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A British parliamentary report has found Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to run a major international media company in light of the widespread phone-hacking scandal at News Corp. A committee of British MPs said Murdoch and his son, James, showed “willful blindness” about the scale of phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid. The report states: “Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators.” The report goes on to say “the whole affair demonstrates huge failings of corporate governance.” Labour MP Tom Watson spoke soon after the report was released.
Tom Watson: “Powerful people were involved in a cover-up, and they still haven’t accepted responsibility. And after all of this, the story is not yet over. These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our parliament. They lied and cheated, blackmailed and bullied, and we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for so long. But to really stop requires more than tokenistic retribution. It needs conclusive attribution. The very cornerstone of justice is that those really responsible are held to account, that the rich and powerful are as low in the face of the law as the most humble and weak. And everybody in the world knows who is responsible for the wrongdoing of News Corp.: Rupert Murdoch. More than any individual alive, he is to blame. Morally, the deeds are his. He paid the piper, and he called the tune. It is his company, his culture, his people, his business, his failures, his lies, his crimes, the price of profits and his power.”
President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser has publicly confirmed that the United States has used drones to conduct targeted killings overseas. John Brennan spoke on Monday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He detailed and defended the killings.
John Brennan: “President Obama believes that, done carefully, deliberately and responsibly, we can be more transparent and still ensure our nation’s security. So let me say it as simply as I can. Yes, in full accordance with the law and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives, the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones. And I’m here today because President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts.”
Obama adviser John Brennan’s speech was disrupted by Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK. Over the weekend Benjamin helped organize the International Drone Summit in Washington, D.C.
Medea Benjamin: “How many people are you willing to sacrifice? Why are you lying to the American people and not saying how many innocents have been killed? I speak out on behalf of Tariq Aziz, a 16-year-old in Pakistan, who was killed because he wanted to document the drone strikes. I speak out on behalf of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old born in Denver, killed in Yemen, just because his father was someone we don’t like. I speak out on behalf of the Constitution, on behalf of the rule of law. I love the rule of law. I love my country. You are making us less safe by killing so many innocent people.”
In his speech, John Brennan also addressed the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
John Brennan: “The death of bin Laden was our most strategic blow yet against al-Qaeda. Credit for that success belongs to the courageous forces who carried out that mission, at extraordinary risk to their lives; to the many intelligence professionals who pieced together the clues over the years that led to bin Laden’s hideout; and to President Obama, who gave the order to go in.”
The killing of bin Laden is shaping up to be a hot topic in the presidential race. The Obama campaign released an ad last week questioning whether the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, would have ordered a raid inside Pakistan. Romney responded on Monday.
Reporter: “You would have given the order, Governor?”
Mitt Romney: “Of course. Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.”
In 2007, Romney had criticized Obama for saying he would go into Pakistan to hunt down members of al-Qaeda.
Large protests are planned across the globe today to mark International Workers’ Day, or May Day. Workers in Asia have rallied for wage increases. Anti-austerity protests are being held in Europe. And here in the United States, groups aligned with Occupy Wall Street have announced plans for protests in more than 100 cities and towns.
In New York City, police officers visited the homes of at least three Occupy activists on Monday and interrogated them about plans for May Day. In one case, police broke down the door to the home of a Brooklyn activist at six in the morning, ostensibly to serve an arrest warrant on his roommate for a six-year-old open-container violation. They then questioned the activist about his plans for May Day. Meanwhile, other Occupy organizers are predicting a large day of action. Yoni Miller is an activist with Occupy Wall Street.
Yoni Miller: “Absolutely, May Day is going to be one of the largest events that happens to Occupy Wall Street yet. It’s going to be well over 100,000 people. And this summer is going to be looking really exciting. It’s going to be much warmer weather, and, you know, we’re going to continue the actions we’ve done against Bank of America, American Legislative Exchange Council, Goldman Sachs, the prison-industrial complexes, amongst many other targets.”
At least 20 activists arrested in October protesting the New York City Police Department’s “Stop and Frisk” policy appeared in court Monday as part of a mass trial on charges of disorderly conduct. Defendants include Princeton University Professor Cornel West, Nellie Hester Bailey of Occupy Harlem and other activists who were arrested during an act of nonviolent civil disobedience at an NYPD precinct office in Harlem. In brief remarks outside the courthouse Monday, West said the activists were there — and even willing to go to jail — out of love for the young people of color who are targeted. Nellie Hester Bailey condemned racial profiling.
Nellie Hester Bailey: “This is racial profiling that has an impact on all communities—immigrant communities, black communities, Latino communities. And we all know that once it starts, it will catch up with the white community, and the tragedy could be as severe as that of Trayvon Martin, because that is how it spirals out of control. So we’re here today to stand firm in unity and solidarity.”
Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, have been granted new power to stop and search anyone carrying a bag close to protests outside the upcoming shareholders’ meetings of Duke Energy and Bank of America. Both meetings have been designated “extraordinary events,” as has September’s Democratic National Convention, which will also be held in Charlotte. Under a new city ordinance, the police can prohibit backpacks, messenger bags, coolers and numerous other items near these events.
Activists in Syria say shelling by government forces today in a northern village near the Turkish border has killed at least seven people, many of whom were from the same family. The government’s crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has continued despite a U.N.-backed ceasefire and calls from the international community for the violence to end.
A funeral was held Monday for Regina Martínez, the Mexican journalist who was murdered inside her home in Veracruz. Martínez often wrote about drug trafficking for the news magazine Proceso, one of Mexico’s oldest and most respected investigative news magazines. Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda is the editor of Proceso.
Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda: “Proceso is a magazine that, contrary to what Regina Martínez’s assailants might have thought, is not stopped by things that shock us. It doesn’t make us doubt that we are doing what we should do, which is to reflect on what is happening in this country with authenticity, honesty, honor and clarity, as far as our professional reach allows.”
Students in the Canadian province of Quebec are continuing to protest planned tuition hikes, sustaining a massive strike that has lasted for about 11 weeks. The provincial government’s plan would raise tuition by 75 percent over five years. Over the weekend, protesters rejected the government’s proposal to stretch the hikes over seven years.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside Chicago’s City Hall on Monday to protest the closings of several area mental health clinics. Five people were arrested after they reportedly crossed a barrier and said they were going to “talk to” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The protest was part of an ongoing battle over the city’s plans to close multiple clinics in what protesters say will be a devastating blow to mental health patients. A spokesperson for Emanuel said Monday the city now plans to maintain a satellite office in the Woodlawn neighborhood following the closure of the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic.
A group of students suspended from a Detroit high school after staging a walkout to protest district policies have started a “freedom school” where they plan to continue learning about civil rights, art and other topics. More than 100 students were suspended from Western International High School after protesting district plans to close a different area school. Students have demanded a voice, saying they lack basic supplies and are receiving a low-quality education. Seventeen-year-old Raychel Gafford said students held the walkout to “draw the line and take a stand for our education.”
Tomas Borge Martínez, one of the founders of Nicaragua’s Sandinista movement, has died at the age of 81. He was the last surviving founder of the guerrilla movement that overthrew Nicaragua’s U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorship in 1979.
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