginning in three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia. (Human-rights activists have questioned the inclusion of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, noting that his authoritarian government has jailed dissidents and banned media access to hunger zones. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a letter to President Obama that the Ethiopian government “routinely downplays the extent of the crisis by denying journalists access to sensitive areas and censoring independent news coverage.”)

The main U.S. spokesperson for the New Alliance is USAID administrator Rajiv Shah. OCA opposed Dr. Shah’s appointment because of his work for the Gates Foundation and his position as a board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which actively promote expensive and unsustainable technologies like genetic engineering.

Ronnie Cummins, Director of the Organic Consumers Association, issued the following statement in response to the news:

“Study after study has shown that organic, agro-ecological farming practices on small diverse farms can boost yields in Africa and the developing world from 100-1000% over the yields of chemical-intensive or genetically engineered mono-crop farms. To help the world’s two billion small farmers and rural villagers survive and prosper we need to help them gain access, not to genetically engineered seeds and expensive chemical inputs; but rather access to land, water, and the tools and techniques of traditional, sustainable farming: non-patented open-pollinated seeds, crop rotation, natural compost production, beneficial insects, and access to local markets. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) reduce crop yields, and increase pesticide use, even according to USDA statistics. Bill Gates, Monsanto, and Barack Obama may believe that genetic engineering and chemical-intensive agriculture are the tools to feed the world, but a look at the fatal harvest of modern agribusiness tells a different story. Not only can climate-friendly, healthy organic agriculture practices feed the world, but in fact organic farming is the only way we are going to be able to feed the world.”

OCA political director Alexis Baden-Mayer prepared the following notes for a talk she gave at the Occupy G8 People’s Summit, critiquing the New Alliance:

Contrary to the talking points of President Obama and the other leaders of the G8 nations, the problem of feeding the world isn’t about the need to produce more food, it’s about stopping the way wealthy countries are subsidizing their richest farmers, grabbing up the best land in Africa, speculating on food commodities in their financial markets, wasting food, diverting crop production to livestock feed and biofuels, and ratcheting up the costs of farming by encouraging the use of expensive and unsustainable GMO seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.

The world already produces more than 1 1/2 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050.

70 percent of this food is produced by 3 billion small-scale food producers worldwide.

Nevertheless, 1 billion people on the planet are chronically hungry, and 70% are farmers.

If the G8 actually cared about ending hunger, they’d:

Stop Industrial-Scale Food Producers from Wasting the World’s Resources

35 percent of the food produced worldwide feeds meat and dairy animals. If humans switched to all-plant diets, all that agricultural land could produce 50 percent more human food, because feeding crops to animals that then become meat is a highly inefficient way to transfer plant energy to people.

10 percent of global vegetable oil is being diverted to biodiesel.

6 percent of global grain is being diverted to ethanol.

30 to 50 percent of food intended for human consumption in the world gets wasted.

Stop Wall Street from Gambling on Hunger, and End Speculation in the Food Markets

The share of the food market owned by speculators, uninvolved in the food production process, has risen from 12% in 1996 to 61% today. The 4 biggest grain buyers, including ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis and Dreyfus, dominate 75- 90% of the trade in grain worldwide generating profits in the realm of $2 to 3 billion a year.

Read Full Article Here

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Cyber Space

‘ACTA could turn honest citizens into criminals by mistake’

Published on May 31, 2012 by

The controversial ACTA anti-piracy agreement has been dealt a blow by the European Parliament. Three key committees have voted against the treaty, citing concerns over its legality. ACTA sparked Europe-wide protests, with activists saying online freedom of speech is being put at risk.

Rick Falkvinge from the Swedish Pirate Party says the treaty is confused at best.

FISA: US under total surveillance

Published on May 31, 2012 by

On Thursday, US lawmakers discussed whether or not the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act should be renewed. FISA gives government the power to monitor phone calls, emails and other forms of electronic communication. Critics believe that FISA can now be used to target citizens all in the name of homeland security. Andrew Blake, RT’s web producer, joins us with more on the controversial legislation and discusses other legislation such as CISPA, SOPA and PIPA.

MegaUpload case to be dismissed?

Published on May 31, 2012 by

One of the biggest copyright infringement cases in history just took a turn. MegaUpload’s founder Kim Dotcom has taken steps to throw out the case where his company allegedly got rich off of the piracy of copyrighted movies, music and media. The defense is now arguing that the website can be held accountable for its users. Liz Wahl has more.

WikLeaks Founder Assange Loses U.K. Extradition Appeal

The Vancouver Sun

Britain’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden, but put his deportation on hold to give his lawyers a final chance to reopen the case.

The court, which handed down its decision after an 18-month legal marathon, rejected Assange’s argument that the Swedish prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant over sex crime allegations was not entitled to do so.

