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Showing posts from January, 2011

Egypt on the Edge

Huffington Post - Egypt's most prominent reform advocate called on Sunday for President Hosni Mubarak to resign after the powerful military stepped up its presence across the anarchic capital, closing roads with tanks and sending F-16 fighter jets streaking over downtown. The army's show of force appeared aimed at quelling looting, armed robbery and arson that broke out alongside pro-democracy protests and have turned the cultural heart of the Arab world into a tableau of once-unimaginable scenes of chaos.The military made no attempt to disperse some 5,000 protesters gathered at Tahrir Square, a plaza in the heart of downtown that protesters have occupied since Friday afternoon. They have violated the curfew to call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak's regime, which they blame for poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption and police brutality. Read more.

Mohamed ElBaradei: "If Not Now, When?"

Truthout - If Western leaders, who have backed the dictator Mubarak for 30 years, cannot stand before the Egyptian people today and say unequivocally, "we support your right of national self-determination," when can they do it?

That's the question that Egyptian democracy leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has put before Western leaders today.

Speaking to The Guardian UK in Cairo, before the planned protests today, ElBaradei stepped up his calls for Western leaders to explicitly condemn Mubarak...read more.

Egypt's Day of Rage goes on. Is the world watching?

Guardian UK - Tens of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators took to the streets on 25 January, young and old, Muslim and Christian, rich and poor, educated and not so-educated. They all chanted "Long live Egypt", "Life, liberty and human dignity" and "Down with the Mubarak regime".

The day marked for the celebration of Police Day was dubbed the Day of Rage. The protests, which continued through a second day in almost every part of the country, are showing no signs of abating on the third day, with a million-strong march scheduled for Friday. These demonstrations are sending shivers down the spine not only of the regime but of its friends and allies as well.

The scale of the protests came as a blow to all those who have been betting that a sleeping dragon will continue its slumber. For three decades now, Egyptians have been kept on a tight leash, fed more with promises than with bread. Read more.

Obama officials caught deceiving about WikiLeaks

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - Whenever the U.S. Government wants to demonize a person or group in order to justify attacks on them, it follows the same playbook: it manufactures falsehoods about them, baselessly warns that they pose Grave Dangers and are severely harming our National Security, peppers all that with personality smears to render the targeted individuals repellent on a personal level, and feeds it all to the establishment American media, which then dutifully amplifies and mindlessly disseminates it all. That, of course, was the precise scheme that so easily led the U.S. into attacking Iraq; it's what continues to ensure support for the whole litany of War on Terror abuses and the bonanza of power and profit which accompanies them; and it's long been obvious that this is the primary means for generating contempt for WikiLeaks to enable its prosecution and ultimate destruction...read more.

Hogwash, Mr. President

Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - What is the state of the union? You certainly couldn't tell from that platitudinous hogwash that the president dished out Tuesday evening. I had expected Barack Obama to be his eloquent self, appealing to our better nature, but instead he was mealy-mouthed in avoiding the tough choices that a leader should delineate in a time of trouble. He embraced clean air and a faster Internet while ignoring the depth of our economic pain and the Wall Street scoundrels who were responsible-understandably so, since they so prominently populate the highest reaches of his administration. He had the effrontery to condemn "a parade of lobbyists" for rigging government after he appointed the top Washington representative of JPMorgan Chase to be his new chief of staff. The speech was a distraction from what seriously ails us: an unabated mortgage crisis, stubbornly high unemployment and a debt that spiraled out of control while the government waste…

Tunisia Calls on Interpol to Arrest Ousted President Ben Ali

Guardian UK - Tunisian authorities have asked for international arrest warrants to be issued for ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and members of his family following his flight abroad this month.

The justice minister, Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, also revealed that 11,000 inmates, about a third of the country's prison population, had escaped in the recent unrest. He said Tunisia had asked Interpol to detain Ben Ali, who is now in Saudi Arabia, adding that the former president and others would face trial for possession of expropriated property and for transferring foreign currency abroad. Read more.

The Obama/GOP Consensus

“In announcing a five-year freeze on domestic spending, Obama enters a new phase of aggressive – rather than furtive – collaboration with the GOP.”

