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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 07:39 AM
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Judge: V.A. Can't Deny Benefits to Lesbian Army Vet

Source: Associated Press


Aug. 30 1:49 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge in Los Angeles has ruled that a lesbian Army veteran and her spouse should be entitled to disability benefits given the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall said Thursday that a federal code defining a spouse as a person of the opposite sex is unconstitutional since the high court's decision allowing legally married gay couples the right to health care benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs denied an application from veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris and her spouse seeking additional money and benefits that married veterans are entitled to receive. Cooper-Harris suffers from multiple sclerosis and receives disability benefits.

She and Maggie Cooper-Harris got married in California during the brief period in 2008 when same-sex unions were legal in the state.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/judge-va-cant-deny-benefits-lesbian-army-vet

U.S. Releases Some Prisoners from Guantanamo Bay Prison

Source: CBS News

@CBSNews: U.S. releases some prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison http://t.co/pyopUUdSNQ

Guantanamo Bay prisoners Nabil Hadjarab, Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab sent to Algeria homeland

August 29, 2013

MIAMI The U.S. military says it has sent two men who had been held at Guantanamo Bay prison back to their homeland of Algeria.

A brief Pentagon statement says the release of the two men brings the prisoner population at the U.S. base in Cuba down to 164 men. The United States said it was grateful for Algeria's willingness to accept the men, Nabil Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab.

According to the Pentagon statement, the cases for the two men were reviewed by an interagency task force and the Obama administration informed Congress of the decision.

The human rights group Reprieve represents the 34-year-old Hadjarab and it welcomed Thursday's announcement, calling for the release of more prisoners from Guantanamo.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57600607/guantanamo-bay-prisoners-nabil-hadjarab-mutia-sadiq-ahmad-sayyab-sent-to-algeria-homeland

Egypt Moves Closer to Al-Jazeera TV Affiliate Ban

Source: Associated Press


Aug. 29 9:49 AM EDT

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's official news agency says the interim government has deemed Al-Jazeera's local affiliate a national threat, moving closer to banning its broadcasts.

The MENA news agency says three government ministers met Thursday and issued a statement saying that Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr is operating "illegally" and using satellite transmitters without license.

The agency says the ministers allege that the station is resented for spreading "rumors and claims which are harmful to Egyptian national security and threaten the country's unity."

Amid Egypt's current political turmoil after July 3 coup that toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the channel aired statements by fugitive Islamist leaders. The Qatar-based network also broadcast hours of protests by supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood live across its channels.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/egypt-moves-closer-al-jazeera-tv-affiliate-ban

Former Gov. Don Siegelman Seeks New Trial

Source: Birmingham News

Former Gov. Don Siegelman seeks new trial

By Kim Chandler | kchandler@al.com

on August 28, 2013 at 6:00 PM, updated August 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Former Gov. Don Siegelman is seeking a new trial on his 2006 bribery conviction, arguing the case was tainted by the involvement of a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics.

His lawyers are also contending a federal judge erred at Siegelman's sentencing and wrongly held the politician accountable for acquitted conduct.

Lawyers for Siegelman, a Democrat, filed the brief Monday with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for a new trial, or “at a minimum” additional discovery about the role of former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary after she announced she was stepping aside from the case in 2002 .

“First, U.S. Attorney Leura Canary’s failure to honor her disqualification violated Siegelman’s right to a disinterested prosecutor,” Siegelman’s lawyers wrote.

“While Siegelman was being criminally investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Canary’s husband was a hired consultant for Siegelman’s political opponent; Canary had a direct financial interest in the success of her husband’s client and in Siegelman’s defeat.”

Canary, a Bush appointee, was the sitting U.S. Attorney in the early days of the investigation. She is the wife of Billy Canary, who was a political ally of former Gov. Bob Riley, who defeated Siegelman in 2002, and did some consulting work for 2002 GOP primary candidate Steve Windom.

Read more: http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/08/former_gov_don_siegelman_seeks.html

Japan Formally Raises Fukushima Water Leak to INES Level 3 Incident

Source: Reuters

Japan formally raises Fukushima water leak to INES Level 3 incident

Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:13pm EDT

TOKYO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Japan's nuclear regulator said on Wednesday it has officially raised the severity rating of the latest radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to Level 3 on an international scale for radiological releases.

The upgrade by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) raises the rating of what was Japan's first warning on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) since the three reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in March 2011, which were triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Those meltdowns were classified as Level 7, the highest INES rating.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said last week that 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water leaked from a storage tank at the facility. The utility still does not know how long the water may have been leaking and said it was possible the contaminated water may have reached the Pacific Ocean.

