This hasn't been getting much play in US Progressive circles - but it's very serious. These young ladies were sentenced to two years in a prison colony in Russia for making political statments that criticized the church and the government. It's outrageous and it's been getting a lot of play elsewhere. --BL
Moscow Court Postpones Pussy Riot Hearing - The three women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, were convicted in August of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in a prison colony for staging a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral last February. They said the stunt was intended to protest against Vladimir V. Putin, who was running for president at the time, and to criticize support for Mr. Putin by the church patriarch, Kirill I.
The prosecution of the three women, two of them mothers of young children, became an international sensation, and prompted wide criticism of Russia over the suppression of political speech. The women received support from a number of major music stars, including Sting and Madonna, as well as many governments. On the day of their conviction and sentencing, supporters rallied in dozens of cities around the world, many wearing colorful balaclavas – Pussy Riot’s trademark head gear.
But the judge who convicted the women, Marina Syrova, said that political comments were spliced into a video of the stunt later and that her verdict was based on the infiltration of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the women’s behavior in front of the altar, which she said amounted to “the insult and humiliation of the Christian faith and inciting religious hatred.”
With Pussy Riot now one of the best-known symbols of the Russian political opposition, any development in their case attracts enormous attention and mobilization efforts. Security was tightened around the courthouse on Monday as defenders of the Russian Orthodox Church chanted hymns and engaged in public prayer. Meanwhile, supporters of Pussy Riot brought an inflatable doll to the courthouse wearing a balaclava. Several people were arrested, including members of a Ukrainian male dance group called Kazaky, who appeared in support of Pussy Riot.
--DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, nytimes.com
(Look at the T-shirt: "No Pasaran" was an historic anti-facisct saying from England. - BL)
Pussy Riot gets support from Yoko Ono and Amnesty International - Yoko Ono, with the backing of the human rights group Amnesty International, said Monday that the LennonOno Grant for Peace is being awarded to the beleaguered female Russian punk band whose members received jail terms for staging a public protest against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow cathedral earlier this year.
Even as Pussy Riot submits to the tender mercies of the Russian judicial system, international pressure continues to build to secure the group's release. The award from John Lennon's widow coincides with the European Parliament nominating Pussy Riot for the Sakharov Prize, named for the Soviet-era scientist/dissident Andrei Sakharov.
Reed Johnson, latimes.com
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Times-Picayune ends 175 years as a daily newspaper in NOLA
For New Orleans, a Daily That’s No Longer Daily - On Saturday night at the Howlin’ Wolf club in downtown New Orleans, they gathered to say goodbye. There were newspaper hats, brass instruments, toasts, rants, old friends who had not seen one another in years and recent co-workers who might not be seeing one another for a while.
New Orleans is famous for marking death with a celebration, and this was no different. More than 300 current and former colleagues, family members and well-wishers gathered to raise a final glass to The Times-Picayune’s 175-year run as a daily newspaper.
“A lot of these people might not have come back for a regular funeral, but they came back for this one,” says Rebecca Theim, a former Times-Picayune reporter who founded DashThirtyDash (from the newspaper code -30- marking the end of a story), the organization that held the event as a way to raise money for laid-off staff members. “Everyone’s scattered to the winds. But we came back for this.”
In May, the parent company of The Times-Picayune, Newhouse Media, announced large-scale cutbacks as well as plans to reduce publication to three times a week in favor of an expanded Web site. Sunday’s edition represents the official end of the old publishing schedule, and made New Orleans the largest metropolitan area in the country without its own daily newspaper.
DAVE THIER, nytimes
Medical pot advocates cool to Obama - Four years after enthusiastically supporting Barack Obama, marijuana entrepreneurs and advocates are closing their checkbooks to the president's re-election bid.
The reason: Anger over the Obama Justice Department's crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries after Obama promised in the 2008 campaign that he would not use federal "resources to circumvent state laws on this issue."
"We're all bummed out about it," said Dale Gieringer, California coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Gieringer donated $2,300 to Obama in 2008. This year, Gieringer won't give Obama a dime, much less vote for him.
Dan Freedman, SF Chronicle
Is Meg Whitman 2010's history repeating itself with Mitt Romney 2012? - Super-rich, sucker-punched by a "September surprise" and still stuck courting a hard-to-please conservative base while trying to connect with everyone else.
That's been the story of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in recent weeks, but it also was the story of the 2010 California gubernatorial campaign of Meg Whitman, whom Romney hired three decades ago at the Boston-based Bain & Co. consulting firm.
