Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Turley: Cheney war crimes probe would be 'shortest in history'

David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster report for The Raw Story :

If Obama would step out of the way and allow prosecutors to look at evidence of alleged Bush administration war crimes, "it would be the shortest investigation in history," Turley said on a Monday episode of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.

President Obama, appearing Sunday on the CBS news program, said the former vice president's policies on the treatment of prisoners captured in President Bush's terror war are "unsustainable" and had caused "incredible damage to our image and position in the world."

"The reason Obama seems very irritated by it is that he is responsible for the conversation," said Turley, a constitutional scholar and George Washington University professor. "Because he's the one that is blocking a criminal investigation of Vice President Cheney and President Bush and other Bush officials. It is like a bank robber calling up and asking him to debate bank robbery."

It was only Dec. 15 when the former vice president admitted he approved the interrogation tactics which many, including the international Red Cross, have called torture.

Even Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) called Cheney out for his remarks.

"When the Vice President of the United States says that he believes ... waterboarding is 'appropriate,' there is no other conclusion that I can reach other than I know it's a form of torture," said Sen. Levin. "It's been acknowledged as a form of torture I think since the Inquisition."

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the first top-ranking Bush administration official to admit that discussions on the techniques took place in 2002 and 2003.

"These are not just our values," said Turley. "They are the law."

~ more... ~

The causes and meanings of Greece’s mass social uprising

Sunday, March 22 2009

By Georgios Stasinopoulos
The Politic

As I walked up Ermou Street, the commercial center of Athens, the city seemed to have regained its vibrant life. People of all ages were out on the street, enjoying the Athenian holidays. Yet in the corner of the street, a couple members of the police force who had served to diffuse the riots of the recent weeks were still patrolling. As I left Ermou Street and reached Syntagma Square, the Christmas spirit was visible. Families with their children were waiting to take pictures in front of the replacement Christmas tree in the middle of the square. Next to the tree, several more policemen were standing guard. After the shocking events of the previous weeks, the police had taken strict measures to avoid the sight of a Christmas tree burning again. I proceeded toward Omonia Square, and in the notorious Exarchia area the remnants of mayhem were more noticeable. Broken store windows, buildings under reconstruction, announcements hanging on doorways notifying customers that the shops are closed due to fire damage—these are some of the signs of the recent turmoil.

Perhaps the picture described above perhaps contradicts what the average person thinks of Athens and Greece. What made the birthplace of democracy—a technologically modern country with European Union membership and a relatively stable economy—appear like a country mired in a civil war?

It all started on the night of December 6, 2008 when a police officer shot and killed a fifteen-year-old high school student in the district of Exarchia in downtown Athens. Although the precise details of the incident are still under investigation, the public was shocked by the brutality of it; violence erupted almost immediately. Anarchist groups who use Exarchia as their home base started attacking police stations, razing cars and stores. When the sun rose the next morning, Athens was still smoking. There were reports of overnight violence from other Greek cities. The Greek people, traditionally lenient toward the anarchists and their demonstrations, were left bewildered. Meanwhile, the Greek youth rapidly started organizing themselves using the Internet and their cell phones—the unjust killing of the fifteen-year-old student incited both fear and outrage.

During the next weeks, thousands of students abandoned their classrooms and started demonstrating. Middle school and high school students from all over the country blocked the streets in front of their schools and marched toward the local police stations. College students took over their universities and started protesting. For many days, the Police Headquarters, the Ministry of Education, and the Parliament were under siege by angry students. The parents were booing and hissing when the police showed up and the teachers joined their students in the demonstrations. When night fell and the students dispersed, hooded men, called the anarchists or the “known-unknown,” started rioting and looting. The public was troubled; there was not only hatred of the violent police and the incompetent government response but also anger toward the anarchists that took advantage of their protests in order to cause mayhem.

