March 14, 2012
By Paul Joseph Watson
“It looks like the US is going to invade yet another country over a thirty minute propaganda film.” –KTRN
Two House lawmakers have introduced a resolution that seeks to deepen US Military involvement in Africa on the back of the Kony 2012 hoax, despite the fact that Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army have been virtually inactive for six years.
“The resolution, introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. and Ed Royce, R-Calif., calls for, among other things, expanding the number of regional forces in Africa to protect civilians and placing restrictions on individuals or governments found to be supporting Kony,” reports CBS News.
As we have seen from US involvement in Libya and its attempts to destabilize Syria, the “humanitarian” justification is merely an excuse for expanding US hegemony into Africa where China has aggressively staked its claim.
As we highlighted on Monday, the establishment-manufactured hype surrounding Kony 2012 is nothing more than a cynical ruse designed to manipulate naive do-gooders into legitimizing another US-backed “humanitarian” assault aimed at swallowing up Africa’s resources and land under Africom.
While Joseph Kony and his army disappeared six years ago, Ugandans are being killed and evicted in their thousands by western entities right now – but nobody is making ‘viral’ films about the crisis and no celebrities are tweeting their displeasure.
Invisible Children, the group behind Kony 2012 has created a groundswell of support for Uganda’s dictator Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, a man who has been in control of the country for 30 years and was returned to power in an election last year that was rife with fraud according to European Union observers.
Museveni has been implicated in genocide after ordering his guards to shoot and kill civilians. He is also notorious for bumping off his political enemies.
March 12, 2012
By Eric Blair
“Is it time to impeach Obama? The signing of the NDAA should be enough to get him out of office.” –KTRN
Since 2005, Veterans for Peace and others have been calling for the impeachment of the sitting president for war crimes. After their demands to lawmakers to uphold the rule of law against Bush were largely ignored, they renewed their effort to impeach Obama once he continued to bomb sovereign nations without congressional approval. Now, lawmakers seem to have finally decided to take the rule of law and Separation of Powers seriously.
Obama will face impeachment over his failure to seek congressional authorization before launching offensive military action in Libya last year. Official impeachment proceedings have now been filed in both the House and Senate.
Last week, North Carolina Representative Walter Jones filed an Impeachment Resolution in the House H.CON.RES.107.IH stating “Expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
“Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
February 14, 2012
By Jonathan Allen and John Bresnahan
Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson instructed taxpayer-funded House aides to work on political redistricting last year, sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
Such activities could amount to a violation of prohibitions against lawmakers pressuring aides to do political work, as well as rules against using official resources, including staff, for campaign purposes.
The redistricting work, which has not previously been disclosed, allegedly occurred after it became clear Richardson was under investigation over another set of allegations that she forced House aides to perform political and personal tasks in violation of House rules. Richardson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Sources told POLITICO that Richardson’s congressional aides collected information about communities outside her district, organized a workshop to train constituents in advance of a public meeting of California’s independent redistricting commission, and wrote talking points for those constituents to deliver during the public-comments portion of the meeting at Long Beach City Hall in April 2011.
The redistricting work was done at Richardson’s direction — rather than on a voluntary basis — these sources said.
A spokesman for the Ethics Committee declined to comment on the Richardson case, but several sources indicated that investigators have expanded the probe and are now looking into the redistricting angle.
February 13, 2012
By Grant McCool and Nick Brown
When commodities brokerage MF Global imploded, the FBI and federal prosecutors were quick to launch an investigation to pursue what seemed obvious to outspoken regulators and lawmakers: laws were broken and crimes were committed.
More than three months later, it is far from clear that anyone will face criminal charges over the disappearance of more than $600 million in customer money as MF Global spiraled towards bankruptcy in the brokerage’s final, frantic days in the last week of October.
So far, the MF Global investigation is not tracking the early progress of other high-profile financial scandals such as RefCo, where former Chairman Phil Bennett was arrested within days of the disclosure that the futures firm had been hiding losses for years.
Lawyers and people familiar with the MF Global investigation of the firm that was run by former Goldman Sachs head Jon Corzine say that even though the hunt is still on to find out whether or not officials at MF Global intended to pilfer customer money in a desperate bid to keep the brokerage from failing, the trail at this point is growing cold.
To date, scant evidence of criminal intent has emerged in company emails, no former or current employees have sought to cut a deal to provide testimony about potential wrongdoing and seasoned defense lawyers say they are not seeing the tell-tale signs of a hot criminal investigation.
A source familiar with the work of Louis Freeh, trustee for the MF Global holding company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, says investigators have yet to find evidence of fraud in the multi-faceted and complex investigation.
The source, who declined to be identified because Freeh’s office is still conducting its inquiry, says there was plenty of “chaos” at MF Global in its waning days, but “no evidence of fraud.” Freeh is a former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the office of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, declined to comment. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the office of the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, also declined to comment.