Glen Ford @ BAR: On the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union address, Cynthia Gordy, writer for the Blogging the Beltway column in TheRoot.com, asked the question: “Will Obama talk about black unemployment?” Of course, Gordy already knew the answer – “Hell no!” – but proceeded to discuss the horrific state of Black jobless America with someone who actually cared, Christian Weller, from the Center for American Progress. Ms. Gordy ended the piece on a plaintive note. “Here’s hoping Obama will at least have a more elaborate plan to truly lift up all communities,” she wrote. What a strange and deeply sad relationship exists between many Black Americans and the brown-skinned corporate politician in the White House. Read more.

Mubarak Faces Historic Challenge

Inter Press Service - "Down, Down with Mubarak," thousands chanted in downtown Cairo Tuesday. "Mubarak, it is your turn after Ben Ali," they said referring to Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was topped Jan. 14 in protests in neighbouring Tunisia.The protests saw factory workers, university professors, political activists and even women and teenage girls braving riot police and taking to the streets across the country - not just in capital Cairo. Read more.

Soros Warns Euro Crisis Could Divide Europe

AP @ Huffington Post - Billionaire financier George Soros warned Wednesday that Europe could potentially fall apart because of the "two-speed Europe" of haves and have-nots that is being perpetuated by the reform of the embattled euro.

He told a news briefing on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum that the currency used by 17 EU nations is in the process of reform following concerns over the debt crisis that enveloped Greece and Ireland and is threatening others.

Its flaw, he said, of having a common central bank but no common treasury was being addressed with the creation of a permanent European Financial Stability Facility, which was created to bail out debt-ridden countries.

But Soros said the reforms are not addressing the euro's real problem – that the currency has divided the richer EU countries from the poorer ones. Read more.

Jesse Ventura Sues TSA Over Body Scans, Pat Downs

Huffington Post - Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, alleging full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Ventura is asking a federal judge in Minnesota to issue an injunction ordering officials to stop subjecting him to "warrantless and suspicionless" scans and body searches. Read more.

Washington State Joins Movement for Public Banking

Truthout - Bills were introduced on January 18, in both the House and Senate of the Washington State Legislature, that add Washington to the growing number of states now actively moving to create public banking facilities.

The bills, House Bill 1320 and Senate Bill 5238, propose creation of a Washington Investment Trust (WIT) to "promote agriculture, education, community development, economic development, housing, and industry" by using "the resources of the people of Washington State within the state."

Currently, all the state's funds are deposited with Bank of America (BoA). HB 1320 proposes that in the future, "all state funds be deposited in the Washington Investment Trust and be guaranteed by the state and used to promote the common good and public benefit of all the people and their businesses within [the] state." Read more.

Guns, Mental Illness and American Manhood

Common Dreams - A consensus seems to have developed that some in media precipitously and inaccurately blamed violent rhetoric from the right for the shooting in Tucson on January 8. But whether or not they were misled in this instance by what turns out to be false reports about the shooter's political motivations, something positive did emerge from the media in the wake of this tragedy. Key figures in media promised to "look in the mirror" and examine their responsibility for contributing to a toxic political environment that could lead to violence.

This is a promise to which we should hold the media, regardless of how the event that initially catalyzed it turns out. There is a lot more that journalists and opinion-makers in the media could do to advance a discussion in our society about violence - political and otherwise.

Much of what needs to happen is an honest conversation about issues related to masculinity and violence. Many people have circled around this subject, e…

Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process

Guardin UK - The biggest leak of confidential documents in the history of the Middle East conflict has revealed that Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed to accept Israel's annexation of all but one of the settlements built illegally in occupied East Jerusalem. This unprecedented proposal was one of a string of concessions that will cause shockwaves among Palestinians and in the wider Arab world.

A cache of thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records covering more than a decade of negotiations with Israel and the US has been obtained by al-Jazeera TV and shared exclusively with the Guardian. The papers provide an extraordinary and vivid insight into the disintegration of the 20-year peace process, which is now regarded as all but dead.

The documents – many of which will be published by the Guardian over the coming days – also reveal: Read more.

For recording his own arrest, artist could face prison time

Huffington Post - Chris Drew was finally ready to get arrested. An artist and activist, Drew had spent years protesting a Chicago ordinance that puts tight restrictions on where and how people can sell their art on the street. He was downtown, on State Street, selling silk-screened patches for $1 and defying the city to stop him.

