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Posts Tagged ‘Law’

​Debtor nation: Americans pay interest on $163 billion held by top tech firms overseas

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 15, 2014

Reuters/Lee Jae-Won:

google-microsoft-debt-offshore.si

United States taxpayers make large interest payments to the top four technology firms for the $163 billion in US government debt the companies own and shelter in tax-free offshore accounts.

United States taxpayers make large interest payments to the top four technology firms for the $163 billion in US government debt the companies own and shelter in tax-free offshore accounts.

Apple, Cisco Systems, Google, and Microsoft legally hold $124 billion in US Treasury securities and $39 billion in US government agency debt in accounts overseas, allowing them to avoid the 35 percent (maximum) corporate tax rate in the United States, according to Securities & Exchange Commission reports.

Together, the companies would be the 14th biggest overseas holder of Treasury securities, just ahead of countries like Norway, Singapore, and India. Read the rest of this entry »

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Google takes action to support open Internet

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 23, 2012

An upcoming UN-organized conference on global communications aims to hammer out a treaty to safeguard “the free flow of information around the world.” Google is fighting back, saying the treaty threatens the “free and open Internet.”

Representatives from UN member-states will gather in Dubai from December 3 through 14 with the explicit aim of working out a new universal information and communication treaty that would regulate the Internet.

The conference, organized by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) has reignited a fierce debate over who should control the Web.

Google has remained unequivocal in its stance that the closed-door meeting a power grab aimed at ending public control of the Internet and strangling free speech:

“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice,” Google said on its ‘Take Action’ advocacy website.

Google, which has consistently taken a self-regulatory approach to the Internet, called the Dubai conference the“wrong place” to make decisions on the future of the Internet.

The Internet giant argued that the 42 countries set to decide the future of the Net have already moved to censor it, and that the number of regulations is only growing. Read the rest of this entry »

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WikiLeaks remains the target of secret federal investigation two years later

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 9, 2012

The United States has yet to charge WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange with any crimes, but a judge this week admitted that a 2-year-old investigation is nonetheless still being pursued by federal prosecutors.

US District Judge Liam O’Grady denied a plea on Wednesday to unseal court documents pertaining to an elusive grand jury investigation targeting WikiLeaks started in 2010. Rejecting a request to make certain materials available outside of the closed-door inquisition, the judge acknowledged that publishing those files would put in jeopardy the country’s still pending and highly-secretive probe into the whistleblower site.

“For reasons stated in the memorandum of the United States, unsealing of the documents at this time would damage an ongoing criminal investigation,” O’Grady ruled in a decision according to court papers first obtained by Wired (.PDF).

The judge’s response this week is in regards to the latest request to release materials believed to discuss persons loosely affiliated with WikiLeaks, a website shunned by the Obama administration and largely expected to be indicted sooner or later for publishing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and other sensitive files online.

In December 2010, the US Justice Department subpoenaed the social media site Twitter with papers demanding information on four registered accounts, including the official @WikiLeaks page and three managed by particular individuals, namely activist Jacob Appelbaum; Icelandic lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir; and Dutch businessman Rop Gonggrijp. Initially, those persons unsuccessfully attempted to keep Twitter from providing the government with the requested information, including associated phone numbers, email addresses, bank account numbers and IP addresses. Now nearly two years later, they have been denied access to those still-sealed files yet again. Read the rest of this entry »

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Assange to UN: ‘It is time for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks’ (VIDEO)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 28, 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called on the United States to move from words to actions, and put an end to its persecution of WikiLeaks, its people and its sources. He made the statement during an address to a panel of UN delegates.

Addressing the representatives of the United Nations’ member countries, the WikiLeaks founder spoke of the difference between words and actions, praising US President Barack Obama for his words.

“We commend and agree with the words that peace can be achieved… But the time for words has run out. It is time for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks, our people and our sources.”

Assange was highly critical of US involvement in the Arab Spring, denouncing Obama as audacious for exploiting it. He added that it is “disrespectful of the dead” to claim that the US has supported forces of change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Live on RT: Assange to address UN on human rights

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 26, 2012

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. (AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. (AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)

Julian Assange will address permanent representatives to the UN General Assembly at a high-level talk on the legal and ethical legitimacy of diplomatic asylum. RT has exclusive rights to broadcast the event live from the UN headquarters in New York.

Among those joining Assange for the panel discussion at the 67th General Assembly Debate on Wednesday will be Ricardo Patino, Foreign Affairs Minister of Ecuador, and Baher Azmy, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Ecuador’s sponsorship of the event is linked to their mid-August decision to grant Assange political asylum, a move that sparked worldwide debate over the legal and human rights dimensions of diplomatic asylum.

