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Politics: Mississippi Governor Frees Murderer Who Was Recently Denied Parole.

The release of a convicted murderer on a pardon by outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is reportedly drawing criticism by relatives of the victim and the state’s House Democratic leader.

Department of Corrections officials say that David Gatlin, 40, was released on Sunday after being pardoned by Barbour, who leaves office on Tuesday. Gatlin, who has worked as a trustee at the governor’s mansion, was denied parole less than two weeks ago.

Gatlin was sentenced to life in prison for killing his estranged wife, Tammy Ellis Gatlin, in 1993 and shooting her longtime friend, Randy Walker. Walker survived. The shootings took place in Brandon, Miss.

Walker’s mother, Glenda Walker, said her son is afraid now that Gatlin is free. Crystal Walker, Randy Walker’s wife, said her family received a letter Friday saying that Gatlin’s parole had been turned down again. A day later, family members heard he was being pardoned.

“On parole he’d at least have to check in and have some supervision,” Crystal Walker told the Clarion Ledger on Sunday. “Now he could live beside us, or we could run into him at Walmart. You’re always looking over your shoulder.”

House Democratic Caucus Leader Bobby Moak also criticized the pardon.

“The Republican Party needs to lead and rethink its catch-and-release program,” Moak’s statement read. “The people of Mississippi and their justice system deserve better … In the past, we have tried to limit this authority by allowing law enforcement and victims’ families the opportunity to have their voice heard on these decisions that bypass the parole board. It’s time to make these changes.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Terry Brown said he is sure the governor has his reasons.

“The outgoing governor has the right to do what he sees and what he thinks is good and fair,” Brown told the newspaper. “… And he knows more about the details than I do.”

Crystal Walker said she contacted governor’s office 17 times in recent months about trying to talk to Barbour about the possibility of Gatlin’s pardon.

“I feel like if we’d have been able to talk to him it would have been different,” she told the Clarion Ledger

Read more: 


Politics: How Banks Cheat Taxpayers

A good friend of mine sent me a link to a small story last week, something that deserves a little attention, post-factum.

The Bloomberg piece is about J.P. Morgan Chase winning a bid to be the lead underwriter on a $400 million bond issue by the state of Massachusetts. Chase was up against Merrill for the bid and won the race with an offer of a 2.57% interest rate, beating Merrill’s bid of 2.79. The difference in the bid saved the state of Massachusetts $880,000.

Afterward, Massachusetts state treasurer Steven Grossman breezily played up the benefits of a competitive bid. “There’s always a certain amount of competition going on out there,” Grossman said in a telephone interview yesterday. “That’s good. We like competition.”

Well … so what, right? Two banks fight over the right to be the government’s underwriter, one submits a more competitive bid, the taxpayer saves money, and everyone wins. That’s the way it ought to be, correct?

Correct. Except in four out of five cases, it still doesn’t happen that way. From the same piece [emphasis mine]:

Nationwide, about 20 percent of debt issued by states and local governments is sold through competitive bids. Issuers post public notices asking banks to make proposals and award the debt to the bidder offering the lowest interest cost. The other 80 percent are done through negotiated underwriting, where municipalities select a bank to price and sell the bonds.

By “negotiated underwriting,” what Bloomberg means is, “local governments just hand the bid over to the bank that tosses enough combined hard and soft money at the right politicians.”

There is absolutely no good reason why all debt issues are not put up to competitive bids. This is not like defense contracting, where in some situations it is at least theoretically possible that X or Y company is the world’s only competent manufacturer, say, of armor-plated Humvee doors, or some such thing. It’s still wrong and perverse when companies like Halliburton or Blackwater get sole-source defense contracts, but at least there’s some kind of theoretical justification there.

But this is a bond issue, not rocket science. In most cases, all the top investment banks will offer virtually the same service, with only the price varying. Towns and cities and states lose billions of dollars every year allowing financial services companies to overcharge them for underwriting.

It gets even worse in the derivatives markets, where banks routinely overcharge state and local governments for things like interest rate swaps, for one very obvious reason – swaps are not traded on open exchanges, so only the banks know how to price them.

Imagine what NFL gambling would be like if the casinos didn’t publish the point spreads every week, and you’ll get a rough idea of how the swap market works. If you couldn’t look it up, how many points would you give the Dolphins against the Jets next week? Two? Five? Seven? The big casinos know, because they’re taking all that action, that the real number is one point.

In the same vein, exactly how accurately do you think some local county treasurer might be able to guess the cost of an interest rate swap for his local school system? Answer: he’d probably do about as well as you or I would, guessing the odds on a Croatian soccer match.

The big banks know this, which is why there should never, ever be non-competitive bids for those sorts of financial services. In a sole-source contract for a swap deal, you’re trusting a (probably corrupt) Too-Big-To-Fail bank to give you a good deal for a product whose price is not publicly listed anywhere.

