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Sun, 29 Jan 2023
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Whistle

Obama's War on Whistle-Blowers Likely to be Endorsed by Supreme Court

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© AP / Patrick Semansky
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, right, is escorted into a courthouse for a military hearing.
Totalitarian systems disempower an unsuspecting population by gradually making legal what was once illegal. They incrementally corrupt and distort law to exclusively serve the goals of the inner sanctums of power and strip protection from the citizen. Law soon becomes the primary tool to advance the crimes of the elite and punish those who tell the truth. The state saturates the airwaves with official propaganda to replace news. Fear, and finally terror, creates an intellectual and moral void.

We have very little space left to maneuver. The iron doors of the corporate state are slamming shut. And a conviction of Bradley Manning, or any of the five others charged by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act of 1917 with passing government secrets to the press, would effectively terminate public knowledge of the internal workings of the corporate state. What we live under cannot be called democracy. What we will live under if the Supreme Court upholds the use of the Espionage Act to punish those who expose war crimes and state lies will be a species of corporate fascism. And this closed society is, perhaps, only a few weeks or months away.

Few other Americans are as acutely aware of our descent into corporate totalitarianism as Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 to The New York Times and is one of Manning's most ardent and vocal defenders. Ellsberg, who was charged under the Espionage Act, faced 12 felony counts and a possible sentence of 115 years. He says that if he provided the Pentagon Papers today to news organizations, he would most likely never see his case dismissed on grounds of government misconduct against him as it was in 1973. The government tactics employed to discredit Ellsberg, which included burglarizing his psychoanalyst's office and illegal wiretaps, were subjects of the impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon. But that was then.

Stop

'Doonesbury' Abortion Law Strip Moved, Scrapped by Universal Press Syndicate

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© Tim Rickard/Greensboro News and Record
Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau as illustrated by Tim Rickard.
A national syndicate will offer replacement "Doonesbury" comic strips to newspapers that don't want to run a series that uses graphic imagery to lampoon a Texas law requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion, executives said Friday.

A handful of newspapers say they won't run next week's series, while several others said the strips will move from the comics to opinion pages or websites only. Many already publish the strip by cartoonist Garry Trudeau, whose sarcastic swipes at society's foibles have a history of giving headaches to newspaper editors, on editorial pages.

"We run 'Doonesbury' on our op-ed page, and this series is an example of why," said David Averill, editorial page editor for the Tulsa World. "Many of our readers will disagree with the political stance the series takes, and some will be offended by the clinical language. I believe, however, that this series of strips is appropriate to the abortion debate and appropriate to our op-ed pages."

Brick Wall

Go to Trial: Crash the Justice System

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© Edward Keating/The New York Times
More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury.
US - After years as a civil rights lawyer, I rarely find myself speechless. But some questions a woman I know posed during a phone conversation one recent evening gave me pause: "What would happen if we organized thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of people charged with crimes to refuse to play the game, to refuse to plea out? What if they all insisted on their Sixth Amendment right to trial? Couldn't we bring the whole system to a halt just like that?"

The woman was Susan Burton, who knows a lot about being processed through the criminal justice system.

Her odyssey began when a Los Angeles police cruiser ran over and killed her 5-year-old son. Consumed with grief and without access to therapy or antidepressant medications, Susan became addicted to crack cocaine. She lived in an impoverished black community under siege in the "war on drugs," and it was but a matter of time before she was arrested and offered the first of many plea deals that left her behind bars for a series of drug-related offenses. Every time she was released, she found herself trapped in an under-caste, subject to legal discrimination in employment and housing.

Fifteen years after her first arrest, Susan was finally admitted to a private drug treatment facility and given a job. After she was clean she dedicated her life to making sure no other woman would suffer what she had been through. Susan now runs five safe homes for formerly incarcerated women in Los Angeles. Her organization, A New Way of Life, supplies a lifeline for women released from prison. But it does much more: it is also helping to start a movement. With groups like All of Us or None, it is organizing formerly incarcerated people and encouraging them to demand restoration of their basic civil and human rights.

Pills

Ohio Lawmaker Introduces Bill Regulating Men's Access to Viagra

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© unknown
US - An Ohio state senior is using her frustration with state-level pushes to restrict women's access to reproductive health services, such as limiting coverage in their insurance plans, to flip the script with a new bill that would require men to take certain steps before obtaining a prescription to Viagra.

According to The Dayton Daily News, State Sen. Nina Turner introduced a bill last week that would force any male to undergo sex therapy, receive a cardiac stress test and get a notarized affidavit signed by a sexual partner affirming impotency in order to get a prescription for any erectile dysfunction drug.

Turner's bill was a direct response to the "Heartbeat bill" introduced in the Ohio House by Republican Lynn Wachtmann, which would prohibit abortion once a heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Info

NASA Specialist Axed Over Intelligent Design Files Lawsuit

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© The Associated Press/Nick Ut
David Coppedge worked as a 'team lead' on Nasa's Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons
US: California, Los Angeles - A computer specialist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is going to court over allegations that he was wrongfully terminated because of his belief in intelligent design.

