||Last Updated: Nov 5th, 2012 - 13:51:47
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Justice Dept. Rejects Prosecutions for CIA Torture
The Justice Department has announced it will not prosecute anyone involved in the killing and torturing of prisoners in CIA custody after a three-year investigation. The Justice Department had been probing the deaths of two men: one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Gul Rahman died in 2002 while being held at a secret CIA facility known as the "Salt Pit" in Afghanistan. He had been shackled to a concrete wall in near-freezing temperatures. Manadel al-Jamadi died in 2003 while in CIA custody at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison. His corpse was photographed packed in ice and wrapped in plastic. In a statement, Holder said no charges would be brought against U.S. operatives "because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt." Denouncing the decision, the Center for Constitutional Rights said: "Today’s announcement belies U.S. claims that it can be trusted to hold accountable Americans who have perpetrated torture and other human rights abuses."
Matt Taibbi: The Secret to Mitt Romney’s Fortune? Greed, Debt and Forcing Others to Foot the Bill
A new article by reporter Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone sheds new light on the origin of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s fortune, revealing how Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, used private equity to raise money to conduct corporate raids. Taibbi writes: "What most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth."
|Matt Taibbi offers devastating reporting on Mitt Romney's financial dealings.
Arctic Sea Ice Melts to Lowest Point as "Worst-Case Scenario" Appears Real
U.S. government scientists have disclosed the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has melted to its smallest size ever, potentially signaling that the "worst-case scenario" of global warming is becoming a reality. The National Snow and Ice Data Center and the NASA space agency say the Arctic sea ice has dwindled to some 27,000 square miles less than the previous record set in 2007. The ice will likely continue to melt with several weeks of summer weather still to come. In a statement, government scientists said the melting of the Arctic sea ice "is considered a strong signal of long-term climate warming." Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Michael Mann, the author of a major 2001 report on climate change and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said: "This is an example that points more to the worst-case scenario side of things. There are a number of areas where in fact climate change seems to be proceeding faster and with a greater magnitude than what the models predicted."
Federal Court Blocks Texas Voter ID Law
A federal court has blocked the controversial voter ID law in Texas, saying it discriminates against people of color. The law requires voters to show their photo identification at the polls, and Texas had hoped to implement it before the November election. But a three-judge panel said Texas had failed to prove the law won’t harm the voting rights of ethnic minorities. The Justice Department blocked the law earlier this year, warning it stood to disenfranchise at least 600,000 voters, a disproportionate number of which are Latinos and other minorities. Texas says it plans to appeal Thursday’s ruling to the Supreme Court.
Ohio Secretary of State Fires 2 Officials Who Sought to Extend Voting Hours
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has fired two local election officials who voted to extend early voting to weekends in Montgomery County. The two officials were suspended for extending the voting after Husted, a Republican, announced all counties would follow uniform hours for early voting on weekdays. But since his order only applied during the week, the now fired officials, Thomas Ritchie and Dennis Lieberman, moved to expand voting times on the weekend. Critics have said the state’s uneven hours benefit white Republicans, while disenfranchising people of color. President Obama won Montgomery County in 2008.
Court Rules Texas Redistricting Discriminated Against People of Color
A federal court has ruled the Republican-controlled statehouse in Texas discriminated against people of color in its redrawing of political maps for congressional and legislative districts ahead of the 2012 election. Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed off on the redistricting maps last year. But a three-judge panel ruled the move violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in disenfranchising people of color with a "discriminatory purpose." Texas says it plans to appeal.
Texas Judge Warns of Civil War if Obama Re-elected
A Texas judge is drawing controversy for declaring he is prepared to join a civil war to overthrow President Obama. In a televised interview, Judge Tom Head of Lubbock, Texas, said he thinks Obama will hand U.S. sovereignty over to the United Nations if re-elected.
Tom Head: "He is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N. OK, what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst case scenario here. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking — we’re talking Lexington-Concord take up arms and get rid of the guy. OK, now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want 'em in Lubbock County, OK? So I'm going to stand in front of their first armored personnel carrier and say, ’You’re not coming in here.’ And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him, I said, 'You gonna back me?' He said, 'Yeah, I'll back you.’ Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me."
Grassroots Leader Rev. Dr. William Barber Fights for Voting, Civil Rights in North Carolina
Early voting begins in North Carolina on Sept. 6, nearly two months before Election Day. Once again, the state is seen as a key battleground state. In 2008, President Obama won the state becoming the first Democrat to do so since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Rev. Dr. William Barber is a grassroots leader deeply involved in the fight to preserve voting rights in North Carolina and to mobilize unregistered voters. Barber is president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and serves as pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro. He successfully campaigned for same-day registration and early voting in North Carolina and helped win passage of the state’s Racial Justice Act, which allows North Carolina death row inmates to reduce their sentences to life in prison without parole in certain circumstances when race played a factor in their trial or sentencing.
