Politics and Legislation
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that organizations cannot be sued for the torture under the Torture Victim Protection Act.
The decision came in the case of Azzam Mohamad Rahim, who immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and became a U.S. citizen. In 1995, while on a visit to his home village on the West Bank, he was taken into custody by Palestinian Authority intelligence officers; in the following days, he was allegedly imprisoned, tortured, and killed. The U.S. State Department issued a report classifying Rahim’s death as an extra-judicial killing, while in the custody of the Palestinian Authority. .
Rahim’s American family, filed suit against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO under the Torture Victim Protection Act, which authorizes lawsuits against “individuals” who commit acts of torture. The family argued that Congress intended the word “individual” to cover organizations.
Big Government on Steroids: Senate Bill Calls for Black Box Recorders on All New Cars
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
SEC. 31406. VEHICLE EVENT DATA RECORDERS.
(a) Mandatory Event Data Recorders-
(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part…
Awful: GOP Rep. Wants Tax Hikes For The Poor, Says They ‘Don’t Have Skin In The Game’
Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, defended the House Republican budget at a tax policy summit yesterday — as well as the broader idea that taxes on the wealthy need to be cut while taxes on lower-income Americans should be raised. When asked by ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes to square the GOP’s explicit desire to cut taxes for the rich with the fact that it’s budget would raise taxes on low-income working Americans, Tiberi responded by saying that to do otherwise would be to “beat up on people who are trying to be successful.” He then made the case for raising taxes on the poor by lamenting that they don’t have any “skin in the game”:
‘CISPA pushed by spy & tech companies for profit’
Published on Apr 19, 2012 by RussiaToday
Congress has attempted to sneak legislation that could change the face of the Internet as we know it, and all in the name of national security. First there was SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, but now CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act) is threatening the privacy and freedom of US citizens. No online activity will be safe when it comes to these bills because as of now what’s considered a cyber security threat is a large grey area, but David Seaman, journalist and host of The DL Show, joins us to take a closer look at CISPA.
Report estimates 8 million children hurt by foreclosures
By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY
One in 10 U.S. children has been or will be affected by the nation’s surge in foreclosures, a new report says.
Five years into the foreclosure crisis, an estimated 2.3 million children have lived in homes lost to foreclosure, according to a report from First Focus, a Washington, D.C-based bipartisan advocacy group focused on families.
Another 3 million children live in homes at risk of foreclosure because home loans are in the foreclosure process or are seriously delinquent. And 3 million children lived or live in rental homes lost to foreclosure or at risk, the report says.
“Children are the often invisible victims of the foreclosure crisis,” said report author Julia Isaacs. She did the study while at the Brookings Institution and is now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Labor, Human Services and Population Center.
Spain’s economy forces families to sleep at the wheel
Published on Apr 19, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ Nearly a quarter of the workforce unemployed, the cost of borrowing going up – Spain’s financial crisis is often a list of seemingly sterile figures.
The reality behind the numbers though is even more stark.
In Barcelona, like elsewhere in Spain, there is a growing number of people who have no other choice but to live in their cars.
Silvestre lost his job as a baker and with it the means to pay his rent.
“I asked for help at city hall, but they have done nothing,” he said. “We’ve got the chance of a year in a council flat, but if I don’t find work we’re back on the street. So I prefer to stay here. There are more people like us.”
He now scrapes a living collecting scrap paper.
Barcelona’s council reckons there are around 350 people living in this makeshift motor-city.
Angel Miret from Barcelona Social Services said: “We are trying to do what we have to do. We recognise the need for decent housing, so we’re pushing for an increase in council flats and continuing to work with these people.”
In car-parks and old industrial estates there is a new generation living in mobile accommodation with nowhere else to go.
Spanish Repsol anger threatens trade
Published on Apr 19, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ There are potentially major financial ramifications to both Spain and Argentina from the decision by the South American country to re-nationalise Repsol subsidiary YPF as Madrid threatened swift economic retaliation.
Last year Spain imported almost 1.8 billion euros worth of Argentine products.
Argentina’s imports from Spain totaled 824 million euros.
Spain is the largest foreign investor there.
Energy firms Repsol, Endesa and Gas Natural are big players, though less so than in the past.
Banks, such as Banco Santander and BBVA, have recently boosted their investments, along with Telecoms and technology firms like Telefonica and Indra. They are all seeking growth in Argentina which is not available in their mature – and recession hit -European markets.
Spanish investments totaled 17.1 billion euros in 2009 – the last year for which figures are available.
In Spain, investors did not seem too worried about corporate consequences of the Repsol affair.
The main Madrid share index saw its third biggest gain of the year on Tuesday.
Repsol fell 6.06 percent, but Banco Santander, BBVA and Telefonica all enjoyed substantial gains.
Italy goes for growth over austerity
Published on Apr 19, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ Italy is to shift its focus from austerity to growth – so delaying by a year its plan to balance the budget in 2013.
Prime Minister Mario Monti has decided that reviving economic growth now had to take priority over belt tightening that could plunge the country deeper into recession.
After a cabinet meeting that accepted new economic targets based on a much deeper than originally forecast recession, Monti said: “Italy has found itself – and still finds itself in a difficult situation and we wanted to avoid the same tragic fate as Greece. But rebalancing the Italian economy will take many years.”
