Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A federal judge on Monday struck down patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property.
United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet issued the 152-page decision, which invalidated seven patents related to the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, whose mutations have been associated with cancer.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York joined with individual patients and medical organizations to challenge the patents last May: they argued that genes, products of nature, fall outside of the realm of things that can be patented. The patents, they argued, stifle research and innovation and limit testing options.
Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patents with the University of Utah Research Foundation, asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that the work of isolating the DNA from the body transforms it and makes it patentable. Such patents, it said, have been granted for decades; the Supreme Court upheld patents on living organisms in 1980. In fact, many in the patent field had predicted the courts would throw out the suit.
Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were “improperly granted” because they involved a “law of nature.” He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.”
The case could have far-reaching implications. About 20 percent of human genes have been patented, and multibillion-dollar industries have been built atop the intellectual property rights that the patents grant.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Monday, March 29, at 7 pm
THE GREAT CONSPIRACY: The 9/11 News Special You Never Saw
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Auditorium
Northeast corner of Speedway and Mountain
Free, and open to the public
Free, easy parking East of building
This comprehensive documentary addresses in depth the failure of the military on 9/11, the inappropriate behavior of George Bush that day, and the cover-up by the 9/11 Commission. The film also makes clear the massive amount of 9/11 misinformation in the mainstream media from the very first day.
Sponsored by Voices of Opposition
As part of the Monday Night Film/Lecture Series
For information, call 622-6419 or <http://www.voicesofopposition.com/>
A senior minister on Sunday warned that Israel would "liquidate" the Islamist Hamas-run government in Gaza following deadly weekend clashes that killed two Israeli soldiers.
"Sooner or later we will liquidate the military regime of the pro-Iranian Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, from the governing rightwing Likud party, told public radio.
"I am not setting a timetable, but we will not tolerate this regime continuing to strengthen itself militarily and providing itself with an arsenal of rockets that threaten our territory," he added.
An Israeli officer and soldier were killed over the weekend in the deadliest clashes since Israel's 22-day offensive in Gaza launched in December 2008.
That war killed some 1,400 Palestinians and flattened entire neighbourhoods in Gaza, leaving thousands of people homeless. Thirteen Israelis were killed during the fighting.
When asked whether Israel may launch a new invasion of the territory, Steinitz replied: "We have no choice."
The Islamist Hamas movement -- which is pledged to Israel's destruction and blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the West -- seized power in Gaza in June 2007 after routing forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
The 2008-2009 war largely succeeded in its aim of halting years of near-daily rocket attacks on southern Israel, but recently there has been a rise in attacks, and a Thai labourer was killed earlier this month.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
America’s undeclared drone war has been controversial, for any number of reasons: Pakistani politicians have cried foul over “counterproductive” strikes. Critics worry they may create more popular support for militants. And civil liberties groups have asked whether, in effect, it amounts to a program of targeted killing.
Now the State Department’s top legal adviser has offered a rationale for the ongoing campaign: Legitimate self-defense.
In a keynote address last night to the American Society of International Law, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh said it was “the considered view of this administration” that drone operations, including lethal attacks, “comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.”
Al Qaeda and its allies, he continued, have not abandoned plans to attack the United States. “Thus, in this ongoing armed conflict, the United States has the authority under international law, and the responsibility to its citizens, to use force, including lethal force, to defend itself, including by targeting persons such as high-level al Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks,” he said.
It’s worth giving a closer look at the speech, excerpted here by ASIL. But this is not likely to appease critics of the drone war. Most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Defense Department, the State Department and the Justice Department, demanding that the government provide more details about the legal basis of the drone war, including details about who authorizes drone strikes, how the targets are cleared and the rate of civilian casualties.
Koh addressed several of the concerns raised by rights groups:
Some have suggested that the very use of targeting a particular leader of an enemy force in an armed conflict must violate the laws of war. But individuals who are part of such an armed group are belligerent and, therefore, lawful targets under international law…. Some have challenged the very use of advanced weapons systems, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, for lethal operations. But the rules that govern targeting do not turn on the type of weapon system involved, and there is no prohibition under the laws of war on the use of technologically advanced weapons systems in armed conflict — such as pilotless aircraft or so-called smart bombs — so long as they are employed in conformity with applicable laws of war…. Some have argued that the use of lethal force against specific individuals fails to provide adequate process and thus constitutes unlawful extrajudicial killing. But a state that is engaged in armed conflict or in legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force.
Obviously, this doesn’t end the controversy, but the administration has made it quite clear it sees no legal reason to scale back the escalating drone war.
Photo: U.S. Department of Defense
In a move that was widely expected, Obama Administration officials headed to the Senate to press for approval of a $33 billion war supplemental bill, with most of the money going to pay for the Afghan War.
The $33 billion supplement would be in addition to the record $708 billion military budget reported in January. The Obama Administration had defended the record military funding by saying that the war costs would be folded into the military bill instead of being part of a supplement, though at the time they had already conceded that they would need a supplement.
The Obama Administration was already reporting the $33 billion request in January, on the grounds that the latest escalation into Afghanistan was not covered in the budget. At the same time, however, portions of the request did not involve the escalation, including around $1 billion in funding for Iraq.
