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The USA is the most corrupt country in the world and I have 10,000 posts that point heavily to that fact…

Bradley Manning deserves a medal | Glenn Greenwald December 15, 2011

After 17 months of pre-trial imprisonment, Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old US army private and accused WikiLeaks source, is finally going to see the inside of a courtroom. This Friday, on an army base in Maryland, the preliminary stage of his military trial will start.

He is accused of leaking to the whistleblowing site hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, war reports, and the now infamous 2007 video showing a US Apache helicopter in Baghdad gunning down civilians and a Reuters journalist. Though it is Manning who is nominally on trial, these proceedings reveal the US government’s fixation with extreme secrecy, covering up its own crimes, and intimidating future whistleblowers.

Since his arrest last May in Iraq, Manning has been treated as one of America’s most dastardly traitors. He faces more than 30 charges, including one – “aiding the enemy” – that carries the death penalty (prosecutors will recommend life in prison, but military judges retain discretion to sentence him to die).

The sadistic conditions to which he was subjected for 10 months – intense solitary confinement, at one point having his clothing seized and being forced to stand nude for inspection – became an international scandal for a US president who flamboyantly vowed to end detainee abuse. Amnesty International condemned these conditions as “inhumane”; PJ Crowley, a US state department spokesman, was forced to resign after denouncing Manning’s treatment. Such conduct has been repeatedly cited by the US as human rights violations when engaged in by other countries.

The UN’s special rapporteur on torture has complained that his investigation is being obstructed by the refusal of Obama officials to permit unmonitored visits with Manning. (Even the Bush administration granted access to the International Red Cross at Guantánamo.) Such treatment is all the more remarkable in light of what Manning actually did, and did not do, if the charges are true. For these leaks have achieved enormous good and little harm.

From the start, US claims about the damage done have been wildly exaggerated, even outright false. After the release of the Afghanistan war logs, officials accused WikiLeaks of having “blood on their hands”, only to admit weeks later that they were unaware of a single case of anyone being harmed. That remains true today.

Even Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief, mocked alarmism over the diplomatic cables leak as “significantly overwrought”, dismissing its impact as “fairly modest”. Manning’s lawyer is seeking internal government documents that, he insists, concluded there was no meaningful harm to US diplomatic relations from the release of any documents. None of the leaked documents were classified at the highest level of secrecy – top secret – but rather bore only low-level classification.

By contrast, the leaks Manning allegedly engineered have generated enormous benefits: precisely the benefits Manning, if the allegations against him are true, sought to achieve. According to chat logs purportedly between Manning and the informant who turned him in, the private decided to leak these documents after he became disillusioned with the Iraq war. He described how reading classified documents made him, for the first time, aware of the breadth of the corruption and violence committed by his country and allies.

He explained that he wanted the world to know what he had learned: “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” When asked by the informant why he did not sell the documents to a foreign government for profit, Manning replied that he wanted the information to be publicly known in order to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

There can be no doubt that these vital goals have been achieved. When WikiLeaks was awarded Australia’s most prestigious journalism award last month, the awarding foundation described how these disclosures created “more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime”.

By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi government from agreeing to ongoing legal immunity for US forces, and thus helped bring about the end of the war. Even Bill Keller, the former New York Times executive editor and a harsh WikiLeaks critic, credits the release of the cables with shedding light on the corruption of Tunisia’s ruling family and thus helping spark the Arab spring.

In sum, the documentsManning is alleged to have released revealed overwhelming deceit, corruption and illegality by the world’s most powerful political actors. And this is why he has been so harshly treated and punished.

Despite pledging to usher in “the most transparent administration in history”, President Obama has been obsessed with prosecuting whistleblowers; his justice department has prosecuted more of them for “espionage” than all prior administrations combined.

The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.

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Syracuse coach apologizes for questioning Fine accusers December 3, 2011

Syracuse, New York (CNN) — Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim has apologized for statements he made about child sex allegations against his former assistant coach.

“I believe I misspoke very badly in my response to the allegations that have been made. I shouldn’t have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives. I am really sorry that I did that, and I regret any harm that I caused,” he told reporters after his basketball game Friday night. “It was insensitive for the individuals involved and especially to the overall issue of child abuse.”

Earlier, Boeheim had made strong statements in support of his now-former assistant coach Bernie Fine.

Fine has been accused of molesting three boys and was fired from Syracuse on Sunday.

When the allegations first surfaced, the married father of three called them “patently false.”