Criminal and regulatory investigations can of course shift gears at any time if new information comes to light. But adding up the pieces at this stage of the inquiries, the odds look long of criminal charges ever stemming from the collapse of MF Global because of the lack of bad motives or an intent to steal or deceive, the legal standard for a criminal case.
February 10, 2012
By Press TV
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, passed by a 417-2 vote on Thursday, would bar members of Congress and their employees from using exclusive information they learned as lawmakers for their financial benefit.
The Senate passed the anti-insider trading bill by a 96-3 vote last week.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Fairport), who drafted the bill, called the passage of the bill a victory for the American people.
“No matter how powerful our position, nor how hallowed the halls we walk, no one should be above the law,” said Slaughter.
“With the passage of the STOCK Act, we can move one step closer to living up to the faith and trust bestowed upon us by the American people – the citizens for whom we serve,” the Congresswoman added.
The bill, among other provisions, requires US lawmakers to publicly report any trades of more than 1,000 dollars within 90 days.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, however, called the House-passed version of the bill “seriously watered-down” as it omitted important Senate provisions.
January 25, 2012
By Heather Callaghan
Many of us breathed a sigh of relief when an overwhelming amount of Americans banned together and voiced their opposition to Congress over both the Stop Online Piracy Act, and Protect Intellectual Property Act.
Sites that dimmed the screen for a day or two have gone back to normal — Facebook users have swapped their anti-SOPA images for their previous profile pictures.
We may have even believed that the postponement of the vote originally scheduled for January 24th was some sort of white flag of capitulation. But that is certainly not the MO of most lawmakers.
While the outcry did get the attention of Congress, they are simply returning unflinchingly back to the drawing board to wait out our attention spans. Articles whirled that SOPA was dead and the bill was pulled when the bill’s sponsor Lamar Smith said in a statement that there would be no further action “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
Lamar isn’t really listening. “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Actually, SOPA is set to be reformulated in February. PIPA will be revisited with possible amendments in the coming weeks. Case in point, all is still open and possible — nothing is dead, pulled, or cancelled. If that wasn’t enough to keep us on our toes, a new, similar bill has surfaced.
November 3, 2011
The rich in Congress have continued to get richer, according to a new analysis of lawmakers’ net worth by Roll Call.
Three years ago, the collective net worth all representatives and senators was $1.65 billion. By 2010, this amount had increased to more than $2 billion, representing nearly a 25% bump.
Roll Call also determined that almost 90% of the increase was enjoyed by the richest 50 members of Congress, who account for 80% of the total net worth even though there are 535 voting members of Congress.
Within the Senate, Democrats (the majority party) possess about 80% of the wealth. Meanwhile, House Republicans, who control the chamber, command 78% of the riches.
The numbers are skewed by the wealth of one Congressman, Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who is worth at least $294 million. Still, the median net worth for members of Congress, $513,000, is four times that of the median American household.
The wealth totals are, if anything, on the low side because they “vastly underestimate the actual net worth of Members of Congress because they are based on an accounting system that does not include homes and other non-income-generating property, which is likely to tally hundreds of millions of uncounted dollars,” according to the political magazine.
October 12, 2011
By: Mike Tobin
The latest national hiring numbers were better than expected but still not enough to get that unemployment rate to budge lower than 9.1 percent. In the face of that, lawmakers and activists say employers are reaching out only to job candidates who already have jobs.
They call it discrimination against the unemployed.
“What you do is create a permanent class of unemployable people, and to me that is totally unacceptable,” said Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, who is proposing a city law to ban the practice.
The trend was spotted with online ads and highlighted by the National Employment Law Project.
“We were really surprised to find well over 100 ads that explicitly stated that the unemployed won’t be considered. … Certainly, if you see a hundred ads, it’s probably happening in thousands and thousands more,” organization spokesperson Judi Conti said.
Activists say that discrimination against the unemployed hits blacks and Hispanics harder than whites.
“Black Americans are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as White Americans,” says Rashad Robinson, with Color of Change.
Legislators jumped into action. Chicago is proposing a city law to combat the practice. Illinois legislators are working on a bill, and New Jersey already passed one. The U.S. House and Senate have jumped into action, and President Obama is including discrimination against the unemployed in his American Jobs Act.
But cue another set of critics: Michael Saltsman with the Employment Policies Institute says the claims of unemployment discrimination are overblown. All the legislation is a knee-jerk reaction when the National Employment Law Project only produced 150 examples from a sea of roughly 3 million want ads that get posted online every month.
“I think the problem is more spin than substance,” Saltsman said.
On top of that, Saltsman said, the new laws could turn the unemployed into a protected class on par with disabled people and minorities.
