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Thu, 08 Dec 2022
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Black Cat

Psychopathic, Long and Lawless Ride of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

© Peter Yang
Joe Arpaio with detainees at his Tent City, which has been slapped with a federal lawsuit.
Locking up the innocent. Arresting his critics. Racial profiling. Meet America's meanest and most corrupt politician.

Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!

Joe Arpaio, the 80-year-old lawman who brands himself "America's toughest sheriff," is smiling like a delighted gnome. Nineteen floors above the blazing Arizona desert, the Phoenix sprawl ripples in the heat as Arpaio cues up the Rolling Stones to welcome a reporter "from that marijuana magazine."

Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!

The guided tour of Arpaio's legend has officially begun. Here, next to his desk, is the hand-painted sign of draconian rules for Tent City, the infamous jail he set up 20 years ago, in which some 2,000 inmates live under canvas tarps in the desert, forced to wear pink underwear beneath their black-and-white-striped uniforms while cracking rocks in the stifling heat. HARD LABOR, the sign reads. NO GIRLIE MAGAZINES!

From behind his desk, Arpaio pulls out a stack of news clips about himself, dozens of them, featuring the gruff, no-frills enforcer of Maricopa County, whose officers regularly round up illegal immigrants in late-night raids, his 60th made only a few days ago, at a local furniture store. "Everything I did, all over the world," he crows, flipping through the stories. "You can see this week: national magazine of Russia... BBC... Some people call me a publicity hound."

"My people said, 'You're stupid to do an interview with that magazine,'" says Arpaio, talking about Rolling Stone, "but hey, controversy - well, it hasn't hurt me in 50 years."

Arpaio is an unabashed carnival barker. And his antics might be amusing if he weren't also notorious for being not just the toughest but the most corrupt and abusive sheriff in America. As Arizona has become center stage for the debate over illegal immigration and the civil rights of Latinos, Arpaio has sold himself as the symbol of nativist defiance, a modern-day Bull Connor bucking the federal government over immigration policy. As such, he's become the go-to media prop for conservative politicians, from state legislators to presidential candidates, who want to be seen as immigration hard-liners. "I had Michele Bachmann sitting right there," says Arpaio, pointing to my chair. "All these presidential guys coming to see me!"

As Arpaio has faced allegations of rampant racial profiling in Arizona, he's declared war on President Barack Obama, accusing him of watering down federal immigration law to court the Latino vote - while Arpaio himself continues to investigate the legitimacy of Obama's birth certificate, the favored conspiracy of his far-right constituents. "I'm not going to get into everything else we got about the president," he brags to a conservative radio interviewer while I'm sitting in his office. "I could write 9 million books."

Comment: For more background on the antics of Arpaio and his minions read:
'Toughest sheriff in America' under fire for warrantless arrests of critics in the middle of the night
Arizona, US: DOJ Uncovers Rampant Lawbreaking By Sheriff Joe Arpaio Despite His Stonewalling
US Police Brutality: Video Shows Joe Arpaio's Officer Used Taser On Latino Vet Who Later Died
Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed Against Arizona Sheriff
US, Arizona: Critics: 'Tough' sheriff botched sex-crime cases

Bad Guys

Karl Rove Jokes About Murdering Todd Akin

Karl Rove
© Fox News
At a Thursday morning fundraiser for his super PAC, former Bush political strategist Karl Rove told an audience of billionaires and influential investors that a chance for Republican control of the Senate is in jeopardy, then made a joke about Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) being "mysteriously murdered."

"We should sink Todd Akin," he said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Sheelah Kolhatkar. "If he's found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts!"

Rove added that there are "five people" interested in challenging Akin, potentially through a write-in campaign. "We don't care who the nominee is, other than to get Akin out," he reportedly said.

Rove has led a chorus of Republicans who want the embattled Missouri Senate candidate to pull out of the race after Akin told a reporter that women have some kind of biological defense against pregnancy in cases of what he called "legitimate rape."


Soldiers suspected of plotting to kill Obama face death penalty

Three serving soldiers who allegedly set up a militia group within the US army, which plotted to overthrow the government and assassinate President Obama, face the death penalty after they were arraigned on murder charges.

Prosecutors in Georgia announced on Thursday they would seek death sentences in one of the most startling and potentially serious cases of an anti-government militia to be brought before the courts in recent years. They alleged that the soldiers stockpiled almost $90,000 worth of guns and bomb-making equipment which they planned to use to kill the president and carry out a range of other violent acts.

The three accused - Isaac Aguigui, fellow private Christopher Salmon and sergeant Anthony Peden - are all on active duty at Fort Stewart in Georgia, home of the army's 3rd infantry division. They are accused of having killed in execution style their former army comrade, Michael Roark, 19, and his 17-year-old girlfriend Tiffany York.

Earlier this week another serving soldier, private Michael Burnett, who was allegedly part of the militia, cut a deal with the prosecution in which he pleaded guilty to lesser charges of manslaughter and gang activity in return for turning prosecution witness. He gave evidence in which he said he was present at the murder of the couple on 4 December.

He said he and the soldiers lured the pair into the woods near the army post on pretence they were going for gun target practice. Burnett said he saw Peden shoot York twice in the head while she was getting out of their car, and then witnessed Salmon force Roark to fall onto his knees before shooting him similarly: twice in the head.


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.


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
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 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.
© 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."


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


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.