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bananas's Journal
bananas's Journal
November 8, 2016

Samsung Offices Raided as Scandal Around President Park Grows

Source: Wall Street Journal

South Korean prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung Electronics Co. early Tuesday morning amid allegations that the South Korean technology company gave money to a close friend of President Park Geun-hye who has been accused of exerting influence over government affairs.

A spokesman for Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that it seized documents from Samsung’s office of external relations in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood. A spokeswoman for Samsung didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The prosecutors’ raid on Samsung suggests that the growing political scandal could now be turning toward the country’s sprawling conglomerates, who have long been some of South Korea’s most influential power brokers.

In recent days, the scandal has resulted in the resignation of the president’s chief of staff and four senior aides, and brought tens of thousands of protesters out into the streets of Seoul. Ms. Park, whose single five-year term is set to expire in about a year’s time, has seen her public-approval ratings sink to record lows amid calls for her resignation.

Read more: http://www.wsj.com/articles/samsung-offices-raided-as-political-scandal-widens-1478566324

November 1, 2016

CIA Releases Controversial Bay of Pigs History

Source: National Security Archive

- 2016 Change in FOI Law Overturns Agency Stonewalling
- CIA fought release for years, claimed draft would “confuse the public”
- National Security Archive FOIA case prompted Congress’s 25-year sunset

The CIA today released the long-contested Volume V of its official history of the Bay of Pigs invasion, which it had successfully concealed until now by claiming that it was a “draft” and could be withheld from the public under the FOIA’s "deliberative process" privilege. The National Security Archive fought the agency for years in court to release the historically significant volume, only to have the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2014 uphold the CIA’s overly-broad interpretation of the "deliberative process" privilege. Special credit for today’s release goes to the champions of the 2016 FOIA amendments, which set a 25-year sunset for the exemption: Senators John Cornyn, Patrick Leahy, and Chuck Grassley, and Representatives Jason Chaffetz, Elijah Cummings, and Darrell Issa.

Chief CIA Historian David Robarge states in the cover letter announcing the document’s release that the agency is “releasing this draft volume today because recent 2016 changes in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires us to release some drafts that are responsive to FOIA requests if they are more than 25 years old.” This improvement – codified by the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 – came directly from the National Security Archive’s years of litigation.

The CIA argued in court for years – backed by Department of Justice lawyers – that the release of this volume, written by Agency historian Jack B. Pfeiffer, would “confuse the public.” National Security Archive Director Tom Blanton says, “Now the public gets to decide for itself how confusing the CIA can be. How many thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted trying to hide a CIA historian's opinion that the Bay of Pigs aftermath degenerated into a nasty internal power struggle?” Archive senior analyst and Cuba Project Director Peter Kornbluh notes, “We know now why the CIA attempted to cover up this document for so long. It is a vivid historical example of what Pfeiffer called ‘the agency's dirty linen’ that CIA officials never wanted to air in public."

Read more: http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB564-CIA-Releases-Controversial-Bay-of-Pigs-History/

November 1, 2016

Security Firm Running Dakota Access Pipeline Intelligence Has Ties to U.S. Military Work in Iraq and


Security Firm Running Dakota Access Pipeline Intelligence Has Ties to U.S. Military Work in Iraq and Afghanistan

10/31/2016 09:09 pm ET
Steve Horn
Research Fellow, DeSmogBlog

TigerSwan is one of several security firms under investigation for its work guarding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota while potentially without a permit. Besides this recent work on the Standing Rock Sioux protests in North Dakota, this company has offices in Iraq and Afghanistan and is run by a special forces Army veteran.

According to a summary of the investigation, TigerSwan “is in charge of Dakota Access intelligence and supervises the overall security.”

The Morton County, North Dakota, Sheriff’s Department also recently concluded that another security company, Frost Kennels, operated in the state while unlicensed to do so and could face criminal charges. The firm’s attack dogs bit protesters at a heated Labor Day weekend protest.

Law enforcement and private security at the North Dakota pipeline protests have faced criticism for maintaining a militarized presence in the area. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Lawyer’s Guild have filed multiple open records requests to learn more about the extent of this militarization, and over 133,000 citizens have signed a petition calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and quell the backlash.

The Federal Aviation Administration has also implemented a no-fly zone, which bars anyone but law enforcement from flying within a 4-mile radius and 3500 feet above the ground in the protest area. Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer on the scenes in North Dakota with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said on Facebook that “DAPL private security planes and choppers were flying all day” within the designated no-fly zone.

Donnell Hushka, the designated public information officer for the North Dakota Tactical Operation Center, which is tasked with overseeing the no-fly zone, did not respond to repeated queries about designated private entities allowed to fly in no-fly zone airspace.


November 1, 2016

Dakota Access pipeline protesters crowdsource for $5,000, get $1 million

Source: Associated Press

CANNON BALL, N.D. - The crowdsourcing goal was modest: $5,000, enough to help a few dozen people camping in North Dakota to protest the nearby construction of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline. The fund has since topped a staggering $1 million.

The fund is among several cash streams that have provided at least $3 million to help with legal costs, food and other supplies to those opposing the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline. It may also give protesters the ability to prolong their months-long encampments that have attracted thousands of supporters, as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe pursues the fight in court.

And as the number of protest-related arrests increased this week, so did contributions - the funds raked in more than $200,000 between Thursday and Friday alone.

