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Julián ConradoThrough a campaign to collect signatures and a protest in Caracas’ Plaza Bolivar this past Saturday, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) has intensified its efforts to secure the political asylum of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) member Guillermo Torres Cueter, more commonly known as Julian Conrado, or “The Singer.”

Conrado is wanted by both the United States and the Colombian government and has a pending extradition request to Colombia after being arrested in Venezuela on May 31, 2011. While Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega recommended against his extradition on legal and human rights grounds later that year, the government still has yet to respond to Conrado’s formal request for asylum.

Beginning July 13, the PCV launched a month-long drive to gather 50,000 signatures throughout the country in support of the asylum of Conrado and the repatriation of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as “Carlos the Jackal,” who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in France for acts of terrorism.

Several members of the National Assembly (AN) signed the petition in Caracas on Saturday, including PCV Deputy Yul Jabbour of Cojedes and United Socialist Party Deputy Aleydys Manaure of Falcón.

“We’ve spent two years fighting for the liberation of Julian Conrado so that the government considers political and humanitarian asylum,” Manaure said.

During his weekly television show Jose Vicente Hoy, journalist and former Vice President José Vicente Rangel expressed his support for a timely resolution to the case.

“The pressure of the Colombian government, which claims he [Conrado] has connections to the guerrillas has caused his case to remain unresolved. Conrado is sick and requires special treatment. It would be important that the national government find a solution to the case, for humanitarian reasons and for what the artist represents,” Rangel said.

In the first of a three part-interview with Aporrea released yesterday, Conrado maintained that despite his conditions, he remains “completely optimistic.”

“I’ve learned many things during my time here, but this above all: we must have international solidarity between our peoples. One revolution cannot cheat another revolution,” he said. “According to bourgeois thought, there is a distance, but among revolutionaries, there can’t be any. Thoughts and actions have to be intimately united.”

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Blame the Banks: Wells Fargo

blame-banks

 

Wells Fargo: Your Neighborhood Mega-Money Laundering, Drug War Profiteering, Prison-Industry Enlarging Bank

 

Just recently, in late July, Wells Fargo surpassed the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) as the world’s largest bank by market capitalization. This followed Wells Fargo reporting a 19% increase in profits over the second quarter as the bank has been busy consolidating the housing market while other big banks have retreated from it. Wells Fargo had amassed a share of almost 40% of the U.S. mortgage market by early 2013.

Now, let’s put this in context with the company’s other recent activities.

Wells Fargo, which acquired Wachovia in the wake of the financial crisis, controlled roughly 28.8% of all home loans issued across the United States in 2012, compared to 11.2% of the market it controlled in 2007, just before the housing implosion. In 2012, the bank paid a $175 million settlement following revelations that “mortgage brokers working with Wells Fargo had charged higher fees and rates to more than 30,000 minority borrowers across the country than they had to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk.”

In the settlement, the world’s largest bank “admitted no wrongdoing,” noting in a press release that the bank simply wanted “to avoid a long and costly legal fight.” Then, in 2013, Wells Fargo agreed to a further $42 million settlement because “it neglected the maintenance and marketing of foreclosed homes in black and Latino neighborhoods across the country.” Again, of course, the bank admitted no wrongdoing.

But that’s just the tip of things. A civil mortgage fraud suit was filed against Wells Fargo in late 2012 for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over “reckless mortgage loans” made by the bank for over a decade in the lead-up to the financial crisis. Even in light of the massive settlement in 2012 over mortgage fraud, which simultaneously forced big banks to adhere to new rules regarding the mortgage market, it was found that both Bank of America and Wells Fargo had “flagrantly violated those obligations,” increasing foreclosure risks for Americans. Also, this past May, Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $105 million settlement in a fraud case brought by Orange County, which also implicated Bank of New York Mellon to the tune of a $114 million settlement.

