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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Germany summons US envoy over spy case


In this picture taken Thursday evening July 3, 2014, former NSA employee Thomas Drake, center, arrives at the parliamentary NSA investigation committee in Berlin, Germany, German lawmakers began hearing expert testimony for a probe into the activities of foreign intelligence agencies in Germany. The inquiry was sparked by reports based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which showed that German citizens, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, were targeted by U.S. intelligence

Germany summons US envoy over spy case
Associated Press
July 4, 2014 Updated 17 minutes ago

BERLIN — Germany summoned the U.S. ambassador in Berlin on Friday following the arrest of a man reported to have spied for the United States, heightening friction between the two countries over alleged U.S. eavesdropping in Germany.

U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson was called in "in connection with an investigation by the federal prosecutor," the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The U.S. envoy "was asked to help in the swift clarification" of the case, it added.

Federal prosecutors say a 31-year-old German man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of spying for foreign intelligence services. They did not identify the suspect or the intelligence services.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that Chancellor Angela Merkel been personally informed of the arrest.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Jul 5, 2014, 08:42 AM (0 replies)

Not Following Rules: Cities and States Refuse to Enforce Federal Immigration Regulations


“We’re not just going to sit and wait. We’re going to make our local communities safe.”

Not Following Rules: Cities and States Refuse to Enforce Federal Immigration Regulations
By Alyssa Figueroa

July 2, 2014 | Seven months ago, Santos Gutierrez and Victoriano Aguilar were driving to a store in Springfield, Mass, when they were pulled over by police.


Aguilar is not alone. One thousand people have been deported in Massachusetts since the program went into full effect two years ago. More than 50 percent of those deported had no criminal record, Bliss Requa-Trautz, an organizer with Just Communities said. Another 17 percent, she said, had minor offenses, such as traffic violations. Nationally, one-fourth of those deported under Secure Communities had no criminal record. One-fifth had committed serious offenses, while the rest were lower-level offenses. In other words, the program is a dragnet trapping far more people than intended.

Passing the Trust Act in Massachusetts would stop these deportations of non-violent, undocumented immigrants, Requa-Trautz said. This is mainly because law enforcement, though still obligated to share fingerprint data with ICE, won’t be required to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants until ICE decides their fate. People like Aguilar would not be thrown into a prison system with no way out. The Trust Act has already proven to be successful in California. Deportations through the Secure Communities program there have plummeted by around 44 percent after the Trust Act was enacted in the beginning of the year.

Fighting for the Trust Act is just one way states and local governments are moving forward with immigration reform as the GOP-controlled House has blocked almost all of the Obama administration’s attempts at federal immigration reform—except for saying that arrests and deportations should continue. The Trust Act is a more ambitious attempt to circumvent ICE because it protects an entire state against Secure Communities. But in addition, more than 140 local jurisdictions have passed ordinances or executive orders stating that they are not going to follow the rules anymore and will not be complying with the Secure Communities program. Some of these jurisdictions include cities with large immigrant populations like Los Angeles, San Diego and Miami.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Jul 5, 2014, 07:05 AM (0 replies)

Syrian Opposition: Baghdadi “Caliphate” lame attempt to take Spotlight off his Crime Spree


Syrian Opposition: Baghdadi “Caliphate” lame attempt to take Spotlight off his Crime Spree
By Juan Cole | Jul. 2, 2014

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s proclamation of himself as “caliph” is rather like the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan declaring himself the Holy Roman emperor. A small criminal/ terrorist group making claim on an archaic institution is more worthy of ridicule than awe. Having offended educated Muslims around the world, the extremely violent psychopath and serial mass murderer, whose real name is Ibrahim al-Badri, went on Tuesday to call on Muslims to immigrate into his so-called ‘Islamic State’ in northern Syria and northern Iraq. He also declared a holy struggle (jihad) against his enemies during the fasting month of Ramadan.

At the same time, the anti-Assad opposition in Syria issued a joint statement from its “Religious Law Bureau,” saying that al-Baghdadi’s declaration of a caliphate is illegitimate both according to Islamic law and according to simple reason. In Syria, al-Baghdadi has killed his putative allies against Bashar al-Assad with such vicious abandon that even core al-Qaeda threw him out of their movement.

The religious affairs bureaus of the opposition groups said that “the prerequisites for the caliphate do not exist in our own time.” They said it was particularly invalid with regard to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” They said that al-Baghdadi’s declaration of the caliphate was an attempt to escape from his crimes and to endow his violent activities with an Islamic patina, especially his war on his opponents and on those who refuse to pledge fealty to him.

