Iceland may ban MasterCard, Visa over WikiLeaks censorship

Credit card companies that prevented card-holders from donating money to the secrets outlet WikiLeaks could have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

Representatives from Mastercard and Visa were called before the committee Sunday to discuss their refusal to process donations to the website, reports Reykjavik Grapevine.

“People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it,” Robert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said. “They said this decision was taken by foreign sources.”

The committee is seeking additional information from the credit card companies for proof that there was legal grounds for blocking the donations.

Marshall said the committee would seriously review the operating licenses of Visa and Mastercard in Iceland.

WikiLeaks’s payment processor, the Icelandic company DataCell ehf, said it would take immediate legal action against the companies to make donations possible again.

“DataCell who facilitates those payments towards Wikileaks has decided to take up immediate legal actions to make donations possible again,” DataCell CEO Andreas Fink said last week. “We can not believe WikiLeaks would even create scratch at the brand name of Visa.”

“It will probably hurt their brand much much more to block payments towards WikiLeaks than to have them occur,” Fink added.

 

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Move over, Big Pharma and Big Oil, Big Marijuana is here

Legalization ‘looking inevitable,’ spokesman says

If there’s one group of people who get their way in Washington, it’s lobbyists.

Now, advocates of marijuana legalization may have a reason to cheer that political reality: They’re getting their own marijuana lobby group.

And just Big Pharma and Big Oil lobby for greater leeway for their businesses, so too will Big Marijuana push for their industry to be given the freedom to succeed.

Aaron Smith, executive director of the newly formed National Cannabis Industry Association, says that marijuana legalization is “looking inevitable.”

Smith told McClatchy news service: “It’s pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is becoming recognized more and more by the mainstream as a fully legitimate part of the economy.”

Legalization “didn’t happen in 2010, but it’s likely to happen in 2012,” he added. “It’s going to be relatively soon we’re going to see states move from medical marijuana into broader legal markets. And the federal government needs to catch up. Frequently the American people are ahead of the Congress.”

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Rep. Lewis passed over for powerful chairmanship

Republicans passed over  Rep. Jerry Lewis in favor of a veteran Kentucky lawmaker Wednesday to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The party’s steering committee rejected Lewis’s request to waive term limits that bar him from reclaiming the post he held when Republicans last held the majority.

The decision deprives Lewis of a position that would have given him control over the federal government’s purse strings and a heightened ability to direct millions of dollars to his home district, which includes some of the Pass area.

See also: CREW’s Most Corrupt: Rep. Jerry Lewis

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Continental guilty for Concorde crash

Continental Airlines has been found guilty and “criminally responsible” by a French court for the Concorde crash that occurred 10 years ago.

The airline, now United Continental Holdings, was fined EUR 202,000 (USD 268,400). The ruling also stipulated that that Continental should pay 70 percent of any compensation claims to the families of the victims.

Aerospace group EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V.) — the owner of the French factories which partly built the Concorde airliners — was ordered to pay the remaining 30 percent, according to state-funded BBC.

It has also been ordered to pay EUR 1 million to the jet’s operator Air France.

John Taylor, a Continental mechanic, received a fine of EUR 2,000 (USD 2,656) and a 15-month suspended prison sentenced over the crash.

In July 2000, the Concorde caught fire shortly after take-off from Paris, killing 113 people on board.
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Religion as a Tool of Repression

Freedom of speech and dissent are always curtailed in times of war. Whenever soldiers occupy foreign nations, rational thinking is proscribed in favor of nationalistic hubris. Minority opinions, although grounded in ethics and reason, are repressed, often brutally. The majority becomes intolerant of dissenting views. Thoughtful dialog is suspended and irrational ideology gains ascendancy. Civil discourse breaks down, and the social order disintegrates into anti-intellectual emotionalism and chaos.

During World War I and World War II, it was dangerous for anyone to oppose war or to speak truth to power. When Eugene Victor Debs delivered his Canton anti-war speech in 1918, he went to prison. In An Enemy of the People, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen demonstrated that the majority of the people are easily deceived, their emotions manipulated by profiteers and special interests. It requires serious conviction to take a principled stand in the midst of nationalistic fervor in which men and women so easily turn upon one another. During war, nationalism and repression are conducted with the fervor of a religious crusade.

In this era of permanent war we see bumper stickers that attempt to meld religion with nationalism. They carry jingoistic slogans like “God bless America” or “God bless our troops.” Significantly, God even appears on our currency. But why would a just God, if God exists at all, bless a nation that kills with impunity? Why would God bless a nation with a history of repression and genocide?  Why would God bless a nation that institutionalized chattel slavery and the repression of its working class?

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InlandPolitics: San Bernardino County retaliates against blogger Sharon Gilbert

San Bernardino County executives have come down hard on one of their own employees who also operates a local political blog.

A blog popular with readers, but not county leaders.

Sharon Gilbert, an almost thirty-year county employee, has taken on county government with great success through her website www.iePolitics.com. A widely-read blog in Southern California’s Inland Empire, which consists primarily of San Bernardino County and Riverside County.

Ms. Gilbert has a network of sources that aid her in routing out issues with local governments and exposing problems. A resource that has contributed to the blogs success.

However, Gilbert has paid a steep price for her crusading.

More than a year ago, at the direction of ousted county administrative officer Mark Uffer, county human resources officers overrode a physicians off-work order and pulled the plug on Gilbert’s disability benefits coverage.

An off-work order, which had the concurrence of a county-approved physician.

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Anti-US governor wins Okinawa poll

The Japanese on the southern Island of Okinawa have re-elected incumbent governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who wants an end to the American military presence.

Nakaima, who wants the US base off Okinawa altogether, beat his opponent who agreed to relocate the base to a less crowded area on the island.

In May, Tokyo and Washington agreed to implement a 2006 plan to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a less crowded area in Okinawa.

The move infuriated local residents, who view the base as a source of noise, pollution and serious crime –including rape.
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