Tagged: illegal

Oklahoma Republican politics means you don’t have to obey the president – but, you do have to obey the governor!

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill into law Monday that passes a statewide ban on raising the minimum wage and prohibits cities from legislating to establish mandatory employee benefits like vacations or sick leave…Opponents view the law as retaliation against grass roots organizers gathering signatures in the capital to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

After Fallin signed the bill, her office released a statement claiming that “most minimum-wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry-level jobs.”

Fallen said, “Mandating an increase in the minimum wage would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers. It would create a hardship for small business owners, stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers.”

You decide if she’s ignorant or a liar. The average minimum wage earner is a single mom in her 30’s.

A major paper published last year covered by the Washington Post found that economists agree that raising the minimum wage actually reduces poverty.

Reducing poverty is one of those goals that you never hear addressed by Republicans except as some kind of supposed inevitability from their favorite dribble-down economics. Which hasn’t worked anywhere on Earth, yet.

They will get righteous about protecting profits, though.

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US banks can accept legal marijuana money – if you believe?

The Obama administration has sought to lessen the fear of prosecution for banks doing business with licensed marijuana companies, further encouraging US states such as Colorado and Washington that are experimenting with legalising the drug.

The Justice and Treasury departments outlined the policy in writing to federal prosecutors and financial institutions nationwide…

The guidance stopped short of promising immunity for banks, but made clear that criminal prosecution for money laundering and other crimes was unlikely if they met a series of conditions…

Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges, and they therefore refuse to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses, the AP news agency reported.

The guidance was intended to increase the availability of banking services, such as savings and checking accounts, to marijuana shops that typically deal in cash. Forced to deal in cash because of federal policy…

US Attorney General Eric Holder said last month that the administration was planning ways to accommodate marijuana businesses so they would not always be dealing in cash.

“There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash, substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited, is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective,” Holder said on January 23…

The American Bankers Association expressed scepticism that the guidance would make much difference…Marijuana sales still violate federal law, so banks are still at risk, said Rob Rowe, a lawyer with the trade group.

“Compliance by a bank will still require extensive resources to monitor any of these businesses, and it’s unlikely the benefits would exceed the costs,”…

I asked my favorite banker about this – and received the same answer given by Rowe. As long as the Feds base their practices on existing law, there’s no one willing to be the test case after being arrested for violating federal banking regulations. Even if the DOJ says go ahead – we won’t bust you.

Why should a bank trust pronouncements from a political body unwilling or unable to change their own regulations?

General who setup Gitmo prison says – “Shut it down!”

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The U.S. general who opened the Guantanamo detention camp said Thursday it was a mistake and should be shut down because “it validates every negative perception of the United States.”

“In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong,” Marine Major General Michael Lehnert wrote in a column published in the Detroit Free Press.

Lehnert, now retired from the military and living in Michigan, was the first commander of the task force that opened the detention camp in January 2002 at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.

He said the United States opened it “because we were legitimately angry and frightened” by the September 11 hijacked plane attacks in 2001 and thought the captives sent there would provide “a treasure trove of information and intelligence.”

He quickly became convinced that most of them never should have been sent there because they had little intelligence value and there was insufficient evidence linking them to war crimes, he wrote.

“We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantanamo, both in terms of detention and torture,” Lehnert wrote. “Our decision to keep Guantanamo open has helped our enemies because it validates every negative perception of the United States…”

He added, “It is time to close Guantanamo. Our departure from Afghanistan is a perfect point in history to close the facility.”

But, that’s OK – because any attempt to redress legitimate grievances, to make things right by battlefield prisoners and kidnap victims held in violation of international law – will be met with disdain and denial by our Congress. The one body in US government which stinks worse than the Guantanamo prison camp.

The Nullification Party

…How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections – think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted. But what has to be resisted is any idea that this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States.

When ideologies become as calcified, as cocooned and as extremist as those galvanizing the GOP, the American system of government cannot work. But I fear this nullification of the last two elections is a deliberate attempt to ensure that the American system of government as we have known it cannot work. It cannot, must not work, in the mindset of these radicals, because they simply do not accept the legitimacy of a President and Congress of the opposing party. The GOP does not regard the president as merely wrong – but as illegitimate. Not misguided – illegitimate. This is not about ending Obamacare as such (although that is a preliminary scalp); it is about nullifying this presidency, the way the GOP attempted to nullify the last Democratic presidency by impeachment.

