* A REMINDER ABOUT WIKILEAKS
As the risk intensifies that Assange may be prosecuted for his journalism, it is vital to remember what’s at stake
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
“Just in time to spoil the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Obama Justice Department is trying to do what Richard Nixon couldn’t: indict a media organization. . . . Charging Julian Assange with ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ would effectively be setting a precedent with a charge that more accurately could be characterized as ‘conspiracy to commit journalism‘” — James Goodale, General Counsel of The New York Times during its Pentagon Papers fight with the Nixon administration, writing in The Daily Beast, June 12, 2011.
* * * * *
When, many years ago, I first read about the Nixon administration’s infamous break-in to the office of Daniel Ellberg’s psychiatrist as a means to discredit the Pentagon Papers leak, I was baffled by the motivation. The Pentagon Papers revealed systematic lying on the part of the U.S. Government to the American public about the Vietnam War. Why, I wondered with a not insubstantial amount of naïveté, would public revelations about Ellsberg’s personality and psyche have any impact on how those leaks were perceived?
But the answer to that is obvious, as Nixon well knew: by demonizing Ellsberg personally, even those inclined to defend the leak would be reluctant to be associated with him. If Ellsberg became associated in the public mind not with his noble exposure of government lies but rather with “strange” psychological drives or bizarre sexual fantasies — the sort of thing one is supposed to reveal to one’s psychoanalyst — then he would become a figure of derision, an embarrassment, and nobody would want anything to do with him for fear of having his foibles reflect negatively on them. You smear the messenger, and the message is smeared along with him — or, just as good, the message is forgotten and the messenger is abandoned to whatever punishments are doled out.
This has been exactly the strategy used to ward off support for Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning, with one difference: leaving aside Joe Biden, who denounced Assange as a “high-tech terrorist,” this time the role of Nixonian henchmen is played by establishment-defending or Obama-loyal media figures rather than the administration itself. The New York Times — led by John Burns and Bill Keller — has continuously obsessed on Assange’s alleged personality flaws while all but ignoring the vital disclosures about the U.S. Government for which he is partially responsible (Keller, the son of a Chevron CEO, wrote an article infamously complaining that Assange’s socks were “filthy” and that he “smelled”). […]
* WITH GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT ON ASSANGE CASE, BRADLEY MANNING MARKS 2 YEARS BEHIND BARS
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
This week marks two years since U.S. Army private Bradley Manning was detained on allegations of leaking classified documents to the online whistleblower WikiLeaks. Manning faces up to life imprisonment in a military trial set to begin in September. “It’s important to remember that what Bradley Manning is alleged to have done … was an act of incredible mobility, bringing immense amounts of transparency to the U.S. government and its war actions, ones that are usually shrouded in complete secrecy,” says Salon.com blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald who has been following the case closely.
VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOKTkRoui2Q&feature=player_embedded
* NUMBER OF THE DAY: $3 MILLION – WHAT CHICAGO PAID TO DEFENDED CPD REPEATERS AGAINST ALLEGED ILLEGAL SEARCHES
By Yana Kunichoff, The Chicago Reporter
In a list of police misconduct, such as extended detention, malicious prosecution, false arrest and excessive force, illegal search may be among one of the lighter offenses. But it’s still an expensive one.
The city paid more than $3 million in settlements for 51 illegal searches by repeaters – the 1 percent of the Chicago Police Department who have two or more misconduct lawsuits against them. The exact cost between January 2009 and November 2011: a whopping $3.3 million.
The 4th Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from illegal searches, and a 1961 Supreme Court decision ruled that evidence found in an illegal search and seizure cannot be used in a case. But police departments in cities including New York and Chicago continue to deal with claims of illegal searches, often of minority communities. […]
QUEBEC STUDENT MOVEMENT GROWS WITH POPULAR SUPPORT
Source: The Real News
People from Montreal’s communities bang pots and pans to show support as students broaden demands.
* GREXIT? SPEXIT? LET’S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF
By Edward Hugh, Foreign Policy
One thing we’ve learned as the euro crisis has unfolded is that the enthusiasm of experts in London and New York for offering advice to the struggling countries on Europe’s periphery is matched only by their passion for awkward neologisms. The world was just getting used to “Grexit” (Get it? A Greekexit from the euro!) when “Spexit” began to rear its ugly head in the financial press.
