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Wal-Mart Wins in Sex-bias Case at Top U.S. court

© Reuters/Larry Downing
Canadian protester Elizabeth Plank, from Montreal, holds a sign in front of Supreme Court while class action lawsuit Dukes v. Wal-Mart is being argued inside the court in Washington, March 29, 2011.
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out on Monday a massive class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the biggest ever such case, in a major victory for the world's largest retailer and for big business in general.

The justices unanimously ruled that more than 1 million female employees nationwide could not proceed together in the lawsuit seeking billions of dollars and accusing Wal-Mart of paying women less and giving them fewer promotions.

The Supreme Court agreed with Wal-Mart, the largest private U.S. employer, that the class-action certification violated federal rules for such lawsuits.

It accepted Wal-Mart's argument that the female employees in different jobs at 3,400 different stores nationwide and with different supervisors do not have enough in common to be lumped together in a single class-action lawsuit.

The ruling was cheered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group as the most important class action case in more than a decade but denounced by women's groups.

It represented a major victory for Wal-Mart, which also has faced legal battles including an attempt to unionize and to block the giant retailer from opening stores in New York and other places.


Don't Call Us Occupiers When We're Dying for Your Country, U.S. Tells Karzai

© The Associated Press / Steve Ruark
The remains of Lance Cpl. Joshua B. McDaniels, 21, of Dublin, Ohio, and Lance Cpl. Sean M. O'Conner, 22, of Douglas, Wyo., arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. The Defense Department says both men died on June 12 in combat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
U.S. Ambassador rebukes Karzai for 'hurtful, inappropriate' rhetoric

The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan warned Sunday that the American people are growing weary of being viewed as "occupiers" by the leaders of a country where so much American blood has been spilled.

Karl Eikenberry's candid and impassioned remarks came a day after President Hamid Karzai in a televised speech accused U.S.-led foreign troops of being in the country "for their own national interests."

On Sunday, Karzai met with Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi - on the first ever official visit by Iran's top defense official - and the two discussed problems arising from "the presence of foreign forces" in Afghanistan, according to reports in Iranian state media. Last week Karzai held talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of a Eurasian summit in Kazakhstan, and similar sentiments were expressed.


Pakistan: Girl, Nine, Used as Human Bomb

© The Associated Press
Sohana Jawed, the nine year old Pakistani girl, who said she was kidnapped to be used as a suicide bomber
A girl of nine has told how she escaped Pakistani terrorists who tried to use her as a human bomb.

Sohana Jawed said she was kidnapped on her way to school in Peshawar, and forced to wear a remotely-controlled suicide jacket. But she escaped her captors as they prepared to send her towards a paramilitary checkpoint.

Sohana, wearing her a blue and white school uniform, recounted her ordeal during a news conference with police in Lower Dir district. Militants in Pakistan have often used young boys to carry out attacks, but the use of young girls is rare.

Sohana said she was going to school on Saturday when she was grabbed by two women and forced into a car carrying two men. One of the kidnappers put a handkerchief on her mouth that knocked her unconscious, she said in an interview with a local TV station.

"This morning, the women and men forced me to put on the heavy jacket and put me in the car again," said Sohana.

Bad Guys

Tim DeChristopher: This Hero Didn't Stand a Chance

Tim DeChristopher
© Unknown
Tim DeChristopher

Tim DeChristopher is scheduled to be sentenced in a Salt Lake City courtroom by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson on July 26. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for fraudulently bidding in December 2008 on parcels of land, including areas around eastern Utah's national parks, which were being sold off by the Bush administration to the oil and natural gas industry. As Bidder No. 70, he drove up the prices of some of the bids and won more than a dozen other parcels for $1.8 million. The government is asking Judge Benson to send DeChristopher to prison for four and a half years.

Tim DeChristopherHis prosecution is evidence that our moral order has been turned upside down. The bankers and swindlers who trashed the global economy and wiped out some $40 trillion in wealth amass obscene amounts of money, much of it provided by taxpayers. They do not go to jail. Regulatory agencies, compliant to the demands of corporations, refuse to impede the destruction unleashed by the coal, oil and natural gas companies as they turn the planet into a hothouse of pollutants, poisoned water, fouled air and contaminated soil in the frenzied quest for greater and greater profits. Those who manage and make fortunes from pre-emptive wars, embrace torture, carry out extrajudicial assassinations, deny habeas corpus and run up the largest deficits in human history are feted as patriots. But when a courageous citizen such as DeChristopher peacefully derails the corporate and governmental destruction of the ecosystem, he is sent to jail.

"The rules are written by those who profit from the status quo," DeChristopher said when I reached him by phone this weekend in Minneapolis. "If we want to change that status quo we have to step outside of those rules. We have to put pressure on those within the political system to choose one side or another."


US: How Our Government Has Merged With Corporations

© Alternet
The government of the United States is largely rented to corporations.

The 20th century was the bloodiest and most violent in human history. This led some countries to fascism - a system characterized by the state and large business becoming almost indistinguishable. The first decade of the 21st century suffers from that anti-democratic legacy.

The government of the United States, for example, is largely rented to corporations. Big business sends multiple thousands of lobbyists to Washington, DC, to buy favors and get their point of view across in Congress and the executive branch: The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the new war in Libya have been a boon to munitions manufacturers, "security" companies and private mercenary armies. They are part of a permanent war economy, making the US the world's sheriff.

