Tuesday, December 14, 2010
By Peter Schroeder, The Hill
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is coming under fire from liberal groups for suggesting that federal lawmakers and regulators exist to "serve the banks."
Bachus, who is poised to oversee the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, made the comment in an interview with The Birmingham News.
"In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks," he said.
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By Michael Deutsch, truthout
In late September, the FBI carried out a series of raids of homes and antiwar offices of public activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Following the raids, the Obama Justice Department subpoenaed 14 activists to a grand jury in Chicago and also subpoenaed the files of several antiwar and community organizations. In carrying out these repressive actions, the Justice Department was taking its lead from the Supreme Court's 6-3 opinion last June in Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project, which decided that nonviolent First Amendment speech and advocacy "coordinated with" or "under the direction of" a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as "terrorist" was a crime.
The search warrants and grand jury subpoenas make it clear that the federal prosecutors are intent on accusing public nonviolent political organizers, many of whom are affiliated with Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), of providing "material support" through their public advocacy for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Secretary of State has determined that both the PLFP and the FARC "threaten US national security, foreign policy or economic interests," a finding not reviewable by the courts, and listed both groups as foreign terrorist organizations (FTO).
In 1996, Congress made it a crime - then punishable by 10 years, which was later increased to 15 years - to anyone in the US who provides "material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization or attempts or conspires to do so." The present statute defines "material support or resources" as:
... any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel and transportation except medicine or religious materials.In the Humanitarian Law Project case, human rights workers wanted to teach members of the Kurdistan PKK, which seeks an independent Kurdish state, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which sought an independent state in Sri Lanka, how to use humanitarian and international law to peacefully resolve disputes and obtain relief from the United Nations and other international bodies for human rights abuses by the governments of Turkey and Sri Lanka. Both organizations were designated as FTOs by the Secretary of State in a closed hearing, in which the evidence is heard secretly.
Despite the nonviolent, peacemaking goal of the Humanitarian Law Project's speech and training, the majority of the Supreme Court nonetheless interpreted the law to make such conduct a crime. Finding a whole new exception to the First Amendment, the Court decided that any support, even if it involves nonviolent efforts towards peace, is illegal under the law since it "frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends," and also helps lend "legitimacy" to foreign terrorist groups. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts, despite the lack of any evidence, further opined that the FTO could use the human rights law to "intimidate, harass or destruct" its adversaries, and that even peace talks themselves could be used as a cover to re-arm for further attacks. Thus, the Court's opinion criminalizes efforts by independent groups to work for peace if they in any way cooperate or coordinate with designated FTOs.
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A new iPhone App with the misleading name ‘PatriotApp’ attempts to draw on the power of the patriot movement, turning smartphone users into a gigantic snitch network.
You might think an app with such a patriotic name might have useful functions like a pocket constitution or quotes from our forefathers. But contrary to the services one might expect, this app allows users to report any ‘suspicious’ behavior directly linking them with top government agencies.
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Opinion by Robert Pape, Christian Science Monitor
From the 9/11 hijackers to the double agent whose suicide attack in Afghanistan killed seven CIA employees last December, many people want to know what drives some Muslims – many of whom are middle class and well educated – to kill themselves in attacks on Americans and others in the West.
After examining 2,200 suicide attacks around the world since 1980 – the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted – I've concluded that the answer is both simple and disturbing. What drives them is deep anger at the presence of Western combat forces in the Persian Gulf region and other predominately Muslim lands.
Popular accounts of these suicide terrorists give the impression that most of them are globe-trotting extremists radicalized by militant networks to strike outside their homeland for religious or other transnational causes. These accounts are false.
What the evidence shows
In the 2,200 suicide attacks since 1980, over 90 percent of the attackers carried out strikes in their home countries, often just miles from their homes, to resist foreign occupation of land they prize.
Hence, Lebanese carried out the suicide attacks against Israel's occupation of Lebanon; Turkish Kurds carried out the suicide attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party against the Turkish military presence in their home areas; and Iraqis, Saudis, Syrians, Kuwaitis, and Jordanians carried out the suicide attacks against America's military occupation of Iraq and the US threat to countries adjacent to Iraq.
Afghanistan is a prime example. We can identify 93 suicide attackers who have killed themselves to strike targets, mostly US and Western troops, in Afghanistan in recent years.
More than 90 percent are Afghan nationals and another 5 percent are from border regions of the country, while only 5 percent are from areas of the world beyond the immediate zone of conflict.
In other words, suicide terrorism in Afghanistan is not part of some global jihad looking for a place to land, but regional opposition to foreign military presence.
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Presented by Stavroula Logothettis
Directed by Andreas Loukakos
Dop: Petros Nousias
Camera: Alexis Iosifidis
Research: Will Vassilopoulos
Editing: Andreas Loukakos
Produced by Stavroula Logothettis and dotmov
Welcome page for Balkan Leaks site: Dear friends, Following the example of the whistleblowers site Wikileaks we opened this site to promote transparency and fight the nexus of organized crime and political corruption in the Balkan states. We are deeply convinced that we're not alone in this battle. There are plenty of people out there that want to change the Balkans for good and are ready to take on the challenge. We're offering them a hand. If you have any confidential documents related to political, criminal or financial topics and you want to share them with the press in a secure, anonymous way, you can use our secured and encrypted upload server. We will review the documents and publish them after checking the information. ~ more... ~
Welcome page for Balkan Leaks site:
Following the example of the whistleblowers site Wikileaks we opened this site to promote transparency and fight the nexus of organized crime and political corruption in the Balkan states.
We are deeply convinced that we're not alone in this battle. There are plenty of people out there that want to change the Balkans for good and are ready to take on the challenge. We're offering them a hand.
If you have any confidential documents related to political, criminal or financial topics and you want to share them with the press in a secure, anonymous way, you can use our secured and encrypted upload server. We will review the documents and publish them after checking the information.
~ more... ~
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