Assange took shelter in Ecuador’s London embassy in June after losing his court battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault. The WikiLeaks founder fears he will be extradited to the US after arriving in Sweden for his role in leaking thousands of secret US diplomatic and military cables. Washington and Stockholm denied Assange’s allegations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hundreds in Ecuador rally in support of Assange (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 21, 2012

Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia)

Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia)

Social activists and others from around Ecuador have gathered in the center of Quito to express support for their government’s decision to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied on the Ecuadorian capital’s Plaza Grande, holding placards reading “Without true freedom of expression there no sovereignty,” and “Viva freedom of expression. Support Julian Assange.”

Last week, the Ecuadorian government announced it would grant the world-famous whistleblower political asylum. The decision came almost two months after Assange came to the country’s London embassy seeking protection.

“I think this government has stressed with its courageous decision to give diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange that for us it is a symbol of the freedom of expression on the international level, which has broken the cliché that one cannot touch the powerful. In this sense I believe that there is a need to show support and condemn the threats by the United Kingdom to try to raid our diplomatic mission there, in London,” said lawmaker Pedro de La Cruz, according to El Telegrafo daily.

Meanwhile, members of Revolutionary Left Movement marched in support of Ecuador’s sovereignty to the British Consulate General in the country’s biggest city, Guayaquil.

Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia)
Sympathizers of Wikileaks founder Australian Julian Assange take part in a demonstration in support of his asylum request, at the Independence square in Quito on August 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Rodrigo Buendia) Read the rest of this entry »

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HSBC exposed: Drug money banking, terror dealings

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 17, 2012

AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure

AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure

The international banking giant HSBC may have financed terrorist groups and allowed Mexican drug money into the US economy through its lax policies, a damning Senate report reveals.

The findings are the results of a year-long Senate probe into HSBC’s activities, highlighting negligence throughout the bank’s international structure. The probe will be published in a 340-page report in Washington on Tuesday, and senior members of the bank will be called to account for the allegations.

“HSBC used its US bank as a gateway into the US financial system for some HSBC affiliates around the world to provide US dollar services to clients while playing fast and loose with US banking rules,” said Senator Carl Levin in a press release. He added that the US branch of the corporation “exposed the United States to Mexican drug money, suspicious travelers’ checks, bearer share corporations, and rogue jurisdictions.”

“The culture at HSBC was pervasively polluted for a long time,” Senator Levin said. Read the rest of this entry »

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US could put Assange to death if it gets him – former senior NSA official

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 10, 2012

If America gets its hands on the WikiLeaks founder, they may go as far as execute him, a known National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake told RT, adding that in the US, security has become a state religion.

An expert on electronic eavesdropping, Drake sacrificed his career to blow the whistle on perceived wrongdoings within the NSA. He was charged under the Espionage Act, though the charges were dropped only last year.

He told RT that in America’s ‘soft tyranny’, everyone is subject or suspect in terms of surveillance.

RT: What was the potential harm of the program that you challenged while working with the NSA?

Thomas Drake: There was a very large flagship program called Trailblazer that was designed to catapult the NSA into the twenty first century to deal with the vast amounts of data generated by the digital age. Given the massive fraud and abuse that the NSA had created with the Trailblazer program, as well as the super secret surveillance program, the NSA completely violated the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment. In particular, the stature called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was the first commandment at the NSA: you did violate Americans’ privacy without a warning, and if you did – there is a criminal penalty for doing so. And I found this out to my horror and shock, that shortly after 9/11, the NSA entered a secret agreement with the White House in which the NSA would become the executive agent for this secret surveillance program. Read the rest of this entry »

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French police raid home of former president Nicolas Sarkozy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 4, 2012

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure)

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure)

Police officers have carried out a number of raids in Paris – on the villa Nicolas Sarkozy shares with his wife Carla Bruni, on the law offices of the former president’s attorneys and on the apartment provided to him by the government.

Judge Jean-Michele Gentil and financial police searched the Sarkozys’ villa Montmorency, located in the French capital’s most luxurious district, the offices of Arnaud, Claude and Associates, in which Sarkozy is a shareholder, and an apartment given to the former president by the government.

The raids are reportedly linked to a campaign finance corruption scandal involving billionaire L’Oreal heiress Lilian Bettencourt.

Bettencourt, France’s richest woman, is alleged to have illegally contributed two payments of 400,000 euros each to Mr Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign, despite the fact the legal limit on individual donations being 4,600 Euro.

Both were traced to Swiss accounts, and one was allegedly received by Sarkozy in person in Paris, in return for offering the cosmetics magnate  tax breaks once he came to power.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Sex abuse scandal rocks US Air Base

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 30, 2012

Photo from setyoufree-news.blogspot.com      

Photo from setyoufree-news.blogspot.com

A US air force investigation has identified 31 female cadets who were sexually assaulted by their trainers at a Texas military camp. The scandal has raised concerns that the US armed forces are not doing enough to protect women in the military.