Members of Congress reportedly expressed concern about the spiraling war costs and the lack of a deadline for ending the conflicts. Yet if $700 billion war budgets are not enough to make them balk, it is unclear what will.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
By Cindy Sheehan
Whose Streets? (Our Streets between 1pm and 4pm With a Permit)
On the 7th commemoration of the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, there was a rally and march in DC sponsored by the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition that was attended by about eight thousand people.
For quite awhile, I have been having problems with marches on Saturday, anyway. It seems like we march past empty buildings and shake our fists at them and promise that if those empty buildings don’t change their ways, we will be back next year to do the same thing. The arrests are symbolic and don’t shut down anything, except in the case of large arrests, where the police stations are busy for a few hours.
As far as I know, there were no large civil disobediences scheduled for last Saturday’s rally, but some coffins were built on the sidewalk in front of the White House and four protesters decided to lie down near them and not move. Two of these protesters were good friends of mine: Elaine Brower of Military Families Speak Out and Matthis Chiroux of Iraq Vets Against the War. When I went over to check the action out, the four were begging the hundreds of others surrounding the protest to join them. The four were cordoned off with barriers and crime scene tape.
I began to plan a way to join Matthis and Elaine when I went to the front of the barrier and saw my dear friends, who have always been there for me, lying on the sidewalk by themselves. Just as I was figuring out how to get over the barriers, the section I was at collapsed onto the sidewalk and I took the opportunity to step over hoping that dozens, if not hundreds, would follow.
As soon as I crossed the barrier, I was slammed by a couple of cops, handcuffed and then actually run around the front of the White House while the cops tried to find a paddy wagon to stick me in—about 50 people were running with the cop and I, yelling: “Let her go, let her go.” When the officer and I finally got to the paddy wagon, I was surprised to find that only two others had followed me. One other crossed the line to bring our detained numbers up to eight.
During my speech at the rally, I iterated the importance of “throwing our bodies upon the gears” of the machine, as well as marching—I got a huge cheer and during the march the participants chanted: “Whose streets, our streets.” Eight detainees? Apparently the streets are only “ours” when we have a permit–god forbid we take them when the event is not permitted by the Police State!
Why, when the barrier was compromised, did more people not follow us to actually put their beliefs into higher relief than merely marching in a circle on Saturday? While we were being (tightly) handcuffed and loaded onto the hot paddy wagon, the crowd of on-lookers chanted, “This is what hypocrisy looks like.”
I was, to say the least, very disheartened that hundreds of people didn’t join us. Watching the video of my “crossing over,” you can see a couple of people go over and then run back when the police come—but most of the people step back like the downed barrier is a livewire.
After a bumpy and sweaty ride, we eight arrive at the Park Police Station in Anacostia. As we were being processed, it started to become very clear that some of us were going to be detained until Monday. Ultimately, two of us were released and six of us were held. The two that were released were from DC and those of us held were out-of-towners. Immediately, we knew this explanation was total b.s. because I have been arrested in DC about 13 times now and I have always been from “out-of-town,” and have never even been held overnight, let alone two nights.
Was it a coincidence that Camp OUT NOW had two major actions over the weekend to try and hold our campsite that I missed due to being jailed? I don’t think so
Well, those two days were some of the most miserable days of my life! We were taken to a lock-up and Elaine and I were put into a freezing room and I had a t-shirt and flip-flops on, being unprepared to be arrested. For four women, our cell had one cement block bench that was about 7-8 feet long, so at least one of us always had to be on the stone-cold floor. Sleeping was fitful as it was very chilly all night—and very noisy!
Thirty-six hours, and eight bologna-like and cheese-substitute sandwiches later, we were taken to the court for our arraignment and stayed in that cell for seven hours and were finally released at 5pm after we all pled “not-guilty” and were scheduled for a trial on June 9th.
Basically, six of us stayed in jail for 50 hours for an offense that ends up to be the equivalent of a traffic ticket and we even had to go to traffic court to be arraigned. I am positive that everyone in DC who gets a traffic ticket and is from “out-of-town” does not have to stay over night. Then, I found out that the penalty for my charge “Crossing a police line” doesn’t even carry any jail time. I spent two nights in jail on an offense with no jail time! The maximum penalty is $300! Boy, I will be even more pissed if I go through a trial and have to pay $300 dollars after I have already spent two nights in jail.
To make matters even worse, I was the only one who was forced to come back for a trial even though Elaine has more DC arrests than I do. The other seven have chosen to go to trial with me, but they were given the option to “pay and forfeit” which means to pay the fine and forfeit your right to a trial.
The icing on the entire crappy cake came when the eight of us were given a “stay away order” from the White House—I asked the Judge how could that be legal because we weren’t convicted of anything, but the Judge assured me that conditions could be placed on our release. I also think this is very suspicious considering our Camp OUT NOW actions were focusing on the White House.
Many times during the 50 hour ordeal, Elaine and I were asked if we thought it was “worth it,” to go through so much hardship for so little gain.
My answer is, first of all, if more people crossed the line with me, we wouldn’t have had to stay 50 hours in jail and I was very upset that we were left to hang out to dry like that. Secondly, the war didn’t end while we were suffering—but knowing how awful it is to spend so much time in jail and be treated like one is a serial killer and not a protester—I would do it again and again, as I have.
There are literally billions of people suffering all over this planet due to my nation’s militarism and greed and I know many people would have traded places with me in a heartbeat and think the conditions were pretty damn good.
