The White Flag


Christmas in America: Business as Usual
December 26, 2010, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Old Articles

United States

The government is not taking measures to protect social security; it never did anyone any good anyway.
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“[…]Congress agreed to increase high-end loopholes in the estate tax, exempting 39,000 estates worth as much as $5 million.”

“[The bill is] lowering taxes for the rich and destabilizing the financing of Social Security.”

“Breaking the promise of Social Security will leave seniors with extra working years and reduced benefits.”

“Social Security funding must be off-limits to Congress, especially when it wants to give the money to millionaires.”

First responders health care bill, it’s a partisan issue?
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“Senate Republicans successfully filibustered a bill that would provide health benefits to September 11th first responders who have contracted illnesses as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals during their response to the attacks. Named after James Zadroga, a responder who was killed in 2006 by respiratory disease, the bill sets aside money to monitor and treat the health of these firefighters, police officers, and construction workers, and would reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provides payments for job and economic losses.”

“A report by the AFL-CIO in September of this year revealed that 13,000 first responders were still being treated for health problems, nine years after the attacks took place.”

“Jon Kyl (R-AZ), for example, said that the bill was being considered “in a hurry, in a lame duck session, without a hearing, without understanding what the ramifications are and whether we can amend the bill.” However, the bill was first introduced in the House four years ago, has been available in the Senate since 2009, and received a Senate hearing in June 2010.”

Do not believe politicians use consultants to tell them what to say and how to act? Rumor has it that Nancy Pelosi has asked Steven Spielberg for recommendations for the Democrat party to build a stronger brand.
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“Lawmakers say she is consulting marketing experts about building a stronger brand. The most prominent of her new whisperers is Steven Spielberg, the Hollywood director whose films have been works of branding genius. Lawmakers said Spielberg has not reported to Pelosi with a recommendation.”

“Spielberg has been a power player in Democratic politics for years, working on everything from President Bill Clinton’s millennial celebrations to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He endorsed Hillary Clinton in the last presidential race, but since then he’s helped fundraiser for President Obama.”

“A spokesperson for Spielberg put out a statement that many news organizations are taking as a flat-out denial.”

“[…] Marvin Levy [wrote] “I can say as a long-time spokesman for Steven that he has made it his career to direct actors, not political figures.” Levy did not actually comment on whether Pelosi had consulted with the director on Democratic re-branding.“

Civil Liberties

Conditions of Bradley Manning’s new pretrial home in Quantico, VA.
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“PFC Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day.”

“He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.”

Manning [mentioned] that his blankets are similar in weight and heft to lead aprons used in X-ray laboratories, and similar in texture to coarse and stiff carpet. He stated explicitly that the blankets are not soft in the least and expressed concern that he had to lie very still at night to avoid receiving carpet burns. The problem of carpet burns was exacerbated, he related, by the stipulation that he must sleep only in his boxer shorts as part of the longstanding POI order”

“He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.”

“He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.”

Manning [said] that he does not receive any substantive exercise and cannot perform even basic exercises in his cell. When told of the Pentagon’s statement that he did indeed receive exercise, Manning’s reply was that he is able to exercise insofar as walking in chains is a form of exercise.”

“Manning [stated] that he is not allowed to view international news during his television period. He mentioned that he might theoretically be able to view local news, but his television period is typically from 7pm – 8pm such that no local news is playing in the Quantico, VA area.”

“He does receive one hour of ‘exercise’ outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. PFC Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.”

“Manning stated that he has not been outside or into the brig yard for either recreation nor exercise in four full weeks. He related that visits to the outdoors have been infrequent and sporadic for the past several months.”

“When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned to him the next morning.”

Obama plans to lay the ground work for indefinite detention without trail.
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“[…]Obama Administration is preparing an Executive Order to formalize indefinite detention without charge or trial for certain unnamed Guantanamo detainees.”

“The administration argues that indefinite detention is necessary for ‘people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases, because evidence may be tainted, but who, nonetheless, pose a threat to the security of the United States.’ What the Obama administration continues to obscure is that evidence ‘tainted’ by torture or coercion is no evidence at all.”

Obama’s indefinite detention program, pt. 2.
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“[…] the Obama administration indicated to reporters that long-awaited action codifying the Bush-era policy of indefinite detention for suspected terrorists would be put in place through executive order.”

“The Obama administration proposal differs from the Bush administration detention review process in that it would be more adversarial — detainees would be represented by a lawyer, and the boards would be made up of more than just military officials.”

“Indefinite military detention should not be used as a substitute for criminal prosecution for suspected terrorists operating outside the theater of war,” says David Frakt, a Barry University law professor and an Air Force Judge Advocate General Lieutenant Colonel[…]”

“An executive order also means indefinite detention isn’t a ‘permanent’ fixture of American law.”

The World

Protests explode due to cuts to a crumbling college system.
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“A week ago, cars were sent on fire, shop windows smashed and dozens of people injured in clashes between protesters and police after the initially peaceful march descended into some of the worst violence seen in the city for years.”

“No trouble was reported on Wednesday in a rainy Rome, but there were some clashes at a demonstration in Palermo and reports of incidents in Naples, Milan and Turin.”

“It’s not only a mobilization against university reforms but of a generation that is making itself heard again over the politics of the country, the issues we face and the precarious situation in which we live.”

“The reform cuts the number of university courses and faculties and reduces funding for grants. It sets time limits for research, overhauls the admissions system, increases the role of the private sector in university governance and limits the duration of rectorships.”

Progress

Do you think that fishing operations violate your fourth amendment rights, and waste the federal government’s time? Now you can add data mining to that list, it is fiscally wasteful too.
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“A federal judge ordered the government on Tuesday to pay nearly $2.6 million in lawyers’ fees and damages to officials with a shuttered Islamic charity in Oregon who the judge said were wiretapped without a court order under the surveillance program approved by President George W. Bush after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

START Treaty: reducing America and Russia’s nuclear bomb arsenal.
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“His allies spent Wednesday reiterating their concerns, and some passions were cooled when a bipartisan coalition agreed to statements that say, among other things, that the New START treaty doesn’t infringe upon U.S, missile defense development and deployment. Another change pressures the White House to provide money for nuclear weapons facilities.”

“The New START Treaty would restrict the U.S. and Russia at the end of a seven-year period to deploying no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads on 700 strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles.”

“That would be about a 30 percent drop from the 2,200 limit set in a 2002 treaty that’s due to expire at the end of 2012. The new treaty will also permit the two nations to resume inspections of each other’s nuclear weapons, which have been suspended for just over a year, a gap that worries U.S. intelligence officials.”

Petition: Tell the Quantico Marine Base to lift the POI, prevention of injury, placed on Bradley Manning because his current conditions are inhumane, and near torture.
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Senate passes 9/11 Health Care bill.
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“The Senate reached a compromise with Republicans, who were concerned over the initial cost of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would have provided $7.4 billion over ten years. Today’s approved legislation will provide $4.3 billion over five years.”

“Of the $4.3 billion total allotted, $1.5 billion will fund health benefits, while $2.7 will go to compensation.”

“The bill will also place a cap on attorneys’ fees at 10 percent of the total awarded to the claimants, and will allow the legislation’s special master to reduce excessive attorney fees.”

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