He'd tried his act of civil disobedience three times before -- a First Amendment lawyer on hand to argue his case, a team of videographers ready to film the arrest -- but the police simply let it slide. When, on December 2, 2009, he finally succeeded in getting booked, Drew was ready for a few hours in lock-up on a misdemeanor, and a lengthy court battle. He was in no way prepared for what he would actually face.

The state charged Drew with a Class 1 felony, not for selling art on the street, but for violating the Illinois Eavesdropping Act by recording his own arrest. He faces up to 15 years in prison. Read more.

Microcredit: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Yes! Magazine - For more than twenty years, microcredit has been widely heralded as the remedy for world poverty. Recent news stories, however, have sullied microcredit’s glowing reputation with reports on scandals, exorbitant compensation to managers, skyrocketing interest rates, and aggressive marketing schemes.

Once praised as a universal panacea, microlenders are now being widely attacked as predatory loan sharks. In December 2010, Sheik Hasina Wazed, the prime minister of Bangladesh and former microcredit advocate, accused microcredit programs of “sucking blood from the poor in the name of poverty alleviation.” Read more.

Halfway Through Term, Obama Still Hasn’t Earned His Nobel Prize

Michele Chen @ ColorLines - When President Obama took office, he vowed to repair the damage done to America’s moral standing on the global stage. You may have hoped that human rights would become an organizing principle of our foreign policy. That the U.S. would finally try to engage pariah states like Iran and North Korea, or that Obama’s presidency would elevate the voices of grassroots movements in economic and environmental policy discussions. In 2011, you’ve probably either lowered your expectations or discarded your hopes.

About a year ago, Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch, anticipated the impending disappointment, warning in an op-ed, “President Obama recognizes the importance of redeeming America’s reputation on human rights after the dark Bush years. But it will take more than impressive rhetoric to succeed. Words must be followed by deeds.” Read more.

Aristide Should Be Allowed to Return to Haiti

Bellingham Herald - Haiti's infamous dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier, returned to his country this week, while the country's first elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is kept out. These two facts really say everything about Washington's policy toward Haiti, and our government's respect for democracy in that country and in the region.

Asked about the return of Duvalier, who had thousands tortured and murdered under his dictatorship, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "this is a matter for the Government of Haiti and the people of Haiti."

But when asked about Aristide returning, he said "Haiti does not need, at this point, any more burdens." Read more.

Manifest Haiti: Monsanto's Destiny

Truthout - "A fabulous Easter gift," commented Monsanto Director of Development Initiatives Elizabeth Vancil. Nearly 60,000 seed sacks of hybrid corn seeds and other vegetable seeds were donated to post-earthquake Haiti by Monsanto. In observance of World Environment Day, June 4, 2010, roughly 10,000 rural Haitian farmers gathered in Papaye to march seven kilometers to Hinche in celebration of this gift. Upon arrival, these rewarded farmers took their collective Easter baskets of more than 400 tons of vegetable seeds and burned them all.[i] "Long live the native maize seed!" they chanted in unison. "Monsanto's GMO [genetically modified organism] & hybrid seed violate peasant agriculture!" Read more.

Study: Many college students not learning to think critically

McClatchy Newspapers - An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.

Arum, whose book "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses" (University of Chicago Press) comes out this month, followed 2,322 traditional-age students from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009 and examined testing data and …

Remembering MLK: The Things We’ve Forgotten Would Guide Us

Color Lines - Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been 82 this month, and his assassination occurred nearly 43 years ago. As we get further and further from that time, memories get fuzzy and a kind of collective amnesia sets in, as Vincent Harding has observed, some of it deliberately promoted amnesia. So, the question is how to remember King clearly and to see that amazing moment in history that he participated in through a sharp and focused lens? Three things come to mind.