AND this never happened to me when Bush was president.
UPDATE: Three of us went to pick up our property this morning at the Park Police station and as we were being jacked around, an officer named Thomas (Badge number 628) told me that if I “stopped getting arrested” I wouldn’t have to go through all of this.
I said: “when the wars stop, I will stop.” He actually then told me: “The wars will stop when we nuke them and take their oil.”
I wonder why they are called “pigs.”
What looks like a big victory for Obama and the Democrats may be their greatest undoing. It’s true that the passage of Obama’s health care bill represents a significant political victory for the Democrats. But sometimes a battle won could equal a lost war.
It’s telling that Obama had so much trouble in getting his own party to pass the bill on a simple majority basis: the bill was so blatantly watered down with the corporate hose that anyone with their name attached to it feared future electoral doom.
This kept the Democrat’s left wing — the so-called progressive wing — from initially giving their seal of approval. It must be remembered that some of the left Democrats initially claimed support for single payer health care. After being scolded by the Party leadership that this demand was “off the table,” the lefts moved to the right and demanded a “strong public option.”
The public option grew weaker and weaker as the health care bill evolved. The left Democrats pinned all their hopes on it; they ignored the rest of the health care bill, which slashed Medicare and taxed the “Cadillac” health care plans of union workers, all in the hopes that a miniscule public option would give the lefts some political cover.
It wasn’t meant to be. The final health care vision is the brainchild of the monopoly corporations who dominate health care in America. Their power will remain untouched. Indeed, it will only grow.
Dennis Kucinich, the most “radical” of the progressive Democrats, waited until the last round before he threw in the towel to the health care industry. His capitulation is especially symbolic, as many progressive activists around the country remained in the Democratic Party solely because he was there. His inglorious surrender signals what many progressives already knew: the Democrats are a corporate dominated party, where liberal ideas are tolerated so long as they have no actual effect on policy.
New York Times
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author, most recently, of “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”
The health insurance legislation is a major political symbol wrapped around a shredded substance. It does not provide coverage that is universal, comprehensive or affordable. It is a remnant even of its own initially compromised self — bereft of any public option, any safeguard for states desiring a single payer approach, any adequate antitrust protections, any shift of power toward consumers to defend themselves, any regulation of insurance prices, any authority for Uncle Sam to bargain with drug companies, and any reimportation of lower-priced drugs.
Most of the health insurance coverage mandated by this legislation does not come into effect until 2014, by which time 180,000 Americans will die because they were unable to afford health insurance to cover treatment and diagnosis, according to Harvard Medical School researchers.
The bill’s 2,000 pages afford many opportunities for insurance companies to further their strategy of maximizing profits by denying claims, restricting the benefits of their present customers, and the benefits of the new customers who are mandated to buy their policies, all backed by hundreds of billions of dollars of federal subsidies.
Its main saving grace is that it is so inadequate and so delayed in implementation that the position supported by the majority of people, physicians and nurses –- full Medicare for all –- will have abundant opportunities to build around the country. The spiraling price hikes by the insurance industry are sure to spur the single payer movement to new popularity. (See singlepayeraction.org)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The cost of defying Obamacare by withholding compliance on your income tax return will not be for the faint hearted – families will be forced to cough up $2,250 a month while being closely scrutinized by an army of new IRS agents with fresh “combat training,” armed to the teeth with 12 gauge pump action shotguns.
“The Internal Revenue Service will function as the government’s chief enforcer for health care reform, should President Obama sign the bill into law as expected, monitoring both businesses and individuals to certify whether they have the insurance coverage the government requires,” writes Matt Cover of CNS News.
The penalties associated with defying mandatory health care are staggering. From 2014 onwards, for every month that individuals or businesses with over 50 employees fail to carry a minimum level of health insurance, they will be hit with fines of up to $750 a month for individuals and $750 per uncovered employee for businesses. For a family of four, this could amount to a whopping $27,000 a year ($2250 a month for each household).
“Because these new mandates and taxes are under the purview of the IRS, taxpayers and businesses could incur additional penalties normally reserved for normal income tax cheats, paying fees over and above those for not complying with Congress’ new mandates,” writes Cover.
The health care bill requires the IRS to monitor individuals and businesses via mandatory reporting on income tax returns. If you don’t pay up, the IRS will let loose one of their estimated 16,500 new agents, armed with shotguns and fresh “combat training,” to convince you otherwise.
The increasing transformation of tax collectors into heavily armed SWAT-like goons coincides with the passage of Obamacare, legislation which will rest entirely on its aggressive enforcement by thousands of new IRS agents sent out to harass individuals and small businesses.
Many people raised an eyebrow or two last month when the Drudge Report posted a request for quotes from suppliers for 12 gauge pump action shotguns to be submitted to the IRS. The request also mentioned the fact that IRS agents now receive “combat training”.
It seems that the increasing militarization of IRS agents isn’t simply to prepare for fleecing the many Americans who would undoubtedly stop paying their taxes should draconian austerity measures be imposed to deal with a deepening economic decline, but also to physically enforce the reality behind Obamacare – the fact that if you don’t comply with it then you’ll be treated as a tax cheat and a criminal.