Naturally, the events of recent days have brought Spain back to the forefront of the debt crisis, generating insecurity about the reliability of the official fiscal deficit numbers, the validity of central bank statistics, and new numbers showing capital flight reaching alarming levels. Only this week, Spain announced that the central bank governor, Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordoñez, will be leaving early as part of a government effort to restore its credibility. Some are now anticipating that Spain’s exit from the eurozone will come before Greece’s departure.
I would hope that those clamoring for these countries to go their own way are at least better intentioned than they are informed, since normally they exhibit a singular lack of understanding about how political systems in southern and eastern Europe actually work. […]
* GREECE, SERBIA DEFY NEW WORLD ORDER
By Pyotr Iskenderov, Strategic Culture
It became clear when the dust settled after the recent elections in Greece and in Serbia that two epicenters of resistance to aggressive globalism continue to exist in Europe. The US and the EU with all their might neither succeeded in coercing the new cohort of Greek politicians into a deal that would establish a government ready to bow to the EU and the IMF nor managed to help Boris Tadic, long believed to be the front-runner, regain presidency in Serbia. In fact, the impression is that we have just witnessed a domino effect, with the determination demonstrated by the Greeks, especially by the leaders of the rising new nationalist and patriotic movements, causing Serbs to look for alternatives to the scenarios prescribed to their country by the West. Originally, Tadic polled a share of the vote 16% bigger than what forecasters gave to his nationalist rival T. Nikolic, but the advantage melted down hours ahead of the runoff, and the latter convincingly defeated the former. At the moment, there are serious reasons to take a closer look at the social and political dynamics which unravels in Greece regardless of the preferences expressed by the Brussels bureaucracy and the financial elites.
The May 6 snap elections in Greece highlighted an unprecedented decline of public support for the traditional heavyweights of the Greek political scene – the right New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) which only won 18.85% and 13.18% of the vote. In other words, this year the two combined got less than a third of the total, in contrast to the 2009 elections in which the figure was 77%. The second-largest share of the vote – 16.76% – was claimed by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).
For a few days following the ballots count, there seemed to be absolute confidence in European capitals that the Greek parties would eventually negotiate a coalition and the arrangement imposed on Greece in late 2011 by the EU and the IMF – financial infusions for consent to a crippling austerity package – would not be called into question. European parliament speaker Martin Schulz bluntly dictated that “the negotiations to form a government in Athens should have as a target the honoring of the country’s obligations towards the European Union” . German diplomacy chief Guido Westerwelle made an even stronger statement: “we expect the formation of prudence government in Greece, with a clear European orientation”. When it became clear that the first round of attempts to put together a government coalition in Greece failed, he added that the agreements between the EU and Greece must remain untouched and that this would not be a subject for further discussions . […]
* MIKE SHEDLOCK ON THE SPEXIT, THE GREXIT AND RUNNING FRO THE EUROZONE EXIT
Source: RT News
Welcome to Capital Account. A slew of bad news out of Europe, as Irish voters today attempt to exercise their sovereignty and cast their ballots in a referendum on Europe’s fiscal consolidation treaty. Meanwhile, European central banker Mario Draghi made it clear he’s fed up with national sovereignty. The ECB says europe needs new tools to fight bank runs and Draghi says the lesson from Spain’s Bankia was that the supervision of eurozone banks should rest with a central authority, not national regulators. Isn’t that what we have in the US now with the Federal Reserve? How’s that working out?
And speaking of Spain, will we see a SPEXIT before a GREXIT? Mike Mish Shedlock is here to talk about why that could be the case. Mish says that the sooner Spain sees the light and gets out of the Euro that is strangling it, the better off Spain will be. The same goes for Greece, and possibly a slew of other nations in the Eurozone.
And last but not least, back in the US, GDP was revised downwards from 2.2 to 1.9 percent. At the same time, borrowing costs for the United States are at 60-year lows for the 10-year government bond. So what gives? Are the Hyperinflationists right, or is the market proving the Deflationists’ argument? Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s attempt to build an industry of battery-makers for electric cars is sputtering. Subsidized firms are struggling; they don’t have many customers. They are operating way below capacity. This is according to the Wall Street Journal. So what was the problem? Government grants were linked to production calendars and not to market demand. So is this a great example of what happens when government picks winners and losers? Or is there a role for Uncle Sam in alternative energy?
* BANK OF AMERICA REACHES A NEW LOW IN SCUMBAGGERY
By Justin Rosario, Addicting Info
It’s like a bank heist in reverse, Via Mother Jones:
Bank of America, which last fall announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers, is about to go on a hiring spree—overseas.