Nevertheless, the demonstrations and the riots carried on while the rest of the world viewed what was happening in Greece with increased concern. When demonstrations started sparking around Europe, the media began to realize that the murder of a student—Alexandros Grigoropoulos—was what triggered the eruption of a massive social uprising against deeply rooted societal problems. In the case of Greece, the murder was what pried open the floodgates of the youths' frustration and the uncertainty about their futures. Amid the critical economic crisis that afflicts the nation, Greece is riddled with massive corruption scandals. Government ministers were forced to resign because of these revelations, and even the Church was heavily involved in the corruption incidents. People were steadily losing faith in the political system of the country.

The students, however, had even more reasons to be outraged. There are serious problems that have yet to be tackled. The government reforms have failed to alter a poor educational system based heavily on memorization, with low-quality public schools and an extremely competitive university placement system that requires the costly attendance of night private schools. At the same time the universities suffer from political corruption, strikes, inadequate state funding, and incompetent administration. After graduation, young professionals are increasingly finding only low-wage jobs, while many face unemployment. There exist two ways for a young and ambitious university graduate to find a good job in Greece: knowing the right people or bribing the right people. The acclaimed Greek writer Nikos Dimou flatly lists the main causes of the uprising: “the unprecedented delay in the modernization of the country, the segregation of the young people, the 'ancient' educational system, the authoritarianism, the iniquity and the incompetence of the state, and the lack of impunity.”

The situation is more than chaotic. In the field of politics, the two main parties—the center-right New Democracy and the center-left PASOK—have lost public support and respect. The people, by and large, have lost trust in the capabilities and character of most politicians. The left-wing party SYRIZA (The Radical Coalition of the Left), which enjoys substantial student support, was accused of fueling the riots. Moreover, the Greek economy is on the edge of monetary and fiscal collapse; the tourism industry, one of the primary pillars of the Greek economy, has been severely damaged by the riots. Greek society seems to have lost its unity as social tensions flare up with increasing frequency. In essence, the very fabric of Greek society is on the brink of disintegration—trapped in apathy and indifference.

What can be concluded from Greece's example? Is the situation in Greece a new trend that threatens to expand, or a well-hidden illness common to Western nations? One thing is sure: what happened in Greece surely has frightened the governments of numerous European countries. For instance, French President Nicholas Sarkozy withdrew an educational reform proposal because he was afraid that it might trigger social turmoil and demonstrations by the youth. Many governments face regular demonstrations concerning the ongoing economic crisis. Thousands of miles from Athens in Oakland, California, civil strife erupted after an African-American was fatally shot by a police officer.

Perhaps our world is entering a new era in which many social groups, fed up by the long-suffered inequalities and illnesses of their societies, will more eagerly resort to demonstrations and violent acts of protest. Greece might be the first victim of this new trend. There are countless countries, with equally deep societal issues and special circumstances, that could be next. What is the solution to this looming crisis, and more importantly, does any solution exist? Greece now confronts a deadlock, albeit a temporary one. The Greek government, if it wants to banish the demons of civil unrest, must give the people more channels by which to express their opinions. The era of the voter-citizen seems to be failing, and the need for a more direct democracy is becoming apparent. Perhaps this is the message that the birthplace of democracy sends to the rest of the world. The frustration and the passion of the people should not be fiercely constrained but should be creatively used for the sake of the society. Until then, policemen will still have to guard Christmas trees and stores from the aggravation of the masses.

Georgios Stasinopoulos is a freshman in Calhoun College.


~ Infoshop News ~

Protesters clash with riot police during insurgent prisoner's trial in Larissa

Submitted by taxikipali on Mar 23 2009

Clashes erupted between protesters in solidarity to V. Pallis in the greek city of Larissa during his trial over the prison uprising in Malandrino in April 2007.