When Obama’s own policy czars, people like Ron Bloom, say things like, “We kinda agree with Mao (Tse Tung) that political power comes largely from a gun,” as the federal government – even the Department of Education – arms itself to the teeth in order to enforce blatantly unconstitutional policies – is it any wonder that American citizens are purchasing firearms at record levels to defend their families from a government gone wild?
Not only will the IRS be tasked with enforcing penalties against Obamacare resistors, but they’ll also be kept busy monitoring over a dozen new taxes that will be created by the bill.
“The bill is littered with tax increases in order to fund the expansion of health coverage for Americans,” points out Business Insider, who identified 15 such increases, things like an excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage, tax surcharges on people making over $350,000 a year, as well as control freak measures like a 10% tax on payments for indoor tanning treatments.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Pima County Spends $150,000 to Prevent the Democratic Party from Doing what the AZ Attorney General was Supposed to Do
Remember the hurried press conference by AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard in April of last year? That's the one where he paraded out all of his assistants and formally declared that after counting the 2006 RTA Ballots, they had found no evidence of foul play for rigging the elections? A few puny voices on the side of the room opposite the mainstream media asked questions. The first, did you count or examine the poll tapes in any way? The answer was no. Second, did you do a precinct by precinct audit against the statements of votes cast? No. We would have had to account for one or two adjustments and we don't know how to do that. Third, did you perform any forensic checks to verify the authenticity of the ballots? The answer? Don't be silly.
The poll tapes garnered interest right away from Terry Goddard, because Terry wasn't going to examine anything until he was informed of the Democratic Party's plans to look at the poll tapes. Then, like a hawk flying out of the sky after a field mouse, Goddard snatched the ballots from Pima County's Iron Mountain storage facility. How was the Democratic party informed? Through secondhand chatter from the Democratic Party's opposing legal team while the ballots were being transferred up to some unknown location in Maricopa County. The recount behind glass would take place one month later.
During this process, the Democratic Party had requested repeatedly that Terry Goddard examine the poll tapes, because they provide a valuable "precinct snapshot" prior to the tabulations. In addition, they can easily be identified if they are fake or regenerated. During this exchange, a tentative agreement was reached by Assistant Attorney General Robert Conrad and the Democratic Party. Conrad assured the Democrats that they would examine the poll tapes and the Attorney General's press spokesperson confirmed that poll tapes would be examined.
Only at that brisk press conference last year did the public discover that the Attorney General refused to examine the poll tapes. The reason? Well, Attorney General Terry Goddard was reduced to feigning ignorance about the importance of examining the poll tapes at that very same press conference, so we weren't given a reason unless you want to believe Goddard's act about being ignorant.
So Terry Goddard finished his debut with the RTA ballots and passed them back to the Iron Mountain Storage facility in the custody of Treasurer Beth Ford. The poll tapes are included in the ballot boxes.
Now the Democrats are stuck in a court battle to acquire the unadulterated ballot tapes to examine and copy. You know, those same type of poll tapes from last Fall's city election that were acquired for twelve dollars and forty cents?
At first, the State Treasurer's office and Pima County tried to overtly deny access to the poll tapes, claiming that they were the same as releasing the ballots. Precedence really did a number on that argument, so now they are using more covert means of getting in the way - like restricting the number of participants, raising the costs of copying and videotaping and postponing the actual exchange.
The State Treasurer has also suggested another important measure. This time, they really want the poll tapes to pass through John Moffatt's hands so he doesn't have to go and violate another court order like the one he violated with the database hard drives in the past RTA law suit. Yes, they are actually insisting on having the poll tapes first be transferred to Pima County (the suspects in the RTA investigation) before the Democratic Party can look at them. Meanwhile the rest of the press is ignoring this court case and ridiculing those that still think something's amiss. After all, they have a stake in making their RTA fiction stand.
For anyone interested in seeing this ridiculous game live and up close, the hearing is Monday, March 22nd, at 1:30 PM in the Pima County Superior Court House. Bring popcorn.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The BigEye Blog
Editor of BigEye.com & NewsWatch.org
The lid is blowing off a story broadcast by American TV on September 11, 2001. The question now is whether or not owners and managers of America's mainline media will be able to continue burying facts, questions, controversy, speculations, and conclusions contradicting that day's professionally crafted narrative. When will the American people be given access to documented facts unearthed over the years since that tragic and exceptional day?
We were told repeatedly, even while the towers in New York were still standing, that a man in a cave in Afghanistan was responsible. We were led to believe that he managed a group of Arab terrorists who flew our commercial airliners on 911. As proof, his picture was repeatedly flashed across major TV networks with the smoking buildings in the background. Today, our own FBI claims they lack any evidence linking that man to 9/11.
We are still repeatedly shown, in newspapers and on TV, photos of 19 "Arab terrorists" supposedly on the planes, with no other proof of their even being there. Poorly produced and obviously faked videos of the big boogyman have been trotted out periodically. Where were they produced? The "flying Arabs" keep turning up alive and well. Who stole, forged, and assumed their identities? Other Arabs? Why?
There is evidence that the boogyman was seriously ill with kidney disease requiring dialysis, and that he died late in December, 2001. The CIA knew this because he was one of their assets right up until 911. What an ideal patsy, if there ever was one! Dead men tell no tales and they can never be captured.
