Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called on Tuesday for an investigation into oil price manipulation. He also proposed a 30-day deadline for federal regulators to use emergency powers to curb excessive speculation in crude oil markets.
“We must do everything that we can to make sure that oil and gasoline prices are transparent and free from fraud, manipulation, abuse and excessive speculation,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate energy committee.
Over the past five months, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline has gone up by more than 41 cents. The price hikes come at a time when U.S. oil inventories reached a three-decade high while demand for gasoline is lower than four years ago when prices averaged less than $2.30 a gallon.
Sanders spoke about rapidly rising gas prices during a Senate floor speech on two amendments he proposed to the farm bill.
“The skyrocketing cost of gasoline and oil is causing tremendous hardship to the American consumer, small businesses, truckers, airlines and fuel dealers. In fact, as we struggle to claw our way out of this terrible recession, high oil and gas prices are enormously detrimental to the entire economic recovery process,” Sanders said.
Interrogation rooms with wooden boards used to immobilize detainees, are among the evidence of torture Human Rights Watch says it has uncovered in Syria.
Proof of torture -- that's what Human Rights Watch says they've uncovered in Syria. Researcher Lama Fakih says they've found everything from written accounts of abuse to actual torture devices, in the rebel held city of Raqqa.
Human Rights Watch researcher, Lama Fakih: "We were able to see, for example, documentary evidence of the types of cases that the intelligence forces were following. We were able to see the solitary confinement cells where the detainees were held. We were also able to see interrogation rooms and torture rooms."
Most of the material was found inside former security and military intelligence facilities.
"In one case," Fakih continues, "in the State Security branch, we were able to see a basat el-reeh torture device. This device is a wooden board that is in the shape of a cross that a detainee is bound to. It folds in half and enables the guards and interrogators to bind to detainee in a very uncomfortable position so they can beat him while he is defenceless."
Interviews with locals, according to Human Rights Watch, also confirmed reports of torture and arbitrary detainment. The New York based activist group is urging local oppositon leaders to safeguard documents and other material that might be used as evidence that war crimes were committed.
Filmmaker David Sutherland explores that question tonight in Kind Hearted Woman, a two-part television event from Frontline and Independent Lens.
The five-hour film, aired in two parts on PBS April 1 and 2, focuses on Robin Charboneau, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe in North Dakota. A single mother struggling to raise her two children on the Spirit Lake Nation reservation, Charboneau faces daunting odds living in a community plagued by poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and a systemic unwillingness to address its own worst problems.
Charboneau’s path is made no easier by her own troubled childhood. From the age of 3 she was brutally assaulted by family members, then placed in a foster home at 13. Alcoholism, depression, and troubled relationships with abusive men, including her ex-husband, marked her young adulthood. The couple’s custody battles over their children -- daughter Darian, now 17, and son Anthony, 14 -- frame much of Sutherland’s story, which he began filming in 2008, following Charboneau as she fled the reservation and tried to establish an independent life for herself and her kids.
There were five of them, not even men yet, accused of a violent rape. They were prosecuted aggressively by district attorneys and vilified by a tabloid press, then sent to prison for as many as 13 years.
In 1989, the case of the Central Park Five, as the attack on a 28-year-old white investment banker in uptown Manhattan has come to be known, roiled the country, touching on race and class and fears about crime.
But the defendants -- all black or Latino, none older than 16 -- didn't commit the attack on the Central Park jogger. They were the victims of coerced confessions and authorities eager for scapegoats.
Then in 2002, after the five had all spent years in jail, a previously unknown man admitted to beating and sexually assaulting the woman. All five of the convictions were vacated.
An explosive new documentary looks at a case once referred to as "the crime of the century": the Central Park Five. Many people have heard about the case, but far too few know that innocent teenagers were imprisoned as a result. The film tells the story of how five black and Latino teenagers were arrested in 1989 for beating and raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. Media coverage at the time portrayed the teens as guilty and used racially coded terms like "wolf pack" to refer to the group of boys accused in the attack.
Donald Trump took out full-page ads in four city newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty so they could be executed. However, the convictions of the five were vacated in 2002 when the real rapist came forward and confessed to the crime, after the five defendants had already served sentences of almost seven to 13 years.
An explosive article from Salon this week highlights the attitude of corporations that profits rule, above all else.