First of all, King was a radical. Not the venomous kind that promotes reckless violence against innocent people; quite the opposite. King was a radical in his criticism of the root causes of injustice, and in his brilliantly imaginative vision of a different, more just and humane world. For example, King did not just urge protesters to be non-violent, he urged politicians and governments to be non-violent. In 1968 he took a brave stance against the war in Vietnam, in a speech in New York City’s Riverside Church, th…

BP Targets One of the World's Last Unspoilt Wildernesses

Independent UK @ Common Dream - The Arctic is to become the "new environmental battleground", campaigners warned yesterday after BP announced plans to drill in one of the last great unspoilt wildernesses on earth.

Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have vowed to confront BP's American boss, Bob Dudley, over the agreement with the Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft to explore the Kara Sea, north of Siberia. The British energy firm was branded the world's "environmental villain number one" by Friends of the Earth (FoE) yesterday in response to its move to exploit potential oil reserves in the remote waters.

Environmentalists are dismayed that BP, which announced the deal on Friday night, has decided to set up rigs in an area of great biodiversity and treacherous weather conditions. The region is one of the few remaining havens left for a number of endangered species, including polar bears, walruses and beluga whales. And while the waters of …

King, Ike, and 20 Years of War in Iraq

Common Dreams - This year, two significant anniversaries occur on Martin Luther King Day. On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower delivered his Farewell Address, warning about the dangers of the military-industrial complex. And on January 17, 1991, American forces unleashed the first massive air assaults against Iraq. The fact that we have been fighting with Iraq for twenty years-and in Afghanistan for nearly ten-reminds us of King's warnings about the dangers of militarism.

When King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he said that war was becoming obsolete. And he argued that mankind's survival depended upon solving the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war. In 1967, when he spoke out against the war in Vietnam, King said, "war is not the answer." And he warned that the deep malady of the American spirit is our perverse devotion to what he called the "giant triplets" of "racism, extreme materialism, and militarism."

In his Nobel Prize sp…

Southern Sudan Secession Vote Shows Big Early Returns

Huffington Post - Southern Sudan's president on Sunday offered a prayer of forgiveness for northern Sudan and the killings that occurred during a two-decade civil war, as the first results from a weeklong independence referendum showed an overwhelming vote for secession.

Exhausted poll workers who counted ballots overnight and deep into Sunday morning posted returns at individual stations, and an Associated Press count of a small sample showed a 96 percent vote for secession.

Sudan's south ended its independence vote Saturday, a vote most believe will split the large country in two at the divide between Sudan's Muslim north and Christian and animist south. The two sides ended a more than two decade civil war in 2005 in a peace deal that provided for last week's vote.

If everything stays on track, by July Southern Sudan should be the world's newest nation. Read more.

Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks

Guardian UK - The offshore bank account details of 2,000 "high net worth individuals" and corporations – detailing massive potential tax evasion – will be handed over to the WikiLeaks organisation in London tomorrow by the most important and boldest whistleblower in Swiss banking history, Rudolf Elmer, two days before he goes on trial in his native Switzerland.

British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, "approximately 40 politicians".

Elmer, who after his press conference will return to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius to face trial, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information. Read more.

One Year After Haiti Earthquake, Corporations Profit While People Suffer

Truthout - One year after an earthquake devastated Haiti, much of the promised relief and reconstruction aid has not reached those most in need. In fact, the nation's tragedy has served as an opportunity to further enrich corporate interests.

The details of a recent lawsuit, as reported by Business Week, highlights the ways in which contractors - including some of the same players who profited from Hurricane Katrina-related reconstruction - have continued to use their political connections to gain profits from others' suffering, receiving contacts worth tens of millions of dollars while the Haitian people receive pennies, at best. It also demonstrates ways in which charity and development efforts have mirrored and contributed to corporate abuses.

Lewis Lucke, a 27-year veteran of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was named US special coordinator for relief and reconstruction after the earthquake. He worked this job for a few months, then immediately moved to th…

Tunisia: People Power Succeeds Without Western Backing

Inter Press Service - These are scenes Western powers would have loved to see in Iran - thousands of young people braving live bullets and forcing an autocratic ruler out of the country. But it is in the North African nation Tunisia where an uprising forced the Western-backed autocratic President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.

Demonstrators holds a placard reading 'Ben Ali assassin, France accomplice', during a demonstration in solidarity with Tunisia, in Marseille, southern France , Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. Unrest engulfed Tunisia on Saturday after a popular rebellion forced the president to flee. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)Western powers remain incredulous. France, the real power broker in the Franco North African nation, was giving Ben Ali tacit support until an hour before he fled Friday. Read more.