We are now told by over a thousand architects and engineers that steel and concrete buildings do not explosively disintegrate due to fires within them. What really happened? Why have our leaders and pundits carefully avoided explaining the obvious demolition of WTC-7 hours later? Many of us think we know why.
Wars, torture, bankruptcy, the Patriot Act's overturning of our cherished Bill of Rights, official lies, scare propaganda, a police-state mentality, are these intended consequences of planning and executing the improbable events of that day?
If H.L. Mencken were alive today and writing for newpapers he would be having a field-day other than for the fact that his articles would never be seen in today's press. As I watch "911 truth" unfold I am reminded of Mencken's comment when asked why he, who was critical of this country, did not simply leave. Mencken quickly replied, "Why do men go to zoos?"
If the consequences to my country were considerably less than those resulting from Sept. 11, 2001, I, like Mencken, would find the spectacle to be incomparably amusing. We will all watch the spectacle unfold because the cat is out of bag. Nobody and nothing can put it back in. Amusing is one thing it is not.
Some things I do know about my fellow countrymen. We have been free in the past, and have developed a uniquely American sense of personal independence and comraderie. We have historically been slow to rise in anger. TV is powerful but we know it is not real. It is an illusion. In the real world, civilized human beings understand that to conquer lies and murder the forces necessary are truth and justice.
Today we recoil in horror and in anger at those criminally responsible for 911. If we discover that those responsible for the murders of our citizens and the destruction of our heritage are, in fact, among us, we will demand the removal of those directly responsible and of accesssories before and after the fact.
I am turning 77 in two months and I love life. The other day I hired a personal nutritionalist because I want to lose 30-40 pounds which can be life-shortening at my age. I also have a personal trainer, as I want to maintain physical health and stamina. I want to be around to see what happens when Americans repudiate what TV and a controlled press has obliged viewers to believe happened on September 11, 2001.
I will, to the best of my ability, support the identification and prosecution of traitors to the best country in the world, the one in which I grew up. This each of us owes to America's next generation. Any alternative is unacceptable.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
A member of Iraq's National Alliance (INA) has warned that the US is possibly attempting to manipulate the results of the country's general elections as the release of the vote tally was postponed again.
INA candidate Entifadh Qanbar told Press TV that the United States might try to intervene in the process of vote counting through the High Electoral Commission.
"The concern is that how the ballots from each voting center are going to be processed in the computer center inside the Electoral Commission," Qanbar said.
"The reason we are insisting on this issue is that we are afraid there is some sort of American intervention inside the Electoral Commission in processing these numbers and may be altering these numbers," he added.
Qanbar said that his alliance would not "accept any election results without putting the ballots out to prove that the ballots have been processed and entered in the computer system in a proper way."
The Election Commission has postponed until Thursday the announcement of the preliminary results of the country's parliamentary elections with reports suggesting that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's the State of Law Coalition is ahead.
Meeting with vote-counters at the Independent High Electoral Commission on Wednesday, top United Nations envoy Ad Melkert called on election officials to release the results as soon as possible, AP reported.
"Now we hope, that as soon as possible, preliminary results can be made public because Iraqis have the right to know as soon as possible what is the outcome of their choice of the Election Day," Melkert said.
Election Commission officials also withdrew an earlier announcement that the preliminary results would be released Wednesday night.
According to Qassim al-Aboudi, a senior member of the panel, initial results would likely be released on Thursday.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio learns the meaning of "backup" when all those deleted emails are recovered for a federal subpoena
So just whose e-mails are they?
On orders from Maricopa County, a third-party vendor has archived an unknown quantity of e-mails written by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office personnel since August 2008.
The Sheriff's Office says the e-mails belong to them, and they should have been deleted from an emergency backup system after 28 days.
County management says the e-mails are county property. And the messages play into two federal cases, a racial-profiling civil lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and an FBI criminal investigation into Arpaio's office, so they refused to turn them over to the sheriff.
• Special investigator takes up Bar probe of Thomas
A Pima County judge will try to sort out ownership in an emergency hearing Wednesday morning.
The issue first arose in February when the Sheriff's Office claimed in the civil lawsuit that e-mails concerning Arpaio's controversial "crime-suppression operations" had been deleted from the system. The federal judge imposed sanctions against the office.
But last week, county officials announced they had recovered the e-mails - though actually, they had been archived.
The news caught the Sheriff's Office by surprise.
On Friday afternoon, Sheriff's Commander Bob Rampy confronted county technology managers and demanded the e-mails be turned over to him, first by e-mail and later in person. County officials turned Rampy down.
County lawyers filed an emergency motion for an order of protection against the Sheriff's Office with the Pima County judge, who is handling an ongoing case between the county and the sheriff over management of a county law-enforcement computer database.
In that motion, attorney Julie Pace, who represents the county, revealed that not only were some of the e-mails subject to the racial-profiling suit, but that other, unspecified e-mails also had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating Arpaio's office. The two sets of e-mails may overlap, but county officials will not reveal the contents of the latest subpoena.
Judge Theodore Borek, who was assigned to the computer case last year, granted the order of protection and set a hearing for Wednesday in Tucson.
Eric Dowell, an attorney representing the Sheriff's Office, said the Sheriff's Office was not aware that its e-mails had been archived since August 2008, following an order by another attorney for the county in an unrelated lawsuit involving county officials.