Al-Baghdadi’s call for immigrant Muslims refers to some medieval jurisprudents who forbade Muslims to live under non-Muslim rule and who urged them to emigrate to a Muslim-ruled kingdom. He is implying that Middle Eastern states are actually non-Muslim, and as such are apostates who should be killed. The “true” Muslims should therefore leave their homelands and come to live under ISIS.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 05:41 AM (0 replies)

NSA can intercept any communications ‘concerning’ all but four countries


NSA can intercept any communications ‘concerning’ all but four countries
By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, July 1, 2014 10:56 EDT

The US National Security Agency has been authorized to intercept information “concerning” all but four countries worldwide, top-secret documents say, according to The Washington Post.

“The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand,” the Post reported Monday.

Yet “a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through US companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well.”

The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — says 193 countries are “of valid interest for US intelligence.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Jul 2, 2014, 06:01 AM (0 replies)

Ruling Hindu Tea Party wants to “Develop” India for its 1%


Ruling Hindu Tea Party wants to “Develop” India for its 1%
By contributors | Jul. 1, 2014
By Gyanendra Pandey New Delhi

Through the President’s address to Parliament on June 9, 2014, the newly elected Indian Government has officially outlined its short and longer-term agenda. The emphasis, as expected, is on faster economic growth. Questions of welfare and security for the poor and disadvantaged are, however, very superficially addressed. This has to be cause for concern if sabka saath, sabka vikas is indeed the aim of the Government’s programme: All the more so, given the brutal violence the country continues to witness against women, religious minorities, and the lowest castes and classes.

The central slogan of the programme is ‘Development through good governance’. Development is an old idea, prescribed in the period after World War II by a triumphant capitalist, imperialist West for the colonised and ex-colonised nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America. A different orthodoxy arose a few decades later, in the form of a strategy of economic liberalisation, encouragement of private investment, trickle-down theories of growth and technocratic solutions for social problems. This turn, too, was initiated in the West, most stridently by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It was adopted wholesale in the early 1990s, by a Congress government led by P.V. Narasimha Rao. And it has been followed by every Indian government since.

A BJP campaign hoarding ahead of the Lok Sabha elections

The BJP Government is set to continue these neo-liberal policies. The difference is that it describes the economic results- the spurt in investments and profits at the top, the growth of a large new consumerist middle class, mass disempowerment, and increasing disparities in wealth and income, security and welfare- as ‘development’.

The other vital term in the Government’s official agenda is ‘governance’. What this means is not so obvious. But any careful reading of the President’s speech, and of earlier statements and documents put out by the leaders of BJP, makes clear that it refers primarily to better coordination between different arms of Government and greater bureaucratic efficiency and speed, both to be realised through new technology as much as anything else. So we now have a promise of: ‘governance’, ‘e-governance’, a ‘Digital India’, a national e-library, a ‘national mission “e-Bhasha” that will develop digital vernacular content and disseminate our classic literature in different languages’, and ‘a National Multiskill Mission (to develop a) Skilled India’. In short, what human endeavour and political struggle have failed to deliver, science and technology are now going to do.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jul 1, 2014, 07:30 AM (0 replies)

The Debacle of the Caliphates: Why al-Baghdadi’s Grandiosity doesn’t Matter


The Debacle of the Caliphates: Why al-Baghdadi’s Grandiosity doesn’t Matter
By Juan Cole | Jun. 30, 2014

Ibrahim al-Badri, a run-of-the-mill Sunni Iraqi cleric, gained a degree from the University of Baghdad at a time when pedagogy there had collapsed because of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship and international sanctions. After 2003 he took the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and turned to a vicious and psychopathic violence involving blowing up children at ice cream shops and blowing up gerbils and garden snakes at pet shops and blowing up family weddings, then coming back and blowing up the resultant funerals. This man is one of the most infamous serial killers in modern history, with the blood of thousands on his hands, before whom Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy fade into insignificance.

Al-Baghdadi leads the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), which today changed its name just to “the Islamic State.” And its members made a pledge of fealty to al-Baghdadi as the “caliph.” Let us please call it the “so-called Islamic State,” since it bears all the resemblance to mainstream Islam that Japan’s Om Shinrikyo (which let sarin gas into the subway in 1995) bears to Buddhism.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 in Medina, West Arabia, the clans of Mecca favored as his successor notables of his noble clan, the Quraysh (the “Little Shark Tribe”). The first three were Abu Bakr, Omar and `Uthman.