Chicago Teachers Rally Ahead of Potential Strike
In Chicago, some 18,000 teachers and their supporters rallied on Labor Day ahead of a possible strike next week that could see more than 26,000 teachers and other school workers walk off the job. The Chicago Teachers Union is attempting to negotiate a fair contract with the nation’s third-largest school district. The union remains concerned about issues including pay, a controversial new evaluation process for teachers, and the possible closure of as many as 100 schools.
Hackers Claim FBI Storage of Millions of Apple IDs
Computer hackers are claiming to have uncovered the FBI’s storage of millions of names of users of the computer giant Apple. On Tuesday, a group calling itself AntiSec released one million of what it said were 12 million Apple IDs stored on the laptop of an FBI agent. The group says it believes the FBI is using the IDs to help with surveillance. The FBI has denied the claim.
Zimmerman Wins Removal of Judge in Murder Trial
Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman has won the removal of a second consecutive judge in his case. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel ordered the recusal of Judge Kenneth Lester after Zimmerman’s attorneys alleged he had made disparaging remarks about Zimmerman’s character last month. Lester’s predecessor in the case was also removed after complaints from Zimmerman’s attorneys. Zimmerman remains free on a $1 million bail bond.
Clint Eastwood Delivers Rambling RNC Speech Featuring "Invisible Obama" in Empty Chair
One unusual speech at the closing night of the Republican National Convention Thursday generated so much attention that it nearly threatened to overshadow Romney’s acceptance of the presidential nomination. The actor Clint Eastwood, known for his character Dirty Harry and his famous line, "Go ahead, make my day," gave a rambling, 11-minute address that appeared to be completely unscripted. During the speech, the 82-year-old actor addressed an empty chair next to him on the stage where he pretended President Obama was sitting.
Romney Invokes "Birther" Controversy with Dig at Obama
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waded into the so-called "birther" controversy with a dig at President Obama. Speaking in his home state of Michigan, Romney said that, unlike Obama, he has never faced questions about his place of birth.
Mitt Romney: "I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital, I was born in Harper Hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
Also at his event in Michigan, Romney shared his message to counter-protesters backing President Obama in this year’s election.
Mitt Romney: "I saw someone outside the zone here that had a sign that said 'four more years,' and I almost felt like stopping and saying, 'Yyou want four more years of 8 percent unemployment? You want four — you want four more years of record numbers of foreclosures and declining home values? Do you want four more years of trillion-dollar deficits to pass onto your kids? Do you want four more years of small businesses finding it hard to hire people? Do you want four more years of government becoming more and more intrusive in your lives and in your businesses?' I don’t want four more years of what we have. Do you?"
Activists Detained for Seeking to Arrest Rice
In other news from the Republican National Convention, a dozen activists with the group CODEPINK were barred from entering a private event featuring former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The activists were carrying handcuffs in what they called an attempt to arrest Rice for war crimes.
Hundreds Rally in Joplin to Support Burnt Mosque
Hundreds of people rallied in Joplin, Missouri in a show of support for a local mosque burnt to the ground. The Islamic Center of Joplin was set ablaze on August 6, just over a month after an initial arson attack. Firefighters were unable to contain the fire in time, leaving the mosque completely destroyed. The arsonist was never apprehended. The fire occurred the day after a White supremacist shot dead six worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Organizers of the August 25 rally say they wanted to show appreciation for the mosque in part for serving as a relief center during the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, which killed 161 people.RNC Protesters
Health Groups File Suit to Enforce Food Safety Law
Two health and environment groups have filed a lawsuit accusing the federal government of failing to implement a new food safety law that could save the lives of thousands of people. The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health say government officials have repeatedly missed deadlines for issuing regulations required by the Food Safety Modernization Act. The groups are seeking a court order that would require the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Management and Budget to force mandatory enforcement of the law. More than 3,000 people die a year from food poisoning in the United States, and millions more get sick. The law was enacted last year after contaminated food led to several outbreaks of illnesses nationwide.
More International News
Oil Refinery Explosion Kills 39 in Venezuela
At least 39 people were killed in Venezuela on August 26 in an explosion at the country’s biggest refinery. It was the deadliest accident ever for Venezuela’s oil industry.
Gaza May Not Be Livable in 2020, Warns United Nations
The United Nations is warning the Palestinian enclave of Gaza will no longer be livable by 2020 unless urgent steps are taken to improve basics including water supply, power, health and education. U.N. humanitarian coordinator Maxwell Gaylard says Gaza’s basic infrastructure has been crippled by the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation and blockade.