It gets better. In 2010, Wachovia – which was purchased by Wells Fargo in 2008 – paid a settlement of $160 million for laundering over $100 million in drug money for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. Further, the bank admitted that it had failed to “apply the proper anti-laundering strictures” regarding the bank’s handling of $378.4 billion in currency exchanges with Mexico between 2004 and 2007. A federal prosecutor commented, “Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” as tens of thousands of Mexicans were killed in an exponentially violent drug war.

Thus, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, not only did the big banks receive sprawling government bailouts (Wells Fargo got $25 billion from the U.S. government), but according to the UN, proceeds pouring in from the global drug trade ultimately helped keep Wells Fargo and others afloat as “the only liquid investment capital” available to them during the crisis. But Wells Fargo didn’t just profit from laundering money for major drug cartels — it also profited, and continues to profit, at the other end of the drug war as a major investor in the prison-industrial complex, specifically with heavy investments in the GEO Group, the second largest private prison company in the United States.

As the largest bank in the world, Wells Fargo is deeply connected with some of the most powerful U.S. and international institutions to ensure that no matter how many crimes it commits — fraud, illegal foreclosures, money laundering, you name it — it will continue to consolidate markets, grow larger and presumably get away with its criminal activities for relatively small fines. The Global Power Project examined a total of 26 individuals on the executive committee and board of directors at Wells Fargo to assess their institutional affiliations. The most represented institutions (with three individual affiliations each) are the Council on Foreign Relations and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), followed by Harvard, Citigroup, Chevron, the Financial Services Roundtable and Target Corporation (with two individual affiliations each).

Meet the Elites

Elaine L. Chao, who sits on the board of Wells Fargo, was formerly U.S. Secretary of Labor in the George W. Bush administration, from 2001 to 2009. She was a Distinguished Fellow of the Heritage Foundation from 1996 to 2001 and has resumed that position since 2009. She was also the President and CEO of the United Way of America from 1992 to 1996, Director of the Peace Corps from 1991 to 1992, and Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation from 1989 to 1991. Chao is a member of the board of directors of Dole Food Company, News Corporation, Protective Life Corporation, the Institute of Politics of Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a member of Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

John S. Chen, also on the board of Wells Fargo, is a senior adviser to Silver Lake Partners, a director of the Walt Disney Company, a member of the Board of Overseers Emeriti of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, a former member of the President’s Export Council, a member of the board of trustees of the Brookings Institution, chairman of the U.S.-China Policy Advisory Roundtable at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Wells Fargo board member Enrique Hernandez, Jr. is the president and CEO of Inter-Con Security Systems, and sits on the boards of Chevron, Nordstrom, McDonald’s Corporation, and the board of trustees of the University of Notre Dame. He is a member of the Harvard College Visiting and Harvard University Resources Committees and is a member of the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.

Federico F. Peña, on the Wells Fargo board, was a U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Energy during the Clinton administration, and previously a member of the Colorado House of Representatives and a former mayor of Denver. More recently, he has been a senior adviser to Vestar Capital Partners, on the board of Sonic Corporation and a member of the Diversity Advisory Board of Toyota North America. A former national board member of the Obama-Biden Transition Team, Peña is also former National Co-Chair of Obama For America and currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

John G. Stumpf, the president and CEO of Wells Fargo, is a member of the board of directors of the Financial Services Forum and chairman of the board of the Financial Services Roundtable, and is also on the boards of Target Corporation, Chevron, and on the board of trustees of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

For a mega-money laundering, drug war profiteering, prison-industry enlarging global bank like Wells Fargo, the evidence is obvious: it helps to have affiliations with individuals and institutions that make up the U.S. and increasingly the international power elite. Like the other big banks, Wells Fargo is too big to fail, too big to jail, too criminal to control — and too tumorous to tolerate.

from Occupy.com

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metadata

By: Ann Cavoukian

Ever since we learned about the revelations relating to the U.S. National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance operations, the term “metadata” has been frequently used, without proper explanation of its meaning or implications for privacy. Senior government officials have defended the seizure of our personal information on the basis that “it’s only metadata.” They claim that gathering metadata is neither sensitive nor privacy-invasive since it does not access any of the content contained in associated phone calls or emails.