Clashes erupted on Monday 23/3 between protesters and riot police during the disciplinary trial of Vagelis Pallis, a veteran prison activist and symbol of the prison abolition struggle in Greece who was tried for his role in the uprising at the prison of Trikala in April 2007. The uprising which began at special security prison of Malandrino and spread to all greek prisons at the time, and was met by ruthless repression, was ignited after guards brutalised the anarchist prisoner Yannis Dimitrakis. Pallis defended himself citing that at Trikala the 10 square meter cells house over 48 inmates although they are meant for only 16. Although guards verified this testimony, the court ruled a three year penalty for Pallis, infuriating the solidarity protesters.

During the clashes that erupted between protesters in solidarity to the prison activist and riot police forces two protesters were seriously injured and hospitalised. The riot police attacked the demo outside the courts and the fighting spread into the center of the city where many protesters sought refuge in the Medical School premises. Despite threats to lift the academic asylum, the protesters were allowed to leave after several hours of siege. There have been 9 detentions but no arrests.

~ libcom.org ~

Store gutted, bank damaged in Greek attacks

From an article in the International Herald Tribune :

Authorities say an upscale furniture store was gutted and a bank was damaged in arson attacks in the Greek capital.

The attacks occurred despite heightened police measures in Athens in the wake of massive riots, arson attacks and recent bombings by domestic militant groups.

The Fire Service says the assailants smashed the furniture storefront with sledgehammers before starting a fire with petrol bombs and small cooking gas canisters in the city's Halandri area.

The entrance of a Greek bank in Athens' Alimos suburb was damaged in a gas canister attack.

Court hears arguments over anti-Hillary movie

Jesse J. Holland reports for the Associated Press :

The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned whether government regulation of a movie critical of former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton might also be used to ban books critical of political hopefuls during election season.

One justice warned that the future of the nation's campaign finance law could ride on their decision on whether the anti-Clinton movie was journalism or a political attack ad.

Government lawyers argued that conservative group Citizens United's 90-minute documentary "Hillary: The Movie" is a political ad just like traditional one-minute or 30-second spots and therefore regulated by the McCain-Feingold law, the popular name for 2002 revisions to the nation's campaign finance laws.

The test "does not depend on the length or the way it's communicated," Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart said.

Arguing that a movie and a campaign ad are the same could have adverse consequences for the McCain-Feingold law, Justice Anthony Kennedy said. "If we think that the application of this to a 90-minute film is unconstitutional, then the whole statute should fall," Kennedy said.

Citizens United wanted to pay for its documentary "Hillary: The Movie" to be shown on home video-on-demand, and for ads promoting the movie to be shown in key states while the former New York senator was competing with President Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Federal judges, however, said the movie should be regulated by the McCain-Feingold law.

But if the federal government can treat a movie like a political advertisement, then why not books, the justices asked.

It can, answered Stewart, "if the book contained the functional equivalent of express advocacy," the test used in regulating broadcast, cable or satellite communication released 60 days before a general election or 30 days before a presidential primary or convention.

That answer seemed to concern the justices. What about electronic books, like those used on Amazon's Kindle reader, justices asked. Yes, Stewart said.

What if Wal-Mart wanted to run ads touting an action figure of a political candidate, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, could that be regulated? "If it aired at the right time, it would," Stewart said.

Stewart pointed out that by ban, he meant prohibit "use of corporate treasury funds." Campaign regulations require the backers of political ads to be identified and prohibit corporations and unions from paying for ads that run close to elections and single out candidates.

~ more... ~

The case is Citizens United v. FEC, 08-205.

On the Net:

"Hillary: The Movie": http://www.hillarythemovie.com

Federal Election Commission: http://www.fec.gov

Background on the case: http://tinyurl.com/cfltxp

[ via How Appealing ]

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[ via Lessig ]

Diggers Occupation April 1999 350th Anniversary St Georges Hill, Surrey

Kinokast - Diggers at St. Georges Hill - The Land Is Ours (TLIO) April 1999
Back again to grace your computer screens The Diggers of 1999.
Not sure if this is available anywhere else on the web??

For I took my spade and went and broke the ground upon George-hill in Surrey, thereby declaring freedom to the Creation, and that the earth must be set free from intanglements of Lords and Landlords, and that it shall become a common treasury to all. Gerrard Winstanley.