“Everything, everything, everything that we are doing now is aimed towards helping growth,” Monti added.
Italy’s new forecasts raise the 2012 deficit target marginally to 1.7 percent of gross domestic product from 1.6 percent, while the 2013 goal is raised to 0.5 percent from 0.1 percent. An almost balanced budget, with a 0.1 percent deficit, is now targeted in 2014.
The reaction from the markets was muted, in contrast to fellow eurozone struggler Spain which saw its borrowing costs soar when Madrid relaxed its deficit targets.
Italian bond yields rose on Wednesday but only modestly. The feeling is that Italy’s main problem is its chronically weak economy, not fiscal slippage.
For investors Italy is also a known quantity. Monti is a familiar figure after serving as a European Commissioner for almost a decade until 2004 and the country’s problems are also well known: it has struggled for many years with a huge state debt and a weak economy.
By contrast, Spain is less of an known quantity. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is a less familiar figure outside his home country than Monti, and doubts persist over whether his four-month-old government can tackle a property crash, a banking system that may need rescuing and Spain’s free-spending regional governments.
Italy’s budget deficit is one of the lowest in the eurozone as a proportion of output, whereas Spain’s is one of the highest.
Wars and Rumors of War
CIA seeks new authority to expand Yemen drone campaign
By Greg Miller, Published: April 18
(Gene Thorp/The Washington Post)
The practice has been a core element of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan for several years. CIA Director David H. Petraeus has requested permission to use the tactic against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has emerged as the most pressing terrorism threat to the United States, officials said.
If approved, the change would probably accelerate a campaign of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen that is already on a record pace, with at least eight attacks in the past four months.
Chossudovsky: Syrian ‘Opposition’ is ‘West-Controlled Proxy Paramilitary’
Published on Apr 19, 2012 by GlobalResearchTV
With Syria halting military operations as part of a UN-brokered ceasefire, Western powers have been saying they do not trust the government to uphold the armistice. Experts believe the US and its allies are pursuing their own agenda: regime change.
Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, noted that Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, was wrong in saying that Russia and China had blood on their hands.
“NATO has blood on their hands,” he told RT. “The United States has blood on their hands. Why? Because they have supported an armed insurgency from the onset in March 2011. It is known and documented that this so-called opposition is, in fact, a proxy paramilitary formation, which is supported by the Western military alliance.”
He also noted that there is well-documented evidence to support the fact that most civilian casualties were attributable to terrorist acts by opposition gunmen and paramilitary forces.
Chossudovsky pointed to the hypocritical stance of the NATO member countries.
“On the one hand you have the government of Syria, and on the other you have, in fact, the foot soldiers of NATO,” he said. “In other words, NATO is supporting the rebels, but at the same time, the NATO countries which claim to be members of the international community, are brokering the peace plan.”
And as for the truce, Chossudovsky noted that it was the West that was not interested in seeing it bear fruit.
“The Western powers are not interested in a truce,” he concluded. “They have been seeking from the onset regime change, in other words, toppling the government and destabilizing the country.”
Political analyst Lajos Szaszdi says the US, as well the Gulf States and Turkey, prefer to see the failure of the UN-brokered peace plan put forward by the organization’s Syrian envoy Kofi Annan.
“They have an agenda of their own,” Szaszdi told RT. “They really don’t want peace with the current government of Syria.”
He said Western powers were in fact blatantly helping the opposition with diplomatic efforts, as well as by supplying money, weapons and even special forces to operate inside Syria.
And with recent reports of violence at the country’s border with Turkey, Szaszdi noted that the situation was increasingly volatile in the region.
“It’s a dangerous situation,” he stressed. “Turkey is thinking about how to internationalize the conflict, having NATO involved. And of course, we have to be very careful about this threat because what if the opposition itself, next time, could provoke an incident like the Germans did against Poland in 1939 in September, and appear like they are Syrian troops, when in fact they are members of the Free Syrian Army that want precisely to provoke international intervention.”
He also pointed to the fact that the weapons he said Turkey supplies to the opposition could end up in the hands of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), rekindling a decades-long conflict within Turkey itself.
The ceasefire came into effect at 6am local time on Wednesday. The government halted all military operations, though Annan criticized it for not withdrawing troops and heavy artillery from major cities. The UN Security Council is set to adopt a resolution that would authorize the deployment of an advanced monitor group to Syria.
Originally aired on RT, April 13, 2012
Articles of Interest
Drug Activists Slam Obama’s “New” Drug Policy
In an introductory statement (PDF) issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama wrote that his strategy outlines “A Drug Policy for the 21st Century“ that emphasizes addiction treatments over incarceration and life-saving outreach over harsh law enforcement. The White House website even brags about the effectiveness of harm-reduction strategies over mass incarcerations, saying the approach is “grounded in decades of research and scientific study.”
Undercover TSA To Ride Houston Buses
Published on Apr 17, 2012 by ntyranny1
Feds to watch for suspicious activity, pre-crime criminal behavior
Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
A new program in Houston will place undercover TSA agents and police officers on buses whose job it will be to perform bag searches, watch for “suspicious activity” and interrogate passengers in order to ‘curb crime and terrorism’.
India tests long-range nuclear missile rocket
Published on Apr 19, 2012 by itnnews
India has test-fired a long range nuclear missile, Agni V, capable of reaching China and Europe. . Report by Katie Lamborn
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