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UK: 'Devastating' Evidence Puts Murdochs Back in the Crosshairs

© Getty
New evidence in the News Corp. phone hacking scandal reveals a widespread cover-up that casts doubt on sworn testimonies from the company's most senior leadership. A 4-year-old letter written by former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman but published Tuesday claims that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at the tabloid and conducted with "the full knowledge and support" of the tabloid's senior management. The fresh revelation spells trouble for former Dow Jones chief Les Hinton, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, Prime Minister David Cameron, and Rupert Murdoch. But it's potentially explosive for James Murdoch, who now faces another set of allegations that he lied to Parliament.

The Parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking allegations describes the Goodman letter as "absolutely devastating." Based on the context in which it was written in March 2007--just after Goodman's release from a four-month-long, phone-hacking-related prison sentence--the letter implicates each of the above News Corp. leaders in a slightly different way.


Jeers and (Some) Cheers as Obama Goes on Vacation

© The Associated Press / Senne
Life-size photographs of first lady Michelle Obama, left, and President Barack Obama, right, are seen in the window of a store, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Thursday, Aug. 18. Obama is expected to vacation on the island with his family during the last half of August.
Mitt Romney says Obama 'shouldn't be out vacationing' during a 'crisis.' Newt Gingrich agrees. But a veteran of multiple White Houses says presidents need to 'recharge.'

When President Obama planned his annual August break on Martha's Vineyard, he could predict he'd face some grief for going off and relaxing a bit with his family while the nation goes through tough economic times.

But Mr. Obama couldn't predict the stock market would tank again. Not that there's anything he could do about that, no matter where he's physically situated. Still, the posh locale for this summer break - once again, Blue Heron Farm in the charming village of Chilmark - just seems especially bad optics for a president who is obviously financially comfortable while so many Americans are not, politicos are opining.

And ultimately, they say, he just shouldn't be on vacation, period.


India Faces Risk of its Own Arab Spring Over Anti-Graft Protests

India protests
© Times of India
The anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare is snowballing into one of the biggest challenges in decades for the ruling Congress party.
An anti-corruption movement led by the feisty 74-year-old social activist Anna Hazare is snowballing into one of the biggest challenges in decades for the ruling Congress party and if not contained risks sparking India's own version of an Arab Spring revolt.

While no one is expecting an Egypt-like overthrow in the world's biggest democracy, a galvanised and frustrated middle class and the mushrooming of social networking sites combined with an aggressive private media may be transforming India's political landscape.

Hazare has quickly become a 21st century Mahatma Gandhi inspiration for millions of Indians fed up with rampant corruption, red tape and inadequate services provided by the state despite the country posting near-double digit economic growth for almost a decade.


US: Airport security: You ain't seen nothing yet

© Wong Maye-E / AP
In June, the IATA unveiled a mockup of the "checkpoint of the future" that includes three sensor-lined tunnels that divide passengers into high-, medium- and low-risk threats.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks forever changed the way Americans fly.

Gone are the days when friends or family could kiss passengers goodbye at the gate, replaced by X-rayed shoes and confiscated shampoo bottles at security checkpoints.

Air travelers are increasingly subjected to revealing full-body scans or enhanced pat-downs - all in the name of keeping the skies safe.

As America prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks in the U.S., security experts question whether freedom, speed and personal space will one day return to air travel - while still maintaining high standards of safety.

Some security analysts foresee a bumper crop of futuristic detection methods - from biometrics to electronic fingerprinting to behavioral analysis - and predict smoother, nimbler and less-intrusive airport walkthroughs in the coming years.


US: Meet Verizon's Newest Security Force: Blackwater

© Ahmad al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Wait. What? Blackwater? That private, for-profit, trigger-happy army that killed 17 civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007? Yeah. THAT BLACKWATER.

I have just confirmed with Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1104 that Blackwater is indeed being contracted by Verizon for security purposes. At this moment, CWA Local 1104 was not able to say how many security contractors have been hired or where they will be working. I'm sure more information will follow.