But what if that corporation is a for-profit health care company that values profits over the health and safety of its patients? You may say that's just how corporate America rolls in these times, and I'd have to agree. But now what if the corporation that owns the for-profit health care provider is Bain capital -- founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- reportedly sees about 1 death per year on average in its facilities due to neglect, abuse or the use of under-paid staff with inadequate training? And what if Mitt Romney, a man who is running for the highest office in our nation based on his business acumen, is also profiting from that health care provider?
"Corporations are people, my friends." No, no they're not. Also, their profits are absolutely not more important than the troubled teens who were sent for "treatment" at the Bain Capital owned CRC Health centers who didn't live to return home.
When the morning staff arrived at 7 a.m., they discovered Brendan face down on the floor of the Purple Room, his body already stiff with rigor mortis. The state’s chief medical examiner later determined that Blum had died of a twisted-bowel infarction, which requires emergency surgical intervention.
The failure at Youth Care was not due simply to the carelessness of a few workers — a point underscored when a Utah court found that the threshold needed to pursue criminal negligence charges against the two monitors in 2008 wasn’t met and the charges were dismissed. And it wasn’t the only example of alleged negligence or abuse at treatment centers for adult addicts and “troubled teens” that are owned by Aspen’s parent company, CRC Health Group, according to a Salon investigation based on government reports, court filings and official complaints by parents and employees, along with interviews with former clients and staff.
Court documents and ex-staffers also allege that such incidents reflect, in part, a broader corporate culture at Aspen’s owner, CRC Health Group, a leading national chain of treatment centers. Lawsuits and critics have claimed that CRC prizes profits, and the avoidance of outside scrutiny, over the health and safety of its clients. (We sent specific questions on these basic allegations to CRC and owner Bain Capital. CRC would answer only general questions; Bain did not reply.)
And CRC’s corporate culture, in turn, reflects the attitudes and financial imperatives of Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney. (The Romney campaign also did not reply to written questions.) Bain is known for its relentless obsession with maximizing shareholder value and revenues. Indeed, this has become a talking point of late on the Romney campaign trail; he bragged to Fox in late May that “80 percent of them grew their revenues.” CRC, a fast-growing company then in the lucrative field of drug treatment, was perhaps a natural fit when Bain acquired it for $720 million in 2006. In conversations with staff and patients who spent time at CRC facilities since the takeover, there are suggestions that the Bain approach has had its effects. “If you look at their daily profit numbers compared to what they charge,” Dana Blum said of CRC’s Aspen division in 2009, “it’s obscene.” That point, ironically enough, was underscored by the glowing reports in the trade press about its profitability.
Also noteworthy, of the three Bain managing partners who sit on CRC’s board, two, John Connaughton and Steven Barnes, along with his wife, gave a total of half a million dollars to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. They also each donated the $2,500 maximum directly to his campaign.
I can't imagine the pain Brendan Blum's family must feel when they hear Mitt Romney droning on about profits, stock options, and tax shelters in the Caymans as they grieve in silence. They can no longer speak publicly about Brendan’s death, according to the terms of a settlement reached last year in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Reuters has obtained video footage that shows a woman being executed “to cheers of jubilation” from roughly 150 men in a village near Kabul.
“It is the order of Allah that she be executed,” one man says, as another remarks, “Allah warns us not to get close to adultery because it’s the wrong way” as the executioner approaches.
The woman was reportedly kneeling in the dirt, most of her body wrapped tightly in a shawl, as a man shot her five times in the head at close range with an automatic rifle.
She then fell sideways as onlookers yelled, “Long live the Afghan mujahideen! (Islamist fighters)”, a name the Taliban sometimes use for themselves.
A shot rings out, but the burqa-clad woman sitting on the rocky ground does not respond.
The man pointing a rifle at her from a few feet away lets loose another round, but still there is no reaction.
He fires a third shot, and finally the woman slumps backwards.
When the unnamed woman, most of her body tightly wrapped in a shawl, fell sideways after being shot several times in the head, the spectators chanted: "Long live the Afghan mujahideen! (Islamist fighters)", a name the Taliban use for themselves.
But the man fires another shot.
And another. And another.
Nine shots in all.
Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and work since the Taliban, who deemed them un-Islamic for women, were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.
But fears are rising among Afghan women, some lawmakers and rights activists that such freedoms could be traded away as the Afghan government and the United States pursue talks with the Taliban to secure a peaceful end to the war.