There have been numerous investigations and lawsuits across the world connected with this sort of systematic overcharging, from Erie, Pennsylvania to the notorious Jefferson County, Alabama case, to Milan, Italy (which sued Chase and four other banks for misleading them about derivative prices).

In the Erie case, Chase recommended to the locals that they hire a financial adviser to review the deal. What they didn’t tell the local government was that Chase had paid a fee to this adviser, a firm called Investment Management Advisory Group Inc., or IMAGE. They pulled the same scam with the school district of Butler County, Pennsylvania.

And in the oft-discussed Jefferson County case alone, Chase reportedly overcharged the locals $100 million for the crooked swap deals that, in a completely separate outrage, will probably leave Birmingham bankrupt for the next generation.

All of which is exactly what people like the OWS protesters are complaining about when they talk about greed and excess on Wall Street. Nobody is begrudging a bank’s desire to make money, and nobody is saying a bank shouldn’t be allowed to make money, even a lot of money, performing legitimate services for the state and the taxpayer.

But when you put a thumb on the scale in a financial services contract, the costs start to get outrageous very quickly. The banks would still do a very crisp, almost effortlessly lucrative business if they just stuck to submitting competitive bids for legitimate work – but instead of that, they for some reason have to game the system, grease politicians, rig bids, and stick the taxpayer with overpriced products. Which sucks, of course. Hopefully politicians will catch on and go the Massachusetts route more often.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/how-banks-cheat-taxpayers-20111227#ixzz1iw1vt0zj


Politics: Indiana Senator Pushes Bill To Fine Performers For Altering The Star Spangled Banner.

Indiana Senator Vaneta Becker is pushing a bill to impose a $25 fine on anyone who deviates from a set of standards in performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at events sponsored by public schools and universities. According to Becker, the bill is not intended to punish those who may flub a note or two while singing the national anthem. “It’s not like we’re going after anyone’s ability to sing,” Becker said in an interview yesterday. “It’s more that we just want them to respect the words and the tune as it was originally intended and we normally sing it.”

If Becker’s bill had been passed a decade ago, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler would have been busted for changing the “home of the brave” line to “home of the Indianapolis 500″ while singing the song before that race in 2001. It is unclear whether or not an instrumental take on the song, such as Jimi Hendrix’s version from the Woodstock festival, or an unintentional lyrical flub like Christina Aguilera’s gaffe at last year’s Super Bowl, would violate the proposed standard.

If this bill passes in Indiana, it would not be the first state law strictly governing the performance of the national anthem. Massachusetts has a law imposing up to $100 in fines for playing the song “as dance music, as an exit march or as part of a medley.” Michigan prohibits anyone from performing the song in a public space except in its entirety and “without embellishment.”

source: www.Rollingstone.com

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/indiana-senator-pushes-bill-to-fine-singers-who-alter-star-spangled-banner-20120105#ixzz1ibThUIZI


Politics: Obama Signs The NDAA. U.S Citizens Can Be Held Without Trial.

Do believe the hype, says Professor Turley: the NDAA, signed into law by President Obama on 31 December, authorises the US military to detain citizens indefinitely without trial. Photograph:
President Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing him to indefinitely detain citizens. It was a symbolic moment, to say the least. With Americans distracted with drinking and celebrating, Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country … and citizens partied in unwitting bliss into the New Year.

Ironically, in addition to breaking his promise not to sign the law, Obama broke his promise on signing statements and attached a statement that he really does not want to detain citizens indefinitely (see the text of the statement here).

Obama insisted that he signed the bill simply to keep funding for the troops. It was a continuation of the dishonest treatment of the issue by the White House since the law first came to light. As discussed earlier, the White House told citizens that the president would not sign the NDAA because of the provision. That spin ended after sponsor Senator Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan) went to the floor and disclosed that it was the White House and insisted that there be no exception for citizens in the indefinite detention provision.

The latest claim is even more insulting. You do not “support our troops” by denying the principles for which they are fighting. They are not fighting to consolidate authoritarian powers in the president. The “American way of life” is defined by our constitution and specifically the bill of rights. Moreover, the insistence that you do not intend to use authoritarian powers does not alter the fact that you just signed an authoritarian measure. It is not the use but the right to use such powers that defines authoritarian systems.

The almost complete failure of the mainstream media to cover this issue is shocking. Many reporters have bought into the spin of the Obama administration as they did the spin over torture by the Bush administration. Even today, reporters refuse to call waterboarding torture despite the long line of cases and experts defining waterboarding as torture for decades.

