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Obama administration sued yet again, this time for stonewalling FOIA requests

© Unknown
The comparisons made between the Obama and Nixon administrations' drive for secrecy are actually a misnomer. Many believe that no administration comes even close to the amount of extreme control the Obama administration tries to exercise over the release of information that is even produced by other Federal agencies.
The administration that vowed to be the most transparent in history now must defend itself against a federal lawsuit accusing it of thwarting the release of public information. It's a case that could reveal just how much politics influences the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests, especially when such releases could embarrass the president.

The civic watchdog group Cause of Action on Monday sued the Obama administration, claiming that presidential attorneys have interfered improperly in the release of public documents under the landmark FOIA law in an effort to curb the release of derogatory information about the White House.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the nonpartisan Cause of Action, names 12 federal agencies that the group says slowed the release of documents so officials could consult with White House attorneys under a review process established in spring 2009. FOIA analysts say this practice never occurred in prior administrations.

The process gave White House officials review authority over documents that mentioned the White House or presidential aides, and was based on an April 15, 2009, memo by White House Counsel Gregory Craig that instructed all federal agencies to consult with President Obama's attorneys on the release of documents containing "White House equities."

Comment: The administration's memo/directive referring to 'White House equities' is an interesting use of language in and of itself.
First, as mentioned in the article and video, it has no legal meaning whatsoever and, as such, should not wield the power of compelling other Federal agencies and departments who have received FOIA requests to first forward the documents relating to the Obama administration to the administration itself for their approval. This process reeks of an effort towards totalitarian control.

Secondly, when we look up the definition of equities, which is used rather opaquely here, we come up with this from Investopedia:

Definition of 'Equity '
1. A stock or any other security representing an ownership interest.

2. On a company's balance sheet, the amount of the funds contributed by the owners (the stockholders) plus the retained earnings (or losses). Also referred to as "shareholders' equity".

3. In the context of margin trading, the value of securities in a margin account minus what has been borrowed from the brokerage.

4. In the context of real estate, the difference between the current market value of the property and the amount the owner still owes on the mortgage. It is the amount that the owner would receive after selling a property and paying off the mortgage.

5. In terms of investment strategies, equity (stocks) is one of the principal asset classes. The other two are fixed-income (bonds) and cash/cash-equivalents. These are used in asset allocation planning to structure a desired risk and return profile for an investor's portfolio.

So, what else can one surmise from the use of the word equity except that the White House or Obama administration thinks it somehow 'owns' all the other Federal agencies and should therefore have complete control over them as their owner? Perhaps it shouldn't come as any surprise since Obama himself was put into office and is, himself, owned by the financial services/banking industry; he essentially being an equity of the financial elite.

See also:

Moore: "Wall Street Has Their Man And His Name Is Barack Obama"

USA

How we'd cover Ferguson if it happened in another country


US regime forces have been brutalizing minority sect protestors in Ferguson
How would American media cover the news from Ferguson, Missouri, if it were happening in just about any other country? How would the world respond differently? Here, to borrow a great idea from Slate's Joshua Keating, is a satirical take on the story you might be reading if Ferguson were in, say, Iraq or Pakistan

Ferguson - Chinese and Russian officials are warning of a potential humanitarian crisis in the restive American province of Missouri, where ancient communal tensions have boiled over into full-blown violence.

"We must use all means at our disposal to end the violence and restore calm to the region," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments to an emergency United Nations Security Council session on the America crisis.

The crisis began a week ago in Ferguson, a remote Missouri village that has been a hotbed of sectarian tension. State security forces shot and killed an unarmed man, which regional analysts say has angered the local population by surfacing deep-seated sectarian grievances. Regime security forces cracked down brutally on largely peaceful protests, worsening the crisis.

America has been roiled by political instability and protests in recent years, which analysts warn can create fertile ground for extremists.
Bad Guys

Britain can buy bombs to kill Palestinians and support Israel but doesn't have enough money for school meal program

© Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett
Students receive their lunch at Salusbury Primary School in northwest London
British schools have warned they will struggle to feed their students and will be forced to sacrifice spending on maintenance and resources to provide meals under the government's controversial new school meals policy beginning next month.