Violence against women has increased sharply in the past year, according to Afghanistan's independent human rights commission. Activists say there is waning interest in women's rights on the part of President Hamid Karzai's government.
Just last March, Afghanisan's president Hamid Karzai endorsed a code which allows husbands to beat wives and encourages segregation.
Members of Occupy Los Angeles say that recent efforts to clean the "skid row" area of the city are actually a ploy to eventually rid the area of its homeless population, so that a powerful group of lobbyists can begin efforts to help their clients realize plans to redevelop the area into profitable businesses.The CCA is a business group that lobbies city and state government to grease the wheels for development in downtown LA. They represent local businesses, as well as large corporations, such as Chevron, Walmart, Verizon, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo and Bank of America .
Police say that any property not placed in the city provided storage facility during the cleaning operations must be mobile, and kept moving all day long, until the one of the Injunctions kicks in at 9pm and people are allowed to sleep. At 6am, they must begin moving around again until the night. You can hear police explain in the video above "You cannot return to where you were, and you cannot stay where you are now." Come 9pm, the homeless have to find a new spot to sleep for the night because they are not allowed to return to the "cleaned" areas, and then each day the process begins again.
Occupy Los Angeles, LA CAN, Occupy the Hood, and Occupy Skid Row have all kept a presence in the area to protest the efforts of CCA, with Occupy LA reporting over this past weekend. From Occupy LA's website:
First thoughts written last night: ”4 Arrests in Midnight LAPD Raid on CCA Siege – Occupy Los Angeles – three of my best friends and roommates, and an unknown 4th man ARRESTED. Charges unknown. Police orchestrated tactical raid with 25+ cops, pepper spray out and batons were swinging. Captain Frank (at a compañera’s trial yesterday) pointed at her and said, “Don’t I know you?”. Another police officer told a fifth occupier that “You’re getting arrested tomorrow.”
I couldn’t move, trapped inside a tent and seeing silhouettes of gum-chewing cops, fidgety and in war-mode. LAPD’s true colors emerging.
You want to talk targeted kidnappings and terror? Cops were laughing as they pushed and hit us. Laughing as they sent 3 snatch squads and took my friends in the dead of night.”
We’re traumatized and enraged. Three of my roommates were snatched by LAPD last night. Bails are $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000…. they’ve been some of the most visible organizers with the siege on the Central City Association (1%’s lobby here in Los Angeles) for nearly a month. They have all been harassed, intimidated, brutalized, and arrested by the LAPD before. They have all been occupying for months and are inspiring in their defiance and rejection of the oppressive status quo.
The arrests began over alleged chalk drawings, despite the 9th circuit court decision of Mackinney vs. Neilson that states, “No chalk would damage a sidewalk.”
Since May 29, occupiers and homeless advocates have camped out each night in front of the CCA’s offices in downtown, as part of an ongoing “siege” protest that was originally only meant to last seven days. The action was coordinated by Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy the Hood, Occupy Skid Row and the Los Angeles Community Action Network.
Obviously, occupiers, who would prefer government to be free of corporate influences, are ideologically opposed to the lobby group. In fact, one could say the CCA is Occupy LA’s local archenemy.
Heather Meyer, an occupier who has been camping out in front of the CCA, said the lobby is “behind everything that is oppressive.” She cites as an example the groups opposition to the recently passed “Responsible Banking” ordinance, which requires banks doing business with the city to turn over information on loans and foreclosure activity and making it readily available to the public.
“They are the lobbyists for the one percent,” she said. “They are the epitome of money in politics.”
The CCA has done more than support bankers to irritate occupiers. The CCA also successfully opposed community efforts to block the construction of a Walmart in Chinatown. They helped kill a city ordinance that would have required hotels to keep their employees 90 days after a change of hotel ownership, according to their website.
As further evidence of the power the lobbyists at CCA wield, the report cites CCA announcing their intentions earlier this year to further lobby for more police resources for the skid row area. The LAPD soon after announcing 40 more officers being sent in to patrol despite there only being a “minor uptick in reported crime” in a neighborhood that “still reports some of the lowest crime levels in the city,” according to the Downtown News.
To explain the decision to respond so strongly to a minor uptick in crime, the LAPD stated:
In recent months, the department has been fielding more complaints from residents and businesses about aggressive panhandling and people sleeping on the sidewalk during the day, he said.
“We are having an increase in quality of life issues and we don’t want to lose any ground that we’ve gained in that area,” Perez said. “We want to stop the problem before it explodes. We’re just being proactive in our analysis and response to the area and understanding it.”