This so-called "defense" has spawned America's largest businesses, besides being the mother of the military-industrial complex. One company, Lockheed Martin, gets more than $29 billion per year for making weapons for the Pentagon. Lockheed Martin also makes foreign policy for America.(1)


Bomb Targets French Embassy Car in Iraq

© AFP, Ali al-Saadi
Smoke billows from a burning car after an attack on a French embassy convoy
Baghdad - A bomb exploded next to a French embassy car in south Baghdad on Monday wounding seven Iraqis, but four French security personnel inside the armoured vehicle escaped unhurt, the embassy and Iraqi sources said.

The embassy told AFP the bomb exploded as a single armoured car with four French guards on board was passing, but an interior ministry official said the improvised bomb was aimed at a French convoy and that four Iraqi guards protecting it were wounded, together with three passers-by.

"The bomb targeted a passing French diplomatic convoy. Four Iraqi guards protecting the convoy were hurt, and three people passing by were also wounded," the interior ministry official told AFP immediately after the explosion.

A medical source at Ibn Nafis hospital said it had received seven wounded Iraqis, among them four guards.

The bomb struck near the French ambassador's residence in the Mesbah district of southern Baghdad, and an embassy vehicle damaged by the explosion was left at the site, an AFP journalist said.

"A single armoured vehicle carrying four French embassy guards was damaged by a roadside bomb at 8:17 am (0517 GMT)," said Denis Gauer, the French ambassador who recently arrived in Baghdad to take up his post.

Red Flag

US: Vietnam Agent Orange Cleanup Starts

© Activist Post
Editor's Note: Taxpayers paid Monsanto to make it, paid for the medical effects on soldiers, and now are paying to clean up the toxic environment left in Monsanto's trail of death. Interestingly, Monsanto's name does not appear anywhere in this article.

Hanoi - The first step of a US-funded operation to clean up Agent Orange contamination at a wartime American base in Vietnam began Friday, officials said, almost four decades after the end of the conflict.

Authorities started by removing unexploded ordnance at the site, part of the grounds of an airport in the central Vietnamese city of Danang, having identified it as a "hot spot" of potentially cancer-causing dioxin.

"This effort is a key first step... to clean up the dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment at the airport," the US embassy said in a statement.

The project will remove dioxin from 29 hectares (71.6 acres) of soil "that can be used for economic and commercial activities, and reduce human exposure to the chemical and potential health impacts," Vietnamese Major General Do Minh Tuan said in the release.

Comment: The following article The World According to Monsanto: The History of Agent Orange has video footage that summarizes the history of Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide produced by Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and other companies.


Obama's Broken Promises

The US president blazed a path to the White House on a platform that promised a complete break with George W Bush.

© Reuters
A protester in Colombo, Sri Lanka rails against US military involvement in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan
For the first time in a decade, the mainstream Republican consensus around war in the Middle East and western Asia is fractured. During a recent debate among candidates for the Republican Party's nomination for president, former Massachusetts state governor Mitt Romney declared that US troops ought to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan as soon as possible. That sentiment was echoed by several other debate participants. At the same time, US President Barack Obama appears to be incapable of ending any of America's ongoing wars. Therefore, one of several Republican presidential candidates may be preferable to the incumbent, at least among people who would like to see an end to US-led military adventures.

Barack Obama blazed a path to the White House on a platform that promised a complete break with the George W Bush presidency. On Guantanamo Bay, rendition, corporate accountability, finance reform, habeas corpus, illegal wiretapping, domestic spying, whistleblowers, Afghanistan - and a host of other issues - the current president promised change. In reality, however, he only offered continuity and in some cases, such as the prosecution of whistle blowers and the assassination of US citizens overseas, he outstripped his predecessor's zeal.

Many people who took Obama's campaign promises at face value were disappointed by the gaping chasm between his words and actions. The president famously derided liberals' credulity and purported naiveté at a $30,000-a-plate fundraising dinner; they expected too much change too quickly, he said. But as Glenn Greenwald noted recently, the main problem isn't that change is coming too slowly, it's that the president is "doing the opposite [of changing the dynamic]". Indeed, on most meaningful counts, this president has engineered the entrenchment and growth of the Bush-era security state and imperial presidency.

Bizarro Earth

Letter: Defund Unconstitutional Wars

© Alex Wong/Getty Images
It is now being reported that President Barack Obama is engaged in a covert war in Yemen. That makes at least five wars in the Middle East that the U.S. is involved in. Which Middle Eastern country is next? The Democrats were attacking former President George W. Bush for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 they had the chance to end the wars, but they did nothing. Now the Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives and are calling for balancing the budget and reducing the debt. If they are truly serious about reducing the deficit, they should start by defunding these unconstitutional wars that are costing untold billions of dollars. The Federal government is broke. The U.S. can no longer afford to be the Police Force for the "New World Order." It is time other countries start to provide for their own defense.

Bad Guys

Obama Libya War Powers Debate: Obama's Lawyers Are Worse Than Bush's, Glenn Greenwald Says

© The Associated Press
President Barack Obama overruled top lawyers from the Justice Department and the Pentagon and decided he has the legal authority to continue the air war in Libya without congressional approval, the New York Times reported Friday night.
Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military's activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to "hostilities." Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team -- including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh -- who argued that the United States military's activities fell short of "hostilities." Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.