NEWS CLUES: Like Retroactive Immunity For The Truth

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Obama Vows To Strip Telecom Immunity From iSpy Bill
obamashepherfairey.thumbnail.jpg(CBS/AP) – Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., issued a statement in support of the House’s update of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but said he would try to strip a provision granting immunity to telecommunication companies when the bill comes to a vote in the Senate next week. The House approved a compromise bill Friday that would set new electronic surveillance rules that would also shield telecoms from lawsuits arising from their participation in the government’s warrantless eavesdropping on telephone and computer lines in the United States.

The government eavesdropped on American phone and computer lines for almost six years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks without permission from the FISA Court, the special panel established for that purpose under the original 1978 law. Some 40 lawsuits have been filed against the telecommunications companies by groups and individuals who say the Bush administration illegally monitored their phone calls or e-mails. Obama said there is “littlebusheavesdroppingsized.thumbnail.jpg doubt” that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, “has abused [its] authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.”

“Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program. “[The bill] does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.” MORE

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ZIMBABWEAN DEMOCRACY: The Thuggish Brutality of Nope

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robert-mugabe-mustache.thumbnail.jpgTHE GUARDIAN: The decision was an impossible one, taken in murderous times. Over several weeks, it had become obvious that Morgan Tsvangirai [pictured, lower right] would simply not be allowed to win the second round of Zimbabwe’s presidential election, which had been set for Friday. Taking part would lend dignity to a contest that had become, in his words yesterday, “a violent, illegitimate sham”. But the only alternative was pulling out, and allowing President Robert Mugabe [pictured left, with Hitler mustache added for dramatic effect] to claim instant triumph. Yesterday Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) decided the second option was the lesser evil, and he announced he was quitting the race.

Making that call was excruciating because it killed any lingering hope that Mr Mugabe’s tyrannical rule might be ended by the ballot box. Free expression and the rule of law had been under sustained assault for more than a decade, but – despite irregularities – the results from the March 29 presidential poll showed Mr Tsvangirai ahead, giving reason to hope the flame of democracy was still flickering. Ever since, Mr Mugabe has used state power to snuff it out. Despite his healthy lead, Mr Tsvangirai was 2% short of an outright majority, at least according tomorgan-poster-460x276_1.jpg official returns, so a second round was required. That gave Mugabe’s Zanu-PF a window of opportunity in which to beat the country into submission. Literally and metaphorically, the opportunity was taken, as Guardian reporting has shown.

Whole villages have been warned at gunpoint against voting MDC, particularly in provinces such as Manicaland, which deserted Mr Mugabe in March. Politically motivated arson is alleged, as is politically inspired rape. At least 70 MDC activists have been murdered. An iron grip over the police allowed Zanu-PF to prevent the MDC from campaigning by seizing vehicles and personnel alike. Mr Tsvangirai has been arrested five times, and the party’s general secretary Tendai Biti is being detained on a cooked-up capital charge. An MDC rally scheduled for Harare yesterday was banned by the police. On Saturday the courts overruled them. In the end, though, the courts were overruled by gangs of Zanu-PF thugs carrying bars, who turned up and made sure the event could not happen, meting out injuries in the process. MORE

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CHINESE DEMOCRACY: Not Only Finished, But Already Leaked!

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THE TELEGRAPH: Nine ‘mastered, finished’ tracks from Chinese Democracy, the album that Axl Rose has been working on for the past 14 years, were posted on a little-known rock website, www.Antiquiet.com. The infamous album is reported to have cost in excess of $13million to produce but its release is said to have been held up by discussions between Rose and the band’s record label Geffen Records, over rights. A poster calling themselves Skwerl made the nine songs available on Wednesday, without revealing their source, but the tracks were removed hours later.The poster wrote: “I always said that the more that Axl and Geffen jerked around trying to figure out how to release this finally finished album that we’ve all been waiting over 13 years for, the greater the chances would be that it would slip out of a pressing plant or office somewhere and wind up in the hands of some asshole with a blog. So…” MORE

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