31 Aug 2015
A British MI6 spy who was found dead inside a bag in 2010 had hacked into restricted information about the US president, it has been claimed. Gareth Williams, a 31-year-old employee of GCHQ who was seconded to the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) was found dead inside a padlocked bag at a safe house in London.
The Sun on Sunday newspaper quotes an intelligence source as saying Mr Williams had obtained sensitive documents regarding former US president Bill Clinton. “The Clinton diary hack came at a time when Williams’s work with America was of the most sensitive nature,” the source is reported to have told the newspaper.
“It was a diplomatic nightmare for Sir John Sawers, the new director of MI6 at the time.” A coroner had previously ruled that Mr Williams was probably unlawfully killed and that his death was likely to have been the result of criminal actions.
30 Aug 2015
They’re not people: nobody would tolerate hearing about the drowning of human beings over and over again. At best they are bleak but intangible statistics, the object of a bit of tutting before mundane everyday life takes over. For others, they are an unwanted and uninvited swarm that Fortress Europe must keep out: full of undeserving would-be leeches who have no place in the west. In the hierarchy of death, anyone labelled “migrant” must take their place somewhere near the bottom. It is a dehumanised word: for all too many people, it is somewhere down with “petty criminal”, and who mourns petty criminals?
As the news of up to 200 dead refugees, drowned off the coast of Libya, filters fleetingly into news coverage, the only guarantee is that more will drown. And with news of more than 70 refugees found dead in a truck in Austria – to try to imagine their last living moments triggers a horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach – we know that more bodies will be found in more trucks. Those of us who want more sympathetic treatment of people fleeing desperate situations have failed to win over public opinion, and the cost of that is death.
For those who believe that hostility to human beings from other countries who lost the lottery of life is somehow hardwired into us, there is evidence to the contrary. Germany takes in around four times as many refugees as Britain does; and for every Syrian asylum seeker received by Britain, Germany gets 27. And despite German generosity comparing starkly with our own, half of Germans polled support letting in even more refugees.
27 Aug 2015
After two days of caste-related riots that left eight people dead in the Indian state of Gujarat, calm is slowly returning. However, a curfew remains in place and the Internet has been blocked in some areas. And many residents are furious.
Protests began in Ahmedabad, with members of the Patel caste [the caste system is a system of social stratification and impacts people’s occupations] demanding quotas in public universities and in government jobs. The influential Patels, a caste that also own a lot of the region’s land and diamond businesses, are not among the Indian castes considered as being disadvantaged, which benefit from quotas (also known in India as “reservations”.)
A Patel rally held on Tuesday evening quickly degenerated into clashes with the police after the protest movement’s leader Hardik Patel was arrested. Rioting quickly spread to other towns in the state, and dozens of police stations and vehicles were set ablaze. Hardik Patel was freed later in the night, but clashes continued into Wednesday, when government forces were brought in and a curfew installed. Parts of Ahmedabad still have limited Internet access, in an effort the authorities say is meant to stop incendiary messages from spreading via social media.
26 Aug 2015
25 Aug 2015
24 Aug 2015
A Bangkok court has indicted a British human rights worker for criminal defamation after he exposed alleged labour abuses in Thailand’s tinned fruit industry. Andy Hall, 35, could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of criminal defamation by publication and offences under the country’s Computer Crimes Act.
The case is one of four criminal and civil cases brought by the Natural Fruit Company following Hall’s research into the firm. The civil cases carry fines of up to $12.5m. Hall’s interviews with migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar found evidence of labour trafficking, child labour, violence against workers, and other abuses at its plant in the central province of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
The research was carried out on behalf of the Finnish NGO Finnwatch. Its executive director Sonja Vartiala said the charges against Hall were unfounded and called on Thailand to abolish its criminal defamation laws, "as they infringe on freedom of expression". "At this point, the prospects for Andy Hall to receive a fair trial are looking grim," she added.
