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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Archive for February, 2010

Kudos to the Latvian bank hacker

Friday, February 26th, 2010

We need more of this, to even the tables…

Latvian ‘Robin Hood’ hacker leaks bank details to TV

An alleged hacker has been hailed as a latter-day Robin Hood for leaking data about the finances of banks and state-owned firms to Latvian TV.

Using the alias “Neo” – a reference to The Matrix films – the hacker claims he wants to expose those cashing in on the recession in Latvia.

He is slowly passing details of leading Latvian firms via Twitter to the TV station and has its audiences hooked.

The Latvian government and police are investigating the security breach.

Data leaked so far includes pay details of managers from a Latvian bank that received a bail-out.

It reveals that many did not take the salary cuts they promised.

Other data shows that state-owned companies secretly awarded bonuses while publicly asking the government for help.

Citibank: Hatin’ on the gays

Friday, February 26th, 2010

So, just practicing usury isn’t bad enough, now Citi adds homophobia to its list of redeeming qualities:

Citibank Shuts Down Gay Entrepreneur’s Bank Account Over Blog’s Content

Jason Goldberg is the CEO of a company called Fabulis, which is developing a website, iPhone app and social media application targeted at gay men. His company — which is at least his third start-up — is funded by investors including The Washington Post and the venture capitalist Allen Morgan, and they just launched their beta version this month. You would think he would be the kind of customer Citi would want — but Citi decided otherwise after a compliance officer reviewed his site and decided that a social networking application for gay men was “objectionable.”

Without notifying Goldberg or anyone at Fabulis, Citi shut down their bank accounts for objectionable content on Fabulis’ blog, though it refused to specify which content. After hours of phone calls, several articles and a threat to take their banking elsewhere, Citi finally called Goldberg to say that the three Citi employees who had decided Goldberg’s social networking site was objectionable were “wrong to have said what they said.” Note that the bank did not say they were wrong to have suspended his account without notification, or to have flagged his blog as objectionable because it talks about the gay-themed (but not pornographic) company that he is starting, but just that the three employees statements to him were wrong.

Justice for zombies!

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Appeals court gives new life to local ‘zombie’ suit

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday released a ruling in favor of a group of zombies who say they were wrongfully arrested while protesting consumerism during the 2006 Aquatennial.

Apparently, it’s OK to be a zombie in Minneapolis after all.

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday released a ruling in favor of a group of zombies who say they were wrongfully arrested while protesting consumerism during the 2006 Aquatennial. The ruling reanimates the group’s federal lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and its police, seeking damages of at least $50,000 for each person arrested.

A three-judge panel of the court ruled 2-1 that police lacked probable cause to arrest the group — seven people wearing white powder, fake blood and black around their eyes and shuffling around like zombies — for disorderly conduct. Police do not have immunity from claims against them for making the arrest, the court ruled.

America Uber Alles, again

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Police escort student out of class after refusal to recite Pledge of Allegiance

A middle school teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland, will have to apologize to a 13-year-old student after yelling at her and having her escorted out of class by school police when the student refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

According to the ACLU of Maryland, a 13-year-old female student at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance on Jan. 27. The teacher reportedly ordered the girl out into the hallway, where he threatened the girl with detention and then sent her to the school counselor’s office.

The next day, when the student again refused to stand for the pledge, the teacher called school officers to remove her from the classroom and take her to the counselor’s office once again.

“When the student’s mother reached out to an assistant principal for help in dealing with the teacher’s abusive and improper actions, the official said her daughter should instead apologize for her ‘defiance.’ The student did apologize, twice,” the ACLU states.

The right to sit silently during the Pledge of Allegiance has been held up by the US Supreme Court, and is enshrined in Maryland state law and Mongtomery County Public Schools’ own policies, reports the Washington Post.

Notice how the people most insistent on depriving others of their rights are the same ones that trumpet their “patriotism” the loudest…and who have less understanding of this nation and its values than my half-blind, no-toothed pug?

Murdered activist’s family to sue Israel

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

US activist’s family to sue Israel

The family of US activist Rachel Corrie, run over by an Israeli bulldozer during a demonstration in Gaza in 2003, will sue the Jewish state over her death, their lawyer says.

The 23-year-old killed at the height of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising, became an symbol of foreign support for the Palestinian cause and the subject of a 2005 play based on her emails and diary.

“The state should take responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie. We believe her killing was done intentionally or at least out of negligence and wrongdoing,” Hussein Abu Hussein, the family’s lawyer, told AFP on Wednesday.

It was murder, plain and simple. Israel are terrorists, plain and simple.

House votes to end insurance anti-trust exemption

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Finally:

House Passes Bill To Repeal Antitrust Exemption For Health Insurance Companies

By a vote of 406-19, the House passed the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act (HR 4626), introduced by Reps. Tom Perriello (D-VA) and Betsy Markey (D-CO). This bill is designed to restore competition and transparency to the health insurance market – by repealing the blanket antitrust exemption afforded to health insurance companies by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. Under this legislation, health insurers will no longer be shielded from legal accountability for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, sabotaging their competitors in order to gain monopoly power, and other such anti-competitive practices.

