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Sunday, June 12, 2016

As news updates rolled in about Sunday's shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, politicians, public figures, activists and journalists took to Facebook and Twitter to send out unfiltered statements about the significance of the massacre.

For prominent politicians in and seeking office, the shooting represented an obligation to comment as well as a challenge, as the tragedy touched on several highly charged issues and themes in the public sphere, including but not limited to: LGBTQ rights, homophobia, Islamophobia, gun control and terrorism.

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In the winter of 1941, a Jewish gravedigger from Chelmo, the western province of Poland, appeared in Warsaw and desperately sought a meeting with Jewish leaders.

He told them the Nazis were rounding up Jews, including the old, women and children, and forcing them into what looked like tightly sealed buses. The buses had the exhaust pipes redirected into the cabins. The Jews were killed with carbon monoxide. He had helped dig the mass graves for thousands of corpses until he escaped.

On the way to Warsaw, he had gone from village to village, frantically warning the Jews. Scores of Jews, in the villages and ultimately in Warsaw, heard his testimony of horror and dismissed it.

A handful of listeners, however, including Zivia Lubetkin, who two years later would help lead the uprising by 500 armed Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto, instantly understood the ultimate aims of the Nazi state. read more


Friday, June 10, 2016

he sentencing hearing began with a surprise. Timothy Runnels, a 32-year-old former Independence, Missouri, police officer, sat at a large, rectangular defense table inside Courtroom 8B at the Charles Evans Whittaker Federal Courthouse in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, late last month. He was waiting to learn his fate after pleading guilty to a federal crime he committed almost two years ago, on September 14, 2014. Judge Dean Whipple had not yet watched the government's key piece of evidence -- a dashboard video -- because he wanted to do so with attorneys present to make arguments. Today the video, which had never been played in any public setting, would be played in open court. Even the victim, 18-year-old Bryce Masters, had seen it only once. read more


Leaked secret audio recordings of Brazil's most powerful figures have sparked a series of explosive scandals in the nation's ongoing political crisis. Now, Brazilian lawmakers are trying to outlaw publication of such recordings.

A bill, which has been idling since last year in the Câmara dos Deputados, Brazil's lower house of Congress, has picked up new steam this month. The proposed legislation seeks to criminalize the "filming, photographing or capturing of a person's voice, without authorization or lawful ends," punishable by up to two years imprisonment and a fine. If the recording is published on social media, the penalty rises to four to six years.

When it was originally introduced, the bill was criticized as one of many proposed draconian measures designed to protect politicians and a direct threat to freedom of expression and the press.


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly acknowledged Thursday that he removed the Saudi-led coalition currently bombing Yemen from a blacklist of child killers -- 72 hours after it was published -- due to a financial threat to defund United Nations programs.

The secretary-general didn't name the source of the threat, but news reports have indicated it came directly from the Saudi government.

The U.N.'s 2015 "Children and Armed Conflict" report originally listed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen under "parties that kill or maim children" and "parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals." The report, which was based on the work of U.N. researchers in Yemen, attributed 60 percent of the 785 children killed and 1,168 injured to the bombing coalition.


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www.truthdig.com

Hundreds of internal NSA documents obtained by Vice News under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit "show that the agency did not tell the public the whole story about Snowden's contacts with oversight authorities before he became the most celebrated and vilified whistleblower in US history."

For years the agency has pushed a "single email" story, which holds that Snowden went no further in addressing concerns about surveillance to NSA officials than sending a single message in which he asked questions about the "interpretation of legal authorities" related to the agency's programs.

In the NSA's view, this email was supposed to demonstrate that Snowden did not make full use of internal means of airing grievances before going to journalists.

But the newly declassified internal documents, write Vice reporters Jason Leopold, Marcy Wheeler and Ky Henderson, "reveal now for the first time that not only was the truth about the ‘single email' more complex and nuanced than the NSA disclosed to the public, but that Snowden had a face-to-face interaction with one of the people involved in responding to that email. The documents, made up of emails, talking points, and various records -- many of them heavily redacted -- contain insight into the NSA's interaction with the media, new details about Snowden's work, and an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the efforts by the NSA, the White House, and US Senator Dianne Feinstein to discredit Snowden."

"The trove of more than 800 pages ... along with several interviews conducted by VICE News, offer unprecedented insight into the NSA during this time of crisis within the agency. And they call into question aspects of the US government's long-running narrative about Snowden's time at the NSA."

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They bald faced lied.

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