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Heart - Black

Monsanto's latest farmwashing ad campaign debuts

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© Monsanto, Marlboro
Marlsanto: A persuasive combine-nation?
Now that the Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people, too (happy birthday, Citizens United!), Monsanto is apparently out to put a friendly, slightly weather-beaten, gently grizzled face on industrial agriculture. The above ad (the lefthand one) is part of a campaign currently appearing in bus shelters in D.C., including just outside USDA headquarters, among other places. The link, Americasfarmers.com, forwards to a Monsanto page.

This guy looks an awful lot like Henry Fonda playing Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, which seems only fitting since Agribiz may be helping to create a 21st century Dust Bowl.

After decades of boasting about how fossil-fuel-intensive industrial agriculture has made it possible for far fewer farmers to produce way more food, Monsanto is now championing the power of farming to create jobs and preserve land. Does this attempt by a biotechnology behemoth to wrap itself in a populist plaid flannel shirt give you the warm and fuzzies, or just burn you up?

Stormtrooper

Recording a Police Officer Could Get You 15 Years in Jail

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© Shutterstock
Citizens recording their public interactions with police sure seems like the kind of thing that would prevent corruption, harassment and bad behavior by cops. Just don't do it in Illinois, where it's punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Sixty-year-old Chicago artist Christopher Drew is currently facing an eavesdropping charge because he recorded his arrest for "selling art without a permit." Eavesdropping - that is, recording conversations, either public or private, without universal consent - is a felony in Illinois, and Drew could face 15 years in prison.

Dollar

Bono and Bill Gates-Backed Global Health Charity Exposed as a Fraud

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© Activist Post
What institutions can you trust these days with your donations? The Associated Press reported today that the $21.7 billion Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a fraud where at least two-thirds of the funds were "pocketed," and donated medicines were sold on the black market for profit.

The prestigious development fund is backed by celebrities like Bono, politicians like French president Sarkozy, and a cool $150 million from Bill and Melinda Gates. The AP wrote, "The fund has been a darling of the power set that will hold the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain village of Davos this week."

Although many of the contributors to this fund likely had good intentions for their donation, it seems that funds of this size are too-big-to-succeed and are ripe for corruption. The fund spokesman, Jon Liden, said, "We would contend that we do not have any corruption problems that are significantly different in scale or nature to any other international financing institution."

Light Sabers

U.S. Can't Link Accused Army Private to Assange

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© BradleyManning.org/European Pressphoto Agency
Army Specialist Bradley Manning is suspected of leaking thousands of Iraq War documents to Wikileaks.
Military also denies allegations that Bradley Manning is being mistreated

U.S. military officials tell NBC News that investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between a jailed army private suspected with leaking secret documents and Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The officials say that while investigators have determined that Manning had allegedly unlawfully downloaded tens of thousands of documents onto his own computer and passed them to an unauthorized person, there is apparently no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure.

Assange, an Australian national, is under house arrest at a British mansion near London, facing a Swedish warrant seeking his extradition for questioning on charges of rape. Assange has denied the allegations.

WikiLeaks' release of secret diplomatic cables last year caused a diplomatic stir and laid bare some of the most sensitive U.S. dealings with governments around the world. It also prompted an American effort to stifle WikiLeaks by pressuring financial institutions to cut off the flow of money to the organization.

Light Saber

Peru recognizes Palestinian State

Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde
© unknown
Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde
Peru said on Monday it had recognized a Palestinian state, joining a growing number of Latin American countries in making an endorsement the United States has called premature.

Israel has warned that declarations by Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador, among others, could undermine the Middle East peace process.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde did not specify if Peru recognized the Palestine state along borders that existed before 1967.

"Palestine is recognized as a free and sovereign state," he said on RPP radio.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas thanked Brazil several weeks ago for allowing his nation to open its first embassy in the Americas and said other countries were following suit.

Palestinian authorities are hoping for a diplomatic domino effect to back their claim for a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel disputes the Palestinian claim on all the West Bank and East Jerusalem, land it captured from Jordan in a 1967 war and has extensively settled.

Mr. Potato

Court throws Rahm off the Chicago mayoral ballot

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An appellate court panel ruled by a vote of 2-1 on Monday that former Obama administration chief of staff Rahm Emanuel may not run for mayor of Chicago.

The high-powered Democrat, who was the leading fundraiser in the race, was not officially a resident of Chicago in time for the registration deadline, his opponents argued. In previous challenges to his candidacy, Emanuel convinced the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and a judge in Cook County that he'd met residency requirements.

While Emanuel did own a home in Chicago, it was rented out to tenants who'd renewed their lease just days before outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said he would not seek reelection. When Rahm announced his intent to run, the couple said they wouldn't be moving.

Stormtrooper

Tunisian police use teargas to disperse protesters

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© Christophe Ena/AP
Protesters burn a photo of former Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila during a demonstration in Tunis
Demonstrators gathered at prime minister's office as part of campaign to remove government linked to ousted president

Tunisian police today used teargas on Monday to try to disperse protesters who gathered at the prime minister's office as part of a campaign to remove a government linked to the ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Reuters witnesses saw the protesters, most of whom came to the capital from marginalised rural areas, surge into the compound area by the office and break several windows in the finance ministry building.

More than a week after the prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, took the reins of an interim coalition following the overthrow of Ben Ali, he and other former loyalists of the feared ruling party face mounting pressure to step down.

Alarm Clock

Mobile Prison Guard Towers Coming to a Walmart near You!

Why are 'tactical platforms' being installed at Walmarts in the USA?


Handcuffs

British intelligence agencies go to supreme court over ruling on secret evidence

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© Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
Binyam Mohamed: MI5 and MI6 have expressed alarm over their long-running dispute with high court judges over pressure to disclose their involvement in the abuse he suffered
Guardian contests attempt by MI5 and MI6 to ban disclosure of intelligence-related information in British courts

MI5 and MI6 will argue in a test case before the supreme court tomorrow that in future no intelligence gathered abroad, even if initially obtained through torture, should ever be disclosed in a British court.

Last year an appeal court dismissed what it described as an attempt to undermine a fundamental principle of common law: that a litigant must see and hear the evidence used against him or her.

Now the security and intelligence agencies are challenging that ruling in an unprecedented case. The Guardian, the Times, the BBC, and the human rights groups Liberty and Justice will argue before the country's most senior judges that if the agencies get their way, the right to a fair trial will be eroded, while public confidence in decisions taken by the courts will be diminished.

Bulb

Russia Recognizes Palestine

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Jericho, West Bank - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recognized Palestine as an independent state during a visit to Jericho.

Medvedev said since 1988 Moscow has recognized the need for a Palestinian state during his visit Tuesday to the Palestinian city. He said everyone including Israel will benefit from its establishment, Ynetnews.com said Wednesday.

"The Russian position hasn't changed, as I've told the president," Medvedev said. "Russia made its choice long ago, at the end of the '80s. We supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to create its own state, which is independent, territorially integral and with a capital in East Jerusalem," The Jerusalem Post quoted Medvedev as telling a news conference.

Israeli government officials told the English-language daily Medvedev refrained from explicitly calling for a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. They said prior to the visit in Jericho, Israeli officials had contacted the Russian delegation and had received assurances there would be no change in Moscow's position, the newspaper said.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Medvedev's statement, calling it "an historic move to make the Palestinians proud for a very long time."