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Archive for November, 2012

Posted by The Agonist on November 20th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Reuters, By Shaimaa Fayed, November 20

Cairo – At least 61 people have been injured in central Cairo, some with bullet wounds, during clashes between police and protesters on the anniversary of lethal street violence between activists and security forces.

Activists called the protest on Monday to put pressure on President Mohamed Mursi to punish those responsible for killings and abuses during the rule of the generals who assumed power after Hosni Mubarak was toppled by an uprising in February 2011.

The skirmishes, which extended into Tuesday, erupted at the scene of clashes last year in which 42 people were killed during protests against the military council that ran the country before Mursi was elected in June.

Some activists said the latest bout of violence began when police forces threw rocks at protesters on Monday to try to stop them from taking down concrete barriers that have blocked off roads to the Interior Ministry since last year. They said they had a court order allowing the barriers to be removed.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 20th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Five big U.S. banks cut principal, allow short sales as part of bail-out settlement

The Tennessean, By Alex Veiga (AP) & Walker Moskop, November 20

Less than a year after a landmark foreclosure abuse settlement, five of the nation’s biggest banks have cut struggling homeowner’s mortgages by $6.3 billion, part of a total $26.1 billion in home loan relief the banks agreed to provide.

In Tennessee, roughly $85 million worth of relief has been provided for 2,134 borrowers between March 1 and Sept. 30, according to a report issued Monday by Joseph Smith, monitor of the settlement. Additionally, $51 million in loan modification trials are in progress.

[...]

The agreement will reduce mortgage loans for only a fraction of those Americans who owe more than their homes are worth. About 11 million households are underwater, and the settlement is expected to help about a million of them.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 19th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

The sad fact is that, no matter how much sense this might make, the US would certainly veto any such move:

As the conflict escalates between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, Amnesty International is calling for an international arms embargo and for the immediate deployment of international monitors.

Since 14 November, dozens of civilians in Gaza and three Israeli civilians have been killed. Both sides have been violating international humanitarian law, according to information gathered by the UN, local human rights organizations and Amnesty International.

“International monitors with the ability to investigate human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law need to be on the ground as soon as possible in both Gaza and Israel to carry out independent, impartial assessments of violations by both sides,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

“The UN Security Council should meet urgently to impose an international arms embargo on Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.”

Pending such an embargo, all states should immediately suspend transfers of weapons, munitions and related equipment to Israel, the Hamas de facto administration, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.

Amnesty notes that both sides are unlawfully attacking civilians and that no-one at all has acted upon the Goldstone Report from the 2008/09 war which gave clear indication that individuals on both sides  had comitted war crimes.

Amnesty International has called repeatedly for the UN General Assembly to refer the Fact-Finding Mission’s report, known as the “Goldstone report” to the Security Council so that it could consider referring that situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes by both sides.

Again, that should happen – but won’t.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 19th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

RT.com reports that the Anonymous clooective has posted the personal details of 5,000 Israeli officials on the internet, after previously taking down “over 700 hundred Israeli websites, including the Bank of Jerusalem, the Israeli Defence Ministry, the IDF blog, the President’s official website and many others. ”

­The group used their Anonpaste.me site to address a message to the Israeli government before linking to the page with names, ID numbers and personal emails of 5,000 officials.

The message said: “It has come to our attention that the Israeli government has ignored  repeated warnings about the abuse of human rights, shutting down the  internet in Israel  and mistreating its own citizens and those of its  neighboring countries.”

More on the cyberwar #Anonymous and others are waging on Israel here.

You know the US and other governments will use this as an excuse to spend billions on cyber-warfare “defense” capabilities themselves.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 18th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Your own personal militarized version of the 737 luxury business jet with a bed installed just in case you feel the need to join the Mile High Club; a valet, butler, gourmet chef and other staff; free room and board in lavish style; a giddy whirl of socialite parties in multi-million mansion; motorcades with up to five limos and 28 outriders; a string quartet at dinner or a squad to do your yardwork any time you feel the need; privileged access to world-class military golf courses. This is the lifestyle of modern rich and famous US Generals, pulling down well over $100,000 in annual take-home pay they can invest because they don’t have to spend on anything much and looking forward to a quarter of a million a year pension – not to mention all the future investment opportunities, corporate sinecures and appearance fees of a major military celebrity.