Tunisia: The First WikiLeaks Revolution?

Foreign Policy - Tunisians didn't need any more reasons to protest when they took to the streets these past weeks -- food prices were rising, corruption was rampant, and unemployment was staggering. But we might also count Tunisia as the first time that WikiLeaks pushed people over the brink. These protests are also about the country's utter lack of freedom of expression -- including when it comes to WikiLeaks. Read more.

John Pilger's Investigation Into the War on WikiLeaks and His Interview With Julian Assange

John Pilger @ Truthout - The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell-hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before.

In recent weeks, the US Justice Department has established a secret grand jury just across the river from Washington in the eastern district of the state of Virginia. The object is to indict Assange under a discredited espionage act used to arrest peace activists during the First World War, or one of the "war on terror" conspiracy statutes that have degraded American justice. Judicial experts describe the jury as a "deliberate set up," pointing out that this corner of Virginia is home to the employees and familie…

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Call for Peace as Racial Justice Still Rings

Michele Chen @ ColorLines - When Martin Luther King, Jr. “broke the silence” on the war on Vietnam in 1967, he shattered the establishment rhetoric on America’s mission in Southeast Asia. His speech, “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence,” delivered at Riverside Church in upper Manhattan, still has revolutionary ring to it as we approach MLK Day more than 40 years later.

Taking a politically risky and unpopular stance—and bucking the advice of some of his most trusted advisors—King drew a link between the destruction of war in Vietnam and the devastation of America’s stratified society. He framed the independence struggle of the Vietnamese as the freedom struggle of communities of color at home.

Civil rights advocates who had preceded King had often bound up patriotism with ideas of racial uplift—for instance, in the Double V campaign of World War II. But King recognized the cancerous injustice of the Vietnam War: Read more.

Crisis in Tunisia Continues as President Flees, Prime Minister Ghannouchi Takes Control

Al Jezeera - Tunisia's long-standing president has left the country amid violent protests and the prime minister has taken over control of the government.

"Since the president [Zine El Abidine Ben Ali] is temporarily unable to exercise his duties, it has been decided that the prime minister will exercise temporarily the [presidential] duties," Mohammed Ghannouchi, the Tunisian prime minister, said on state television. Read more.

Black GOP Official Resigns, Citing Arizona Tea Party Threats

The Huffington Post - The sole black Republican Party district chairman in Arizona resigned from his post in the wake of Saturday's shooting, citing threats from the Tea Party faction and concerns for his family's safety, The Arizona Republic first reported.

Republican District 20 Chairman Anthony Miller was not the only party official to resign following the shooting that killed six and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and a federal judge. But Miller had been an especially dedicated campaigner for the GOP, and said he only stepped down in the face of "constant verbal attacks" and other forms of intimidation.

"I wasn't going to resign but decided to quit after what happened Saturday," he said. "I love the Republican Party but I don't want to take a bullet for anyone." Read more.

Nine Years Later: The Political Prisoners of Guantanamo

Andy Worthington @ Truthout - Political prisoners? Surely, that can't be right, can it? Surely, it's only dictatorships in far-flung corners of the world who hold political prisoners, and not the United States of America?

Sadly, no. As the "War on Terror" prison established by President Bush begins its tenth year of operations, and as it begins to be forgotten that President Obama swept into office issuing an executive order promising to close the prison within a year, but failed spectacularly to do so, the bleak truth is that, for a majority of the 173 men held at Guantanamo, their chances of being released, or of receiving anything resembling justice, have receded to such an extent in the last two years that most face indefinite detention without charge or trial and may still be in Guantanamo a year from now, two years from now, or even five, ten or twenty years from now. Read more.

The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right

WRP @ Truthout:

From: William Rivers Pitt

Date: Monday 10 January 2011

Re: The blood on your hands

Dear “Patriots,”

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords isn't much older than I am. She served in the Arizona State House of Representatives, and the Arizona State Senate, before being elected to three successive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She once described herself as a "former Republican," and is today considered a "Blue Dog" Democrat, meaning she holds a number of conservative political positions. This is not terribly surprising, given the generally conservative political bent of the state she has served for the last ten years. She was married four years ago to a space shuttle commander who had served as a Naval aviator, and who flew 39 combat missions in Desert Storm, before volunteering for astronaut training.