Interestingly enough, it sounds as if the increase in complaints began around the time CCA announced it would begin lobbying for more police...
If you continue to read the Downtown News article, it really does a great job of making skid row sound bad. I've seen it, it's a depressing and disturbing area that seems like you've crossed some great divide into an undeveloped nation. So many people with nowhere else to call home. Then it finishes with a quote from CCA's CEO:
“There hasn’t been an area in the entire county of Los Angeles that has not benefited from making Downtown come alive,” said Schatz. “When people are sleeping on the streets… it affects our ability to continue to attract investment and continue to make this Downtown thrive.”
As I read that quote, it didn't sound to me as if what happens to the people of skid row was a priority, or even a concern at all.
I'll keep you posted on any updates on the situation.
[This video is a shocking compilation of various instances of police brutality, including the shooting death of Oscar Grant. Please be warned of the graphic violence before viewing.]
An Anonymous message:
No corporate police officials where harmed during the making of this video only serfs get killed or harmed.
Its time to realize the elite have enslaved us all while using costumed thugs to make you fall into line even with brute force and the thugs never face criminal charges because there is a law for slaves and one for masters, who gave police fake powers over humans? Politicians who have no power over us because they are there to serve us not oppress us, so wake up, they tell police they can have all the toys and powers they want all they must do is serve the corporate elite while being funded by the people.
The United States and UK has growing problem with police abuse, brutality, and corruption. It is essential for civilians to document their encounters with police officers to ensure transparency, accountability, and safety to all of those involved.
Police departments have, for too long, tried to bully, intimidate, threaten, arrest, or otherwise harass law abiding citizens from recording the activities of law enforcement in public. Enough is enough! It is time for all of us to take a stand and expose police brutality when we witness it and as they refuse to be held accountable we must now disarm them when we see them acting outside the law we have a duty to unite and strip them of their weapons and costume and send a message to the elite that their hired thugs will no longer be tolerated in a civil society we will police ourselves without the need for revenue raising agents..
If you see something, film something, the freedom of press begins with you!
On March 17 , Occupy Wall Street demonstrators gathered for their Six month anniversary, where people re-occupied Zuccotti Park. This footage begins around 9 O'clock p.m.,and shows the gathering that took place along with many of the arrests.
The NYPD orders all to evacuate in order for the park to be "cleaned". Many stayed and were then arrested. Here are those events. Wonderful music by Ignacio Nunez, the song is called La cajita de musica.
After the January 28 arrests at Occupy Oakland, reports both confirmed and unconfirmed surfaced of various abuses and possible torture of those who were being held at Santa Rita Jail.
Natasha Lennard of Salon has an especially good article out detailing exactly what happened at Santa Rita. Three firsthand accounts are all confirmed by Occupy Oakland's media team, as well as the National Lawyers Guild.
“I am a person living with HIV and I was held for over 30 hours in Santa Rita and denied my prescription medications on multiple occasions by jail staff,” one 28-year-old arrestee told Salon via email, asking to remain anonymous as his family are currently unaware of his HIV status. “I know three others with HIV and many others with psychiatric prescriptions who were also held without being given their meds,” he added.
Carey Lamprecht of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter and Occupy Legal collective confirmed that “two HIV positive individuals were held without access to medication for over two days at Santa Rita jail.” Lamprecht added that one man who usually takes anti-retroviral drugs every four to six hours went without a dose for over two days and was unable to access a legal counsel for more than a day while detained, as the large number of arrestees were constantly moved around the jail.
Different individuals living with HIV face different risks from missing doses, depending on their T-Cell, viral load counts, anti-retroviral therapy regimens and other factors. The risk, especially for individuals with low T-Cell counts is that the virus mutates rapidly and can develop resistance to medication if doses are inconsistent. The young man who spoke to Salon said that although his T-cell counts are “in the healthy range … none of the guards or medical staff ascertained any of this information” to determine the relative risks of detainees going without medication.
“It felt like we had disappeared. Deputies often didn’t know where individuals were and wandered from cell block to cell block looking for individuals to process,” the man said. “On multiple occasions, my cell block mic checked the guards and led chants, demanding in one voice medicine, food, and other necessities like toilet paper and maxi pads.”
Be sure to read the entire piece here, for those incredible firsthand accounts, and without giving it all away...there's a wee bit of a triumphant ending to it all.