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Fri, 02 Dec 2022
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Think You're Free? Guess Again - 10 Rights You May Not Have Much Longer

Our struggle for liberty is a fight against concentrated wealth.

Our most fundamental rights, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are under assault. But the adversary is Big Wealth, not Big Government as conservatives like to claim. Consider:

Life? The differences in life expectancy between wealthier and lower-income Americans are increasing, not decreasing.

Liberty? Digital corporations are assaulting our privacy, while banks trap us in indebtedness that approaches indentured servitude. The shrunken ranks of working Americans are being robbed of their essential liberties - including the right to use the bathroom.

The pursuit of happiness? Social mobility in the United States is dead. Career choices are increasingly limited. As for working hard and earning more, consider this: Between 1969 and 2008 the average US income went up by $11,684. How much of that went to the top 10? All of it. Income for the remaining 90 percent actually went down.

Hourglass

WikiLeaks' Assange Sees Up to a Year in Ecuador Embassy

Julian Assange
© Reuters/Chris Helgren
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives to speak from the balcony of Ecuador's embassy, where he is taking refuge in London August 19, 2012.
Julian Assange expects to wait six months to a year for a deal to free him from Ecuador's embassy in London, and hopes Sweden will drop its case against him, the WikiLeaks' founder said in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

The former computer hacker has been holed up at the embassy for more than two months, seeking to avoid being sent to Sweden for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations - and triggering a diplomatic spat with Britain.

Talks over Assange's fate resumed this week, and Ecuador's government said it was optimistic it will be able to strike a deal with Britain for Assange to receive guarantees he would not be further extradited from Sweden to the United States.

Ecuador granted him asylum earlier this month saying that it shares his fears that he could face charges in the United States over the publication in 2010 by WikiLeaks of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

"I think the situation will be solved through diplomacy ... The Swedish government could drop the case. I think this is the most likely scenario. Maybe after a thorough investigation of what happened they could drop the case," Assange told Ecuador's Gama television network in comments dubbed into Spanish.

"I think this will be solved in between six and 12 months; that's what I estimate," he said in the interview, which was recorded earlier this week inside the embassy.

Bad Guys

Shell gets OK for Arctic drilling prep

Shell's purpose-built oil spill response vessel Nanuq
© CNN
Shell's purpose-built oil spill response vessel Nanuq will be on standby at all times in the Chukchi Sea.
New York-- The Obama administration has granted Royal Dutch Shell permission to begin drilling preparations off the coast of Alaska, bringing the region a step closer to offshore oil production.

The news drew swift criticism from environmental groups that claim such drilling can't be done safely in the Arctic.

The government's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Thursday that Shell (RDSA) has been authorized to perform "certain limited preparatory activities" in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast. The activities include the installation of a safety feature below the sea floor related to blowout prevention.

Bad Guys

Paul Ryan's factual errors noted by many, but are voters listening?


Tampa, Florida - Paul Ryan mostly got raves for the "optics" of his speech Wednesday night before the Republican National Convention, winning the image battle on the biggest night of his young political life. But by the time the reviews came piling in after midnight, the Republican vice presidential nominee had taken a serious beating for straying repeatedly from the facts.

The GOP's newly minted Boy Wonder, just 42, bent or ignored the record on issues ranging from Medicare, to President Obama's debt-reduction commission, to the closing of a GM plant in his Wisconsin hometown, to the beneficiaries of federal stimulus spending - according to a couple of fact-check organizations and news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

The news organizations responded to specific claims in the speech, but it's doubtless President Obama and the Democrats will make a case about broader inconsistencies - such as the Republican record of fulminating about budget deficits while voting for tax cuts for the wealthy and a massive Medicare drug expansion that helped balloon the amount America owes.

Propaganda

Propaganda Alert! Pentagon to Consider Legal Action Against Ex-SEAL Author of bin Laden Raid Book


Washington - The Pentagon's top lawyer on Thursday informed the former Navy SEAL who wrote a forthcoming book describing details of the raid that killed Usama bin Laden that he violated agreements to not divulge military secrets and that as a result the Pentagon is considering taking legal action against him.

The general counsel of the Defense Department, Jeh Johnson, wrote in a letter transmitted to the author that he had signed two nondisclosure agreements with the Navy in 2007 that obliged him to "never divulge" classified information.

Johnson said that after reviewing a copy of the book, No Easy Day, the Pentagon concluded that the author is in "material breach and violation" of the agreements.

Johnson addressed his letter to Mr. "Mark Owen," using quotation marks to signify that that this is the author's pseudonym. His real name is Matt Bissonnette.

Bissonnette referred requests for comment about the letter to his publisher, Penguin Putnam, which was not immediately available.

Comment: For more information on bin Laden's death, see:
Osama bin Dead Awhile
Can US Offer Final Proof Of Osama's Death?
Did Osama Really Die on Monday in Abbottabad?


Bizarro Earth

South African Miners Charged with Murder of 34 Colleagues Actually Shot by Police

Prosecutors used a controversial doctrine called 'common purpose,' popular during the country's apartheid era, to make the charge.
Image
© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A picture taken on August 20 shows police standing guard as miners allegedly involved in violent clashes between protesting workers and police at the Marikana mine arrive at the Ga-Rankuwa courthouse.
Nearly 300 miners in South Africa were charged with murdering 34 of their colleagues Thursday - even though the dead were actually shot by police.

"It's the police who were shooting but they were under attack by the protesters, who were armed, so today the 270 accused are charged with the murders," Frank Lesenyego, a spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, told the Associated Press.

This legal doctrine is controversial and was popular during apartheid. Known as "common purpose", it holds, said the spokesperson, "that people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities."

