Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Babar Ahmad family to fight US extradition

Press TV – April 10, 2012

The family of Babar Ahmad, a British citizen who has been held without charge or trial for eight years, have said they will appeal the ruling on his extradition to the US over terrorism charges.

The family members of Ahmad promised to fight his extradition, after the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that he and four others can be transferred to the US.

The family of the 36-year-old computer expert said in a statement that they were “very disappointed” by the court’s ruling and asked the British authorities to try Ahmad in the UK.

“Babar is a British citizen accused of a crime said to have been committed in the UK and all the evidence against him was gathered in this country,” the statement read.

“Nevertheless, British justice appears to have been subcontracted to the US. This should be immediately rectified by putting Babar on trial in the UK and ordering a full public inquiry into the matter.”

The US officials have accused Ahmad of fundraising for terrorists. He has been held pending extradition since 2004, reportedly the longest time a British national has been detained without trial in modern times.

He was first arrested at his home in 2003 by London’s Metropolitan Police. He said he was the victim of a sustained and brutal assault by officers who intended to humiliate him and make him fear for his life.

Amna Ahmad, Babar’s sister, voiced her concerns over what would happen to his brother’s mental health if he was extradited to the US.

“I’m worried that if he’s sent across to the United States firstly they’ll hold him in solitary confinement pre-trial like they did to Chris Tappin, they’ll probably be worse on Babar than they are to Chris Tappin,” she said.

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Babar Ahmad family to fight US extradition

Maxing Out

Toward a Maximum Wage

By JOHNNY E. WILLIAMS | CounterPunch | April 10, 2012

Tackling income inequality through the minimum wage alone is an inadequate way to counter the economy’s anti-egalitarian tendencies. The minimum wage exists because the federal government recognizes the economy undervalues the average worker’s contribution and fails to provide a fair livable wage. Conversely, the economy’s overvaluing a few people’s contribution is also in need of governmental oversight. Since the government believes the economy is not a reliable gauge for determining how little is too little, it cannot assume the “market” is capable of determining how much is too much. Given this it is incumbent on the federal government to implement an income ceiling to eliminate the extreme income disparity between top and average wage earners.

Before dismissing the maximum wage idea outright, consider President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s call for 1942 maximum wage of $25,000 a year (in 2012 dollars $364,000) as a means to fuel economic growth and reduce income inequality. In a recent Le Monde Diplomatique article Sam Pizzigati of the Institute for Policy Studies revealed that two short years after President Roosevelt’s proposal, Congress increased the top tax rate to 94% for individual incomes over $200,000 (in 2012 dollars $2.6 million) The 94¢ tax on every dollar over the $200,000 limit helped initiate the longest period of economic growth for the middle class in U.S. history. This tax rate remained in place until President Lyndon Johnson dropped it to under 70% in the late 1960s. About two decades later President Reagan reduced the rate to 50% and then to 28% in 1988 before it settled at today’s 35% rate. But this tax rate overstates the rich’s tax burden given that most of their income [tax payment] comes from the 15% capital gains tax on profits acquired from buying and selling stocks, bonds and assets. This tax rate is about the same as that for working Americans earning between $50,000 and $75,000 before itemized deductions and exemptions.

Opponents of the maximum wage assert that cutting the top tax rates rather than increasing them will spark revenue and job growth. Their “trickle down” rationale assumes that making the rich richer will create good paying jobs, making working people more prosperous. But the trickle down approach and other piecemeal provisions like the minimum wage, earned income tax credit, and other minimalist economic programs and policies have proven ineffective in reversing the growth in income inequality over the last four decades. The ineffectiveness of such programs and policies is apparent in Emmanuel Saez’s recently released study showing that during the current recession one-percenters captured 93 percent of the income growth in both 2009 and 2010. In real dollar terms this means that the bottom 90% income on average declined $127 while the top 1% income increased $106,000.

One the best and most proficient ways to restart job growth and alleviate poverty and inequality, the imposition of a maximum allowable wage tied to minimum wage and enforced through a progressive income tax. The maximum is set at a specific multiple (maybe twenty five times) of the minimum wage, so that all income over the multiple limit is subject to a 95% to 100% tax. Limiting and linking average and top wage earners in this way will help Americans clearly see that poverty and suffering is necessary for an individual to accumulate wealth.