The Diggers 350 celebrations proved another great success. The ground on St George's Hill was broken once again to show that the land belongs to all of us, and not just to the wealthy few. Some 400 people marched from Weybridge to the site of the original Diggers' encampment - now a posh golf course - where a rally was held. This was followed by the occupation of an unused plot of land by around 150 people, who set up a camp, and erected a stone commemorating Winstanley and the first Diggers. The plot was owned by the local water company (and so was public land until recent privatisation) and lay at the heart of the St George's Hill Estate, which is one of the most (literally) exclusive areas of land in the country, complete with gated entrances and security guards.

The camp remained for a fortnight,' complete with a marquee, the TLIO yurt, and a vegetable plot.

The camp was open to visitors, and many people came to view the stone and to see how the camp was run. Local people were very supportive, and there was good coverage in the local press and in The Guardian. The police were quite fluffy: the camp had its own liaison officer for what they called Operation Hannibal. Even the security guards were OK for the most part. There were, just a couple of incidents over access to the site, and an alleged assault on one of the Digger squatters (see below).

The camp was eventually evicted. After a sympathetic hearing in the High Court, the eviction date was delayed for a couple of days, and the latter-day Diggers left in a procession, with music and banners, and carrying the memorial stone. This was an important action which showed that ordinary people like us can really put land rights issues in the public eye. Remember, the stone is still looking for a permanent, safe, accessible home on St George's Hill, so the campaign still goes on.

US: Veils of secrecy lifting in Washington

From IPS News, by William Fisher

NEW YORK, Mar 23 (IPS) - As President Barack Obama's Justice Department issued sweeping new guidelines to reverse the secrecy policies of former president George W. Bush, a federal judge ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to produce unedited summaries of some 3,000 documents related to its admitted destruction of 92 videotapes of prisoners being subjected to extremely harsh interrogation techniques.

At the same time, Congress weighed in with proposed new legislation to liberalise the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder issued comprehensive new FOIA guidelines that direct all executive branch departments and agencies to apply a presumption of openness when administering the FOIA.

The new guidelines, announced in a memo to heads of executive departments and agencies, build on the principles announced by President Obama on his first full day in office when he issued a presidential memorandum on the FOIA that called on agencies to "usher in a new era of open government."

One of the first tests of the Obama administration's new approach came in federal court, where the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal judge to order the CIA to produce full and unedited copies of the 3,000 summaries, transcripts, reconstructions and memoranda relating to the interrogation videotapes they destroyed.

When the CIA refused to publicly disclose the list - and the names of witnesses who may have viewed the videotapes - Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered an independent but non-public review of that material next week to determine whether it should be publicly disclosed.

"The government is still needlessly withholding information about these tapes from the public, despite the fact that the CIA's use of torture is well known," said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. "Full disclosure of the CIA's illegal interrogation methods is long overdue and the agency must be held accountable for flouting the rule of law."

Meanwhile, Congress is taking action to end the Bush administration's government-wide efforts to increase the classification of documents to thwart citizens' requests for information under the FOIA.

~ more... ~

Fusion centers: Giving cops too much information?

At the time, it seemed one of the unanimous lessons of the tragedy of Sept. 11 — law enforcement agencies at all levels of government have to do a better job of sharing information with each other in order to prevent terror plots. Making that actually happen, of course, is easier said than done, which is why newfangled, multi-organizational agencies were set up to promote cooperation and overcome turf battles. But now critics claim that these so-called fusion centers are making it all too easy for government to collect and share data from numerous public databases.

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union are pushing bills to restrict fusion centers' access to data, most notably in New Mexico, where opponents hope to make government snooping a costly offense. Legislation has been introduced in Santa Fe that would prohibit any New Mexico law enforcement agency from collecting information about the religious, political and social associations of law-abiding New Mexicans. And in what would be a first for the nation, the bill would allow private citizens to sue law enforcement agencies for damages over the unauthorized collection of such data.