For Whitman's campaign, the story ended with a crushing, 13-point defeat at the hands of Democrat Jerry Brown. That's a fate Romney desperately wants to avoid as he heads into his first debate with President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
Awash in campaign cash -- in Whitman's case, a record-shattering $142 million of her own money -- and their images molded by armies of consultants, both were cast by Democrats as aloof, out-of-touch rich people with hidden tax returns, offshore bank accounts and luxurious lifestyles, making it hard to convince middle-class and minority voters that they could ever understand the common American's plight.
Then both were broadsided in September with stories that reinforced those perceptions in the minds of many voters, particularly independents. Former housekeeper Nicky Diaz came forward in September 2010 charging that Whitman, who became a billionaire as eBay's CEO, had known she was an illegal immigrant and kept her on the payroll before callously dismissing her because Whitman feared the press and public would find out
JOSH RICHMAN/MediaNews Group
California Is Latest Stage for Election Battle Over Unions - The battle to curb labor’s political clout has moved from Wisconsin to California, where wealthy conservatives are championing a ballot measure that would bar unions from donating to candidates. Labor leaders describe it as the starkest threat they have faced in a year of nationwide challenges to diminish their once-formidable power.
The measure, Proposition 32 on the November ballot, would prohibit both unions and corporations from making contributions, but the corporate provision is far less stringent than the one aimed at unions, analysts said. If passed, it would also bar unions from using automatic payroll deductions to raise money for political campaigns, a major source of labor’s political funding.
“This would be a big deal for unions if it passes since it would largely cut off their participation in state and local California politics,” said Daniel J. B. Mitchell, a professor emeritus at the U.C.L.A. Anderson School of Management.
The prospect that Proposition 32 could become law in an overwhelmingly Democratic state that has a rich history of union activism has alarmed labor leaders. A victory here, they argued, would pave the way for similar efforts across the nation.
ADAM NAGOURNEY, nytimes
Offshore Tactics Helped Increase Romneys’ Wealth - Buried deep in the tax returns released by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign are references to dozens of offshore holdings with names like Ursa Funding (Luxembourg) S.à.r.l. and Sankaty Credit Opportunities Investors (Offshore) IV, based in the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Romney, responding to opponents’ barbs about his use of overseas tax havens, has offered a narrow defense, saying only that the investments, many made through the private equity firm he founded, Bain Capital, have yielded him “not one dollar of reduction in taxes.”
A review of thousands of pages of financial documents and interviews with tax lawyers found that in some cases, the offshore arrangements enabled his individual retirement account to avoid taxes on its investments and may well have reduced Mr. Romney’s personal income tax bills.
But perhaps a more significant impact of Mr. Romney’s offshore investments has been on the profit side of the ledger — in the way Bain’s tax-avoidance strategies have enhanced his income.
Some of the offshore entities enabled Bain-owned companies to sidestep certain taxes, increasing returns for Mr. Romney and other investors
MICHAEL LUO and MIKE McINTIRE, nytimes
Video Seems to Show American Journalist Being Held by Islamists in Syria - A Web site that supports the Syrian government publicized a video clip on Monday that showed Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist, to be alive but held hostage by what appeared to be Islamist militants. It was the first glimpse of Mr. Tice since Aug. 13.
Questions about the origin of the undated clip and the anomalies in it raised doubts about its authenticity, but colleagues and relatives confirmed that a masked figure with long hair and a scruffy beard appeared to be Mr. Tice, 31, a former Marine whose work has been published in McClatchy Company newspapers, The Washington Post and other news outlets.
The 47-second video, with the headline “Austin Tice Still Alive,” shows frightening scenes of masked gunmen jerking Mr. Tice along a trail through low hills. One captor holds what looks to be a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, nytimes
This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.
Five big things will decide what this country looks like next year and in the 20 years to follow, but here's a guarantee for you: you're not going to hear about them in the upcoming presidential debates. Yes, there will be questions and answers focused on deficits, taxes, Medicare, the Pentagon, and education, to which you already more or less know the responses each candidate will offer. What you won't get from either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama is a little genuine tough talk about the actual state of reality in these United States of ours. And yet, on those five subjects, a little reality would go a long way, while too little reality (as in the debates to come) is a surefire recipe for American decline.
So here's a brief guide to what you won't hear this Wednesday or in the other presidential and vice-presidential debates later in the month. Think of these as five hard truths that will determine the future of this country.
1. Immediate deficit reduction will wipe out any hope of economic recovery:
2. Taxes are at their lowest point in more than half a century, preventing investment in and the maintenance of America's most basic resources:
Mattea Kramer, Mother Jones