"They never once told anybody that for the last two and half years, they've been backing up every single e-mail," Dowell said. "If some attorney is looking at my attorney-client e-mails, there are going to be some ethical problems."
Dowell said the initial request for e-mails was based on word searches relevant to the racial-profiling case. But he did not know the extent of the federal grand jury subpoena.
"We don't know what the county has turned over, but what we do know is that someone at (the U.S. Department of Justice) is reviewing the e-mails," he said.
But Pace said that e-mail from all county departments except the County Attorney's Office and the libraries are archived in the same manner.
And Pace said that the backup e-mails are on data tapes that are inaccessible to the company that maintains them.
"They can't read them and don't read them," she said. "Only they (the Sheriff's Office) know what's in those e-mails."
Thursday, March 4, 2010
DUBAI (AFP) - Dubai police said Tuesday they are seeking the arrest of Israel's prime minister and the head of its spy agency over the murder of a Hamas leader in a hotel room of the Gulf city state.
Police chief Dahi Khalfan said he had issued the demand for the arrest warrants as he was now certain they ordered the cold war-style hit on Mahmoud Al Mabhuh.
"I have presented the [Dubai] prosecutor with a request for the arrest of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the head of Mossad Meir Dagan,” said Khalfan.
"I am now completely sure that it was Mossad," said the police lieutenant general.
Mabhuh, a founder of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas organisation's military wing, was found dead in a room of the luxurious Al Bustan Rotana Hotel near Dubai's airport on January 20.
Dubai police have identified 26 suspects from the hit squad murder they say bore the hallmarks of the Mossad. The Hamas man had been drugged and then suffocated.
Khalfan said last month that Dubai would issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu if Israel was found to be implicated in the murder of the Palestinian figure.
Netanyahu "will be the first to be wanted for justice as he would have been the one who signed the decision to kill Mabhuh in Dubai", he was quoted as saying in The National newspaper on February 5.
"We will issue an arrest warrant against him," said the English-language newspaper published in Abu Dhabi.
Police say the suspects entered Dubai on fake passports using the identities of 12 people from Britain, six from Ireland, four from France, three Australians and a German, before fleeing the Gulf emirate.
Two members of the hit squad which killed Mabhuh had "returned to the United States after passing through a European country", said Dhalfan, who on Monday said the suspects were hiding out in Israel where they could avoid arrest.
Israeli officials have refused to confirm or deny the reports.
Edited 04 March, 2010, 18:55
A new movement to reinvestigate the 9/11 attacks is gaining pace in the US. With major public support, 12 towns are set to decide whether to ask the federal government for a new independent probe.
New York is dubbed as the Empire State for its wealth and resources and is rightfully regarded as America’s most famous city, a beacon of fashion, finance and fast paced action.
New Hampshire is the Granite State of so-called self sufficiency. Less flash and cash, most famous for hosting the first U.S. presidential primary.
New York and New Hampshire are more than 200 miles apart, but for all that distance, the two US locations intersect on one issue: the 9/11 attacks. While it was in Manhattan where three buildings fell, the people of Keene, New Hampshire are pushing for a new probe to find out why.
At 81 years old, Gerhard Bedding devotes nearly all his time to the Vote for Answers campaign. Though the movement for a new 9/11 investigation began in the Big Apple, it’s seeing more success in New Hampshire.
“This is so central to the future of this country. There is no future, as far as I’m concerned, if we do not get to the bottom of this, because we steep in lies upon lies, and soon we do not know what is what anymore,” Bedding said. “I do believe truth matters.”
Apparently, so do thousands of others. Twelve towns are making a new 9/11 inquiry a ballot box issue this spring. Voters heading to the polls will vote on a non-binding resolution that supporters hope eventually sparks momentum and legislative power nationwide.
Hundreds of citizens are expressing a desire to find out “the real truth” and are attending meetings where local experts, such as physicist John Wyndam, present alternative 9/11 theories, specifically surrounding the collapse of World Trade Center Seven and the Twin Towers.
“Basically it is impossible for the top 12 stories to have crushed the lower structure without acceleration. Physically impossible and yet that is what you observe,” claimed Wyndam.
While most elected officials have ignored cries for a 9/11 probe, former Keene mayor Mike Blastos is an exception.
“The two biggest tragedies I can recall other than world wars concerning America was Kennedy’s assassination and the attack on 9/11. And they both remain completely unanswered,” Blastos said.
The 9/11 commission, like the Warren Commission, left millions of Americans doubtful over the official government’s version. Bedding withholds accusations, but demands answers.
“I do not like to speculate who did what, or who let something happening. That should be found out. Building 7 was not even mentioned in the original report. But I do know that a building that has not been hit by an airplane, such as Building 7, does not come down like perfectly controlled demolition.”
New Hampshire was the first colony to declare independence from England in 1776. Only time will tell if the first sovereign US state will be where the push for a new 9/11 investigation could prevail.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Courthouse News Service
WASHINGTON (CN) - The CIA, FBI and State Department are blowing off FOIA requests about mass graves in Afghanistan where the bodies of 2,000 Taliban soldiers who had surrendered were buried in December 2001, Physicians for Human Rights claims in Federal Court.
After several news stories were published confirming the mass graves and suggesting that members of the U.S. military may have seen the burials, Physicians for Human Rights submitted Freedom of Information Act requests, seeking evidence of war crimes.
