Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* THE TEN MOST DISTURBING THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE FBI SINCE 9/11
On September 4, 2013, James Comey became the 7th director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first change in leadership at the bureau since the 9/11 attacks provides Congress, the president, and the attorney general the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the FBI’s post-9/11 policies and programs. Over the last 12 years, the FBI has become a domestic intelligence agency with unprecedented power to peer into the lives of ordinary Americans and secretly amass data about people not suspected of any wrongdoing. That power has inevitably led to persistent and unconstitutional abuses of authority, some of which are highlighted below. For a comprehensive look at how the FBI once again became a domestic spying agency and its impact on civil liberties and privacy, read “Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI’s Unchecked Abuse of Authority.”
USA Patriot Act Abuse
The recent revelation about the FBI using the Patriot Act’s “business records provision” to track all U.S. telephone calls is only the latest in a long line of abuse. Five Justice Department Inspector General audits documented widespread FBI misuse of Patriot Act authorities (1,2,3,4,5), and a federal district court recently struck down the National Security Letter (NSL) statute because of its unconstitutional gag orders. The IG also revealed the FBI’s unlawful use of “exigent letters” that claimed false emergencies to get private information without NSLs, but in 2009 the Justice Department secretly re-interpreted the law to allow the FBI to get this information without emergencies or legal process. Congress and the American public need to know the full scope of the FBI’s spying on Americans under the Patriot Act and all other surveillance authorities enacted since 9/11, like the FISA Amendments Act that underlies the PRISM program.
2008 Amendments to the Attorney General’s Guidelines
Attorney General Michael Mukasey re-wrote the FBI’s rulebook in the final months of the Bush administration, giving FBI agents unfettered authority to investigate people without any factual basis for suspecting wrongdoing. The 2008 Attorney General’s Guidelines created a new kind of intrusive investigation called an “assessment,” which required no “factual predicate” before FBI agents could search through government or commercial databases, conduct overt or covert FBI interviews, and task informants to gather information about people or infiltrate lawful organizations. In a two-year period from 2009 to 2011, the FBI opened over 82,000 “assessments” of individuals or organizations, less than 3,500 of which discovered information justifying further investigation. […]
* THE HEALTH OF THE POPULATIONS BATTERED BY AUSTERITY
By Patrick Saurin, CADTM
Reader’s notes: The Body Economic. Why Austerity Kills.
David Stuckler & Sanjay Basu
Allen Lane, 2013.
In a recently published book, The Body Economic. Why Austerity Kills, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu present an enlightening panorama of the consequences for public health, of the austerity based policies applied to the economic crisis. Adapting work they have published in the specialised press they arrive at the conclusion, that austerity not only kills, but it aggravates the economic problems it is supposed to solve.
From serious research in referenced and incontestable sources, often coming from the very institutions or States whose actions they criticise, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu build up a detailed and precise inventory of the major crises since the 30s: starting with the great depression in the US at that time; the crisis of masculine mortality in Russia after the fall of the communist regime, the breaking up of the Soviet Union and the liberalising of the economy; the Asian crisis in 1997, and finally the Worldwide recession that began in 2007, are the events these researchers have studied.
The great recession of these last years has given the authors the opportunity to study the policies applied by a certain number of States, particularly concerning their attitudes to the banks, who are largely responsible for the crisis, and the results obtained. Hit by an unprecedented crisis, Iceland chose not to assume their banks’ losses – the population refused this in two referendums – and to reject the austerity plan proposed by the IMF. Instead of bailing-out the banks, Iceland decided to reinforce its social spending in allocating an important part of its GDP. It passed from 42.3% in 2007 to 57.7% in 2008, paying particular attention to the public health and social protection systems so as to assist the population in sustenance, employment and housing. This social policy has prevented the economic crisis from producing a public health crisis. Even the institutions that would be the most hostile to these policies such as notation agencies or the IMF have had to recognise the favourable effects.
Greece on the other hand has not organised a referendum to decide on its policies but has zealously applied austerity plans decided by the Troika (IMF, ECB, and the European Commission). The public health budget has been reduced by 40%, the social services helping the population with sustenance, housing and employment have been drastically diminished, wages and pensions have been cut. The consequences are of the same order: increase in suicides (+ 20% between 2007 and 2009), a 20% increase in the use of heroin between 2010 and 2011, unemployment, especially among the younger has exploded, the number of homeless is in the tens of thousands. For David Stuckler et Sanjay Basu, “Greece’s tragedy has shown that austerity will not save a failing economy. Rather than being part of a solution, it is part of the problem.” (p. 93) […]
* ‘WINNING THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM’: OBAMA MOVES TO FAST-TRACK THE TPP
Critics slam highly secretive deal as a tool for U.S. and corporate power
By Sarah Lazare, CommonDreams
As Obama moves to fast-track the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), critics are blasting the highly-secretive trade deal as “NAFTA on steroids” and a tool for advancing U.S. and corporate power.