David Barno, a retired three-star general who commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan, warned in an interview that the environment in which the top brass lives has the potential “to become corrosive over time upon how they live their life.”

“You can become completely disconnected from the way people live in the regular world — and even from the modest lifestyle of others in the military,” Barno said. “When that happens, it’s not necessarily healthy either for the military or the country.”

And it leads to idiocy like making a pass at your own biographer or getting a nutty Florida social gadfly appointed as an “honorary consul” so she can try to do dodgy deals.

Maybe the one flunky Petraeus and the other generals really need is an equivalent to the guy who used to ride in Caesar’s chariot and whisper in his ear “Respice te, hominem te memento” (“Look behind you, remember you are only a man”).

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Posted by The Agonist on November 17th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

AP, by Shawn Pogatchnik, November 17

Dublin — About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute’s silence Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.

Marchers, many of them mothers and daughters walking side by side, chanted “Never again!” and held pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they paraded across the city to stage a nighttime candlelit vigil outside the office of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

The 31-year-old, who was 17 weeks pregnant with her first child, died Oct. 28 one week after being hospitalized with severe pain at the start of a miscarriage. Her death, made public by her husband this week, has highlighted Ireland’s long struggle to come to grips with abortion.

Previously: Hindu Woman in Ireland Denied Emergency Abortion, Dies

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Posted by The Agonist on November 16th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist


Petition Calls For White House To Bail Out Twinkie Industry

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Posted by The Agonist on November 16th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

BBC, November 15

Syrian opposition leaders are due in London for talks later with the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Britain will urge the newly formed coalition to put forward a clear plan for political transition in Syria.

In return, the UK government is considering official recognition of the group as the legitimate opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

The UK could also push for the lifting of an EU arms embargo to allow the supply of weapons to rebel forces.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 14th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

CNS News, November 9

Chicago — Two American whistleblowers alleging U.S. forces tortured them in Iraq can’t sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to a federal appeals court in Chicago that found those along the military command chain enjoy broad immunity from such torture claims.

Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel filed a lawsuit claiming they were detained in 2006 and tortured after they accused an Iraqi-owned company they worked for of illegally running guns. They argued Rumsfeld personally approved interrogation methods for use by the U.S. military in Iraq, making him responsible for what happened to them during several weeks they were held in military camps.

The 8-3 ruling by the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, posted Wednesday afternoon on the court’s website, found there’s no law granting the men rights to sue Rumsfeld or others in the line of military command. In such a vast bureaucracy, the ruling says, he couldn’t be responsible for subordinates who end up crossing legal bounds.

“The secretary of defense has more than a million soldiers under his command,” the ruling says. “People able to exert domination over others often abuse that power; it is a part of human nature that is very difficult to control.”

The ruling overturns one last year by a three-judge panel of the same court, which gave the lawsuit the green light to go forward.

The decision ultimately conveys near-blanket immunity on all levels of military command up to the defense secretary, plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Kanovitz said in a telephone interview Thursday criticizing the finding.

“What comes out is an opinion that’s far broader than what was argued before the court,” Kanovitz said. “It’s a sweeping action.”


Opinion Available Here: Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel vs. Donald H. Rumsfeld And The United States Of America


As Bradley Manning Offers Guilty Plea, Admin Wins Dismissal of Torture Suit Against Donald Rumsfeld

Democracy Now, November 14

Accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning has offered to submit a partial guilty plea on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks in return for the government agreeing to pursue lesser charges. Manning is reportedly ready to admit to leaking the documents to WikiLeaks but is refusing to plead guilty to the charges of espionage or aiding the enemy. Manning’s offer comes as a federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his role in crafting policies that led to torture in Iraq. The ruling marked a victory for the Obama administration, which followed the Bush administration in seeking the lawsuit’s dismissal. We’re joined by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald.

Video and Transcript at the link.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 14th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

BBC, November 14

The death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant is the subject of two investigations at University Hospital Galway in the Republic of Ireland.

Savita Halappanavar’s family said she asked several times for her pregnancy to be terminated because she had severe back pain and was miscarrying.

Her family claimed it was refused because there was a foetal heartbeat. She died on 28 October.

An autopsy carried out two days later found she had died from septicaemia.

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