Privacy advocates point to a scandal in the state of Maryland, where last summer it was revealed that in 2005 and 2006 undercover members of the Maryland State Police had carried out surveillance of war protesters and death penalty opponents. Some of the intelligence gathered on the subjects, according to logs obtained by the ACLU last summer, may have found its way into databases shared with local, national and federal agencies through the state's fusion center. An investigation found the data collection represented a serious lapse in judgment, but the victims had little recourse, except public outrage.

"The lack of proper legal limits on the new fusion centers not only threatens to undermine fundamental American values, but also threatens to turn them into wasteful and misdirected bureaucracies that, like our federal security agencies before 9/11, won't succeed in their ultimate mission of stopping terrorism and other crime," the national ACLU notes in its report on the centers. There are federal and state privacy laws governing the centers, but a recent report by the Department of Homeland Security's own Privacy Office suggested that the multi-governmental nature of the centers allows the staffers to pick and choose a policy that suits their needs. The report, issued in late December, echoed some of the concerns laid out in earlier congressional and Government Accountability Office reports that warned of the potential for "mission creep" by the fusion centers.

~ more... ~

911: THE ROAD TO TYRANNY - "Founding Fathers Were Terrorist"

Footage of a FEMA Instructor teaching police and firefighters that the "Founding Fathers were terrorist," and demonizing Christians and patriots.

Eslam Jawaad: Official 'Pivot Widdit' video

Musical Innerlube: Stone Temple Pilots - 'Plush'

Launch of International Solidarity University Jean-Paul Sartre & Paul Nizan

Université de Solidarité Internationale Jean-Paul Sartre & Paul Nizan

An international initiative sartrian intellectuals committed to the defense of human rights of the peoples of the world

The Université de Solidarité Internationale Jean-Paul Sartre and Paul Nizan, a non governmental organization (NGO) International CULTURAL, existentialist humanist, independent, free, non-profit organization founded on April 15, 2004 (the anniversary of death Our French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre 21-6-1905 Paris - Paris 15-4-1980) aimed at promoting culture, arts education and solidarity without borders, through the commitment of intellectuals satreanos to defending the rights Human people around the world, says the Argentine Sergio Tapia, founder and president of the Free University sartrian.

Its priority use strategies both educational and cultural training, and promoting, supporting and organizing all kinds of learning processes according to the principles of "Free Education and Human Rights", in some cases designed for "individuals or groups but always with the implication "of" them.

(Education, Training and Culture "to" all "of all) under the principles of international solidarity HUMANISM existential French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and Solidarity International Paul Nizan through educational and cultural development Chairs Free International yonline all for free.

The Universite de Solidarite Internationale & Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Nizan is composed of men and women with intellectual sartrian 'awareness of international solidarity, members voluntary character of professors International Open in defense of life and the human condition without distinction of race , creed or condition through education free of culture, art, philosophy and humanities on education and solidarity without borders.

The Universite de Solidarite Internationale Jean-Paul Sartre Paul Nizan & maintains the continuity of Sartre's thought is the vision of freedom as the central concept of human existence: there is freedom because awareness is the one thing that nothing is given, and hence there is the reality, to the extent that this makes sense only for consciousness. Freedom is the fundamental premise, the concept of unconditional support that the whole thought of Sartre.

As sartrian think it worth fighting for a society where all men are free, where freedom is both a philosophy of human emancipation, under the foundations of the Humanist Existentialism Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism where Humanism is a Sartre says "our responsibility is much greater than we assume, because it involves all of humanity," says the founder of the University of solidarity sartrian Sergio Tapia.

We continue the legacy of Sartre, against the bureaucracy of the intellectuals of this, an academic intellectual complice of the human tragedy for their indifference, we believe that man is condemned to be free;. satreanos us as intellectuals committed to the defense of human rights of the peoples of the world, defending liberty, freedom of man, against the injustices that were not committed in silence, as it reflects the commitment of Sartre against the Vietnam War, leading the Russell Tribunal against war crimes, and writing the first sentence historica "genocide" being the forerunner of international courts of conscience.