British schools have warned they will struggle to feed their students and will be forced to sacrifice spending on maintenance and resources to provide meals under the government's controversial new school meals policy beginning next month.

Research produced by the Local Government Association (LGA) showed that nearly half of local councils will have to dip into other budgets to provide school meals to every child under a plan spearheaded by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last year.

As a result, councils need more than £25 million to be able to deliver the policy in the future.

The scheme, which was announced at last year's Liberal Democrat party conference, was designed to provide all students in their first year of primary education with free school meals.
Magnify

UN calls for screening of all international travelers leaving Ebola-affected African countries

© AFP Photo / Carl de Souza
A girls suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus has her temperature checked at the government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 16, 2014.
The number of cases of West Africa's Ebola outbreak has climbed to 2,240, including 1,229 deaths, the World Health Organization said. It urged affected countries to screen all people at international airports.

The Ebola virus killed 84 people between August 14 and 16, the WHO said Tuesday, reporting the toll in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Confirmed infections jumped by 113, bringing the total number of cases to 2,240, said the WHO, which is the United Nations health agency responsible for dealing with epidemics.

The virus, which has hit four West African nations since it broke out in Guinea at the start of the year, is by far the deadliest since Ebola was discovered four decades ago in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The WHO called for Ebola-affected countries to conduct exit screening of all people at international airports, seaports and major land crossings "for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection."

"Any person with an illness consistent with EVD [Ebola virus disease] should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation," the WHO said in a statement. "There should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation."

Meanwhile, Liberian authorities reported that the 17 Ebola carriers who fled a quarantine center in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, have been tracked down and re-hospitalized.

The patients escaped from the medical center over the weekend when it was attacked by looters who stole bloodstained sheets and mattresses.
Clipboard

Moscow reminds UN that Kiev is still withholding MH17 traffic control communications

Vitaly Churkin
© www.b92.net
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin
Kiev should make public the records of communications between the Ukrainian air traffic control and the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in the hours before it was shot down over Ukraine's turbulent east, Russia's UN envoy said.

The issue was among several Russia raised at a UN Security Council meeting, which was called by Russia to discuss the progress of the investigation into the tragic incident, which killed 298 people in July, Vitaly Churkin said. Moscow sees the shortage of proper evidence known to the public so far as wrong.

"As far as we know, [UN's civil aviation watchdog] ICAO is being kept on the sidelines of the investigation, which has been conducted for some time," Churkin said.

Churkin added that Jeffrey Feltman, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who is to visit Kiev soon, would ask the Ukrainian government about the communications records between air traffic controllers and the plane.

Comment: While air traffic control conversations for MH17 were purportedly confiscated by the SBU (Ukraine Security Service), flight recorders were delivered to Britain to be analyzed by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) via a Dutch hand-off. It has been four "non-communicative" weeks. Perhaps the "Truth" takes time, a different type of "traffic control"?

Ahhh, how the mind races... what will the answers be?

Quenelle

Putin will meet with Ukraine and EU representatives August 26 in Minsk

© AFP Photo / Christophe Ena
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during an international D-Day commemoration ceremony on the beach of Ouistreham, Normandy, on June 6, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, will meet on August 26 in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, the Kremlin said.

The talks will take place as part of a summit between leaders of the countries in the Eurasian Customs Union - Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan - with the Ukrainian president and representatives of the European Commission.

A number of bilateral meetings between the heads of states will also take place in Minsk.

The leaders "will discuss the relations between Ukraine and the Customs Union and there will be a number of bilateral meetings," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Megaphone

Russian MP: U.S. criticism of Bolotnaya case hypocritical in light of Ferguson police shooting

© AFP Photo / Michael B. Thomas
Law enforcement officers watch on during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014.
A Russian ruling party MP has reacted to Washington's criticism of the sentences given to participants of 2012 Moscow riots, saying that under similar circumstances the US police would use lethal force against protesters.