But demonstrators are quick to note that the amount of money raised and what they have left isn’t the same.


Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/dakota-access-pipeline-protesters-crowdsource-5000-get-1-million/

November 1, 2016

12 arrested in San Francisco in Dakota Access Pipeline protest

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco police arrested a dozen people Monday who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline at Citibank headquarters in the city, officials said.

Demonstrators filled the street outside the building at 1 Sansome St. and filed into the lobby just before 9 a.m. carrying signs that read, “Water is Life” and “Citi Don’t Fund Dakota Access.”


The protestors locked themselves to one another to prevent access to the elevators in the building, said Laurel Sutherlin, a 39-year-old San Francisco resident who joined the protest.


The protest, organized by Diablo Rising Tide, demanded that Citibank halt financing of the $3.8 billion crude oil pipeline project that is expected to span 1,168 miles.

“Today was really about pulling the veil back and exposing [Citibank’s] association with this bigger controversy,” Sutherlin said. “Citibank still has the opportunity to pull out.”


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/12-arrested-in-San-Francisco-in-Dakota-Access-10425925.php

November 1, 2016

Why your Facebook friends are checking in at Standing Rock

Source: CNN

Protesters are using a new weapon in their push to block the Dakota Access Pipeline: Facebook.

By Monday, hundreds of thousands of people had checked in at Standing Rock Indian Reservation on the social networking site.

But many of them weren't anywhere near the location where demonstrators have been picketing the controversial $3.7 billion pipeline.

A post circulating on Facebook gave one possible explanation for the surge in activity, claiming that the mass check-ins were organized to prevent local law enforcement from tracking protesters on social media.


Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/31/us/standing-rock-facebook-check-ins/index.html

October 31, 2016

Ukrainians shocked as politicians declare vast wealth

Source: Reuters

An anti-corruption reform requiring senior Ukrainian officials to declare their wealth online has exposed a vast difference between the fortunes of politicians and those they represent.

Some declared millions of dollars in cash. Others said they owned fleets of luxury cars, expensive Swiss watches, diamond jewelry and large tracts of land - revelations that could further hit public confidence in the authorities in Ukraine, where the average salary is just over $200 per month.

Officials had until Sunday to upload details of their assets and income in 2015 to a publicly searchable database, part of an International Monetary Fund-backed drive to boost transparency and modernize Ukraine's recession-hit economy.


The online declaration system is intended to represent a show of good faith that officials are willing to open their finances up to public scrutiny, to be held accountable, and to move away from a culture that tacitly allowed bureaucrats to amass wealth through cronyism and graft.

However, the public reaction has been one of shocked dismay at the extravagant lifestyles conjured up by many of the disclosures.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-corruption-idUSKBN12V1EN

October 29, 2016

Elon Musk just unveiled Tesla's solar roof and new Tesla Energy products

Source: Business Insider

Behold, Tesla's solar roof:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the solar roof at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on Friday night. Musk has been hyping the solar roof ahead of its shareholder vote for a SolarCity merger that's scheduled for November 17, calling it a "fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy."

The solar roofs that Musk showed off were installed on houses on Universal Studio's famous backlot, which recreates a suburban environment. In his presentation, Musk showcases a variety of roofing designs, ranging from traditional to modern a Tuscan tile application, all constructed of glass solar panels that look unlike solar panels have ever looked before.


Musk also showed off the new version of its at-home battery, Powerwall 2.0, that will sell for $5,500. The first version of Tesla's Powerwall stored 6.4 kWh worth of energy and was priced at $3,500.

The new Powerwall will have twice the storage and twice the energy, Musk said, 14 kWh of energy and 5 kWh of continuous power, but improved to 7 kWh at peak. Translation: it's an incrementally improved battery, just as Tesla's cars have been improved as the years have passed, gaining range and performance.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-solar-roof-photos-features-2016-10

October 28, 2016

UN votes to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons

Source: Guardian

United Nations member states have voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.

In the vote in the UN disarmament and international security committee on Thursday, 123 nations were in favour of the resolution, 38 opposed and 16 abstained.


Professor Tilman Ruff, founding chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said the vote was a “historic step” for the world that “heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

“The numbers are especially encouraging given the ferocious pressure on countries to vote no by the nuclear-armed states, who see that this will fundamentally challenge their continued possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/un-votes-to-start-negotiating-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

October 27, 2016

San Diego 2016 Progressive Voter Guide


San Diego 2016 Progressive Voter Guide


The editors of the San Diego Free Press and OB Rag are pleased to present our 2016 General Election Progressive Voter Guide.


The ballot this year is long and complicated. Not everything is as it seems. Practitioners of deception have deliberately crafted personas and propositions in a manner to trick people into voting against their best interests. There are an equal number of voting decisions to be made on less-than-perfect candidates and causes.


We endorsed (or didn’t) contests where editors and contributors had some working knowledge of the issues and the personalities involved. There were some races where we just opted to show the candidates with codes indicating who else had endorsed them.

Thus, out of the 638 candidates appearing on various ballots throughout San Diego County and City, we only weighed in on 130+ of them, plus the thirty odd propositions and measures.


(Psst! There’s a little spooky something all the way at the end of this story.)

Here’s a link to a pdf version with working links more suitable for viewing on some mobile devices.


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