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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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Paul Craig Roberts: Conspiracy Theory

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by Paul Craig Roberts    Foreign Policy Journal  June 20, 2011 

 

While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.

A “conspiracy theory” no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy.  Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government’s explanation and that of its media pimps.

For example, online news broadcasts of Russia Today (RT) have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents, and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, the voluminous research, government documents, and verified testimony was dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”

In other words, the truth of the event was unacceptable to the authorities and to the Ministry of Propaganda that represents the interests of authorities.

The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media’s (including many Internet sites’) response to the large number of professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001, inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics, chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage, the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States, NORAD’s capabilities, air traffic control, airport security, and other matters.  These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down by know-nothings in the media who brand the experts as “conspiracy theorists.”

This despite the fact that the official explanation endorsed by the official media is the most extravagant conspiracy theory in human history.

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10 of the Biggest Corporate Tax Cheats In America

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April 5, 2011   By Joshua Holland AlterNet

If you or I were running a small business and we kept one set of books showing how much money we were making and a second set for the IRS that painted a picture of an enterprise on the brink of bankruptcy, we’d end up behind bars.

But that’s standard operating procedure for corporate America. In fact, public corporations have to do it — the law requires that they keep one set of books for their shareholders, and another for the IRS. As tax journalist David Cay Johnston explained, “Many corporations routinely tell investors they incur millions in corporate income taxes, while the financial records they give the IRS show they owe nothing or are due refunds.”

In the records kept by the IRS, corporations cook the books “by using tax shelters, offsetting income with losses from years ago, and employing countless other devices that make them look like paupers to the IRS but money machines to investors.”We got a peek into this process last week, when the New York Times revealed that multinational giant GE is not only avoiding corporate income taxes this year, but is taking a “tax benefit” of $3 billion. According to the Times, the company’s “extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

But of course, GE is not alone. Here are 10 other big corporate tax evaders (with an assist from an MSNBC analysis of leading corporate tax-dodgers). Keep in mind that neither political party ever actually cuts spending significantly, so every dollar these companies avoid paying is one that will come out of the paychecks of working America.

1. Google

CEO: Eric Schmidt (117 on Forbes list of the wealthiest with a net worth of $6.3 billion in 2010.)

2010 Pre-tax Profit: $10.8 billion

How Google avoids paying US taxes: According to MSNBC, Google reports income in overseas tax havens and then reports its costs here at home. Google also patents its products abroad, licenses its technologies from its overseas subsidiaries and then writes off the costs of the licenses.

Google fun-fact: Google rents 200 goats, complete with goatherd and a border collie, to keep the grass nicely trimmed at Google HQ. Oh, and this week Bloomberg reported that the Federal Trade Commission is considering launching a major investigation into Google’s anti-competitive practices.

2. News Corp

CEO: Rupert Murdoch (Murdoch ranked 53rd on Forbes’ list of highest-paid CEOs and was the 117th richest person in the world last year.)

2010 Pre-tax Profit: $3.3 billion

Taxation strategy: In 2008, the Government Accountability Office issued an analysis concluding that one of the companies with the greatest number of subsidiaries in offshore tax-havens was none other than News Corp., which then had more than 150 of them scattered across the world.

News Corp. fun-fact: Fox “News” devoted significant airtime to hyping the financial ties between Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family, and the developers of the Park 51 Muslim community center planned for downtown Manhattan. Fox implied there was something sinister about the financier, but didn’t mention that he is also News Corp.’s second largest shareholder, with 7 percent of the company’s stock.

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