 

This is fanciful thinking — perpetuating a myth that is highly misleading. The truth is that collecting metadata can actually be more revealing than accessing the content of our communications.

 

Metadata is information associated with other information — generated by our smartphones, personal computers and tablets. This information can reveal the time and duration of your communications, the particular devices used, email addresses or numbers contacted, and at what locations. Since virtually every device has a unique identifying number, all of your communications and Internet activities may be linked together and traced, with relative ease.

 

This digital trail can reveal a great deal about you as an individual. Information about where you live, work, travel, what you purchase online, who you associate with, even what time you go to sleep, wake up and leave home. All of this metadata is collected and retained by companies like telecoms and ISPs, for varying periods of time, for an array of business purposes.

 

Government surveillance programs, however, gather and analyze our metadata for different purposes. Armed with this data, the state has the power to instantaneously create a detailed digital profile of the life of anyone swept up in such a massive data seizure. Once this data is compiled and examined, detailed pictures of individuals begin to emerge. The data can reveal your political or religious affiliations, as well as your personal and intimate relationships.

 

Other inferences may also be drawn, from visits to social events, stores and businesses, as well as interactions with family, friends, colleagues and their associates. In this context, we might ask, what is more intimate, listening in as people talk on the phone, or being able to chart their activities and associations, day-in, day-out, and in great depth, at any time?

 

Supporters of this type of blanket surveillance continue to perpetuate the mistaken belief that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. That is utter nonsense. The truth is that privacy isn’t about hiding — it’s not about secrecy. Privacy is all about control — personal control and freedom of choice. In a free society, individuals must be free to make informed choices about their lives, including when and to what extent they wish to reveal the personal details of their lives.

 

Another frequent misnomer used to defend metadata surveillance is the myth that if you want to be secure, you have to give up your privacy. This is simply false — it is reflected in dated either/or, zero-sum thinking. Not only is it possible to have security while protecting privacy, it is far preferable because that is the essence of freedom — going about your daily activities without fear of the state looking over your shoulder. In free societies, we are not expected to “tell all.” That is your choice to make. The time to abandon these flawed beliefs and unnecessary trade-offs is now.

 

We must strive to have both security and privacy, in tandem. Freedom must be preserved from both terrorism and tyranny. Any power to seize communications metadata must come with strong and explicit safeguards. The purpose, scope and duration of data collection must be strictly controlled. Judges and elected officials must be empowered to provide independent, robust oversight.

 

The need for operational secrecy must not stand in the way of public accountability. In this networked age, privacy knows no bounds — it transcends borders, thus requiring our global attention. Together, we must demand national security measures that are accountable and transparent. Our essential need for privacy, and the preservation of our freedom and liberty, are all at stake.

Ann Cavoukian is Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner.

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boston

 

A Syrian nationalist message to the American people, and the families of victims of the terrorist bombing in Boston:
Our enemy is common, whether it was the Wahhabi religious terrorism that does not include any sort of regard to human values or free thought or any civilized accomplishment for this world ever since the Syrians put the ancient laws of humanity thousands of years ago until the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was issued. Or the successive American administrations, which first created this religious monstrosity and fed it until it turned into a dragon who bites the flesh of anyone who opposes the will and interests of the white house and Israel in the world.

And what it is doing daily to our Syrian people including the bombing and violations in the name of revolution is not his last crime. Even if his bloody appetite collides with a patron’s interests (i.e., the US administration and Israel) or a patron’s interest requires so in order to direct the public opinion in your country to a new authoritarian project, he would go to your innocent people and pike his nails into your flesh without mercy.