The NRA had said last week that it may upgrade the severity of the crisis from a Level 1 "anomaly" to a Level 3 "serious incident" on the INES scale, after consultations with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUST9N0F304B20130828

Matt Bors TOON: Chelsea Manning

Alternet Link: http://www.alternet.org/comics/matt-bors-chelsea-manning

Higher CO2 Harming All Marine Life From Corals and Clams to Fish (Researchers)

Source: Bloomberg

Higher CO2 Harms All Marine Life From Corals and Clams to Fish

By Alex Morales
August 25, 2013 1:00 PM EDT

Rising levels of carbon dioxide are harming all forms of marine life because the oceans are acidifying as they absorb the gas, German researchers found.

Mollusks, corals and a class of creatures called echinoderms that includes starfish and sea urchins are the worst affected by the uptake of CO2 by the seas, according to a study today in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven. The gas forms carbonic acid when it dissolves in the oceans, lowering their pH level.

Creatures that show negative effects from acidification include commercial species such as oysters and cod. Given the pace at which carbon-dioxide emissions are growing, human emissions threaten to trigger extinctions at a faster pace than die-outs millions of years ago, according to the researchers.

“There is a danger that we’re pushing things too fast and too hard toward an evolutionary crisis,” Hans-Otto Poertner, one of the authors, said in a phone interview. “In the past, these crises have taken much longer to develop.”

The research will be fed into the United Nations’ most detailed study into the science of climate change, which is being published in three parts and an overall summary by the end of 2014, and is designed to inform international climate treaty negotiations. Today’s study will be input for the second part of that report, by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due to be published at the end of March. The first part is scheduled for publication on Sept. 27.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-25/higher-co2-harms-all-marine-life-from-corals-and-clams-to-fish.html

Research: Indiscriminate Surveillance Fosters Distrust, Conformity and Mediocrity


Indiscriminate surveillance fosters distrust, conformity and mediocrity: research

By Chris Chambers, The Guardian
Monday, August 26, 2013 7:27 EDT

Recent disclosures about the scope of government surveillance are staggering. We now know that the UK’s Tempora program records huge volumes of private communications, including – as standard – our emails, social networking activity, internet histories, and telephone calls. Much of this data is then shared with the US National Security Agency, which operates its own (formerly) clandestine surveillance operation. Similar programs are believed to operate in Russia, China, India, and throughout several European countries. While pundits have argued vigorously about the merits and drawbacks of such programs, the voice of science has remained relatively quiet. This is despite the fact that science, alone, can lay claim to a wealth of empirical evidence on the psychological effects of surveillance. Studying that evidence leads to a clear conclusion and a warning: indiscriminate intelligence-gathering presents a grave risk to our mental health, productivity, social cohesion, and ultimately our future.

Surveillance impairs mental health and performance

For more than 15 years we’ve known that surveillance leads to heightened levels of stress, fatigue and anxiety. In the workplace it also reduces performance and our sense of personal control. A government that engages in mass surveillance cannot claim to value the wellbeing or productivity of its citizens.

Surveillance promotes distrust between the public and the state

People will trust an authority to the extent that it is seen to behave in their interest and trust them in return. Research suggests that people tolerate limited surveillance provided they believe their security is being bought with someone else’s liberty. The moment it becomes clear that they are in fact trading their own liberty, the social contract is broken. Violating this trust changes the definition of “us” and “them” in a way that can be dangerous for a democratic authority – suddenly, most of the population stands in opposition to their own government.


TOM TOMORROW: Snowden & Manning On Parallel Earth!

Daily Kos Link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/26/1233713/-Parallel-Earth

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Obama Receives 'Detailed Review of a Range of Potential Options' Regarding Syria

Source: Reuters

@BreakingNews: White House: Obama receives 'detailed review of a range of potential options' regarding Syria - @Reuters http://t.co/DfbrEoFA2r

Obama gets 'detailed review' of Syria options, speaks with UK's Cameron

Source: Reuters - Sat, 24 Aug 2013 09:26 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug 24 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama received a "detailed review of a range of potential options" from his top advisers on Saturday on how the United States and its allies could respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, the White House said.

Obama also spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron about Syria and agreed to consult about "potential responses by the international community," the White House said.

The White House did not provide details about what options were under consideration, and gave no indication about Obama's timeline for making a decision on the issue. (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Read more: http://www.trust.org/item/20130824212043-2ua4u
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