On the NDAA, reporters continue to mouth the claim that this law only codifies what is already the law. That is not true. The administration has fought any challenges to indefinite detention to prevent a true court review. Moreover, most experts agree that such indefinite detention of citizens violates the constitution.

There are also those who continue the longstanding effort to excuse Obama’s horrific record on civil liberties by blaming either others or the times. One successful myth is that there is an exception for citizens. The White House is saying that changes to the law made it unnecessary to veto the legislation. That spin is ridiculous. The changes were the inclusion of some meaningless rhetoric after key amendments protecting citizens were defeated. The provision merely states that nothing in the provisions could be construed to alter Americans’ legal rights. Since the Senate clearly views citizens as not just subject to indefinite detention but even to execution without a trial, the change offers nothing but rhetoric to hide the harsh reality.

The Obama administration and Democratic members are in full spin mode – using language designed to obscure the authority given to the military. The exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032) is the screening language for the next section, 1031, which offers no exemption for American citizens from the authorisation to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial.

Obama could have refused to sign the bill and the Congress would have rushed to fund the troops. Instead, as confirmed by Senator Levin, the White House conducted a misinformation campaign to secure this power while portraying the president as some type of reluctant absolute ruler, or, as Obama maintains, a reluctant president with dictatorial powers.

Most Democratic members joined their Republican colleagues in voting for this un-American measure. Some Montana citizens are moving to force the removal of these members who, they insist, betrayed their oaths of office and their constituents. Most citizens, however, are continuing to treat the matter as a distraction from the holiday cheer.

For civil libertarians, the NDAA is our Mayan moment: 2012 is when the nation embraced authoritarian powers with little more than a pause between rounds of drinks.


Politics: The Senate To Dissolve The Bill Of Rights!!!

In a stunning move that has civil libertarians stuttering with disbelief, the U.S. Senate has just passed a bill that effectively ends the Bill of Rights in America.

Text:  |  

[The article's heading re-named on Dec 4, 2011 (01:28 local time SE). The word "declares" was exchanged with "wants"]

The National Defense Authorization Act is being called the most traitorous act ever witnessed in the Senate, and the language of the bill is cleverly designed to make you think it doesn’t apply to Americans, but toward the end of the bill it essentially says it can apply to Americans ”if we want it to.”

, 112th Congress (2011 – 2012) | S.1867 | Latest Title: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 | Sponsor: Sen Levin, Carl [MI] (introduced 11/15/2011) | Related Bills: H.R.1540 | Latest Major Action: 12/1/2011 Passed/agreed to in Senate. | Status: Passed Senate with amendments by Yea-Nay. 93 – 7. | Record Vote Number: 218. | Latest Action: 12/1/2011  | 


This bill, passed late last night in a 93-7 vote, declares the entire USA to be a ”battleground” upon which U.S. military forces can operate with impunity, overriding Posse Comitatus and granting the military the unchecked power to arrest, detain, interrogate and even assassinate U.S. citizens with impunity.

Even WIRED magazine was outraged at this bill, reporting:

Senate Wants the Military to Lock You Up Without Trial
…the detention mandate to use indefinite military detention in terrorism cases isn’t limited to foreigners. It’s confusing, because two different sections of the bill seem to contradict each other, but in the judgment of the University of Texas’ Robert Chesney — a nonpartisan authority on military detention — “U.S. citizens are included in the grant of detention authority.” 

The passage of this law is nothing less than an outright declaration of WAR against the American People by the military-connected power elite. If this is signed into law, it will shred the remaining tenants of the Bill of Rights and unleash upon America a total military dictatorship, complete with secret arrests, secret prisons, unlawful interrogations, indefinite detainment without ever being charged with a crime, the torture of Americans and even the ”legitimate assassination” of U.S. citizens on right here on American soil!

If you have not yet woken up to the reality of the police state we’ve been warning you about, I hope you realize we are fast running out of time. Once this becomes law, you have no rights whatsoever in America — no due process, no First Amendment speech rights, no right to remain silent, nothing.

source: NewsVoice.com


Politics: Occupy Wall Street, Tomorrow Join In On The Cause!!!!

Thursday
November 17th
International Day of Action
Call To Action! | Facebook Event | Twitter #N17 | Direct Action Resources

On Thursday November 17th, the two month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we call upon the 99% to participate in a national day of direct action and celebration!

New York City
BREAKFAST: Shut Down Wall Street – 7:00 a.m.

Enough of this economy that exploits and divides us. It’s time we put an end to Wall Street’s reign of terror and begin building an economy that works for all. We will gather in Liberty Square at 7:00 a.m., before the ring of the Trading Floor Bell, to prepare to confront Wall Street with the stories of people on the frontlines of economic injustice. There, before the Stock Exchange, we will exchange stories rather than stocks.

LUNCH: Occupy The Subways – 3:00 p.m.