The Bangkok South Criminal Court ordered Hall to enter a plea on October 19, when he faces detention but can request bail.
Hall is backed by international human rights groups, trade unions, and the Thai seafood industry, which has itself come under fire for alleged human rights abuses. "They are all against it. These people [Natural Fruit] are just stubborn," Hall told Al Jazeera. "I respect the decision of the court, but I will fight the case and hopefully win it."
23 Aug 2015
21 Aug 2015
Comedian and host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight John Oliver slammed televangelists on Sunday for their greed and extortion as they enjoy mass wealth as a result. To mock the government’s absence of regulation, Oliver started his own church, called “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption,” naming himself “megapastor” and CEO.
Looks like Oliver struck a nerve. On Wednesday, Christian minister Jennifer LeClaire said Oliver shouldn’t “mock what you don’t understand,” calling him a “false reverend.” LeClaire, who operates the Awakening House of Prayer, admitted there are abusive churches. But she does believe in the concept of “seed faith” — the idea that giving money to a church will result in returns for the giver. “[W]e have to be careful not to paint everyone who believes for an airplane or sows a seed to get out of debt as a heretic,” she writes.
Oliver’s segment hilariously skewered preachers whose fantastic displays of wealth come at a large cost to parishioners who they compel to donate what little money they have. They tend to believe in the conveniently self-serving idea of prosperity as a sign of God’s favor.
A typhoid outbreak is just the latest catastrophe to be inflicted on Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. They've endured a bombing campaign and siege by the government of Bashar al-Assad, and more recently an invasion by Islamic State militants. December 2012 fighting has driven out the vast majority of some 200,000 refugees that had made Yarmouk their home. The UN has been denied access to Yarmouk since late March. More than 90 percent of more than half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria rely on UN assistance for survival.
Inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK, mysterious construction over the last month—including a dingy looking Disney-like castle and a gargantuan rainbow-colored pinwheel tangled in plastic—suggested something big was afoot. Suspicion and anticipation surrounding the unusual activity attributed to fabled artist and provocateur Banksy has reached a Willy Wonka-esque fervor. Well, if Banksy’s your bag, continue fervoring. If not, there’s more than a few reasons to continue reading.
The spectacle has since been revealed to be a pop-up art exhibition in the form of an apocalyptic theme park titled Dismaland (“The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction”) that will be open to the public for five weeks.
Dismaland.co.uk - More at Mashable
19 Aug 2015
16 Aug 2015
Chelsea Manning Faces Solitary Confinement for Having Vanity Fair's Caitlyn Jenner Issue in Her Cell
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning could face punishment of indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste, an issue of Vanity Fair in which transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner describes her new life living openly as a woman, the U.S. Senate report on torture and other "prohibited property" in her cell at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking U.S. government cables to WikiLeaks. On Thursday, an Army spokesperson said it is committed to "a fair and equitable process" in Manning’s case, which is now pending before a disciplinary board.
14 Aug 2015
“The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world...second only to oil,” the recipient of an environmental award told a stunned Manhattan audience earlier this year. “It’s a really nasty business...it’s a mess.” While you’d never hear an oil tycoon malign his bonanza in such a way, the woman who stood at the podium, Eileen Fisher, is a clothing industry magnate.
When we think of pollution, we envision coal powerplants, strip-mined mountaintops and raw sewage piped into our waterways. We don’t often think of the shirts on our backs. But the overall impact the apparel industry has on our planet is quite grim.
Fashion is a complicated business involving long and varied supply chains of production, raw material, textile manufacture, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and ultimately disposal of the garment. While Fisher’s assessment that fashion is the second largest polluter is likely impossible to know, what is certain is that the fashion carbon footprint is tremendous. Determining that footprint is an overwhelming challenge due to the immense variety from one garment to the next. A general assessment must take into account not only obvious pollutants — the pesticides used in cotton farming, the toxic dyes used in manufacturing and the great amount of waste discarded clothing creates — but also the extravagant amount of natural resources used in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing and shipping.