Last Wednesday, she was sworn in to her third term as the Representative for Arizona's 8th congressional district. One of her first acts in the…

WikiWishes for WikiPromises for 2011

Johan Galtung - New Year's Eve was here with wishes and promises. Below, I enumerate my thoroughly pondered new year's wishes for 2011 and beyond. The informed reader will recognize 50 Years: 100 Peace & Conflict Perspectives (www.transcend.org/tpu), and TMS editorials. Many such things have happened, and would make much peace. In fact: The kind of job we would like diplomats to be engaged in.

But the Man of the Year, Julian Assange, revealed diplomats to be person- rather than problem-oriented, negative-controlling and not positive-constructive, self-serving rather than community-region-world-humanity serving. Not strange they need secrecy. Manning-Assange sounded the deathknells not only of a dying empire, but also of an institution asynchronic with our times.

So let us make the jump from the ubiquitous WikiLeaks to much needed WikiWishes & WikiPromises that key people would do well to wish, and then keep: Read more.

Chile recognises Palestinian state

Al Jazeera English - Chile has become the latest South American country to officially recognise Palestine as an independent state.

"The government of Chile has adopted the resolution today recognising the existence of the state of Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state," Alfredo Moreno, the foreign minister, said on Friday.

"Chile has permanently and consistently supported the right of the Palestinian people to constitute themselves as an independent state, in peaceful coexistence with the state of Israel," Moreno said. Read more.

WikiLeaks demands Google and Facebook unseal US subpoenas

Guardian UK - WikiLeaks has demanded that Google and Facebook reveal the contents of any US subpoenas they may have received after it emerged that a court in Virginia had ordered Twitter to secretly hand over details of accounts on the micro-blogging site by five figures associated with the group, including Julian Assange.
Amid strong evidence that a US grand jury has begun a wide-ranging trawl for details of what networks and accounts WikiLeaks used to communicate with Bradley Manning, the US serviceman accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of sensitive government cables, some of those named in the subpoena said they would fight disclosure.
"Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into WikiLeaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain," WikiLeaks said in a statement. Read more.

Gabrielle Giffords: DEM REP SHOT.. FEDERAL JUDGE, 5 OTHERS KILLED

Huffington Post - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing at least five people and wounding at least 10.
Giffords was listed in critical condition--the bullet went straight through her brain--but the hospital said her outlook was "optimistic" and that she was responding to commands from doctors. The hospital said a 9-year-old child was among the killed, and a U.S. Marshal said a federal judge was also fatally shot in the attack.
Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said an unspecified number of her staff members were injured in the shooting. Congressional officials said an aide to the Democrat was killed.
Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Lee Loughner, 22. Pima County Sheriff's officials said he used a pistol to carry out the shooting spree.
Scroll down for the latest updates. Read…

AT&T's Man in the White House

Tim Karr @ Save The Internet - When President Obama said he was going to "bring change to Washington," no one expected William Daley to be his choice to get the job done.

Obama's incoming chief of staff is about as corporate friendly as any Democratic insider can be, which is saying a lot.

For supporters of an open Internet, Daley's appointment raises the prospect that the president will break all promises to defend Net Neutrality at the urging of a chief of staff determined to cozy up with industry and protect the status quo. Read more.

The End Of Access

The Huffington Post - The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a watershed event in many ways, some of which we cannot yet know, but one of the clearest and simplest is this: Congress and its members are about to be permanently quarantined, physically isolated, from the people it and they represent. Read more.

Judge John Roll Dead: Killed In Arizona Shooting

The Huffington Post - Federal Judge John Roll was killed during a shooting in Arizona that also involved an attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales confirmed to the Associated Press that the U.S. District Judge had died. He offered no other details on the shooting.
Arizona Central talked to Gonzales in 2009 after Roll allowed a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit to proceed against a local rancher. The case was filed by illegal immigrants and drew the ire of local talk radio hosts, who "spurred audiences into making threats." Read more.