Therefore, getting rid of that terrorist monster is your duty as much as it is our destiny. And as we are working together with our Syrian military army and Syrian government with all the legitimate means to face our destiny and kill that dragon, we ask you not to hesitate in carrying out your duty by revealing the common interests between your government and the terrorist organizations, and forcing this government to stop any activity that might affect our interests and yours as free people who want to live under sunlight.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party

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hugo-chavez2

 

Merida, March 5th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –After two years of battling cancer, President Hugo Chavez has died today at 4.25 pm.

Vice-president Nicolas Maduro made the announcement on public television shortly after, speaking from the Military Hospital in Caracas, where Chavez was being treated.

Military and Bolivarian police have been sent out into the street to protect the people and maintain the peace.  For now, things are calm here, with some people celebrating by honking their car horns, and many others quietly mourning in their homes.

Maduro made the announcement just a few hours after addressing the nation for an hour, accusing the opposition of taking advantage of the current situation to cause destabilisation.

“Those who die for life, can’t be called dead,” Maduro concluded.

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pres-assad2On Saturday, Cyber War News released a cache of e-mails allegedly hacked by someone in Malaysia from a British private defense contractor called Britam Defence.

One of the e-mails contains a discussion between Britam’s Business Development Director David Goulding and Philip Doughty, company founder. In the exchange, it’s revealed that there is a plan to unleash chemical weapons in Syria in order to blame it on the Bashar Al Assad regime to justify a direct intervention by U.S. and NATO forces in the country’s civil war. The plan, thought up by the government of Qatar according to the e-mail, is “approved by Washington.”

Phil

We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

We’ll have to deliver a CW (chemical weapon) to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

Kind regards

David

If this e-mail is authentic, it would confirm what has been reported in the past: that the al-Qaida connected Syrian rebels are planning to unleash chemical weapons as a false flag.

In June, Russia Today reported that Syrian rebels had acquired gas masks and chemical weapons from Libya and “allegedly plan to use it against civilians and pin the atrocity on the Bashar al-Assad regime.”

A Saudi company had further allegedly fitted 1,400 ambulances with a filtering system to protect passengers from gas and chemicals after Syrian rebels launch a chemical weapons attack using mortar rounds, all at the cost of $97,000 each. These ambulances, labeled with “Syrian People’s Relief,” would actually be carrying U.S. and NATO troops. According to Paul Joseph Watson:

The attack, which will involve the use of white phosphorus, sarin and mustard gas, will be launched on a heavily populated town near the Syria/Jordan border, possibly Daraa, after which the vehicles will pour in under the cover of humanitarian aid.

The ambulances…will operate under the guise of an aid mission to help the victims of the chemical weapons attack, but in reality are nothing short of armored personnel carriers.

A buffer zone will be created “that will lead to a NATO military intervention under the pretext of punishing Assad’s regime for the atrocity.”

In December, a video was posted online showing a member of the Syrian rebels testing chemicals on rabbits while jihadist chants go on in the background. In the video, containers labeled Tekkim are shown, which is a Turkish chemicals company. On the wall is a poster with Arabic writing on it that reads “The Almighty Wind Brigade (Kateebat A Reeh Al Sarsar),” according to the Syria Tribune.

A person wearing a lab mask then mixes chemicals in a beaker in the glass box, and we see some gas emitting from the beaker. About a minute later, the rabbits start to have random convulsions and then die. The person says: You saw what happened? This will be your fate, you infidel Alawites, I swear by ALLAH to make you die like these rabbits, one minute only after you inhale the gas.

Assad has maintained that he will not use chemical weapons in Syria’s ongoing war. It would seem unlikely that he would, considering that it would put the militaries of most of the world’s powers against him. Further, an official from within the Pentagon told NBC News that there was no evidence that Assad was planning such attacks.

Intervention in Syria is not about protecting civilians. The Assad regime is allied with the Iranian government, and by overthrowing it, the West has an advantage in an attack on the Islamic Republic.

Source

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Nasrallah-quote

I warn some sides against turning enemies into friends and friends into enemies

— Hassan Sayyed Nasrallah

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