CIA boss flips out when Ron Wyden reminds him that CIA spied on the Senate

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Remember when it looked like the Senate committee that oversees the CIA was writing the notorious CIA Torture Report, and caught the CIA searching their Senate bosses' files to find out what they knew? Read the rest

FBI arrests nearly all of the top officials of Crystal City, Tex.

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The FBI have arrested five of the six top officials of the town of Crystal City, Texas, accusing them of taking bribes and allowing an illegal gambling operation to run in the town of 7,500 people.

According to the indictment, those in the town leadership who were charged “used their official positions to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting payments and other things of value” from [alleged gambling operator, Ngoc Tri Nguyen] and others. The document accuses the officials of voting to award contracts in exchange for bribes, extorting payments from contractors, turning a blind eye to Nguyen’s illegal gaming business while taking action to shut down would-be competitors, and agreeing to reduce Nguyen’s taxes in exchange for him waiving debts, among other dealings. Mayor Ricardo Lopez, the indictment alleges, instructed city inspectors to “make it easy” while looking at Nguyen’s property. Authorities said he also made extra effort to shut down other operators of “8-liner” gaming rooms, which are nominally illegal in Texas but flourish informally in the southern part of the state. In exchange, he allegedly accepted $6,000 from Nguyen to buy a car.

(Image: Photo of beautiful, bustling Crystal City Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia) Read the rest

Association of German judges slams US-EU trade deal for its special corporate courts

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Trade agreements like TPP and the US-EU TTIP are notorious for their Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses, which let corporations sue governments in secret proceedings, in order to force them to get rid of environmental, safety and labor laws that reduce profits. Read the rest

Indian regulator stands up for net neutrality, bans Facebook's walled garden

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India's Internet activists have scored an epic victory in their battle against Facebook and its attempt to become gatekeeper to the Internet in India. Read the rest

Corruption crisis in world spinach capital

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Most of the top officials in a Texas city described as "the world's spinach capital" were arrested last week on corruption charges.

A federal indictment accuses Crystal City's administrators of taking bribes from contractors and of supporting a gambling ring operated by a criminal nicknamed "Mr. T." The mayor, city manager, mayor pro tempore, and at least three current and former councilors have been charged.

Fox News reports on the details of the allegations…

Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez took $6,000 from Nguyen to buy a vehicle, the indictment alleges. In return, he allegedly waived some taxes for Nguyen and had employees close competing casinos that violate state law but exist informally throughout South Texas. Lopez allegedly told city employees inspecting Nguyen's property to "make it easy."

City Manager William James Jonas and Mayor Pro Tempore Rogelio Mata are accused of giving a contractor a $12,000 payment "in exchange for payments and other things of value."

And Lopez, Rogelio Mata, current councilman Roel Mata and former councilman Gilbert Urrabazo are accused of voting to keep Jonas as city attorney and city manager at a salary reported by local media to exceed $200,000. In exchange, Jonas provided payments and other illegal benefits to the four leaders, the indictment alleges.

The city's logo incorporates Popeye, the spinach-munching cartoon sailor, and a huge spinach festival is the town's major tourist draw. Read the rest

There's a secret "black site" in New York where terrorism suspects are tortured for years at a time

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Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center has a special wing, 10-South, in which terrorism suspects who have been kidnapped from foreign territories are imprisoned and tortured in secret, before being given secret trials and lengthy sentences. Read the rest

They promised us a debate over TPP, then they signed it without any debate

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The Trans Pacific Partnership is a secretly negotiated agreement between 12 countries, including the US, Canada and Japan, which establishes punishing regimes for censoring and controlling the Internet, as well as allowing corporations to nullify safety, environmental and labor laws that limit their profits. Read the rest

UK Snooper's Charter is so broad, no one can figure out what it means

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In Investigatory Powers Bill: technology issues, the UK Parliament's Science and Technology select committee takes the government to task for its signature mass surveillance law, the "Snoopers Charter" whose provisions are so broad and vague that companies can't figure out how much of their customers' data they're supposed to be storing, and whether they're meant to be backdooring all the crypto they distribute. Read the rest

Ten hard truths about the Flint water atrocity

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Years before the complaints from Flint's citizenry about their water provoked action from the state, Governor Rick Snyder spent $440,000 to supply better water to the GM factory, where the new water supply was corroding the car parts on the assembly line. Read the rest

Congress wants to know if agencies were compromised by the backdoor in Juniper gear (and where it came from)

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The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has asked dozens of agencies in the US government to disclose whether they used switches made by Juniper, the disgraced US network technology giant that had at least two backdoors inserted into the software for one of its most popular product-lines. Read the rest

San Francisco Super Bowl: crooked accounting, mass surveillance and a screwjob for taxpayers & homeless people

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It's a universal, dismal truism that all major sports events are ripoffs that transfer money from cities to the pockets of corrupt sporting leagues and bodies, but even by those standards, San Francisco's impending Super Bowl is particularly terrible. Read the rest

Danish government let America's Snowden-kidnapping jet camp out in Copenhagen

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The Gulfstream, tail number N977GA, was given permission to land in and fly over Denmark, and spent some time parked in Copenhagen, waiting to snatch Edward Snowden and kidnap him to America. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's new 1%: the percentage of fraudulent profits companies pay in fines

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In Rigged Justice: 2016 How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy, a 12-page booklet, Senator Elizabeth Warren documents corporations that were caught undertaking grossly fraudulent, highly profitable actions, and were made to pay a trivial fraction of those profits in fines -- fines become a part of the cost of doing business, not a deterrent to criminal behavior. Read the rest

Bill Gates sold rights to the Tiananmen 1989 pictures to a Chinese company

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The photos went as part of the deal that sold Corbis Entertainment's licensing arm to Visual China Group. Read the rest

The surveillance business model goes to war against the FTC

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You may have noticed a surge of articles criticizing the Federal Trade Commission for its innovation-stifling, headline-chasing, out-of-control attacks on business. The timing of these articles, op-eds and jeremiads isn't an accident. Read the rest

The Onion's new owner is Hillary Clinton's most lavish financial backer

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Univision, a hugely successful Spanish language broadcaster, bought humor newspaper/site The Onion two weeks ago, and in so doing, transferred control over a site that has produced scathing comedy at Hillary Clinton's expense to Haim Saban, millionaire financier and Democratic power-broker, who calls Clinton "pristine plus" and "great for the country and great for the world." Read the rest

Anaheim: the happiest surveillance state on earth

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Orange County has many claims to fame: Richard Nixon, the S&L scandal, subprime boiler-rooms, Disneyland, an airport honoring a cowboy named Marion, and now, the revelation that its police force secretly uses low-flying surveillance aircraft to break the encryption of thousands of cellphone users, track their movements, and intercept their communications. Read the rest

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