We will start by Occupying Our Blocks! Then throughout the five boroughs, we will gather at 16 central subway hubs and take our own stories to the trains, using the “People’s Mic”.

Bronx
Fordham Rd
3rd Ave, 138th Street
163rd and Southern Blvd
161st and River – Yankee Stadium
Brooklyn
Broadway Junction
Borough Hall
301 Grove Street
St Jose Patron Church,185 Suydam St, Bushwick
Queens
Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Ave.
Jamaica Center/Parsons/Archer
92-10 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights
Manhattan
125th St. A,B,C,D
Union Sq. (Mass student strike)
23rd St and 8th Ave
Staten Island
St. George, Staten Island Ferry Terminal
479 Port Richmond Avenue, Port Richmond

DINNER: Take The Square – 5:00 p.m.

At 5 pm, tens of thousands of people will gather at Foley Square (just across from City Hall) in solidarity with laborers demanding jobs to rebuild this country’s infrastructure and economy. A gospel choir and a marching band will also be performing.

Afterwards we will march to our bridges. Let’s make it as musical a march as possible – bring your songs, your voice, your spirit! Our “Musical” on the bridge will culminate in a festival of light as we mark the two-month anniversary of the #occupy movement, and our commitment to shining light into our broken economic and political system.

Resist austerity. Rebuild the economy. Reclaim our democracy.

Portland

Occupying steelbridge in morning
Rally afterwards
Subsequently occupying banks

International Actions
Spain

General Strike

A general strike of university students will be taking place in the following cities: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, Palma, Sevilla, Santiago de Compostela, Murcia, Madrid, Valencia, Castello, Alicante, Zaragoza

17:00: Demonstration in Madrid

Place: From Nuevos Ministerios to Puerta del Sol Square
Call: Assembly UAM-CSIC / 15M

http://tomalafacultad.net

http://madrid.tomalaplaza.net/2011/11/08/17n-manifestacion-estatal-por-los-servicios-publicos/

Belgium

Occupy University and School

Germany

Massive student strikes, flash mobs, rallies, and other actions will be taking place in dozens of cities: http://ism-global.net/germany_education_strike_nov17

http://occupywallst.org/action/november-17th/


Politics: Police Practice “Stop and Frisk” Tactics In Brownsville.




Politics: Cop Punches Female Protester in The Face!


Politics: Occupy Wall Street Update. Follow The Movement Spread The Word!!!!

(Reuters) – Police reopened the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday evening after more than 700 anti-Wall Street protesters were arrested for blocking traffic lanes and attempting an unauthorized march across the span.

The arrests took place when a large group of marchers, participating in a second week of protests by the Occupy Wall Street movement, broke off from others on the bridge’s pedestrian walkway and headed across the Brooklyn-bound lanes.

“Over 700 summonses and desk appearance tickets have been issued in connection with a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge late this afternoon after multiple warnings by police were given to protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway, and that if they took roadway they would be arrested,” a police spokesman said.

“Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested. Others proceeded on the Brooklyn-bound vehicular roadway and were. The bridge was re-opened to traffic at 8:05 p.m. (0005 GMT Sunday).”

Most of those who were arrested were taken into custody off the bridge, issued summonses and released.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene on the famous suspension bridge as a sea of police officers surrounded the protesters using orange mesh netting.

Some protesters tried to get away as officers started handcuffing members of the group. Dozens of protesters were seen handcuffed and sitting on the span as three buses were called in to take them away, witnesses and organizers said.

The march started about 3:30 p.m. from the protesters’ camp in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan near the former World Trade Center. Members of the group have vowed to stay at the park through the winter.

CELEBRITY SUPPORT

In addition to what they view as excessive force and unfair treatment of minorities, including Muslims, the movement is also protesting against home foreclosures, high unemployment and the 2008 bailouts.

Filmmaker Michael Moore and actress Susan Sarandon have stopped by the protesters’ camp, which is plastered with posters with anti-Wall Street slogans and has a kitchen and library, to offer their support.

Friday evening, more than 1,000 demonstrators, including representatives of labor organizations, held a peaceful march to police headquarters a few blocks north of City Hall to protest what they said was a heavy-handed police response the previous week. No arrests were reported.

A week ago, police arrested about 80 members of Occupy Wall Street near the Union Square shopping district as the marchers swarmed onto oncoming traffic.

A police commander doused a handful of women with pepper spray in an incident captured on video and spread via the Internet, galvanizing the loosely organized protest movement.

The group has gained support among some union members. The United Federation of Teachers and the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has 38,000 members, are among those pledging solidarity.

The unions could provide important organizational and financial support for the largely leaderless movement.

Similar protests are sprouting in other cities, including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

(Reporting by Ray Sanchez; editing by  and )


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