“If legislation is passed like this, that actually ends up preventing employers from hiring because they’re scared if they don’t give someone the job they’ll be sued for discrimination against the unemployed,” Saltsman said.
August 11th, 2011
Los Angeles Times
By: Janet Stobart
Reporting from London— Facing a full house at an emergency meeting of Parliament Prime Minister David Cameron promised “robust and uncompromising measures” in response to the riots that have plagued Britain since Saturday.
Facing a full house at an emergency meeting of Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister David Cameron promised “robust and uncompromising measures” in response to the riots that have plagued Britain since Saturday.
“To the lawless minority, the criminals who have taken what they could, we will hunt you. … We will punish you,” he said.
He vowed stronger police powers including the ability to unmask rioters, greater coordination between police and the community, and compensation funds for victims of violence and arson.
Speaking to a packed house of lawmakers called back from vacation, Cameron said police admitted that they were initially unprepared for and outnumbered during the flash riots, but he praised officers and community workers who struggled to protect neighborhoods.
To victims of the violence, Cameron pledged damage compensation, even for the uninsured. “We will help you repair the damage, get your businesses back up and running, and support your communities,” he said. Claims are expected to reach over $300 million.
However, budget cuts in police services, part of the government’s overall plan to reduce a huge deficit, would not be lifted, Cameron said, answering opposition questions to defer the measures.
Police would receive any “funds they need to meet the cost of any legitimate aims,” but plans to reduce their overall budget by 6% over the next four years would go ahead, he said.
Among their new powers, the prime minister said, would be the ability “under any circumstances” to demand that crime suspects remove face coverings. Many looters who ransacked shops during the riots wore masks to avoid being identified.
Crowd-dispersal and curfew regulations would also be reviewed, Cameron said.
He described what he sees as the underlying causes of the recent violence: a culture of disrespect for authority, gang culture, and children growing up in dysfunctional families.
Gang injunctions would be used across the whole country for children and for adults, he said. Other sanctions are already in place — local authorities, for exampled, can evict perpetrators of violence and disorder from subsidized housing — but they could be strengthened, he said.
“We can go further with getting to grips with gangs,” he said, noting the efforts of people such as William J. Bratton, who headed police forces in New York and Los Angeles.
Bratton is said to have been suggested as a possible outside candidate for the now-vacant post of chief commissioner for Scotland Yard.
As Cameron spoke, courts around the country were struggling to handle riot-linked cases that are pouring in, some conducting around-the-clock sessions. By Thursday, the number of arrests stood at about 922, police said, but the figure was increasing hourly.
July 15th, 2011
The Washington Post
By: Zachary A. Goldfarb
A congressional committee yesterday pushed for stronger curbs to prevent financial trading based on confidential information by lawmakers, their staff or other government officials.
Lawmakers and market experts said stronger limits are needed now that the government is playing a much bigger role in the private sector as a result of the financial crisis. They said it is much more likely that policymakers will know market-sensitive information about public companies.
“Congress and the federal government are now so enmeshed in the operations of our financial markets that the potential for abuse by members of Congress, congressional staff and federal employees is staggering,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said at a hearing of the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services.
Slaughter and Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) have introduced legislation that would prohibit lawmakers and their staffs from trading stocks or engaging in other financial transactions based on information they learn in their jobs that is not also available to the public.
Currently, there is no prohibition.
Under the proposal, lawmakers and their staff would have to disclose any stock, bond or commodity trades exceeding $1,000 within 90 days. They also would not be able to pass confidential information to outsiders.
A vote on the legislation has not been scheduled.
There has been no specific evidence of insider trading by lawmakers or their aides. But suspicions surface from time to time. A 2004 study by a Georgia State University professor said senators got returns on investments 25 percent higher than ordinary investors.
And recent disclosures showed that many lawmakers have sizeable investments in the financial firms that have been bailed out over the past year.
Executive-branch employees are supposed to follow government ethics rules that prohibit trading based on nonpublic information. However, the conduct of two Securities and Exchange Commission employees came into question recently in an inspector general’s report raising concerns about the timing and appropriateness of trades by the employees.
Inspector General David Kotz said this was indicative of a broken system at the SEC for ensuring that workers don’t abuse their positions.
“The SEC had essentially no compliance system in place to ensure that its own employees, with tremendous amounts of nonpublic information at their disposal, did not engage in insider trading themselves,” Kotz said yesterday.
The SEC issued a statement describing what it is doing to try to improve internal safeguards. “The employees at the SEC have a well-deserved reputation for integrity and professionalism,” the statement says. “When fully implemented, these measures will further bolster our standing by helping to prevent not only an actual impropriety, but the appearance of one as well.”
Kotz said the steps the SEC outlined would meet or exceed his recommendations.