Its been insanity for the insurance industry to have been exempt from the same rules that other industries must follow in regards to collusion and price fixing- which they were exempted from in order to attempt to sell the notion of insurance to a dubious public almost 70 years ago.

They were right to be dubious, it turns out.

Texas: Screw DNA, we’re gonna kill ’em anyway

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Is Texas About To Execute Another Innocent Man?
State officials would rather kill a prisoner than give him a DNA test.

Henry Watkins “Hank” Skinner was supposed to be executed tomorrow, but last Tuesday a Gray County, Texas, District Court judge pushed the date back one month, to March 24. Skinner has been on Death Row in Texas since 1993, awaiting execution for the murder of his girlfriend and her two sons. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest, and investigators from the Northwestern University Journalism School’s Medill Innocence Project have shot numerous holes in the prosecution’s case. But Texas officials refuse to conduct a simple DNA test that could point to the condemned man’s innocence or cement his guilt.

Skinner’s scheduled lethal injection comes shortly after Texas Gov. Rick Perry has removed sympathetic panelists from the state forensic committee’s investigation into the case of Cameron Todd Willingham and replaced them with panelists critics say are stymieing the investigation. Willingham was executed in 2003 for murdering his three daughters by setting fire to his house. Nine arson experts and an investigation published in the New Yorker last year have since made a strong case that Willingham was innocent of the crime.

At the same time, Texas, a notoriously enthusiastic enforcer of the death penalty, continues to lead the nation in DNA exonerations (one county in Texas has produced more genetic exonerations than all but three states). Which makes it all the more disturbing that biological evidence from Skinner’s crime scene remains untested, at the behest of prosecutors and backed up by the courts. You’d think given recent headlines that Texas might be a bit more reluctant to execute a possibly innocent man.

And they call this country civilized.

Hey Liberty U: Time for you to pay taxes or shut up

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Group asks IRS to investigate LU’s role in November election

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a watchdog organization, has written a letter to the Internal Revenue Service, calling for an investigation into whether Liberty University officials used school resources to influence the outcome of a House of Delegates election in November.

Local spokesman David Cobb said that Americans United believed that there was evidence to support the claim that LU used the school’s official newspaper, Liberty Champion, and other resources in a partisan effort to elect Republican candidate Scott Garrett.

Garrett beat out Democratic incumbent Shannon Valentine by about 209 votes, largely thanks to returns from a precinct populated by Liberty University voters.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, called this the most “over-the-top” illegal politicking he has ever seen.

“This was an absolute, sleazy political operation,” he said. “Nothing more or less.”

Nonprofits under tax-exempt status, such as Liberty University, cannot engage in political politicking without being in violation of the IRS code, Cobb said.

Mathew Staver, dean of LU’s law school and founder of Liberty Counsel, called the organization’s allegations “bogus,” adding that LU’s students retain editorial control of the Liberty Champion and the paper provided fair and balanced coverage of the election.

Staver also said LU is considering filing a civil law suit for harassment against the organization.

LU Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said he felt Americans United had really “painted itself into a corner” with this complaint.

“Unless they now file a complaint against every university newspaper in the country that endorsed a candidate, our claim that they’re nothing but a partisan organization will be proven true,” he said.

Last May, Americans United asked the IRS to review Liberty’s tax-exempt status after the school withdrew its recognition of the official College Democrats club.

Hey theocrat Falwell Jr, you can politic all ya want. Go right ahead. Just don’t think that taxpayers should foot the bill for it.

Utah: Where a miscarriage is a crime

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Let’s have Dan Savage tell us about the latest from the American Taliban:

When Miscarriages Are a Crime…
Posted by Dan Savage on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 4:06 PM

…only criminals will have miscarriages.

A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate this week and waiting for the governor’s signature, will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage…. In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by “reckless” behavior. Using the legal standard of “reckless behavior” all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn’t intend to lose the pregnancy.

If the governor signs the bill into law a woman in Utah who intentionally or accidentally induces a miscarriage can be charged with criminal homicide and sentenced to life in prison.

Um… Utah?

If every miscarriage is a potential homicide, how does Utah avoid launching a criminal investigation every time a woman has a miscarriage? And women have a lot of miscarriages: one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage. And how is Utah supposed to know when a pregnant woman has had a miscarriage? You’re going to have to create some sort of pregnancy registry to keep track of all those fetuses, Utah. Perhaps you could start issuing “conception certificates” to women who get pregnant? And then, if there isn’t a baby within nine months of the issuance of a conception certificate, the woman could be hauled in for questioning and she could be indicted for criminal homicide if it’s determined that she intentionally or accidentally induced a miscarriage. Of course, lots of women miscarry before they even realize their pregnant… so Utah will have to pass another law, one that compels all sexually active women—actually, let’s just say all women, Utah, since some sexually active women claim they’re chaste—to come in for mandatory monthly pregnancy tests…

Insane religious fanatics, in control of the government. When the f did we become Iran?

DFH…word.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

And if the last 20 years has proven anything, it is that the Mainstream Media will absolutely never under any circumstances report on any serious and systemic political problem if they cannot somehow figure out a way to allocate at least 51% of the blame to the Dirty Fucking Hippies.