Blackwater, now called Xe, is considered to be the world's largest and most powerful mercenary army. In 2004, they had 2,300 men actively deployed around the world and another 20,000 contractors ready to go. They claim that they have trained tens of thousands of security personnel since 1998.


Coup d' Etat in Syria almost complete: Obama says Assad must resign

© Sana handout/EPA
Bashar al-Assad of Syria is facing invasion by NATO forces
EU leaders echo stinging rebuke, delivered by US president in executive order imposing sanctions and assets freeze

Barack Obama has led a demand by world leaders for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to surrender power. The US president declared that the "sustained onslaught" of Assad's regime against pro-democracy protesters has cost it all legitimacy.

The US president was joined by David Cameron of Britain, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Angela Merkel of Germany, as well as the European Union in demanding Assad immediately resign.

Obama said the Syrian people's pursuit of democracy was an inspiration that had been met with "ferocious brutality" by their government.

"The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people," Obama said.

Red Flag

Breaking News: Many dead and wounded following multiple terror attack in Israel

Eilat, Israel - Seven Israelis were killed in a three-stage terror attack on roads near Eilat and the Egyptian border, army and police officials said.

Israeli emergency services said two women and five men were killed in the attack and at least 30 were injured, Israel Radio said. Details of where all the fatalities occurred were not published.

Israel's Channel 10 said security officials estimate some 20 terrorists wearing Egyptian military uniforms participated in the attacks on roads near Egypt's border. Elite army and police units killed seven terrorists and sappers were checking the bodies of two believed to be rigged with explosives, the television said.

Towards nightfall security forces were still scouring the area. It was unclear whether the terrorists remained in Israel or had fled, the television report said. Roads leading to and from Eilat were sealed off.


Detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy

© Sander Roscoe
A photograph shot by Sander Roscoe Wolff on June 30 before he was detained by Long Beach Police
Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach refinery.

"If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery," says McDonnell, "it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual." McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.

McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer's subject has "apparent esthetic value," officers make such judgments "based on their overall training and experience" and will generally approach photographers not engaging in "regular tourist behavior."

Bizarro Earth

UK: The Stench of a Police State

London Riots
© unknown
The events of the last 12 days are a warning to the working class in Britain and internationally. The state repression and right-wing hysteria unleashed in response to youth rioting in London and other cities reveal the preparations of the ruling class for police-state forms of rule.

The riots were triggered by the police execution of Mark Duggan, a black 29-year-old father of four, in Tottenham, north London on August 4, followed by an unprovoked police assault on a peaceful protest over his killing two days later. Almost a fortnight later, no officer has been identified, let alone charged, for these crimes.

Instead, the political elites who sanctioned the looting of public funds to bail out the banks and the super-rich, and who covered up the illegal phone hacking of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, have sought to whip up a lynch mob atmosphere against the "criminality" and "immorality" of working class youth.

Cheered on by the Labour Party, Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative-Liberal Democrat government have organized vicious state repression, authorizing the use of water cannons and plastic bullets and the possible use of the army against further social unrest.

Basic democratic rights have been thrown to the winds. The presumption of innocence has been jettisoned as police carry out mass arrests, with those detained subject to show trials presided over by courts acting directly at the behest of the authorities.

Comment: For more information on the London riots check out the SOTT focus:

Who Started The London Riots?


Where The Rubber Hits The Road


UK Banks Fund Deadly Cluster-Bomb Industry

Cluster_bomb victim
© Reuters
A victim in Iraq receives treatment
British high-street banks, including two institutions that were bailed out by taxpayers, are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in companies that manufacture cluster bombs - despite a growing global ban outlawing the production and trade of the weapons.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC have all provided funding to the makers of cluster bombs, even as international opinion turns against a weapons system that is inherently indiscriminate and routinely maims or kills civilians.

One year ago this month, Britain became an active participant in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a global treaty that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs. To date, 108 countries have signed the treaty, which also forbids parties from assisting in the production of cluster weapons.

Yet there has been no attempt by the Coalition Government to rein in banks and investment funds that continue to finance companies known to manufacture the weapons.