Maxwell Gaylard: "Action needs to be taken right now on fundamental aspects of life in Gaza — water and sanitation, electricity, education, health and so on. Action needs to happen now, if Gaza is to be a livable place in 2020, and it’s already difficult now. Despite their best efforts, the Palestinians in Gaza still need help. They do. They’re under blockade. They’re under occupation. So, they need our help, both politically and practically on the ground in the ways I described."
Eighty percent of Gaza residents rely on aid to survive, and many derive their only income from underground trade. Gaza’s water needs are dire and only stand to increase, with its water aquifer becoming potentially unusable by 2016.
Corrie Family to Appeal Israel Verdict Clearing Military
The family of the slain U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie says it will appeal an Israeli court’s exoneration of Israel’s military for her murder. A 23-year-old college student, Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza nine years ago. She was standing in front of a Palestinian home to help prevent its demolition. On Tuesday, an Israeli judge rejected the Corrie family’s wrongful death lawsuit, ruling that Corrie’s death resulted from "an accident she brought upon herself." Corrie’s mother, Cindy Corrie, condemned the verdict.
Cindy Corrie: "We are, of course, deeply saddened and deeply troubled by what we heard today from Judge Oded Gershon in the Haifa district court. I believe that this was a bad day not only for our family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law, and also for the country of Israel. The diplomatic process between the United States and Israel failed us, and today the Israeli court system demonstrated its failure to us."
The Corrie family says it will appeal the case to Israel’s supreme court.
French Court Opens Probe of Arafat’s Death
A French court has opened a probe of the death of Yasser Arafat after traces of radioactive material were found on his belongings earlier this year. An investigation by the news network Al Jazeera found Arafat may have died of poisoning after high levels of polonium were discovered on personal items, including his clothes and toothbrush. Arafat died in November 2004 after being flown to France for medical treatment. The court-ordered probe was granted following a request from Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat.
Canada Orders Deportation of U.S. War Resister
A Canadian immigration board has ordered the deportation of a U.S. war resister who fled to avoid serving in the Iraq War. Kimberly Rivera left the United States in January 2007, along with her husband and two children, to avoid a second tour of duty in Iraq.
Opposition, Human Rights Groups Condemn Bahraini Sentences
Human rights and Bahraini opposition groups are denouncing the U.S.-backed monarchy in Bahrain for upholding the convictions of 20 activists on allegations of plotting to overthrow the U.S.-backed regime. The activists were sentenced by a military court last year, eight of them to life behind bars. In a statement, a coalition of Bahraini opposition and Shiite groups said: "There is no state in Bahrain. It is a tyrannical authority, and an oppressive government that tries to look like a (political) system while hiding security apparatuses that terrorize the people to silence demands for democracy." Amnesty International meanwhile denounced the verdicts as "outrageous" and called for them to be "overturned and the activists immediately and unconditionally released."
Brazil Resumes Construction of $11 Billion Controversial Dam
A Brazilian court has ordered the resumption of construction on a major hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest. The $11 billion Belo Monte Dam project was initially approved over the objections of indigenous communities who have brought numerous challenges, citing environmental concerns and the fear of mass displacement. But late on Monday, Brazil’s Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that suspended construction pending government consultation with indigenous groups. Work on the project resumed on Tuesday, hours after the verdict.
South African Prosecutors Withdraw Charges Against Miners as Unrest Spreads
South African prosecutors have withdrawn murder charges against striking miners for the killings of 34 colleagues last month. The charges had sparked outrage because the victims were in fact shot dead by police. They were killed more than a week after walking off the job at the Marikana platinum mine in a call for higher pay. Despite withdrawing charges against the miners, South African prosecutors say they could be reinstated at the end of a new investigation.
Nomgcobo Jiba: "The decision and pronouncement on final charges to be proffered against any persons involved will only be made once all investigations have been completed. The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formerly withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance. The miners, or protesters, or the accused persons are to be released conditionally on warning and in their case postponed pending the finalization of investigations."
The unrest in South Africa spread earlier today, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at striking miners at a gold mine near Johannesburg.
NATO Suspends Afghan Police Training Following Wave of Attacks
The U.S.-led NATO occupation in Afghanistan has suspended training of Afghan local police and special operations forces following a relentless spate of attacks on international soldiers. The training will be suspended for at least a month to root out alleged infiltrators from militant groups. The suspension does not apply to the bulk of Afghan forces on the national level. Speaking in Belgium, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Afghan militants won’t derail the occupation’s mission in Afghanistan.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: "Don’t forget that for the Taliban it’s impossible to win militarily, but they try to gain some PR by undermining trust and confidence between the foreign troops and Afghan security forces. So, obviously, I will not exclude the possibility that the Taliban try to infiltrate the Afghan security forces, but, once again, they will not succeed in derailing our strategy."
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