The nonprofit says Uncle Sam repeatedly refused to deliver documents, saying, among other things, that the information was classified or unsearchable.
Several thousand Taliban fight surrendered to the Northern Alliance, a U.S. ally, in Konduz, Afghanistan, in late 2001, according to contemporary reports. The Taliban fighters were packed into flatbed-truck shipping containers and driven more than 200 miles to a prison in Sheberghan. As many as 2000 suffocated and died during the trip, and their bodies were dumped in mass graves in Dasht-e-Leili, according to media reports from early 2002.
"According to reports, U.S. forces were providing security at the Sheberghan prison when some of the container trucks arrived there," the complaint states.
Physicians for Human Rights says it sent teams to the site to investigate and asked the Pentagon for records.
The Pentagon released a Department of State intelligence assessment from November 2002, "advising government officials that the remains of between 1,500 and 2,000 individuals were deposited at the site, and that approximately four Afghans who witnessed the death of the prisoners and/or the disposal of their remains had been detained, tortured, killed, and/or disappeared," according to the complaint.
The doctors group says that knowledge of the mass graves was "widespread" in the U.S. government, and that the graves were recently exhumed, leaving little or no evidence.
The group wants to see the documents. It is represented by Peter Brody of Ropes Gray.
- AP foreign, Tuesday March 2 2010
Associated Press Writers= WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense giant KBR Inc. was awarded a contract potentially worth $2.8 billion for support work in Iraq as U.S. forces continue to leave the country, military authorities said Tuesday.
KBR was notified of the award Friday, a day after the company told shareholders it lost about $25 million in award fees because of flawed electrical work in Iraq.
The Houston-based company was charged with maintaining the barracks where Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth of Pittsburgh, a 24-year-old Green Beret, was electrocuted in 2008 while showering. The company has denied wrongdoing, and investigators said in August there was "insufficient evidence to prove or disprove" that anyone was criminally culpable in Maseth's death.
The uproar over his death triggered a review of 17 other electrocution deaths in Iraq and widespread inspections and repairs of electrical work in Iraq, much of it performed by KBR.
Dan Carlson, a spokesman for the Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, Ill., said the new contract is for one year, with an option for four more. KBR will handle logistics support, transportation mission, and postal operations.
KBR has long been the military's largest support contractor in Iraq, providing troops with everything from mail and laundry to housing and meals. The new award was made through a revamped contract structure intended to foster competition among companies.
"The award demonstrates that the government recognizes KBR's ability and expertise in delivering high quality service in challenging contingency environments," KBR said in a statement.
Charles Tiefer, a professor of government contracting at the University of Baltimore Law School and a vocal critic of KBR, called the award an "outrage" because of the company's record in Iraq.
"Giving KBR this contract while denying them award fees for their enormous problem of accidentally electrocuting soldiers amounts to rapping them on the knuckles on one hand while handing them a multibillion dollar deal in the other," said Tiefer, who is also a member of the independent Commission on Wartime Contracting.
Last October, the Defense Contract Audit Agency criticized KBR for having more employees in Iraq than were necessary. The excess, the agency said, was unnecessarily costing U.S. taxpayers.
KBR said it had reduced the size of its work force in Iraq consistent with guidance from U.S. military commanders. The company also fired back at the audit agency for its "heavy-handed intrusion" into the military's complex logistics process.
Carlson said Army Sustainment Command is working closely with commanders in Iraq to make sure the contractor work force is properly sized to support drawdown operations in Iraq.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney were Right About Barack Obama
We owe Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney an apology. They were right about Barack Obama. They were right about the corporate state. They had the courage of their convictions and they stood fast despite wholesale defections and ridicule by liberals and progressives.
Obama lies as cravenly, if not as crudely, as George W. Bush. He promised us that the transfer of $12.8 trillion in taxpayer money to Wall Street would open up credit and lending to the average consumer. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), however, admitted last week that banks have reduced lending at the sharpest pace since 1942. As a senator, Obama promised he would filibuster amendments to the FISA Reform Act that retroactively made legal the wiretapping and monitoring of millions of American citizens without warrant; instead he supported passage of the loathsome legislation. He told us he would withdraw American troops from Iraq, close the detention facility at Guantánamo, end torture, restore civil liberties such as habeas corpus and create new jobs. None of this has happened.
He is shoving a health care bill down our throats that would give hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the private health insurance industry in the form of subsidies, and force millions of uninsured Americans to buy insurers’ defective products. These policies would come with ever-rising co-pays, deductibles and premiums and see most of the seriously ill left bankrupt and unable to afford medical care. Obama did nothing to halt the collapse of the Copenhagen climate conference, after promising meaningful environmental reform, and has left us at the mercy of corporations such as ExxonMobil. He empowers Israel’s brutal apartheid state. He has expanded the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where hundreds of civilians, including entire families, have been slaughtered by sophisticated weapons systems such as the Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of victims’ lungs. And he is delivering war and death to Yemen, Somalia and perhaps Iran.