13 Aug 2015
Donald Trump said Tuesday that Jesus Christ was a ‘socialist loser’ because he used to feed the poor and heal the sick. Then Trump – the Republican presidential contender who has captured the hearts and minds of at least 20% of the nation’s Republicans – vowed: “Believe me, Trump would never help the poor.”
“I would never give away medicine for free. Jesus was weak. Let me tell you something, Jesus is not god. He’s god because he was crucified. I like gods that weren’t crucified. Perhaps he’s god, but right now, Jesus hasn’t done anything in 2000 years,” Trump added. “Jesus gets up there and starts bleeding out on the cross. Trump wouldn’t do that. He has blood coming out of his sides, his eyes, his feet, blood coming out of his wherever. Just disgusting.”
The real estate tycoon also said he didn’t like Jesus after he found out that he used to give away free healthcare to the poor. “I never liked Jesus after that, because I don’t like socialist losers,” Trump said. “He’s as weak as Bernie Sanders.”
12 Aug 2015
At least fifteen people were killed during the weekend in the southwestern state of Guerrero, including an activist who helped lead efforts to find 43 students who disappeared and were presumed murdered last year, according to Mexican officials. Ten of the murders took place in the resort city of Acapulco, which is packed with tourists due to summer vacations, local police said.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, a leader of a community police organization, was found shot to death inside the taxi he drove on Saturday night in the rural outskirts of Acapulco, according to local police. Jimenez led a group that searched for approximately 300 people who have disappeared in the state, helping uncover mass graves found around the city of Iguala where 43 Mexican students went missing last year.
The government has said the students were abducted by police and handed over to drug traffickers who allegedly killed the students and burnt their bodies. Guerrero, which has one of the highest murder rates in the nation, saw 1,514 homicides in 2014 and 943 people who have been killed so far this year through June, according to federal statistics.
9 Aug 2015
8 Aug 2015
A gang armed with machetes has hacked a secular blogger to death at his home in Dhaka in the fourth such murder in Bangladesh since the start of the year, an activist group and police have said. Niloy Chatterjee, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, was murdered on Friday after the men broke into his flat in the capital's Goran neighbourhood, according to the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, which was alerted to the attack by a witness.
"They entered his room in the fifth floor and shoved his friend aside and then hacked him to death. He was a listed target of the Islamist militants," the network's head Imran H Sarker, told the AFP news agency.
Later on Friday, Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star, reported that Ansar al-Islam, a local chapter of al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility for the killing. The newspaper said the group had sent an email to media houses in Bangladesh, adding that the authenticity of the email issued by Mufti Abdullah Ashraf, who claimed himself to be the spokesman of Ansar-Al-Islam, could not be verified independently. Chatterjee, 40, was a critic of religious extremism that led to bombings in mosques and the killing of numerous civilians, Sarker said.
Attacks on Bangladesh bloggers in 2015
August 6 - Niloy Chatterjee, blogger, hacked to death at his home in Dhaka.
May 12 - Ananta Bijoy Das, blogger for Mukto-Mona website, killed while on his way to work in the city of Sylhet.
March 30 - Washiqur Rahman Babu, blogger, hacked to death by three men in Dhaka.
February 26 - Avijit Roy, a prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger, killed while walking with his wife outside Dhaka University.
4 Aug 2015
Sign the petition asking for Unilever to clean up the mercury poisoning in Kodaikanal: http://www.jhatkaa.org/unilever/.
Written by Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf and set to Nicki Minaj's “Anaconda,” the video takes an undisguised jab at Unilever for its failure to clean up mercury contamination or compensate workers affected by its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal.
3 Aug 2015
After the greatest financial heist in history, the modern day 'Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse' continue to ride roughshod over the people whom can least afford it. One - a rapacious financial system, Two - escalating organized violence, Three - abject poverty for billions and Four - exhaustion of the earth's resources, gallop unchallenged because we are not encouraged to question the accepted norms.