Haiti Earthquake Relief: How Charities Spent The Money

The Huffington Post - In the wake of Haiti's devastating earthquake a year ago, dozens of major non-profit organizations and philanthropies raised over a billion dollars in relief aid for the devastated country.

Over the past year, those groups spent hundreds of millions to provide water, sanitation, shelter, food and other assistance to millions of Haitians. And many have carefully planned their expenditures, setting aside money for long-term projects crucially needed to rebuild Haiti. But some organizations seemed vague in their plans for how to spend millions in their coffers. Read more.

Freedom Fighters for a Fading Empire

William Astore @ Tom Dispatch - Words matter, as candidate Barack Obama said in the 2008 election campaign. What to make, then, of President Obama's pep talk last month to U.S. troops in Afghanistan in which he lauded them as "the finest fighting force that the world has ever known"? Certainly, he knew that those words would resonate with the troops as well as with the folks back home.

In fact, this sort of description of the U.S. military has become something of a must for American presidents. Obama's predecessor George W. Bush, for example, boasted of that military as alternately "the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world" and "the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known." Hyperbolic and self-promoting statements, to be sure, but undoubtedly sincere, reflecting as they do an American sense of exceptionalism that sits poorly with the increasingly interconnected world of the twenty-first century.

I'm a r…

Bringing the 'Bush Six' to justice

Guardian UK - Today, the Centre for Constitutional Rights filed papers encouraging Judge Eloy Velasco and the Spanish national court to do what the United States will not: prosecute the "Bush Six". These are the former senior administration legal advisors, headed by then US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who violated international law by creating a legal framework that materially contributed to the torture of suspected terrorists at US-run facilities at Guantánamo and other overseas locations.

Friday's filing provides Judge Velasco with the legal framework for the prosecution of government lawyers – a prosecution that last took place during the Nuremberg trials, when Nazi lawyers who provided cover for the Third Reich's war crimes and crimes against humanity were held accountable for their complicity. Read more.

Helen Thomas Back: Returns To Journalism With Column In Virginia

The Huffington Post - Helen Thomas is back at work--this time, with a column in a weekly Virginia newspaper.

In a statement, Nicholas Benton, owner and editor of the News-Press, said he had spoken with Thomas for over eight hours before deciding to take her on. He called her "progressive" and said that he is "firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic." Read more.

In the Twilight of the Social State: Rethinking Walter Benjamin's Angel of History

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - Responding in 1940 to the unfolding catastrophes perpetrated by the rise of fascism in Germany, Walter Benjamin, a German Jewish philosopher and literary critic, wrote his now famous "Thesis on the Philosophy of History." In the ninth thesis, Benjamin comments on Paul Klee's painting "Angelus Novus." He writes:
"Angelus Novus" shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. Read more.

An Important Moment for Civil Rights

Ben Jealous @ Huffington Post - During the past two weeks, in response to successful grassroots campaigns, two governors have released black Americans who had been railroaded by our nation's criminal justice system.
Together, these cases speak to the urgent need for the work the NAACP and our allies are doing to encourage more Governors to use their clemency authority as our nation's founding fathers intended by freeing more deserving people more frequently.
The most recent victory is that of Jamie and Gladys Scott, two Mississippi sisters who have been imprisoned for 16 years on double-life sentences. They were each condemned to this extraordinary sentence as teenagers for a first-time offense in which $11 was stolen and no one was hurt. Read more.

Season's Greetings: 12 Affirmations for a Happy New Year !!!

We create what we believe is an affirmation--a thought--I find useful for many reasons. Though before I touch on that, I'd like to say what a growing, learning year 2010 has been. I am grateful for all this year has brought and taught my way. For as with joy and laughter, pain, suffering and healing are aspects to the human experience which hold value as well. The totality of what it means to be alive retains wealth beyond life's pleasantries. So, I'd like to share 12 affirmations that I created, which work for me--wishing you a Happy New Year!. It's a brief [free] selection of my favorite affirmations:***1.) Everything I need Comes My Way With Ease: Rivers and oceans flow in spite of the living creatures, rocks and waves within them, our lives operate much in the same way.2.) In The Mirror I See A Beautiful Reflection of Me:Our outside world is often an accurate reflection of our inner world. Who and what have told ourselves that we are?3.) Rivers O…