The documents stem from an Air Force probe on an intelligence analyst who supposedly expressed support for Assange, and showed up to some of his rallies.
The Australian paper The Sydney Morning Herald and NBC are reporting that a UK-based systems analyst with a Top Secret clearance passed through the probe without any charges. The analyst denies leaking information.
Though the Air Force’s classification is not the same as something coming from the president, or the pentagon, usage of the “104-D, communicating with enemy” charge in the official paperwork sets a legal precedent.
For some context, others considered an “enemy of the state” include al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Republicans and their defenders have claimed that the GOP’s massive proposed cuts to the nation’s health care safety net will not eliminate Medicare or Medicaid. The Romney campaign even released talking pointsclaiming GOP proposals would “strengthen Medicare” shortly after they announced that Paul Ryan, the author of a 2011 plan to phase out Medicare, would be the vice presidential candidate. Yet, in a speech last May to a conservative group, former Bush Secretary of Health and Human Services and U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson (R-WI) appeared to admit that the GOP’s proposals have a far more nefarious purpose:
Hard-pressed workers struggling to hang on to jobs and pay their bills will be relieved to learn that the America’s billionaires are not suffering due to the ongoing economic disaster. In fact they have never had it so good.
Every year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the wealthiest individuals in the United States. This year’s annual survey gives a stark snapshot of the obscene levels of wealth inequality in the US.
The net wealth of the Forbes 400 has now more than recovered from the drop it suffered during the 2008 financial crisis to reach a new record high even as the living standards continue to decline for the mass of working people. The net worth of the richest 400 billionaires in the United States rose 13 percent from last year to $1.7 trillion. This compares to a 1.7 percent annual growth rate for the US economy as a whole.
The publication of the rich list follows reports of stunning declines in median net wealth in the United States. The median net worth of the average American household fell 40 percent between 2007 and 2010 to approximately the level recorded in 1992, according to the US Federal Reserve. Since 1982 the net worth of those on the Forbes 400 list has grown 15-fold while wealth of the average household has stagnated.
Collectively the wealthiest five individuals are worth $34 billion more than one year ago. That amounts to an increase more than triple last year’s rise. Overall only 66 of the 400 saw their net worth shrink while 241 enjoyed an increase.
“The gap between the very rich and the merely rich increased and helped drive up the average net worth of the Forbes 400 members to an all-time record,” said Forbes Senior Wealth Editor Luisa Kroll.
The average net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans rose to $4.2 billion, up more than 10 percent from last year, while the minimum net wealth required to make the list rose to $1.1 billion, up from $1.05 billion last year. To give some measure of the total wealth of this group, it amounts to one-eighth of all the goods and services produced by the US economy this year or more than the entire discretionary spending proposed in the 2013 federal budget. It is roughly equal to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India, the world’s 11th largest economy. Read more
According to a study conducted for the professional journal Health Affairs, life expectancy is falling for significant sections of the working class in the United States, and in some cases has reverted to levels not seen in half a century.
The figures reported are stark. The gap in life expectancy between the most socially privileged and the most socially disadvantaged groups in American society is more than 10 years for women and more than 14 years for men. The authors write: “These gaps have widened over time and have led to at least two ‘Americas’…”
The authors draw particular attention to the actual decline in life expectancy among the poorest sections of the white working class, those with less than a high school education. Life expectancy for women in that subgroup fell from more than 78 years in 1990 to 74 years in 2008. The figure for men also declined, by three years.
Across all racial groups—white, black and Hispanic—the authors wrote: “We found that in 2008 US adult men and women with fewer than twelve years of education had life expectancies not much better than those of all adults in the 1950s and 1960s.”
Researchers suggested that rising obesity, higher rates of smoking among women, abuse of prescription drugs, and a decline in health insurance coverage—43 percent of the least-educated had no health insurance in 2006—may all have been contributing factors.
Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity in London, told theNew York Times that the decline in life expectancy for poor white women over the five-year period from 2003 to 2008 brought to mind the seven years of falling life expectancy for Russian men after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
This comment is all the more striking given that the five years from 2003 to 2008 largely preceded the Wall Street crash of September 2008 and the ensuing plunge of the US and world economy into the deepest slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. There is no doubt that all the social evils discussed in the Health Affairs report have worsened over the past four years.