The fact is that income and wealth inequality impedes economic recovery, and efficiency and stability because it weakens demand for goods and services. By implementing a maximum wage the government could generate billions in revenue that can be invested in health, education, technology and infrastructure maintenance in ways that ensure the economy is sustainable, productive and efficient.

Europeans, especially those dealing with economic austerity measures, are already debating how to enact a maximum wage policy to ameliorate economic calamity. The idea of the maximum wage is also starting to resonate in the United States with a public that is increasingly aware of the destructive and anti-democratic consequences of lopsided disparities in income and wealth. This emerging awareness encourages people to question and challenge the legitimacy of economic values and a political system that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it: “permit necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few.”

Johnny E. Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Trinity College.    

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Maxing Out

Pakistani Lawyer Representing Victims of Drone Strikes Prevented From Speaking in U.S.

Center for Constitutional Rights | April 9, 2012

Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar has been invited to speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington DC on April 28, but the U.S. government is failing to grant him a visa.

The Summit is organized by the peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Akbar, co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Rights, is important to the Summit because of his work providing legal aid to victims of CIA-operated drone strikes. Akbar filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members of civilian victims and has been a critical force in litigating and advocating on victims’ behalf.

While Akbar has traveled to the United States in the past, he has not been granted permission to return since becoming an outspoken critic of drone attacks in Pakistan that have killed hundreds of civilians. He was previously invited to speak about drone strikes at Columbia University in New York, but he never received a response to the visa application he filed in May 2011. One year later, he is still waiting for a response, and he has been unable to get an answer from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad as to why his application is being held up.

“Denying a visa to people like me is denying Americans their right to know what the U.S. government and its intelligence community are doing to children, women and other civilians in this part of the world,” Akbar said. “The CIA, which operates the drones in Pakistan, does not want anyone challenging their killing spree. But the American people should have the right to know.”

The CIA’s secret drone program has killed hundreds of people in Pakistan with no due process and no accountability. Akbar represents families whose innocent loved ones have been killed and maimed in these drone attacks.

“Shahzad is the voice for these poor tribal people who have had no recourse,” said CODEPINK co-director Medea Benjamin. “It’s outrageous that our government is trying to keep him from speaking at the Drone Summit.”

“The Obama administration has already launched six times as many drone strikes as the Bush administration in Pakistan alone, killing hundreds of innocent people and devastating families,” said Leili Kashani, Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “By refusing to grant Shahzad Akbar a visa to speak about this abhorrent reality in the United States, the Obama administration is further silencing discussion about the impact of its targeted killing program on people in Pakistan and around the world.”

The Drone Summit’s organizers vow to keep pressuring the U.S. government to grant Akbar a visa.

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia gets two million acres from Sudan for tax-free farming

Sudan Tribune | April 9, 2012

KHARTOUM – A prominent Saudi businessman announced last week that the Sudanese government agreed to give his country two million acres of land as a farming investment that would allow the Arab Gulf state to ensure safe and steady food supply.

The chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce Saleh Kamel told the Saudi-based al-Sharq newspaper that the project, if successful, may allow Riyadh to achieve a food surplus that can be exported elsewhere.

Kamel disclosed that Khartoum will make the farmland a free zone that is not subject to any form of taxation or duties and is not covered by Sudanese laws.

The world’s largest oil exporter would no longer need to import food from Argentina, North America and Australia when the plantation scheme becomes fully operational, he added.

Since the 2007-2008 global food crisis, Saudi Arabia has been encouraging private and public firms to invest in farm projects abroad. In 2008, the government there also abandoned a 30-year self-sufficiency in wheat programme.

Saudi Arabia wants to build stocks of basic commodities such as wheat, rice, oil and sugar to avoid the implications of rising global food prices and also to meet the needs of a population that is growing at a rapid pace.

The government-owned Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) offers credit guarantees to companies wishing to invest in farming projects abroad.

Kamel explained the choice of East Sudan for launching the project is due to its proximity to Port Sudan which allows the products to be easily shipped to Saudi Arabia just across the Red Sea. He said that he would discuss the matter with the Saudi ministers of agriculture and finance.

“The return [on investment] of agriculture in Sudan will reach 15% of the capital in the first year, a return that is more than good and better than investing in any another business sector” he said.

It remains to be seen whether the Saudi farming venture will be successful. Saudi businessmen, including Kamel, have complained in the past that investing in Sudan faces too many hurdles.

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , | Comments Off on Saudi Arabia gets two million acres from Sudan for tax-free farming