Paul Nizan

This militant committed intellectual, writer, French journalist who died in front of the French Resistance fighting the Nazis for the release of man, was fellow at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Jean Paul Sartre, Paul Nizan's work is the commitment in theory and in practice against exploitation and for a new humanism in which man may accept their liberation, "We are temporary until the bones. Do not ask what anyone thinks, but what it does or does not, "says Paul Nizan who did write:" As far as men are not completely free, safe on his legs and the land that sustains them, during the dream night "The problem of the writer is in a humanism that takes into account the specific conditions of human life and not the abstract thinking", Sartre reminds Nizan: "My outrage was nothing more than a soap bubble ; his was real, their words of hate were pure gold, mine, counterfeit currency. "

Teaching Chairs FREE FOR ALL
Teaching is an intellectually committed to the pillars on which underpins the Universite de Solidarite Internationale Jean-Paul Sartre & Paul Nizan Chairs through its International Open in order to expand knowledge, foster creativity and participation of students in seminars on culture, conferences, roundtables, human rights, in defense of humanity wiped out by war and crimes against humanity

Chairs of the Open International University sartrian will be offered from April 15, 29 on the anniversary of the death of Sartre, for free, without charge, yonline through the Internet at the International Campus of the Universite de Solidarite Internationale Jean Paul & Paul Sartre-Nizan, in: www.universitejeanpaulsartre.co.cc

The intellectuals
The Universite de Solidarite Internationale Jean-Paul Sartre and Paul Nizan edited The Journal publishes its intellectuals, which reflects the thinking sartrian and international analysis of the global environment
We also developed the world's first radio sartrian in Spanish Radio Universite Jean-Paul Sartre, a radio Catedra Libre Open International places and cultural institutions worldwide, with the granting of honorary degrees, an associate member of Francodiffusion to Paris, France .

The Universite de Solidarite Internationale Jean-Paul Sartre-Nizan & Paul was built on a permanent basis to the Library and Video Library of Catedra Libre for the realization of free open seminars and lectures internationally.

The Universite de Solidarite Internationale Jean-Paul Sartre & Paul Nizan, is identified with the emblem of the image of Jean-Paul Sartre and Paul Nizan, and the phrase "Man is condemned to be free." (Jean-Paul Sartre)

~ Independent Media Center ~

More than 10,000 march on Pentagon, leading war profiteers

On Sixth Anniversary of Iraq war...

A "throng of war protesters swelled Saturday as they marched across the Memorial Bridge." (AP) The protesters marched on the Pentagon and what followed was a dramatic direct action at Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and KBR, corporations that demonstrators labeled "merchants of death." The predominantly young crowd continued to grow as the day proceeded. They marched through the Pentagon north Parking Lot and then into downtown Crystal City, where the leading war corporations' headquarters are located.

The march was led by a contingent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. There was a significant delegation from members of the Arab and Muslim communities and many students participated.

[photo credit: Bill Hackwell]

The Arlington County Police mobilized in full riot gear in an attempt to block the demonstrators from delivering symbolic coffins at the doorsteps of the war corporations. They brought tear gas, snarling dogs and pointed guns loaded with rubber bullets directly at demonstrators. The Arlington County Police also put out an absurdly low count of the demonstration, which was more than 10,000 people.

In Los Angeles, a simultaneous demonstration drew 4,000 people, which culminated with a dramatic die-in at the Kodak Theater. Another 4,000 demonstrated in San Francisco, where police carried out violent attacks on demonstrators and arrested numerous people.

"This is the launch of the anti-war movement in the post-Bush era. Bush is gone, but the occupation of Iraq continues, the war in Afghanistan is escalating, and the people of Palestine are living under a state of siege," stated Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.

~ A.N.S.W.E.R. ~


image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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