The decline for poor white women produced the remarkable result that in 2008 life expectancy for white women without a high school diploma was actually lower than for black women with the same educational level, the first time that such an inversion has been reported in relation to a major indicator of social distress.
This fact alone is a refutation of all the peddlers of identity politics who claim that race, not class, is the fundamental division in American society. What is taking place in America is a class catastrophe, a social counterrevolution directed at the entire working class, of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The authors strongly argue that behavioral factors alone, like drug abuse, cannot explain the disparity in health outcomes, which “reflect racial and ethnic differences as well as differences in education and income…” Read more
The Republican chairpersons of the House’s top security and fiscal committees wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder expressing concern that the Obama administration may release Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, aka the “Blind Sheikh,” as part of a deal with Egyptian officials in the aftermath of the attacks the U.S. Embassy there and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Abdel Rahman is currently serving a life sentence in a federal prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
In the letter dated September 19, 2012, GOP Reps. Lamar Smith, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mike Rogers, Howard “Buck” McKeon, Peter King, Hal Rogers, Frank Wolf and Kay Granger write:
We are concerned about recent reports that the Obama administration is considering the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman. … Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength.
The Obama administration has already said this report is false (“utter garbage” in the words of a Justice Department spokesperson). Yet these top Republicans ran with the charge anyway. So where did it come from?
It seems that the conspiracy theory started in part with a post on the Weekly Standard’s website last week, quoting a USA Today story reporting that the protests in Cairo may have been planned by a group the blind sheik formerly led.
But Glenn Beck’s website the Blaze reported on Sept. 17 that according to an anonymous source, “the transfer of the Blind Sheikh to Egypt is something that is being ‘actively considered’ by the administration as a solution to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.” The Blaze also reported DOJ’s denial and did not corroborate the anonymous source’s claim.
Right-wing blog Red State then picked up the story on Sept. 18. Yet Obama administration officials continued to say the story is false. “To my knowledge, it hasn’t come up,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on that day. On Sept. 19, a reporter pressed the issue, and Nuland was a bit more direct. “Let me say as clearly as I can, there is no plan to release the blind sheikh,” she said. “There is no plan.”
Despite the very direct denials, Ros-Lehtinen, Rogers, King and the other top House Republicans ran with the Glenn Beck-inspired accusation and issued the letter. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post picked up on the story today, reporting the Obama administration officials’ denials. Yet the right won’t let the conspiracy theory die.
“There’s no way to believe anything they say,” said documented conspiracy theorist and leading Islamophobe Andrew McCarthy. (McCarthy was the the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Abdel Rahman). “I believe there may already be a nod-and-wink agreement in place.” Read more
ThinkProgress intern Nate Niemann contributed to this post.
WAL-MART WAREHOUSE distribution workers in southern California and Illinois are on strike, demanding the respect they deserve from the corporate giant.
The walkout by roughly 30 employees in Elwood, Ill., about an hour’s drive southwest of Chicago, came just days after a similar-sized group struck in Mira Loma, Calif.
Although the mega-retailer doesn’t directly employ them, the workers and activists who support them say blame for dismal working conditions, intimidation and harassment falls squarely on the shoulders of Wal-Mart and its drive to cut costs by squeezing workers to the breaking point.
In Illinois, the workers are employed by Wal-Mart contractor Schneider Logistics, which in turn uses a payroll contractor called RoadlinkWorkforce Solutions to run the warehouse. On September 13, according to the group Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ)–a project of the United Electrical Workers (UE) union which has lent support to the non-union employees–the workers filed a federal lawsuit against Roadlink for non-payment of wages and overtime, and paying less than the minimum wage.
“I worked for Roadlink Workforce Solutions in the Wal-Mart warehouse,” worker Vincent Hoffmann explained in a press release. “They had us working 10 or more hours a day lifting heavy boxes, but then didn’t pay me the overtime that I had worked so hard for. It’s hard enough trying to make ends meet and then they cheat us out of what we earned.”
Organizers say the workers are routinely forced to lift boxes weighing 250 pounds or more, and that heat topping 100 degrees in the summer is common in the facility and trucks.
Striking Wal-Mart workers in California say they face similarly unsafe conditions. Supported by the California-based Warehouse Workers United, they recently completed a 50-mile, six-day walk from Riverside to downtown Los Angeles to bring awareness of the poor working conditions they face. Read more