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Archive for the ‘Rule of Law’ Category

6 Palestinian youths ‘executed’ in Gaza town- and other atrocities

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lady liberty weeps

Israel ‘executed’ 6 Palestinian youths in Gaza town: Witnesses tell Al Jazeera six youths were taken to a bathroom in a house in Khuzaa and were murdered by Israeli forces.

Two Palestinian protesters shot dead in West Bank:  Israeli forces in the West Bank have shot dead two Palestinian men during demonstrations against Israel’s aerial and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip. 

Scientist killed in Israeli shell attack on UN car in Gaza: Dr Bashir al-Hajjar died alongside his younger brother Muneer during the strike in Beer al-Naja in the north of the region. They were travelling in a marked United Nations Relief and Works Agency car when shells landed in front of it and on its bonnet. 

 

Israeli forces ‘open fire at ambulance’ amid clashes near Nablus: –  Israeli forces opened fire at an ambulance as it was bringing injured Palestinians from a site of clashes near Nablus to a nearby hospital, medics told Ma’an. 
 
Gaza – ‘the worst we have ever seen’ says MSF medical adviser:  “There is no safe place inside Gaza right now.”

Written by laudyms

August 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

TPP Investment Map: New Privileges for 30,000 Companies?

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  Public Citizen

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens so much of what we hold dear – this secret agreement will censor our Internet, send jobs overseas, undermine environmental regulations, and remove our most basic democratic rights.

Under previous presidential administrations, the United States signed a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) that grant foreign corporations extraordinary rights and protections beyond the rights of domestic companies. A little-known FTA mechanism called “investor-state” enforcement allows foreign firms to skirt domestic court systems and directly sue governments for cash damages (our tax dollars) over alleged violations of their new rights before UN and World Bank tribunals staffed by private sector attorneys who rotate between serving as “judges” and bringing cases for corporations. Using this extreme system, corporations have sued the U.S. government in foreign trade tribunals for enacting laws or regulations that “interfered” with the corporations’ expected profits.  This “interference” has included essential environmental regulations, health laws, and domestic court decisions. These cases are not just threats to domestic U.S. policies. U.S. corporations have also used FTAs to attack public interest laws abroad.

If a corporation wins its private enforcement case, the taxpayers of the “losing” country must foot the bill. Over $380 million in compensation has already been paid out to corporations in a series of investor-state cases under U.S. FTAs. Of the nearly $14 billion in the 18 pending claims under U.S. FTAs, all relate to environmental, energy, public health, land use and transportation policies – not traditional trade issues.

The Obama administration is currently negotiating a sweeping new FTA called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — the first FTA negotiated by the Obama administration.  Despite Obama’s many campaign promises to scale down investor-state enforcement in trade agreements, the leaked investment chapter of the TPP reveals that the Obama administration intends to expand even further the extreme investor-state model of past FTAs. If passed, the TPP would grant thousands of corporations these extraordinary rights to sue governments over public interest policies for taxpayer compensation.

Below are the maps of the locations of multinational corporations that would get these new rights if Congress would pass the TPP.  More than 6,000 corporations with nearly 30,000 corporate affiliates would be able to use these rights, including over 300 financial services companies that could challenge essential financial sector regulations through investor-state provisions. These corporations could challenge the local zoning and environmental laws of your community, so zoom in using the “+” button to see which corporations are in your city.  Click on the dots to see the names of the corporations and their industry. The color of the marker indicates the country of the parent company. The red lines on the map are the borders of the districts of the U.S. House of Representatives. Click here for a full list of companies based in TPP countries that operate in the United States, sorted by congressional district.

[read the rest (and see the interactive graphic) here]

Congress defaults, Obama struts, innocents will die

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  Watching the British House of Commons and Prime Minister debate the situation in Syria and decide their course in full public view puts our own withdrawal from any form of democracy in stark contrast.

Congress continues to default on their sworn duty, lazes on vacation and relies on former actions taken to avoid responsibility. Members refuse to take their role in Constitutional government seriously, while the Executive has assumed dictatorial powers.

