Brave women defy driving ban in Saudi Arabia

More than 60 women claimed to have answered their call to get behind the wheel in a rare show of defiance against a ban on female driving in the ultraconservative kingdom…

Saudi professor and campaigner Aziza Youssef said that the group received 13 videos and another 50 phone messages from women showing or claiming they had driven on Saturday. She said they had no way to verify the messages.

If the numbers are accurate, this year’s campaign is the most successful effort yet by Saudi women demanding the right to drive.

Youssef said they had not received any reports of arrests or women being ticketed by police.

A security official said that authorities did not arrest or fine any female drivers on Saturday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media…

Youssef said she and four other prominent women activists received phone calls this week from a top official with close links to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, warning them not to drive on Saturday…

The activists changed the original plan to drive only on Saturday to make the campaign open-ended, in response to the threats.

Though no specific Saudi law bans women from driving, women are not issued licenses

Clerics who hold far-reaching influence over the monarchy enforce the driving ban, warning that breaking it will spread “licentiousness”.

Brave women. Folks around the world need to let the monarchy in Saudi Arabia hear your support.

http://tinyurl.com/saudiministryinterior

Germany, Brazil offer anti-spying resolution at U.N.

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Germany and Brazil are drafting a U.N. General Assembly resolution that would demand an end to excessive spying and invasion of privacy after a former U.S. intelligence contractor revealed massive international surveillance programs, U.N. diplomats said on Friday.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both condemned the widespread snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency.

“This resolution will probably have enormous support in the GA (General Assembly), since no one likes the NSA spying on them,” a Western U.N. diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, unlike resolutions of the 15-nation Security Council. But assembly resolutions that enjoy broad international support can carry significant moral and political weight.

Merkel demanded on Thursday that Washington strike a “no-spying” agreement with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year, adding she wanted action from President Barack Obama, not just apologetic words.

Last month, Rousseff used her position as the opening speaker at the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders to yaccuse the United States of violating human rights and international law through espionage that included spying on her email.

Rousseff also expressed her displeasure by calling off a high-profile state visit to the United States scheduled for this month over reports that the NSA had been spying on Brazil.

The arrogant Ugly American never really left the White House. The military-industrial complex achieved all its Cold War goals early on. Almost every president after Eisenhower was able to try his hand at a large or small war, keeping death and destruction hardware up-to-date. As often as our government lectured about peace, taxpayers ponied up for undeclared and unfunded wars, have continued to pick up the tab for 750+ military bases around the world. We are more of a danger to peace than any imperial force before us. We make the British Empire look like a traveling sewing circle.

From Congress to local polling places, there is damned little challenge to any executive mission termed necessary to national security. The War Department became the Department of Defense. God joined our pledge to the flag and our currency – and there must be a joke somewhere in that one. The sum of the four most recent presidential terms is complete agreement on our natural right to spy on everyone from laborers to prime ministers, home and away. The only difference being which mealy-mouthed interpretation of the Constitution is relied on.

“Congressional oversight of the NSA is a joke. I should know, I’m in Congress”

Alan Grayson really pisses off the whole range of useless politicians – from corrupt to cowardly.

In the 1970s, Congressman Otis Pike of New York chaired a special congressional committee to investigate abuses by the American so-called “intelligence community” – the spies. After the investigation, Pike commented:

It took this investigation to convince me that I had always been told lies, to make me realize that I was tired of being told lies.

I’m tired of the spies telling lies, too.

Pike’s investigation initiated one of the first congressional oversight debates for the vast and hidden collective of espionage agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA). Before the Pike Commission, Congress was kept in the dark about them – a tactic designed to thwart congressional deterrence of the sometimes illegal and often shocking activities carried out by the “intelligence community”. Today, we are seeing a repeat of this professional voyeurism by our nation’s spies, on an unprecedented and pervasive scale.

Recently, the US House of Representatives voted on an amendment – offered by Representatives Justin Amash and John Conyers – that would have curbed the NSA’s omnipresent and inescapable tactics. Despite furious lobbying by the intelligence industrial complex and its allies, and four hours of frantic and overwrought briefings by the NSA’s General Keith Alexander, 205 of 422 Representatives voted for the amendment.

Though the amendment barely failed, the vote signaled a clear message to the NSA: we do not trust you. The vote also conveyed another, more subtle message: members of Congress do not trust that the House Intelligence Committee is providing the necessary oversight. On the contrary, “oversight” has become “overlook“…

Many of us worry that Congressional Intelligence Committees are more loyal to the “intelligence community” that they are tasked with policing, than to the Constitution. And the House Intelligence Committee isn’t doing anything to assuage our concerns.

RTFA for details. If you pay attention to politics on any reasonable scale, you will not be surprised. But, Grayson’s op-ed piece is useful in the battle against subservience and collaboration in Congress.

Georgia man has his priorities straight – survives house fire

fire and beer

Six adults, including Walter Serpit, and two children were in the living room of their Columbus, Ga., home on Thursday afternoon when smoke began pouring in. All eight people made it outside safely, but Serpit, with the aid of his cane, went back for what really mattered — his beer.

“I told them to get the kids out and everything, and me myself, being an alcoholic, I was trying to get my beer out,” Serpit said. “You feel me?”

He was able to save several cans of beer and avoid getting burned. “I went back into the house like a dummy and the door shut on me because this back draft was about to kill me,” Serpit said.

Officials are still looking into what caused the fire but a newly-installed water heater might be to blame.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and the Red Cross is working to help get the family back on their feet.

Meanwhile, Mr. Serpit has time to reflect upon his adventure. And, hey, he made certain the family was safe before he went back for his beer. 🙂