U.S. political economists Michael Hudson and Bill Black tell the Real News Network that Western financial institutions are keen to bail out Greece because if they don't, the country's existing creditors -- other Western financial institutions -- will fail to recover money they previously lent to Greece. The experts say the ongoing bailout scheme has turned Greece into a transfer site for international wealth, while stripping the country of its publicly owned assets and driving it into a hole of poverty and debt that is inescapable under the European Union's current policies. read more
One of the National Security Agency's most powerful tools of mass surveillance makes tracking someone's Internet usage as easy as entering an email address, and provides no built-in technology to prevent abuse. Today, The Intercept is publishing 48 top-secret and other classified documents about XKEYSCORE dated up to 2013, which shed new light on the breadth, depth and functionality of this critical spy system -- one of the largest releases yet of documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The NSA's XKEYSCORE program, first revealed by The Guardian, sweeps up countless people's Internet searches, emails, documents, usernames and passwords, and other private communications. XKEYSCORE is fed a constant flow of Internet traffic from fiber optic cables that make up the backbone of the world's communication network, among other sources, for processing. read more
All the legal debates over the ruling are predictable and banal. Most people proclaim -- in the words of Justice Scalia's bizarre and somewhat deranged dissent -- that it is a "threat to democracy" and a "judicial putsch" whenever laws they like are judicially invalidated, but a profound vindication for freedom when laws they dislike are nullified. That's how people like Scalia can, on one day, demand that campaign finance laws enacted by Congress and supported by large majorities of citizens be struck down (Citizens United), but the next day declare that judicial invalidation of a democratically enacted law "robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves."
Far more interesting than that sort of naked hypocrisy masquerading as lofty intellectual principles are the historical and cultural aspects of today's decision. read more
Three prisoners -- Melvin Ray, James Pleasant and Robert Earl Council -- who led work stoppages in Alabama prisons in January 2014 as part of the Free Alabama Movement have spent the last 18 months in solitary confinement. Authorities, unnerved by the protests that engulfed three prisons in the state, as well as by videos and pictures of abusive conditions smuggled out by the movement, say the men will remain in solitary confinement indefinitely. The prison strike leaders are denied televisions and reading material. They spend at least three days a week, sometimes longer, without leaving their tiny isolation cells. They eat their meals seated on their steel toilets. They are allowed to shower only once every two days despite temperatures that routinely rise above 90 degrees.
What exactly does it mean for a big Wall Street bank to plead guilty to a serious crime? Right now, practically nothing.
But it will if California's Santa Cruz County has any say.
First, some background.
Five giant banks including Wall Street behemoths JPMorgan Chase and Citicorp recently pleaded guilty to criminal felony charges that they rigged the world's foreign-currency market for their own profit.
This wasn't a small heist. We're talking hundreds of billions of dollars worth of transactions every day.
The banks altered currency prices long enough for the banks to make winning bets before the prices snapped back to what they should have been.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch called it a "brazen display of collusion" that harmed "countless consumers, investors and institutions around the globe -- from pension funds to major corporations, and including the banks' own customers."