Any attack on Syria (vile as it may be) without Congressional action  is an act of War, and clearly illegal. The fact that former presidents have made similar moves changes nothing. There is no clear objective in Syria at this time beyond Obama’s face saving, which only makes the situation more craven and self-serving.

NO TO WAR IN SYRIA

Written by laudyms

August 30, 2013 at 6:00 am

You think you have free speech? just try to use it…..

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Bank of America
by jonathanturley      6/26/13

banksters

Jeff Olson, 40, is facing a potential 13-year jail sentence for perhaps the world’s most costly sidewalk art. A former aide to the U.S. Senator from Washington, Olson used water-soluble statements like “Stop big banks,” and “Stop Bank Blight.com” outside Bank of America branches last year to protest the company’s practices. He eventually gave up his protest but prosecutors later brought 13 charges against him. Now a judge has reportedly banned his attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.” It appears someone associated with Bank of American could finally go to jail, but it will not by the bank officials in the financial scandal. It is the guy writing slogans in chalk in the sidewalk.

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Unlawful detention suit dismissed in name of national security

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Unlawful detention suit dismissed in name of national security  

…The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement criticizing the ruling:

“Today is a sad day for the rule of law and for those who believe that the courts should protect American citizens from torture by their own government,” said ACLU National Security Project Litigation Director Ben Wizner, who argued the appeal in court. “By dismissing this lawsuit, the appeals court handed the government a blank check to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. This impunity is not only anathema to a democracy governed by laws, but contrary to history’s lesson that in times of fear our values are a strength, not a hindrance.”……………

Written by laudyms

January 31, 2012 at 8:41 am

Turley: 10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free

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Ron Paul is the only Presidential candidate in recent memory to speak up for freedom and the Constitution. Below Turley lists the incredible and increasing powers of the Executive to ignore the Bill of Rights, due process and the rule of law. These Stasi-like and draconian powers will not go unused.

Meanwhile we have two political parties united in their support of Corporate domination and citizen submission. Clearly only those who bow to these powers are (usually) allowed to run.

Jonathan Turley   January 15, 2012

Below is today’s column in the Sunday Washington Post.  The column addresses how the continued rollbacks on civil liberties in the United States conflicts with the view of the country as the land of the free.  If we are going to adopt Chinese legal principles, we should at least have the integrity to adopt one Chinese proverb: “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.”  We seem as a country to be in denial as to the implications of these laws and policies.  Whether we are viewed as a free country with authoritarian inclinations or an authoritarian nation with free aspirations (or some other hybrid definition), we are clearly not what we once were.

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.

These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.

The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company……..read entire article

Written by laudyms

January 16, 2012 at 7:57 am

Anarchy and Austerity: Why London Won’t Be the Last City to Burn

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Derek Thompson 

The Atlantic  Aug 10, 2011

The Great Recession gave birth to a lost generation across the world, where youth unemployment rates stretch into the 20s, 30s and even 40s. Those millions have responded with violence.

………… The theft and violence and street crime and lawlessness in London is shocking. But it’s not unique. Around the world, the burden of unemployment falls hardest on the young, who often respond with violence. The average jobless rate between 18-29 years was nearly 20% last year in OECD countries, the Wall Street Journal has reported. High unemployment was a factor in protests in Spain, uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

The connection between joblessness and violence comes to life in a timely August research paper Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2009, which found “a clear positive correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability.” Authors Jacopo Ponticelli and Hans-Joachim Voth examined the relationship between spending cuts and a measure of instability they termed CHAOS — “the sum of demonstrations, riots, strikes, assassinations, and attempted revolutions in a single year in each country.”

Their conclusion: Austerity breeds anarchy. More cuts, more crime. This clickable graph helps to tell the story……

read more here

Written by laudyms

August 11, 2011 at 8:28 am

The unPATRIOTic Act & COINTELPRO 2.0 (you think you still have rights?)

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The PATRIOT Act has allowed the FBI and other government agencies to spy on you and monitor your activities. Join the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and fight back.