Alyona Arshinova of the United Russia parliamentary caucus emphasized that the sentences in the so called Bolotnaya Square case had been given only to those who had attacked law enforcement officers, and US laws provide that police can use firearms in such circumstances.

"US law enforcers can use firearms even in less straightforward situations. One example of this was the tragedy in the town of Ferguson." The lawmaker told the RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday.

Arshinova's reaction was prompted by US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf who on Monday started her press briefing with a statement that the US was "deeply concerned" about the sentences handed down to four Russians who had been found guilty of attacking police and participating in mass riots in Moscow in May 2012. The US officials called the whole Bolotnaya Square process "politically minded" and added that it had been "marked by a lack of due process," without going into details.

MP Arshinova said the State Department officials should "start looking for the plank in their own eye."
Bulb

Latvia warns Europe to stop sanctions against Russia before it runs world economy into the ground

© Reuters / Ints Kalnins
The "right steps" politicians in the West and Russia are now taking against each other are very similar to what was happening before World War I, Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikinsh warned EC President Jose Manuel Barroso in a letter Tuesday.

It's crucial to stop reciprocal sanctions before they throw people into poverty and ruin the economies altogether, the European Parliament member wrote.

"In 2014 exactly 100 years have passed since the beginning of World War I that killed millions of people and left Europe in ruins. On the eve of that war similar processes occurred when countries took "the right" steps against each other and eventually were not able to stop. It is doubtful that in the end of that war anyone remembered for what good intentions it had started," Mamikinsh wrote in his letter.

These would be ordinary people, not politicians, who'll be hit first and hardest by a so called "risky poker" played by politicians in the West and Russia, the Latvian MEP, added.

Latvia is expected to suffer the most from the tit for tat sanctions imposed by the West and Russia, Mamikinsh said.

Further escalation of a "sanctions war" would erode about 10 percent of Latvian GDP, which means thousands of people could be left out of work with shrinking living standards.
Eye 2

British government lobbied U.S. politicians to hide their involvement in CIA torture and rendition program

© AFP Photo / Osman Orsal
Newly-released data reveals Britain’s US ambassador engaged in at least 21 separate meetings with members of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) prior to its publication of a report on CIA rendtion.
Records published under Britain's Freedom of Information (FOI) Act have compounded concerns that the UK government lobbied US officials to keep Britain's role in CIA torture and rendition out of a soon-to-be published Senate report.

Newly-released data reveals Britain's ambassador to the US, Peter Westmacott, engaged in at least 21 separate meetings with members of the US Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) prior to its publication of this report, heightening existing allegations that the British government may be seeking to sanitize the document.

Westmacott met with key Democrats and Republicans on the SSCI throughout the body's investigation of the CIA program, records obtained by the UK legal charity Reprieve reveal.

Of particular note are two separate meetings with Senator Feinstein in the immediate aftermath of the US government's decision to publish what is expected to be a damning report on CIA torture, interrogation and rendition.
War Whore

Kurdish and Iraq forces retake key weapon Mosul Dam from Islamic State militants

© AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye
A general view shows the Mosul dam on the Tigris River around 50 kilometres north of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
Reports indicate that Kurdish and Iraqi forces have all but taken back the key Mosul Dam from Islamic State militants. However it is rigged with explosives which, together with other issues, could lead to hundreds of thousands killed in just days.

Two major problems are the deliberate setting of booby traps by the militants, who took the dam in early August, and the already extremely dangerous, under-maintained state of the Tigris River dam itself.

The dam, the largest in Iraq, could be used as "a weapon of mass destruction," experts have warned, alluding to its capacity to hold back 11-12 billion cubic meters of water, as well as to produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

In essence, the dam can either deprive half a million people of energy and water, or simply drown them.

A 2006 US Army Corps of Engineers report obtained by the Washington Post said the dam, which blocks the Tigris, could wipe out whole cities, and was considered to be "the most dangerous dam in the world."
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