Except this time, of course, we cannot deny that race too is an added factor to the fathomless sense of entitlement felt among the GOP far right. You saw it in birtherism; in the Southern GOP’s constant outrageous claims of Obama’s alleged treason and alliance with Islamist enemies; in providing zero votes for a stimulus that was the only thing that prevented a global depression of far worse proportions; in the endless race-baiting from Fox News and the talk radio right. And in this racially-charged atmosphere, providing access to private healthcare insurance to the working poor is obviously the point of no return…

I regard this development as one of the more insidious and anti-constitutional acts of racist vandalism against the American republic in my adult lifetime. Those who keep talking as if there are two sides to this, when there are not, are as much a part of the vandalism as Ted Cruz. Obama has played punctiliously by the constitutional rules – two elections, one court case – while the GOP has decided that the rules are for dummies and suckers, and throws over the board game as soon as it looks as if it is going to lose by the rules as they have always applied.

…If we cave to their madness, we may unravel our system of government, something one might have thought conservatives would have opposed. Except these people are not conservatives. They’re vandals.

This time, the elephant must go down. And if possible, it must be so wounded it does not get up for a long time to come.

I agree. Too much work getting in winter’s firewood to spend on elaboration of my own. But, Andrew Sullivan says it well enough for now.

The silliness of TV Talking Heads blathering about middle ground and negotiations are as ignorant as ever. When half the proposed negotiations is illegal and refutation of our constitutional rights to democracy – the topic is moot. Ended. As over as Romney’s career as a national politician.

A woman is killed every hour in India over dowry

One woman dies every hour in India because of dowry-related crimes, women’s rights activists have said.

The National Crime Records Bureau said that 8,233 women were killed across India last year because of disputes over dowry payments given by the bride’s family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage.

The conviction rate in dowry-related crimes remained a low 32 percent, according to statistics the bureau published last week.

Women’s rights activists and police said that loopholes in dowry prevention laws, delays in prosecution and low conviction rates have led to a steady rise in dowry-related crimes.

Dowry demands have become even more insistent and expensive following India’s economic boom, said Ranjana Kumari, a women’s rights activist.

Suman Nalwa, a senior New Delhi police officer dealing with crimes against women, said dowry practices extended to all classes in society.

Even highly educated people don’t say no to dowry,” she said.

Though the giving or receiving of a dowry is illegal under Indian law. Another demeaning icon of Indian culture is maintained by ignorance among the populace – and no enforcement, no real effort by the government to lift people up from the past.

EU takes tough stance on Israeli settlements

The European Union has dealt a harsh blow to the Israeli settlement enterprise in a directive that insists all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish colonies in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

The move, described by an Israeli official as an “earthquake”, prompted furious criticism from the Israeli prime minister over “external diktats”.

But it was hailed by Palestinians and their supporters as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements.

The EU guidelines will prohibit the issuing of grants, funding, prizes or scholarships unless a settlement exclusion clause is included. Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line – including the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed — will be automatically ineligible.

In order to secure agreements with the EU in the future, the Israeli government will be required to concede in writing that settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are outside the state of Israel.

The directive, part of the 2014-20 financial framework, covers all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia…

The directive follows a decision by EU foreign ministers last December that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967″. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

Overdue, of course. Something the United States should emulate, of course.

Sooner or later, something approaching historic justice must begin to govern the economic relationship between Israel and the countries providing a stipend for a guilty conscience.

Italy upholds verdict on CIA agents in rendition and torture case


Imam Abu Omar, now living in Egypt

Italy’s highest appeals court has upheld guilty verdicts on 23 Americans, all but one of them CIA agents, accused of kidnapping a terror suspect.

Their case related to the abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003.

The man, known as Abu Omar, was allegedly flown to Egypt and tortured.

The Americans were tried in absentia, in the first trial involving extraordinary rendition, the CIA’s practice of transferring suspects to countries where torture is permitted.

The practice has been condemned by human rights groups as a violation of international agreements.

The group of Americans – 22 of whom were CIA agents and one an Air Force pilot – are believed to be living in the US and are unlikely to serve their sentences.

Italy has never requested their extradition but they will be unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest…

The court upheld the sentences of the lower court which had sentenced all of them to seven years in prison, apart from Seldon Lady [CIA station chief], who was given a nine-year sentence.

The Court of Cassation also ruled that five senior Italian secret service agents – including the former head of the country’s military intelligence agency – should be tried for their role in the kidnapping.

I have no idea if Abu Omar was connected to terrorism or not. What I do know is that my government, the government of the United States of America broke every relevant law on civil liberties with the rendition and torture program run under the governance of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Anyone associated with that program – especially including the thugs whose only defense is that they were just obeying orders – is equally guilty in my eyes and I am certain in the judgement of history.