“If impoverishing working people around the world is the goal, then the trade policies like this are working quite effectively,” Chris Townsend, political director for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), told Common Dreams. “This is the grand-daddy of trade deals, a very destructive project, and it is happening completely under the radar.”
Meeting with his corporation-heavy Export Council, President Barack Obama declared Thursday he intends to push for renewal of Trade Promotion Authority legislation to allow him to fast-track so-called trade agreements by giving Congress a yes or no vote but taking away powers to amend.
The statement comes as the U.S. continues negotiations with 11 other countries on the TPP, with the stated goal of wrapping up the deal by the year’s end. The U.S. is also pursuing a similar trade deal with the European Union. […]
MORE INFORMATION ON TPP: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement @ http://99getsmart.com/?p=3715
* GREEK ANTI-FASCIST MUSICIAN MURDERED BY NEO-NAZI THUGS
By ROAR Collective, ROARMAG
Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing activist and hip-hop artist, was stabbed to death by Golden Dawn supporters in the Keratsini district of Athens.
A report by Pavlos’ father (via Occupied London):
Pavlos’ friends made a remark against Golden Dawn inside a café where they were watching a football match. Somebody from a nearby table overheard them and made a phone call to Golden Dawn members. Golden Dawn squads arrived almost simultaneously with DIAS motorbike police. Pavlos tried to help his friends evade the scene, but he was ambushed by another Golden Dawn squad and surrounded. Then another Golden Dawn associate drove with his car opposite in an one-way street, stopped and stabbed him to death, while the DIAS policemen did not intervene. One girl asked them to help but they didn’t. They only approached afterwards to arrest the man with the main suspect.
From eye-witness report (via Indymedia Athens):
Around 24:00 a group of 15-20 fascists, wearing black T-shirts and military pants and boots, was deployed on P. Tsaldari street. During that time, Pavlos (a.k.a. Killah P) was walking with his girlfriend and another couple when he was spotted by the fascists shouting “what are you looking for here, you know there is no place for you in this hood”. The fascists hunted the two couples down P. Tsaldari street towards Gr. Lampraki avenue, where from another street, a new group of around 10 fascists came out and surrounded the guys. At that time, a car drove opposite in an one-way street, stopped, the driver came out and stabbed Killah P once in the heart and once in the abdomen (the stabbing on his abdomen had an upside-down “L” shape).
The whole scene took place in the presence of DIAS motorbike police, who only afterwards and only as soon as most of the fascists had already dispersed, arrested the murderer (according to some witnesses Killah P, while still in shock, kept pointing at the murderer and this is how the cops arrested him — a 55-year-old holding a knife, described by other eye-witnesses as a known Golden Down associate). The ambulance took 35 minutes to arrive and Pavlos was pronounced dead at Nikaia general hospital.” […]
* THE BELL HAS TOLLED
By Eirene, A Place Called Space
The bell has tolled. There can be no more excuses. No more false illusions. No more sitting on the fence. No more complicit silence.
Pavlos Fyssas, an outspoken anti-fascist, has been murdered in an organised, premeditated attack.
As if I would cry
As if I would get scared
(from the lyrics of one of Fyssas’ songs)
The neo-Nazis have shown their true face, the extent of their organisation, the consequences of their messages of division and hate.
The14% who voted for them and brought them into the Greek Parliament; the majority of the Greek population who have remained silent; the rest of Europe that has been pretending that this was not happening; the complicit Greek coalition government that has nurtured and helped the growth of this malignancy. All those who ignored the all too clear signs:
- the Nazi salutes
- the swastika tattoos
- the torch-lit marches at night
- the persecution and hounding of, and violence against unprotected immigrants
- the nightly gang rides on motorbikes looking for victims
- the stabbings
- the proclamations of ‘Greece for Greeks only’, the giving out of food to Greeks only, the ‘Greeks only’ blood transfusions
- the xenophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynist, anti-gay messages they have been disseminating
- the disruption of the workings of the Greek Parliament
- the assault of Greek Members of Parliament on Greek television
- the attack on members of the Communist Party last week
The signs have all been here, but it was easier to ignore them, to pretend that they did not exist until a Greek person is murdered. […]