 

Government cyber-bullying: David House on political harassment 2.0

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 11:37 am by Philip Leggiere                                         People’s Blog for the Constitution

First a couple of government agents come to your apartment, offering cash rewards for you if you’ll only “keep your ear to the ground” and feed them juicy tidbits of information about any acquaintances or professional colleagues you think they might be interested in.

After you refuse the “carrot” is quickly replaced by a stick.  Everywhere you go the same black sedan lurks nearby. Friends and family receive visits from government agents during which they are asked probing questions about you and your acquaintances.

When you and your girlfriend go the airport you’re pulled aside and questioned at length about the books you’re reading and your opinions about all sorts of political topics. Then your property (in this case computers, phone, notes, information storage devices) are confiscated for further study by the authorities. Then you’re called before a secret “grand jury” where you’re compelled on threat of imprisonment to testify about any potentially juicy tidbits of information that might help the government at some future time to build an unspecified criminal case against someone, or some group, or, perhaps, you.

No criminal warrant has ever been produced to justify all this surveillance and harassment.

The preceding description is neither fiction nor an account from another place or era (East Germany, 1970s?). It’s an outline of the life of David House (co-founder of The Bradley Manning Support Network) over the past year as recounted in an engaging hour-long video to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

It was unconscionable to cooperate with this grand jury. The grand jury is obviously politically motivated, and it’s—I can’t imagine a principled activist for Bradley Manning or for WikiLeaks cooperating with this investigation in any way. And it’s been said by others in the Boston area that they will not cooperate, even if they are compelled to testify before the grand jury. So it seems to be this is like a commonly held belief in the Boston area.

In fact, the day that I was actually called to testify, there was a protest happening outside the Alexandria court house and also in Boston against the grand jury and the politically motivated investigation of WikiLeaks currently happening in the States. And in my mind, this kind of reeks of the Pentagon Papers investigation. I mean, Richard Nixon’s DOJ 40 years ago attempted to kind of curtail the freedoms of the press and politically regulate the press through the use of policy created around the espionage investigation of the New York Times. I feel the WikiLeaks case we have going on now provides Obama’s DOJ ample opportunity to kind of continue this attempt to politically regulate the U.S. media, and so I’m very worried about this happening. And I think this grand jury is a step in the process.

“How Much Privacy Should We Give Away In The Name Of Safety?”

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A  Moment of Clarity from Lee Camp.

Matt Stoller: Who Wants Keep the War on Drugs Going AND Put You in Debtor’s Prison?

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June 24, 2011 Naked Capitalism

Matt Stoller is a current fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.  His Twitter feed is @matthewstoller.

More than a third of all states allow debtors “who can’t or won’t pay their debts” to be jailed.  In 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal, judges have issued 5,000 such warrants.  What is behind the increased pressure to incarcerate people with debts?  Is it a desire to force debt payment?  Or is it part of a new structure where incarceration is becoming increasingly the default tool to address any and all social problems?

Consider a different example that has nothing to do with debts.  Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania judge was convicted of racketeering, of taking bribes from parties of interest in his cases.  It was a fairly routine case of bribery, with one significant exception.  The party making the payoffs was a builder and operator of youth prisons, and the judge was rewarding him by sending lots of kids to his prisons.

Welcome to the for-profit prison industry.  It’s an industry that wants people in jail, because jail is their product.  And they have shareholder expectations to meet.

Privatized prisons are marketed to international investors as “social infrastructure”, and they are part of a wave of privatization washing over the globe.  Multi-billion dollar prison companies are upgraded by analysts with antiseptic words like “prospects for global prison growth”, and these companies have built a revolving door and patronage machine characteristic of any government contractor.  Only, in this case, the business they are in is putting people into steel cages (or “filling beds” as they put it), and they don’t care how, why, or whether the people in those beds should be there.  They don’t care if you’re in prison for smoking pot, stealing cars, or being in debt.  They just want people in jail.

Here’s the 2010 10k of the Corrections Corporation of America (PDF), the largest operator of private prisons in the country.  It’s a pretty simple business model – more prisoners, more money.  Or, as the company writes, “Historically, we have been successful in substantially filling our inventory of available beds and the beds that we have constructed.  Filling these available beds would provide substantial growth in revenues, cash flow, and earnings per share.”

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