America’s second-largest bank is relocating its business-support operations to the Philippines, according to a high-ranking Filipino government official recently quoted in the Filipino press. The move, which includes a portion of the bank’s customer service unit, comes less than three years after Bank of America received a $45 billion federal bailout.
BoA continues to spit in the face of the country that kept its bloated ass afloat when it got in over its head. Will it lower its fees now that it’s saving all that money by utilizing dirt cheap labor?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course not! It’ll just go to pad the bonuses of the CEO and other executives! […]
* KILLINGS, CANCER, CORRUPTION AND AZERBAIJAN: EUROVISION IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF BP?
By Greg Palast
Will “Beyond Petroleum” oil giant BP pick the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest today in Baku, Azerbaijan? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised.
When I was arrested by the military police of Azerbaijan during my investigation of BP for Channel 4′s Dispatches in 2010, one of the cops who surrounded our crew in the desert told us, with great pride:
“BP drives this country.”
Indeed it does.
In 1992, the newly independent former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan elected a kindly Muslim Professor, Abulfaz Elchibey, as President.
But the voters had made an error: Elchibey refused to give BP an exclusive contract to drill the nation’s massive Caspian Sea fields as the company wished. In 1993, with the assistance and, reportedly, guns provided by MI6, Elchibey was overthrown by the nation’s former Soviet KGB boss, Heydar Aliyev.
Within three months, Aliyev handed BP a sweetheart deal, called “The Contract of the Century”, to take Azerbaijan’s Caspian oil.
The way to the no-bid deal for BP was “greased”, to use the term applied by former BP operative Leslie Abrahams, with several million dollars in illicit payments and weekends with lap dancers in London for Azeri officials. I asked Abrahams, who was ordered by BP to provide military intelligence to MI6, whether he understood that he was paying “bribes on behalf of BP and the British government” – he replied, “absolutely, yes”.
When asked, BP would not directly deny paying bribes.
The company told us, tantalisingly, that:
“While there were some facts in [Abrahams] account that were accurate, we do not recognise most of it and regarded it as fantasy.”
Since BP has taken control of Azerbaijan’s oil, the nation has become fabulously wealthy – at least for those close to the Aliyev family and BP.
And they eat well. The daughters of the new President, Ilham Aliyev (son of Heydar), picked up the tab for dinner in London for a half dozen of their friends. It came to £300,000 (excluding tip and VAT).
According to Robert Ebel, the CIA’s former oil intelligence chief, the whereabouts of $140 million in BP and other oil industry payments are “totally unknown”.
This week, Eurovision Song Contest viewers will be treated to the images of the ancient city of Baku where the Silk Road streets are filled with Maseratis and Bentleys. The Bentley dealership, and much of the capital, is owned by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, the “Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World”.
That’s official, the vote was taken by Esquire Magazine. (She’s actually the twelfth “Sexiest Woman in the World”, but the other eleven, infidels all, can be ignored here.)
(Photo above with husband Ilham).
I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve the title: her fashion model face has been created at great expense by “so much plastic surgery”, according to the US State Department Manning/WikiLeaks cables, that Lady Mehriban “appears unable to show a full range of facial expression.”
But when I left the Old City and its Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana stores and headed off to Sangachal, the town where BP’s terminal operates, I found a nation heading full speed into the 14th century…
Baku, once the world’s leading manufacturer of oil drilling equipment, is now one of the world’s leading centers of oil-toxin cancers. Walking along the main street of Sangachal, the aptly nicknamed, “Terminal Town”, was like doing the rounds in a cancer ward.
The local shoemaker, Elmar Mamonov – who hasn’t sold a shoe in two years – told me:
“This one’s daughter has breast cancer; there, Rasul had a brain tumor. Cancers we had never seen. His funeral was last week.”
Azlan, afraid to give his last name, paid to have a cancerous lung cut out, because employer BP wouldn’t pay. He says the oil company fired him after he could not keep up with his work.
And there was Shala Tageva, a schoolteacher, who has ovarian cancer. She needs treatment soon, but how to pay for it, Mamonov can’t imagine. Shala is Mamonov’s wife.
Suddenly, Mamonov stopped himself.
“If I am arrested, you will help me, yes?”
Sorry, sir, not in the Islamic Republic of BP.