The illegal wars and occupations, the largest transference of wealth upward in American history and the egregious assault on civil liberties, all begun under George W. Bush, raise only a flicker of tepid protest from liberals when propagated by the Democrats. Liberals, unlike the right wing, are emotionally disabled. They appear not to feel. The tea-party protesters, the myopic supporters of Sarah Palin, the veterans signing up for Oath Keepers and the myriad of armed patriot groups have swept into their ranks legions of disenfranchised workers, angry libertarians, John Birchers and many who, until now, were never politically active. They articulate a legitimate rage. Yet liberals continue to speak in the bloodless language of issues and policies, and leave emotion and anger to the protofascists. Take a look at the 3,000-word suicide note left by Joe Stack, who flew his Piper Cherokee last month into an IRS office in Austin, Texas, murdering an IRS worker and injuring dozens. He was not alone in his rage.
“Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours?” Stack wrote. “Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political ‘representatives’ (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the ‘terrible health care problem’. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.”
The timidity of the left exposes its cowardice, lack of a moral compass and mounting political impotence. The left stands for nothing. The damage Obama and the Democrats have done is immense. But the damage liberals do the longer they beg Obama and the Democrats for a few scraps is worse. It is time to walk out on the Democrats. It is time to back alternative third-party candidates and grass-roots movements, no matter how marginal such support may be. If we do not take a stand soon we must prepare for the rise of a frightening protofascist movement, one that is already gaining huge ground among the permanently unemployed, a frightened middle class and frustrated low-wage workers. We are, even more than Glenn Beck or tea-party protesters, responsible for the gusts fanning the flames of right-wing revolt because we have failed to articulate a credible alternative.
A shift to the Green Party, McKinney and Nader, along with genuine grass-roots movements, will not be a quick fix. It will require years in the wilderness. We will again be told by the Democrats that the least-worse candidate they select for office is better than the Republican troll trotted out as an alternative. We will be bombarded with slick commercials about hope and change and spoken to in a cloying feel-your-pain language. We will be made afraid. But if we again acquiesce we will be reduced to sad and pathetic footnotes in our accelerating transformation from a democracy to a totalitarian corporate state. Isolation and ridicule—ask Nader or McKinney—is the cost of defying power, speaking truth and building movements. Anger at injustice, as Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love. And it is vital that this anger become our own. We have historical precedents to fall back upon.
Monday, March 1, 2010
In the wake of congressional Democrats' reauthorization and extension of the USA Patriot Act, few elected Democrats have been as vocal about the post-9/11 security measures as they were during the Bush administration.
Leave it to stalwart House progressive Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to raise a rallying cry against what he called America's love of its fears.
“This legislation extends three problematic provisions of the PATRIOT Act and, at the same time, leaves some of the most egregious provisions in place, absent any meaningful reform and debate," he declared in a media advisory.
The specific provisions he cited are the Patriot Act's powers to conduct roving wiretaps, conduct surveillance of people not thought to have any association with terrorism and tap into your personal records, such as library accounts.
(NaturalNews) Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has introduced a new bill called The Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA) of 2010 (S. 3002), that, if enacted, would severely curtail free access to dietary supplements. Cosponsored by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the bill would essentially give the FDA full control over the supplement industry.
Most of the industrialized world has incredibly restrictive laws governing supplements. People worldwide often purchase supplements from the U.S. because they are freely available at low costs.
All of this could change, however, if DSSA passes. DSSA would change key sections of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), undoing protections in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, effectively eliminating free access to supplements.
The importance of DSHEA
The passage of DSHEA resulted from millions of Americans who worked hard to reinforce their freedom to buy and sell supplements. At the time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was alleging that nutrients like CoQ10 and selenium were dangerous and should be pulled from the market.
Though weak in some areas, DSHEA established a foundation upon which free access to dietary supplements would be protected from attacks by drug companies and the FDA.
What prompted DSSA?
McCain's DSSA bill emerged in response to illegal steroid use among Major League Baseball players. Likely instigated by pharmaceutical interests, the bill is being posited as necessary to prevent supplement adulteration.
The FDA already has the power to pull supplements from the market that are contaminated but it has not been doing its job. DSSA is not only unnecessary, but it would actually reward the FDA for its failures. DSSA would also strip DSHEA and give full control of the supplement industry to the FDA.
DSSA would mandate that all supplement companies register with the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the FDA. Any company that refuses to register and comply with HHS would be subject to hefty fines, the classification of its products as "adulterated", and their removal from the market. The new system would burden manufacturers with significant new costs that would cause supplement prices to increase. A new taxpayer-funded bureaucracy would also be created to conduct inspections and oversee compliance.
DSSA would require all "non-serious adverse events" received by supplement companies to be reported to the government, regardless of whether or not the events are related to the supplements for which they are submitted. Pharmaceutical companies would have access to these reports which they could use to petition the FDA to have supplements removed from the market. The FDA could also arbitrarily pull supplements from the market if it believes it has "reasonable probability" that there may be a problem.
FDA would decide which supplements are legal
Perhaps the most chilling aspect of DSSA is that it would allow the HHS Secretary to establish a list of permitted supplements. Reversing common law, which assumes all is legal unless restricted, DSSA would allow only what is permitted to be legal.
In a nutshell, DSSA would increase supplement costs for consumers, grant incredible new power over the supplement industry to the FDA, and drastically limit the availability of supplements. Drug companies could also use the bill to remove supplements from the market, patent them, and sell them as drugs!
It is absolutely critical to contact your Congressmen and oppose this bill. LifeExtension Magazine has a convenient "Action Alert" page in which to do so.