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Mon, 26 Sep 2022
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Snakes in Suits

Ex-Paris mayor sentenced over vote rigging

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© AFP Photo
A court handed former Paris mayor Jean Tiberi a suspended 10-month prison sentence Tuesday for vote rigging and declared him ineligible to contest for public office for three years.

The appeals court also gave his wife Xaviere a nine-month suspended sentence and a 5,000-euro ($6,533) fine for her part in a scandal which dates back to local and national elections in 1995 and 1997.

USA

Tennessee bill allows Christian counselors to reject suicidal LGBT students

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The Tennessee state Senate on Monday considered a bill that would allow counselors to discriminate against LGBT students, sexually-active students or anyone else based on religious objections.

Republican state Sen. Joey Hensley encouraged fellow senators to pass SB 514 to "prevent an institution of high education from discriminating against a student in the counseling, social worker, psychology programs because of their religious beliefs."

According the The Tennessean, the bill was inspired by Julea Ward, a Christian student who was expelled from Eastern Michigan after she refused to "engage in gay-affirming counseling" by helping an LGBT student who wanted to be treated for depression in 2009. Arizona has already passed a law based on the case. Similar bills have also been proposed by lawmakers in Michigan and Georgia.

Hensley's bill would protect any student who "refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief."

Star of David

Prisoner X: Oz-Israeli Ben Zygier scandal

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Ben Zygier, a dual Israeli and Australian citizen and Jewish Australian father of 2, was secretly imprisoned for 11 months in solitary confinement by the Israelis in 2010 until he was either killed by the Israelis or, as alleged by the Israelis, committed suicide in a suicide-proof cell. Solitary confinement for more than several weeks is regarded by experts as torture. Whether Australian citizen and father of 2 Ben Zygier was murdered by the Israelis or committed suicide in a suicide-proof cell, it is clear that he was secretly tortured to death by the Israelis over 11 months while the pro-Zionist Australian Labor Government did nothing.

Australians want to know what happened to their fellow Australian, but the response from the Australian Jewish community, public servants and politicians has been substantial and appalling silence. The Israelis imposed a news blackout on the matter for over 3 years but this scandal was eventually exposed in 2013 by the ABC (Australia's equivalent of the BBC) and Fairfax media (the most liberal of Australia's mainstream media).

Ben Zygier was secretly arrested by the Israelis immediately after the Dubai police revealed in February 2010 that the Israelis had murdered a Palestinian Hamas official in a terrorist operation involving 20 Israeli terrorists using forged Australian, British, Irish, French and German passports. The Dubai atrocity resulted in both the British and Australian governments expelling an Israeli diplomat (spy?), albeit with craven apologies to the Israelis, both governments declaring that the passport forgeries were very disappointing actions from such a good friend. The Israelis had forged Australian passports before, were told to desist by the slavishly pro-Zionist Howard Government (1996-2007), but evidently just kept on doing it and no doubt are still doing it (an appropriate anagram for ISRAEL is e-LIARS). .

Dollar

How Americans were swindled by the hidden cost of the Iraq war

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George Bush sold the war as quick and cheap; it was long and costly. Even now, the US is paying billions to private contractors

When the US invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration estimated that it would cost $50-60bn to overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish a functioning government. This estimate was catastrophically wrong: the war in Iraq has cost $823.2bn between 2003 and 2011. Some estimates suggesting that it may eventually cost as much as $3.7tn when factoring in the long-term costs of caring for the wounded and the families of those killed.

The most striking fact about the cost of the war in Iraq has been the extent to which it has been kept "off the books" of the government's ledgers and hidden from the American people. This was done by design. A fundamental assumption of the Bush administration's approach to the war was that it was only politically sustainable if it was portrayed as near-costless to the American public and to key constituencies in Washington. The dirty little secret of the Iraq war - one that both Bush and the war hawks in the Democratic party knew, but would never admit - was that the American people would only support a war to get rid of Saddam Hussein if they could be assured that they would pay almost nothing for it.

The most obvious way in which the true cost of this war was kept hidden was with the use of supplemental appropriations to fund the occupation. By one estimate, 70% of the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008 were funded with supplemental or emergency appropriations approved outside the Pentagon's annual budget. These appropriations allowed the Bush administration to shield the Pentagon's budget from the cuts otherwise needed to finance the war, to keep the Pentagon's pet programs intact and to escape the scrutiny that Congress gives to its normal annual regular appropriations.

Heart - Black

Woman injured in LAPD manhunt says cops won't pay taxes on replacement truck

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© Shutterstock
The attorney for a woman who was mistakenly targeted by Los Angeles police during the manhunt for Christopher Dorner in February has accused the department of breaking its promise of a new truck for her.