Some clans in the neighboring city of Medina preferred a dynastic principle, wanting to see a close relative of Muhammad succeed him as his vicar. They favored Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, i.e., the closest thing he had to a living son at the time of his death. Ali was passed over three times by the notables in Mecca but finally became the fourth caliph in 656 AD. He was, however, assassinated in 661 only five years later. Those Muslims who accepted the first four “Orthodox caliphs” gradually became known as ‘people of the tradition,’ or ahl al-sunnah, i.e., the Sunnis.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jun 30, 2014, 07:00 AM (0 replies)

Surge in patients outpaces fayetteville's VA health care's building boom


Surge in patients outpaces fayetteville's VA health care's building boom
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 12:00 am
By Drew Brooks Military editor

The Fayetteville VA Medical Center has been playing catchup for years.

A surge in the veteran population following a decade of war has stressed the system since at least 2010, when Elizabeth Goolsby took the helm of the 21-county region served by the Fayetteville VA.

In the four years since, the number of patients seen at the local VA has grown more than 10,000 to nearly 60,000 each year.

A building boom across several counties is adding new clinics, centers and offices, including significant changes to the VA's main campus in Fayetteville. But it still won't be enough.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jun 29, 2014, 06:42 AM (0 replies)

(CA) Southland falls short of achieving 20% voluntary cut in water use


The effects of California's severe drought can be seen in the parched lawn at the Capitol in Sacramento. No region of the state has met Gov. Jerry Brown's goal of a 20% voluntary cut in water use.

Southland falls short of achieving 20% voluntary cut in water use
Bettina Boxall

outhern Californians have fallen far short of achieving the 20% voluntary cut in water use sought by Gov. Jerry Brown in the face of the deep drought afflicting every corner of the state.

A recent statewide survey found that urban water use in coastal Southern California declined by only 5% from January through May. And a Times review of data from the region's three largest cities shows that use actually went up over the last year.

Local water officials attribute the meek response in part to the conservation successes of recent years, which they say make it more difficult to realize further reductions.

"It's a little bit more of a struggle now," said Ken Weinberg, director of water resources for the San Diego County Water Authority, which recorded a 4% uptick in overall demand since last summer after a 27% drop in daily per capita use from 2007 to 2013. "We got rid of a lot of waste."


Strangely enough a desalinization plant or two should be able to provide potable water much of SoCal.


Where can the money come from? Simple. Don't build one $5+ billion dollar Zumwalt-class destroyer. Problem solved.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Jun 28, 2014, 08:16 AM (7 replies)

Many in military using Roth TSP to save for retirement


Many in military using Roth TSP to save for retirement
Contributing Writer
June 28, 2014

Military savers are discovering the special advantages a Roth-type Thrift Savings Plan provides to them, given that their taxable income is dampened by tax-free allowances and periodic tax-exempt combat tours.

The Roth TSP choice became available only in May 2012. TSP account balances so far average only $2,500 for all uniformed personnel. But the military participation rate in Roth TSP tells the tale. While uniformed personnel have 15 percent of all TSP accounts, they are 46 percent of Roth TSP participants.

“When we were preparing to launch the Roth TSP option, we anticipated it would be particularly attractive to our military participants,” said Kim Weaver of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which administers TSP for federal civilian workers and the military.

Service members “generally are lower paid and so don’t benefit as greatly from a traditional pre-tax/tax-deferred option. But allowing them to contribute after-tax dollars that can grow for decades and that can accept tax-exempt combat pay, is very attractive to military participants.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Jun 28, 2014, 07:06 AM (0 replies)

Canada’s aboriginals win historic victory for ancestral rights over their land


Canada’s aboriginals win historic victory for ancestral rights over their land
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, June 27, 2014 9:25 EDT

Canada’s Supreme Court recognized native groups’ rights over a large swathe of land for the first time Thursday in western British Columbia province.

The landmark ruling in favor of the semi-nomadic Tsilhqot’in people — numbering about 3,000 — could have an impact on similar Native American claims currently pending in court, as well as on impact on mining, forestry and other projects exploiting raw materials across vast portions of Canada.

In 2012, a British Columbia appeals court had refused to recognize the Tsilhqot’in people’s ancestral rights over the land in center of the province, saying that they needed to identify the “specific sites” their ancestors had used when the Europeans arrived, rather than lay claim to the broad area.

The Supreme Court tossed that decision out, stressing that “occupation sufficient to ground Aboriginal title is not confined to specific sites of settlement but extends to tracts of land that were regularly used for hunting, fishing or otherwise exploiting resources and over which the group exercised effective control at the time of assertion of European sovereignty.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Jun 28, 2014, 06:13 AM (0 replies)
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