Authorities are investigating the allegations against Fine.

No charges have been filed.

CNN’s Deborah Feyerick, Sheila Steffen and Ed Lavandera in Syracuse contributed to this report.

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US banks sued over home seizures December 2, 2011

Agents used by banks to sort out foreclosures may have acted illegally

Massachusetts is suing five major banks alleging “illegal” and “deceptive” conduct in the way they seized homes during the financial crisis.

Bank of America, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and GMAC must pay for the “harm” caused, the writ says.

Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general, said the banks had no legal right to foreclose on “hundreds, if not thousands, of properties”.

The banks have expressed disappointment over the move.

Massachusetts’ action could potentially de-rail attempts to reach a US-wide settlement against banks accused of hastily calling in debts as the country’s property bubble imploded.

Federal and state prosecutors have been negotiating a $25bn (£16bn) deal to resolve the issue over so-called “robo-signing”, where banks employed people to sort out foreclosure documents without reviewing homeowners paperwork and circumstances.

Ms Coakley said: “We have two clear goals with this lawsuit – one is to provide for real accountability for the role the banks have played in unlawful and illegal foreclosures, and secondly to provide for real and enforceable relief for the harm that the misconduct has caused.”

The complaint claims the banks violated Massachusetts law with “unlawful and deceptive” conduct in the foreclosure process, including unlawful foreclosures, false documentation, robo-signing, and deceptive practices related to loan modifications.

‘It’s taken too long’

A statement from the state attorney general’s office said: “The single most important thing we can do to return to a healthy economy is to address this foreclosure crisis.

“Our suit alleges that the banks have charted a destructive path by cutting corners and rushing to foreclose on homeowners without following the rule of law. Our action today seeks real accountability for the banks illegal behaviour and real relief for homeowners.”

In October 2010, major banks temporarily suspended foreclosures following revelations of fraudulent documents processed by banks.

Ms Coakley said banks have had more than a year to “show accountability for this economic mess,” and have failed to do so. “It’s taken too long,” she said.

Citigroup said it would defend its actions vigorously. Bank of America said it wanted a collaborative resolution to the issue.

JP Morgan said in a statement that it was disappointed the lawsuit was filed while negotiations were ongoing about a broader settlement.

GMAC said it was unhappy that Massachusetts “elected not to continue a more constructive path that could help borrowers in the state, but rather has chosen to use the court process.”

Wells Fargo said it disagreed with Ms Coakley that it had not kept a promise to modify loans.

Citigroup said it had not yet reviewed the lawsuit, but the bank believed it had operated appropriately and in compliance with existing laws.

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IDF strike on Gaza wounds French consul and family November 16, 2011

November 15, 2011

by legitgov


IDF strike on Gaza wounds French consul and family –France condemns ‘consequences’ of army raid on Sunday, urges Israeli security forces to be mindful of civilian harm 15 Nov 2011 France’s consul to the Gaza Strip, his wife and 13-year-old daughter were wounded during an Israeli air strike on Sunday night, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said. Majdi Shakoura told the AFP on Monday that he and his daughter suffered cuts from glass and that his wife had sustained a miscarriage when the aircraft targeted a nearby Hamas base. Valero told reporters the three were hit by shrapnel at their residence in Gaza, whichwas located 200 meters from the site of an Israeli missile attack, he added.

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Screenwriter Frank Miller calls Occupy protesters ‘thieves and rapists’ November 15, 2011

Graphic novelist and screenwriter Frank Miller has posted a excoriating rant on the Occupy movement on his personal blog, accusing it of being an unruly mob of “louts, thieves and rapists” that can “do nothing but harm America”.

Miller, best-known for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, 300, and Sin City, introduces his post with the words: “Everybody’s been too damned polite about this nonsense” before launching into his tirade.

He writes: “Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves” it reads.

He continues: “Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.”

“In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft. Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape.

They might not let you babies keep your iPhones, though. Try to soldier on.”

Miller’s comments may not come as a surprise to critics who described his most recent graphic novel, “Holy Terror” as anti-Islamic propoganda.

However, if coverage of his anti-Occupy rant amongst the comic community is anything to go by, he has alienated many of his (former) fans.

One site, has published an open letter to Miller, which ends “From what I can tell based on conversations with fellow comic book fans, articles, comments, box office returns, and critical reception of your work in the last 10 years, I am in the majority of folks who want you to just go away now. We are the The Goddamn 99% of people who don’t give a goddamn about you anymore.”

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