Oil, their main industry, has seen employment drop about 90 per cent according to journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Her father, the former oil production minister, was fired by Aliyev when the minister suggested bribery was behind the destruction of the industry, bribes which allegedly allowed BP to avoid “local content” laws that would have saved those jobs.
Throughout the nation, we heard the same refrain: nostalgia for the old days of freedom and prosperity under Soviet rule; under BP rule, the people’s health, income and freedoms have decayed rapidly, as pollution has turned their Caspian fisheries into a dead, chemical toilet.
But Azeris are well entertained. The massive expenditure for the Eurovision Song Contest follows the government’s spending of $1 million for an Elton John concert during a depression.
Today, only one in seven dollars of GDP is paid in salaries (versus four of five dollars in the US and UK). Where have the billions gone? No one dare look for it, nor the source of the First Lady’s wealth. The last journalist who asked about the funds, Elmar Huseynov, was gunned down in his home. A journalist who questioned what happened to Huseynov was jailed. No third journalist is investigating what happened to the first two.
Azerbaijan is, nominally, a democracy. Indeed, the First Lady won a convincing election to Parliament (as did every other candidate supporting her husband’s regime – there was not a single member of the opposition elected). But it doesn’t, in the end, matter who is voted in, as long as “BP drives”.
Within hours of our arrest, my crew and I were released by the Deputy Chief of the Security Ministry: Imprisoning a Channel 4 reporter would have been an embarrassment for BP. But our witnesses to BP’s horrific drilling practices didn’t do so well. One made it out of the country, but others disappeared.
When you watch the Euro-warblers compete this Saturday, just remember that in Azerbaijan, the winners are already chosen: BP and the family of the Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World. And that’s not a pretty sight.
Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast.
Greg Palast’s book on BP, “Vultures’ Picnic: A Tale of Oil, High-Finance and Investigative Reporting”, will be released in Britain on June 26th; click here for tickets and details of the launch event at ULU (the University of London Union) on June 26th..
You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.
* DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL, FEDERAL APPEALS COURT DECLARES
By Robert Barnes, Washington Post
A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term.
The unanimous decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston was a big win for President Obama, who recently said he supported states allowing gay men and lesbians to marry.
His administration last year said it would no longer defend the 1996 law, which limits federal recognition of marriage to those between a man and a woman. The law thus denies a host of federal benefits, such as filing joint tax returns or receiving survivor benefits, to same-sex couples who were married in states that allow such unions. […]
* THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT’S CRUSADE AGAINST GAYS IS FAR SCARIER THAN YOU THINK
The money available to the Christian right is solidifying institutions — from right-wing universities to media outlets — that propagate a culture of hate.
By Chris Hedges, AlterNet
The sentencing of Dharun Ravi for the hateful abuse that may have driven his gay roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide, or Barack Obama’s public acceptance of gay marriage, prevents many of us from seeing that life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is getting worse—much worse.
No one understands this better than the gay activist and pastor Mel White. White, along with his husband and partner of 30 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization committed to using nonviolent resistance to end religion-based oppression. White and hundreds of Soulforce volunteers protest outside megachurches that preach hatred and bigotry in the name of religion. White travels to communities where young gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people have committed suicide. He holds memorial services for them in front of the church doors. He accuses the pastors of these churches of murder. His books “Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America” and “Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tell Us to Deny Gay Equality,” are two of the most important works that examine the innate cruelty and proto-fascism of the Christian right. White, more than perhaps any other preacher in the country, has pulled young men and women back from the brink of despair, from succumbing to the tragic fate of Tyler Clementi. And White is scared.
“What kind of environment creates a Dharun Ravi who would carry out that kind of bullying, as well as a kid like Tyler who would become a victim of that kind of bullying?” White asked when I reached him by phone at his home in Long Beach, Calif. “It is society. At its heart it is the church. The churches should be convicted, not just Ravi. He’s just an extension of the hatred that people feel about this threat, this gay threat. Pope Benedict XVI should be on trial. Richard Land from the Southern Baptists should be on trial. Religious leaders, Protestant and Catholic, should be on trial. They made this happen, but too few Americans make the connection.” […]
* WTF: SOFA, CISPA, FISA
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was under debate on Thursday. US lawmakers discussed whether or not the bill’s overseas surveillance power should be renewed. FISA is one of several pieces of legislation that are targeting Internet freedoms for Americans and it gives the government the power to monitor phone calls, emails and other forms of electronic communication. Rob Beschizza, managing editor for BoingBoing.com, gives us his take on Internet freedom.