Obama Administration policy on illegal immigrants Is challenged by Rahm Emanuel

Just weeks after the Supreme Court largely reaffirmed the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement powers in its legal battle with Arizona, federal officials are facing a new, politically tricky clash with local authorities over immigration, this time in Chicago.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would propose an ordinance that would bar police officers from turning over illegal immigrants to federal agents if the immigrants do not have serious criminal convictions or outstanding criminal warrants.

In contrast to the Obama administration’s long-running confrontation with officials in Arizona, who are mostly Republicans, the latest challenge to the president’s immigration policies comes from Mr. Emanuel, his former chief of staff, and from other Democratic allies in President Obama’s hometown.

“If you have no criminal record, being part of a community is not a problem for you,” Mr. Emanuel said, speaking at a high school library in Little Village, a Latino neighborhood. “We want to welcome you to the city of Chicago.”

The mayor said the proposal was part of his goal to make Chicago the “most immigrant-friendly city in the country…”

Chicago is governed separately from Cook County. The city’s ordinance would give its police department more power to decide which immigrants to turn over to federal agents, but it would not curtail most cooperation as Cook County has done…

Mr. Emanuel did not pose his initiative as a challenge to Mr. Obama. Rather he laid blame on Congress for inaction on immigration. The City Council will consider the ordinance this month.

All these chickens are coming home to roost to pay for decades of diminished responsibility by liberals – coupled with several flavors of activist bigotry from conservatives in both parties.

Over the decades of diminished access to the United States – especially aimed at barring Hispanic immigrants from Mexico and Central America – I wonder how many undocumentados would have arrived here legally? Seems to me that a significant majority of those now here would have had little problem passing through the system if standards were kept to the designs of those who originally formulated our nation’s immigration policy.

Young Indian woman fights to annul her child marriage

A 20-year-old girl has sought protection by the Rajasthan authorities from members of a village community council who, she says, are threatening her with serious consequences if she did not accept her childhood marriage, officials said Monday.

She also requested the district administration officials to annul her marriage that was solemnised when she was a mere five-year old, they added.

The girl, Rekha Kumari, is a resident of Peepar city area of the district, some 330 km from state capital Jaipur.

“She filed an application before the local sub-divisional officer Sunday, requesting security from a village community council or panchayat. She says that they were threatening to expel her from the locality, which means she and her family members would not be able to mingle with other villagers. It also warned of slapping huge cash fines on her and her family members if she did not accept the marriage,” a senior district administration officer told IANS.

The officer said that Rekha is doing graduation from a government college in Peepar city. She was married with the consent of her grandfather when she was only five years old

“After the death of her grandfather recently, her so-called in-laws started pressuring the girl to start living with them which she refused as the boy she was married to is hardly literate,” said the officer. He added that the in-laws then approached the village panchayat members who started threatening the girl.

The police are waiting to see if threats escalate before they intervene – which is scary enough. Though child marriage is technically illegal in India, like a lot of leftover cultural practices, community response can be deadly.

Thousands rally against Quebec ban on peaceful public protest


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Thousands of protesters on foot, bicycle, skateboard or rollerblades, crossed Montreal late on Saturday to the deafening din of pots, fog horns and whistles in protest at new rules limiting their right to demonstrate.

Some carried Quebec flags, others red flags and placards denouncing the special law, hastily passed a week ago, intended to clamp down on a wave of student protests against rising tuition fees.

The emergency law requires protest organisers to give police at least eight hours advance warning of times and locations of demonstrations, with big fines for failure to do so.

Authorities had used the law to declare protests illegal, clearing the way for police to disperse protesters.

But about 10,000 people joined Saturday’s demonstration

The march was immediately declared illegal by police, who had not been informed of the itinerary.

But the demonstrators were able to proceed without incident and the only arrest made was that of an irate driver annoyed at being blocked by the protesters, police said.

Similar events were held in Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and in several other cities in the francophone province.

So much for freedom of expression in the democratic West. Please don’t believe a response this reactionary is limited to Canada – or to a Conservative government.

When push comes to shove, when the people of a nation like Canada stand up and express their dissatisfaction with lousy laws and even worse economic policies – the first response from politicians and other cowards who fear loss of power is to crush peaceful protest, to enact laws justifying the repression.

It’s happened before. It will happen again. Police are nothing more than a willing and often enthusiastic tool. The real villains are our democratically-elected stooges.