"You tried to murder the woman, you put 102 bullet holes in her truck," Glen Jonas told KNBC-TV on Monday. "Now you're telling her she can't have a 4-wheel drive."

Jonas his client, 47-year-old Maggie Carranza, refused a police offer of a new Ford F-150 truck if she agreed to pay taxes on it, in part because it meant Carranza would have to pay an additional $10,000 in personal income taxes she cannot afford. He said the department's offer also barred Carranza from selling the vehicle for a year.

According to KCBS-TV the truck was offered as a donation by former police commissioner Bert Boeckmann, who currently owns a car dealership. Boeckmann also asked Carranza to take a picture with him, another item Jonas said he told current police chief Charlie Beck was a deal-breaker.

Bad Guys

NYPD surveillance had 'devastating' impact on Muslim communities: report

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© Shutterstock
A new report on the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslims suggests the program has impacted nearly every facet of Muslim life in a negative way.

"This report provides a powerful rebuttal to the NYPD and its supporters' assertion that surveillance is harmless and victimless," Diala Shamas, a Liman Fellow at the CLEAR project and one of the report's authors, said in a statement. "It is a first-of-its kind opportunity to hear directly from affected community members, many of whom would only speak with us on condition of strict anonymity."

The NYPD launched its surveillance program in 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks, monitoring Muslims in New York City and beyond. The intelligence gathering effort was revealed by the Associated Press has faced heavy criticism for both trampling the rights of Muslims and failing to produce any leads of terrorist activities.

Ambulance

Helicopter crash in Afghanistan kills five Americans

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Five U.S. military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, although there were no immediate details about the cause of the crash.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said the crash occurred on Monday. It happened on the same day that two U.S. troops and five Afghan police and soldiers were killed by a person in an Afghan military uniform in the restive east of the country.

"The cause of the crash is under investigation, however initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the incident," ISAF said in a statement.

The Pentagon said all five killed in the crash were Americans.

War Whore

True, he's the first black president, but Obama is the worst U.S. president ever

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Obama's drones have killed nearly 200 children since he won his Nobel Peace Prize
Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!

We've had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We've had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.

And there he is, murdering even more people in Afghanistan than Bush, backing coups in Latin America, continuing to undermine Iraq, sending drones, mercenaries, saboteurs to Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Uganda, Libya and now Syria. He bores deeper into several African countries, rich with oil and minerals, than his white predecessors, Democrats and Republicans. The US is eliminating the few secular governments that there were in the Middle East and North Africa.

Obama is busier fulfilling total USAmerican world domination than even Bush, Reagan and Nixon.

Bad Guys

Private Prisons: The more Americans they put behind bars the more money they make

Prison
© The Economic Collapse Blog
How would you describe an industry that wants to put more Americans in prison and keep them there longer so that it can make more money? In America today, approximately 130,000 people are locked up in private prisons that are being run by for-profit companies, and that number is growing very rapidly.

Overall, the U.S. has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has 5 percent of the total global population.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the entire globe by far, and no nation in the history of the world has ever locked up more of its own citizens than we have. Are we really such a cesspool of filth and decay that we need to lock up so many of our own people?

Or are there some other factors at work? Could part of the problem be that we have allowed companies to lock up men and women in cages for profit? The two largest private prison companies combined to bring in close to $3,000,000,000 in revenue in 2010, and the largest private prison companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade.

Putting Americans behind bars has become very big business, and those companies have been given a perverse incentive to push for even more Americans to be locked up.

It is a system that is absolutely teeming with corruption, and it is going to get a lot worse unless someone does something about it.

Attention

Who spends the most dollars lobbying Washington, DC?

Oil? Financials? Aerospace? When someone asks who the biggest sources of lobby dollars for DC's politicians-for-purchase are, these are the three usual suspects that come to mind. Some may, therefore, be surprised to learn according to the database kept by OpenSecrets between Pharmaceutical and health product industry, hospital and nursing homes, health professionals and health services, HMOs, or more broadly Pharma/Healthcare/HMO, the total lobby dollars spent between 1998 and 2012 was a staggering $5.3 billion, or nearly three times greater than the second most generous industry: insurance, and well above Oil and Gas at $1.4 billion, and Securities and Investment at $1.0 billion. Is it becoming clearer why the US government has few qualms about unsustainable taxpayer funded healthcare spending, especially when there are so many current benefits accruing to the politicians who see so many billions in benefits from passing lobby-friendly laws now (by which we mean generous taxpayer funding, the bulk of which benefits the healthcare industry's bottom line)?

As for the costs: who cares - just dump them on future generations. It's not like anyone expects the $16.7 trillion in US debt to be ever repaid.
Lobbyist
© Center for Responsive Politics
Why is this important? Because as we showed nearly a year ago, the IRR on lobbying is by and far the highest of any investment return under the sun.