Julian Assange

© unknown
Julian Assange

“The request for Mr Assange’s extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly dismissed,” Supreme Court president Nicholas Phillips said as he delivered the ruling to a hushed courtroom.

The seven judges were split five to two but their majority ruling was that the prosecutor was a rightful judicial authority, and therefore allowed to issue the warrant for the Internet whistleblower.

But in a new twist, Assange’s lawyer Dinah Rose asked for 14 days to consider whether to apply to reopen the case, on the grounds that the judgment referred to material that was not mentioned during the last hearing in February.

The judge granted the request, which is highly unusual in the three-year history of the Supreme Court.

“With the agreement of the respondent, the required period for extradition shall not commence until 13th June 2012,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Assange, a 40-year-old Australian national, was not in the central London court for the judgment. One of his supporters, journalist John Pilger, said he was “stuck in traffic” with his mother, who flew in from Australia for the verdict.

The Swedish lawyer for the two women who accuse Assange of rape and sexual assault said he would be extradited eventually.

“The decision was what we expected . . . It’s unfortunate that it has been delayed further, but he will ultimately be extradited,” Claes Borgstroem told AFP.

Assange is at present wanted for questioning over the sex crime allegations, but Borgstroem said he expected an indictment perhaps within a month after he gets to Sweden.

Australia said it would closely monitor the case and added that consular officials were available to help him if he wished.

“The Australian government cannot interfere in the judicial processes of other governments but we will closely monitor the proceedings against Mr Assange in Sweden,” said a spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

Assange, whose website enraged Washington by releasing a flood of state and military secrets, has been living under tight restrictions on his movement for 540 days, including wearing an ankle tag and reporting daily to police.

He has said he fears his extradition would eventually lead to his transfer to the United States, where U.S. soldier Bradley Manning is facing a court-martial over accusations that he handed documents to WikiLeaks.

Outside court, Assange’s principal lawyer Gareth Peirce confirmed that the extradition was stayed while his legal team considers whether to apply to reopen the case, although the judgment still stands.

The point in question is the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, “which was never addressed in the hearing, one way or another, by either side,” Peirce added.

If Assange fails to have the case reopened in Britain, he still has the option of a last-ditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The white-haired Assange does not deny that he had sex with two WikiLeaks volunteers in Sweden while attending a WikiLeaks seminar, but insists the sex was consensual and argues there are political motives behind the attempts to extradite him.

Assange’s mother Christine told Australian television ahead of the judgment: “It’s a 24-hour nightmare because we know he is not safe and the biggest governments in the world are gunning for him.”

The former computer hacker has been fighting deportation since his arrest in London in December 2010 on the European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.

The Supreme Court is his final avenue of appeal under British law, after two lower courts ruled he should be sent to Sweden for questioning.

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Survival / Sustainability

Permaculture with Jack Spirko Part 1 – 6

Introduction

Published on May 28, 2012 by

This is the first video in a long series on the basics of permaculture, during this series we will be covering the ethics, principals of design, earth works and more. In this video though I just want to explain why I am doing this series and how permaculture relates to modern survival thinking.

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Activism

New Face of Terror: FBI creates bogeyman out of Occupy

Published on May 29, 2012 by

From disorganized slackers to terrorists – the Occupy movement has seen its media image go from bad to worse over its nine months of existence. Protesters now even face accusations that they pose a threat not just to Corporate America, but to the country as a whole. But activists say it’s all just scaremongering to stifle the movement.

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Articles of Interest

Privacy Group Wants Google’s Driverless Cars Kept off the Road

By Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld

A privacy group is calling on the California Assembly to keep Google’s self-driving cars off the road.

Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit privacy group, sent an open letter to the Assembly today urging members to defeat a bill, SB 1289, that would allow Google’s self-driving cars on California’s roads unless the bill is amended to provide “adequate” privacy protection for the cars’ users.

The letter (download PDF) asks legislators to ban all data collection from Google’s autonomous cars.

“While we don’t propose to limit the ability of the cars to function by communicating as necessary with satellites and other devices, the collection and retention of data for marketing and other purposes should be banned,” wrote Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, and John Simpson, privacy project director. “Unless the bill is amended, once again society will be forced to play catch-up in dealing with the impact of the privacy invading aspects of a new technology.”

Google has been pushing ahead with its research into developing autonomous automobiles that can be sold commercially.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles gave Google the state’s first license for driverless cars. It was also the first autonomous vehicle license ever issued in the United States, according to the Nevada DMV website.

“The cars have a number of sensors, such as cameras, lasers and radar, to monitor road conditions and improve the technology,” said Chris Gaither, a Google spokesman in an email to Computerworld. “For our testing purposes, the cars log data about their performance — how fast they’re going, where they are, where they detect obstacles, etc. — as well as data from the equipment on the car.”