Many say this turns the victims into the perpetrators.

"The whole world saw the policemen kill those people," Julius Malema, a former youth leader of the African National Congress, told the BBC. He said the decision to charge the miners instead of the policemen was "madness."

USA

Hope and Change: France Falls Victim to Its Allegiance to the US

Image

Meet the new bosses, same as the old
Most French people are primarily concerned about the economy and don't see international issues as something that affects them directly. They deplore the submissiveness of their leaders to the United States, but have learned to live with it. However, as argued by Thierry Meyssan, it is precisely the choices made at the foreign policy level that determine the currently poor health of the French economy.
François Hollande's presidential campaign largely consisted of denunciations of the catastrophic policies and the garish behavior of his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. He pledged that change would come immediately. One hundred days after his election, Hollande may have altered the style of rule but not the policies which remain the same even as France sinks ever deeper into crisis.

The main themes being debated by the French press as well as the manner in which these themes are framed expose the rank submission of the French governing classes to U.S. domination. They also serve to justify that acquiescence.

The French people expected that once the elections were over several large firms would announce layoff plans. The release of an internal memo from France's biggest carmaker, PSA Peugeot Citroën, contemplating the closing of its factories in Aulnay-sous-Bois and Sevelnord and the elimination of more than 8,000 jobs, not counting all the ancillary employment, came as a bombshell. The government responded with empty gestures by summoning the CEO of the PSA, questioning his competence while falling back on a stereotypical portrayal of a big boss exploiting the working class.

Target

Syria in the crosshairs: The Brahimi Plan

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The Western press is saluting the audacity of Lakhdar Brahimi for having picked up the gauntlet by accepting to replace Kofi Annan as Special Representative of the Secretary Generals of both the United Nations and the Arab League in Syria. However, according to Thierry Meyssan, the truth of the matter is starkly different. Given the current failure of outright regime change in Damascus, this NATO confidence man has been entrusted with the task of unleashing all-out civil war in Syria.
In the aftermath of the second Russian-Chinese veto which formally prohibited foreign intervention in Syria on February 4, the West feigned seeking peace while actively organizing a vast secret war. On the diplomatic front, they appeared to accept the Lavrov-Annan Plan, even as these same countries were facilitating the movement into Syria of tens of thousands of mercenaries and while UN Observers were escorting the leaders of the Free Syrian Army to get them through the roadblocks.

The July 18th attack that decapitated the Syrian military command was intended to open the gates of Damascus for these Contras as part of the West's pursuit of "regime change." This did not happen. Given the failure of these forces on the ground, and in open contempt of the third Russian-Chinese veto, the Western allies took things to the next level. Not being able to accomplish "regime change", the strategic choice is to sew chaos. They therefore sabotaged the Lavrov-Annan Plan and proclaimed their intention to assassinate President Bashar al-Assad. The speeches of Obama and Hollande, both of which delivered sharp ultimatums on Assad's hypothetical first-use of chemical weapons (in ways flagrantly reminiscent of the Bush Administration's lies about Iraq) confirm that all forms of war are in play.

Bad Guys

Buying the Presidency: The Right-Wing Billionaires Behind Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney
© Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mitt Romney addresses members of the press on his campaign's private plane enroute to Washington, DC.
They're trying to buy a presidency - and they expect a big payoff on their investment

Presidential politics has always been a rich man's game. But now, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United that upended decades of limits on campaign donations, financing a presidential race is the exclusive domain of the kind of megadonor whose portfolios make Mitt Romney look middle-class. "I have lots of money, and can give it legally now," Texas billionaire and top GOP moneyman Harold Simmons recently bragged to The Wall Street Journal. "Just never to Democrats."

In past elections, big donors like Simmons gave millions for advocacy groups like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. By law, such groups were only allowed to run issue ads - but instead they directly targeted John Kerry, drawing big fines from the Federal Elections Commission. Now, with the blessing of the Supreme Court, the wealthy can legally hand out unlimited sums to groups that openly campaign for a candidate, knowing that their "dark money" donations will be kept entirely secret. The billionaire Koch brothers, for instance, have reportedly pledged $60 million to defeat President Obama this year - but their off-the-book contributions don't appear in any FEC filings.

Newspaper

Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA

Image
© @marieharf, via Twitter
CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf told New York Times national security reporter Mark Mazzetti to 'keep me posted' about a forthcoming Maureen Dowd column; he obliged.
Mark Mazzetti's emails with the CIA expose the degradation of journalism that has lost the imperative to be a check to power

The rightwing transparency group, Judicial Watch, released Tuesday a new batch of documents showing how eagerly the Obama administration shoveled information to Hollywood film-makers about the Bin Laden raid. Obama officials did so to enable the production of a politically beneficial pre-election film about that "heroic" killing, even as administration lawyers insisted to federal courts and media outlets that no disclosure was permissible because the raid was classified.

Thanks to prior disclosures from Judicial Watch of documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, this is old news. That's what the Obama administration chronically does: it manipulates secrecy powers to prevent accountability in a court of law, while leaking at will about the same programs in order to glorify the president.

But what is news in this disclosure are the newly released emails between Mark Mazzetti, the New York Times's national security and intelligence reporter, and CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf. The CIA had evidently heard that Maureen Dowd was planning to write a column on the CIA's role in pumping the film-makers with information about the Bin Laden raid in order to boost Obama's re-election chances, and was apparently worried about how Dowd's column would reflect on them. On 5 August 2011 (a Friday night), Harf wrote an email to Mazzetti with the subject line: "Any word??", suggesting, obviously, that she and Mazzetti had already discussed Dowd's impending column and she was expecting an update from the NYT reporter.