An internal probe is currently looking at 12 male military instructors that were serving at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas. Six of them face charges of misconduct, including allegations of rape and adultery.

The majority of those under investigation were from the 331st training squadron, whose commander was dismissed from duty last week. He was not charged with sex crimes but was relieved because of the unacceptable level of misconduct in his unit.

“We are taking a comprehensive look, not only at the cases we know, but in trying to assess whether there are other cases out there,” said General Edward Rice during a Pentagon briefing. He added that to his knowledge, all 31 women who reported to have been victims of abuse were still in the military. Read the rest of this entry »

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Assange rejects police request to surrender

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 29, 2012

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that he rejects the British police’s request to hand himself in and will remain in the Ecuadorean embassy and continue his appeal for asylum on grounds of political persecution.

Earlier on Thursday, police issued an order for Assange to appear at a police station to begin the extradition process.

The letter from the Metropolitan Police sent to the Ecuadorian Embassy said it “requires him to attend a police station at a date and time of our choosing. This is standard practice in extradition cases and is the first step in the removal process.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Amnesty: EU does not value migrants’ lives

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 14, 2012

Migrants from North Africa arrive in the southern Italian island of Lampedusa March 7, 2011. (Reuters/Antonio Parrinello)

Migrants from North Africa arrive in the southern Italian island of Lampedusa March 7, 2011. (Reuters/Antonio Parrinello)

Europe cares about reinforcing its borders but not about human lives. The criticism comes from Amnesty International, which says in its report that European governments often endanger asylum-seekers by preventing them from reaching European shores.

The human rights group says its campaign is aimed at holding to account any European country that practises human rights violations in the way it enforces migration controls.

“Today, Europe is failing to promote and respect the rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees,” Amnesty alleges in a statement according to AP. “Hostility is widespread and mistreatment often goes unreported.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Putin signs new anti-rally bill

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 9, 2012

Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)

                                                                       Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)

The Russian President has signed the much disputed set of amendments to the administrative code that increase the fines for illegal rallies 150-fold and introduces more regulations over street protest.

Putin announced that he had signed the bill as he spoke at the conference dedicated to the development of the Russian court system. The head of the Russian state told the justice officials that they “should apply the new law in such a way that it does not limit the citizens’ right for expression over any issue of internal or external politics, including street marches, events and rallies”. At the same time, Putin stressed that the protests “must be organized in such way that they inflict no damages to other citizens, who do not take part in them”.

Putin reminded the audience about last year’s events in Great Britain “when it all came to mass riots, torched cars and robbed stores”“As the society guarantees the right to express their opinion, including by street events, to some of the citizens, it must protect other citizens and the society as a whole from radicalism,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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EU tells Google to fix search or face antitrust probe

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 4, 2012

EU tells Google to fix search or face antitrust probe

EU tells Google to fix search or face antitrust probe

The EU’s antitrust chief has set a July 2 deadline for Google to offer changes in its search engine and advertising algorithms or face investigation into alleged favoritism. The search giant is accused of abusing its market dominance.

Google is currently used for about 90 per cent of all internet searches in Europe. The EU is concerned that the company may be tinkering with search results to put its own services ahead of competitors and bans rivals from advertising at Google-controlled web pages, thus violating the semi-monopoly, Joaquin Almunia, the head of competition policy said in a letter.

Almunia indicated, that he expects Google to follow the request without the issue being taken to court. If the situation develops otherwise, a high profile battle not unlike Brussels’ antitrust war against Microsoft last decade may follow. In the worst-case scenario Google may face multimillion-euro fines. Read the rest of this entry »

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Congress opens door for US war with Iran

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 19, 2012

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters (Reuters / Handout)

                                                                Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters (Reuters / Handout)

The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution on Iran that moves the United States much closer to a war footing against Iran as many experts and diplomats warn America is ready for attack.

The vote undermines the 5+1 Iranian nuclear talks scheduled for next week, in which the US will participate and which many in the pro-war camp want to sabotage.

Ahead of the vote Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a tough critic of the resolution and one of the few who voted against it, warned that the US is “getting ready for war against Iran” with Thursday’s vote.

The non-binding resolution H.Res.568 that overwhelmingly passed 401-11, effectively calls for a military attack on Iran when it obtains “nuclear weapons capability.” The vague interpretation, critics say, already applies to Iran, not to mention Brazil, Japan, the Netherlands, and actually any other country with a civilian nuclear program.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, warned “This resolution reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war, and could be the precursor for a war with Iran. It’s effectively a thinly-disguised effort to bless war.” Read the rest of this entry »

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