Openings statements in the lawsuit by David Coppedge were expected Monday afternoon in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Coppedge, who worked as a team lead on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, claims he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work.

Intelligent design is the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone.

Coppedge lost his team lead title in 2009 and was let go last year after 15 years on the mission.

In an emailed statement, JPL dismissed Coppedge's claims. In court papers, lawyers for the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL for NASA, said Coppedge received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment.

Boat

Four Bodies Found Floating Near Boat off California

US: Santa Barbara, California - The search is expected to resume Monday for a body spotted floating near a capsized boat off the Southern California coast.

The Coast Guard says four bodies were located off Santa Cruz Island Sunday.

A search was launched after the four men failed to return from a daylong fishing trip,

Searchers in the air spotted one body on the boat and two others floating close by. A fourth body was spotted five miles away.

But Coast Guard Lt. George Kolumbic says by the time rescuers arrived by boat, they were only able to recover three bodies.

There was no immediate word on the cause of death. Autopsies were being conducted.

Heart - Black

Brother Charged After Actress's Headless Body Found in Canal

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© unknown
Gemma McCluskie
UK - The brother of an actress who starred in popular British soap opera was on Saturday charged with her murder, police said, four days after her headless body was found in a London canal.

Tony McCluskie, 35, was charged with killing his 29-year-old sister Gemma McCluskie, who disappeared last week, Scotland Yard said in a statement, adding that he would appear in court on Monday.

The actress's limbless and headless torso was found on Tuesday when a member of the public reported a suspicious object floating close to a market in east London, not far from the street where she and her brother lived.

Gemma McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in 2001 in the BBC television soap EastEnders about the residents of a working-class district of east London.

Play

Utah Man Recognizes Suspect in Video: His Son

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© The Associated Press/Davis County Sheriff via KSL-TV
This police booking photo provided by the Davis County Sheriff's Office shows Jeremy Blair, 26, of Kaysville, Utah. Blair's father persuaded his son to surrender to authorities after recognizing him as a suspect in a computer store burglary while watching a TV news program, officers said.
US, Woods Cross, Utah - A Utah man persuaded his son to surrender to authorities after recognizing him as a suspect in a computer store burglary while watching a TV news program, officers said.

The two were eating breakfast Friday morning when the father recognized his son in surveillance tapes that police released on the burglary, said Woods Cross police Detective Adam Osoro.

Jeremy Blair, 26, of Kaysville, turned himself in later Friday to the Davis County Sheriff's Office, the Standard-Examiner of Ogden and Deseret News reported.

"This case is very unique for a father to recognize that his son has a problem," Osoro said. "It's a hard thing to do, but I think ultimately it's the best thing for the son, and I think the father sees that."

While Blair was booked into the county jail on an unrelated warrant, the county attorney's office is reviewing the burglary case for formal charges.

Blair and another man are accused of smashing the front windows and taking about $6,500 in computer equipment from StarWest Computers in Woods Cross early Monday morning.

Bomb

Murder Charge for California Man With Cannon-Like Device


US - A San Diego County man who allegedly ignited a homemade cannon that exploded and killed his live-in girlfriend was charged with murder on Thursday.

Prosecutors said Richard Fox was drinking with his girlfriend and friends Tuesday at the home in Potrero, a tiny rural community near the Mexican border. Fox went outside and lit the fuse to a 21-inch-long, 2-inch-thick steel pipe that he had stuck into the ground outside, authorities said.

The tube was packed with powder taken from fireworks and some kind of projectile. The girlfriend, 38-year-old Jeanette Ogara, was struck in the chest by shrapnel that tore into the home. Fox injured his leg.

Eye 2

Investment Banker Admits Placing Fake 'Collar Bomb' Around Teen Girl's Neck


An investment banker pled guilty Thursday to charges he broke into a Sydney, Australia mansion and strapped a fake "collar bomb" around an 18-year-old girl's neck in a failed extortion attempt.

Paul Douglas Peters, 51, appeared in the Sydney courtroom by video-link from prison, while his lawyer, Kathy Crittenden, entered the plea on his behalf.

"Mr. Peters deeply regrets and is profoundly sorry for the impact that this incident has had on Ms. Pulver and her family," Crittenden told The Associated Press Thursday.

Peters, a former Kentucky resident, reportedly entered the home of Madeleine Pulver in a wealthy suburb of Sydney on Aug. 3 wearing a ski mask and carrying an aluminum baseball bat. After telling her, "Sit down and no one needs to get hurt," Peters strapped a bomb-like device around the girl's neck. He then left her with a note and a computer thumb drive. The note gave instructions to transfer money to Peters and warned that the bomb would explode if removed.