Gaither noted that he could not say what, if any, data would continue to be collected from the cars once testing is over and they are being sold commercially. “It would be premature to speculate,” he added.

The letter was sent to Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, who has not replied to a request for comment.

According to Gaither, Google’s driverless cars have logged more than 200,000 miles so far.

Last month, Google executives went to Detroit looking for partners in the company’s efforts to develop the vehicles. Anthony Levandowski, head of Google’s self-driving car project, told an audience there that the company would like to get such cars on the road within the next decade.

A Google spokesman told Computerworld last month that the company has been reaching out to automakers but is keeping its options open.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

BYOD: Time to Adjust Your Privacy Expectations

By Tom Kaneshige, CIO

BYOD: Time to Adjust Your Privacy ExpectationsSome employees thought they were pretty sneaky downloading confidential data from corporate computers to thumb drives days before they turned in their resignations and bolted to a competitor.

More often than not, they didn’t get away with it. Armed with forensic computer analysis–namely, the USB port registry–managers confronted these employees during the exit interview.

What gives managers the right to pursue legal action or at least ask for those incriminating thumb drives back? The answer: a smorgasbord of protective polices with employees’ signatures on them, including the confidentiality non-disclosure policy, the ethics policy, the conflict of interest policy, the authorized use of computers policy.

“The BYOD fact pattern isn’t that dramatically different, and policies can be written to provide that type of protection for the employer,” says Brent Cossrow, partner at Fisher and Phillips, a law firm specializing in labor and employment law.

He adds: “Given the business interest that could be in jeopardy, there are employers who would take a look at how their computers were used in a certain time period. If a BYOD policy was written in a certain way, it could provide support for that examination.”

[Slideshow: 10 Coolest Tech Devices to Bring to Work]

Cossrow’s practice area is employee defection and trade secrets, and so he helps companies navigate the murky legal waters that BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, stirs up. An employee-owned BYOD smartphone or tablet blurs the line between personal and work use. Compared to the thumb drive, a BYOD can easily store trade secrets either locally on the device or via a cloud storage service.

At the center of the legal debate is an employee’s expectation of privacy. Cossrow says the smartest companies will craft a detailed, customized BYOD policy that works in harmony with existing protection policies. Among the more restrictive regimes, employees would have to sign away their expectation of privacy with a BYOD smartphone or tablet that’s being used in conjunction with corporate computers.

Without an expectation of privacy, employees should assume they have no privacy on their personally owned BYODs.

For employees, it may get even worse. “I think we’re going to see case law evolve over time with companies wanting to do more ambitious and extensive searches of personal data on those devices,” Cossrow says.

A Legal Precedent?

On the upside, BYOD employees have at least one legal precedent in their workplace privacy corner, Stengart v. Loving Care Agency.

In December 2007, Marina Stengart resigned from Loving Care Agency in New Jersey and sued for gender discrimination. Just before resigning, Stengart communicated with her attorney via a personal, password-protected Yahoo email account on a company computer.

This use case blends personal and work actions on a single device, a precursor to BYOD.

Loving Care Agency hired a computer forensics expert who burned a forensic image of the computer, which uncovered HTML screen shots of the personal emails. A trial judge ruled that the emails were not protected by attorney-client privilege because a policy stated that emails were company property.

Stengart and her attorney took the matter to the New Jersey Superior Court, and the appellate judge reversed the decision. The judge held that those personal communications were protected. A big win for employee privacy, right?

[Slideshow: 15 Ways iPad Goes to Work]

Many factors played in the reversal, such as Stengart’s sophistication of computers. While the employee handbook might state that an employee waives the expectation of privacy, this doesn’t mean that the employee has a knowledge of how HTML files are created and whether or not a password will protect access to those files.

The Stengart v. Loving Care Agency case, though, has a big flaw for BYOD employees: The reversal toward employee privacy rights was anchored in the attorney-client privilege.

“It’s not likely that the same quality of protection would be available for non-privilege communication under those facts,” Cossrow says. “How broadly will Stengart be used? We’re going to see different types of [BYOD] policies, and they’re going to be tested in court over time.”

The BYOD Policy

BYOD policies are subject to state and federal laws, which can vary depending on the type of industry a company serves.

As stated earlier, a BYOD policy should work in harmony with existing protection policies. BYOD policies can be written to provide some protection against certain risks and some policies allow companies to inspect the BYOD in an exit interview.

BYOD employees better know what they’re signing, which often entails giving up their expectations of privacy.

“The art to this BYOD employment practice is defining the ground rules on which these devices can be used,” Cossrow says.

“If the employer is saying that you do not have an expectation of privacy with a personal device that you use in conjunction with corporate systems, this lets the employee know the device could be subject to a search or a review.”

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.com

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