Costas Vaxevanis, a 46-year-old veteran television journalist who now publishes a magazine, has insisted he was doing his job and accused ministers responsible for vetting the list for possible tax evasion of doing nothing for two years.
“We will endure this. Will they?” Vaxevanis tweeted ahead of the trial.
Vaxevanis, who was arrested on Sunday, was charged with breach of privacy and had faced a maximum three-year prison sentence if convicted.
Calling for his conviction, the prosecutor said: “You have publicly ridiculed a series of people, you have delivered these people to a society that is thirsty for blood.”
“The solution to the problems that the country is facing is not cannibalism,” added the prosecutor.
But after 12 hours of trial, the court acquitted Vaxevanis.
The ruling was met with applause, while a visibly emotional Vaxevanis thanked the judge.
Several media workers had testified on behalf of Vaxevanis, including the head of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Bumelha, who called the trial an “absurd farce”.
“Colleagues from all over the world will be keeping an eye on this. If something happens to Costas, we will gather all of the forces that we have got, wherever we are, to campaign for his release,” he told reporters ahead of the verdict.
The head of the Athens union of journalists, Dimitris Trimis, also took the stand.
“I would have done the same thing,” Trimis told the court, according to excerpts posted on a blog operated by Vaxevanis.
“A bank account is not personal data, we live in an era of transparency,” Trimis said.
A radical leftist lawmaker whose father is on the journalist’s legal team denounced the case as a “blow to democracy”.
Amnesty International’s deputy program director for Europe and Central Asia, Marek Marczynski, said ahead of the ruling that it was “deeply troubling” that Vaxevanis is facing charges “for disclosing information in the public interest”.
“This step increases the risk that other journalists will censor themselves and refrain from legitimate criticism of the government to avoid prosecution,” he said.
Vaxevanis has accused the Greek state of hypocrisy and says the justice system is bowing to a corrupt political system.
“Our politicians declare themselves to be democrats. I see no evidence of this,” he wrote in Britain’s The Times newspaper on Thursday.
“I wonder if Greek justice will show that the law safeguards the public interest and freedom of speech… in journalism you must do what you think is right without worrying about the consequences,” he wrote.
The journalist has also accused Greek media of burying the story.
Vaxevanis’ “Hot Doc” magazine on Saturday published the names of more than 2,000 Greeks, allegedly from a controversial list of HSBC account holders that was originally leaked by a bank employee and passed to Greece in 2010 by France’s then finance minister Christine Lagarde, who is now IMF chief.
Greek authorities took no action given that the list was considered stolen data that could not be used against potential tax evaders.
When the case resurfaced last month, it took several days for officials to even locate a copy of the so-called “Lagarde List”.
Among those named are prominent businessmen, shipowners, lawyers, doctors, journalists and a former minister, as well as companies, housewives and students although no deposit sums were published.
The data has been the subject of intense discussion, with the government facing calls to use it to crack down on potential tax cheats as the country grapples with a massive debt crisis.
On Thursday, a special economic prosecutor asked parliament to investigate whether previous finance ministers could be faulted for failing to take action on the list, media reports said.
Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of the socialist Pasok party and a former finance minister, told a parliament committee that he had ordered the finance ministry’s tax police to investigate, a claim which the department’s chief at the time denies.
Ex-finance minister George Papaconstantinou, the first recipient of the data in 2010, said he did not know what had happened to the original version of the list, raising speculation that it could have been tampered with.
Current finance chief Yannis Stournaras has asked France to re-send the list.
Vaxevanis says he got the information in an anonymous letter whose sender claimed to have received it from a politician.
On Wednesday, police arrested another journalist who claimed to have in his possession a list of finance ministry documents allegedly stolen by hackers from the state general accounting office
Europe is in crisis, and it’s not just about occasional flare-ups in peripheral sovereign debt markets anymore.
In fact, it’s really never been about that.
The European continent has for decades since the end of the Second World War struggled to create a transnational identity, the fulfillment of a dream to end military conflict between continental superpowers like France and Germany that has plagued it for centuries.
However, that identity – and the institutions like the EU and the ECB that embody it – has come at a great price. Voters in euro area member states have found that they are able to exercise less and less control over their own governance at the ballot box. In short, democracy is in crisis.
Now, Europe is at a historic crossroads, brought about by the disastrous implementation of the euro – it must either cede even more power to the supranational level, where voters aren’t represented by elected officials, or face the fallout in financial markets.
France will ask for a Europe-wide ban on a genetically modified maize developed by US agribusiness Monsanto if the findings of tests made public Wednesday prove to be true. The study found that rats fed on the corn for two years developed tumours the size of ping-pong balls, liver damage and digestive problems.
France will call for a ban “at a European level” if the national health agency (Anses) backs up the findings of the study by French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told an audience in the Burgundy city of Dijon on Thursday.
And a communiqué from Agriculture Minister Stéphane Foll, Ecology Minister Delphine Batho and Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that Paris may demand a ban on the import of Monsanto’s NK603 corn, the subject of the tests.
The question will also be taken to the European Union’s Food Safety Agency, which green campaigners have often accused of conflict of interest because several members are alleged to be connected to seed companies.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, found that rats fed on a diet of 33 per cent NK603 corn and others exposed to Roundup, the weedkiller used with it, developed tumours, liver damage and digestive problems.
Premature deaths and sickness were particularly prevalent among females.
While previous studies have usually lasted only about three months, Seralini’s lasted two years, the average rat’s lifespan, and the illnesses developed later in the period covered.
NK603 is a type of corn, or maize, that has been engineered to make it resistant to the herbicide Roundup, which is also manufactured by Monsanto, and is used by farmers to maximise yields.
It can be imported but not grown in Europe.
Only Monsanto’s MON810 transgenic corn and BASF’s Amflora potato can be grown in the European Union.
France, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Romania have outlawed the growing of MON810 on their territory.
Monsanto said it was “too soon” to comment when the findings were made public but some of Seralini’s colleagues criticised him for working with journalists to ensure that they were covered in the media before his peers had had time to examine them.
Gilles-Eric Seralini, who works at the University of Caen in Normandy, has publicly opposed GM agriculture for some time and often found himself in a minority when he sat on a government committee examining them.
By COLLEEN CURRY | ABC News
New ads scheduled to appear in the New York City subway system call for support of Israel in its war against “the savage,” a reference to militant Muslims.
The ads, put out by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, are aimed at criticizing violent attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists, according to Pamela Gellar, the founder and director of the group.
The ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
“The point is any war on civilians is savagery. The rockets going into Israel by Gaza is savagery, blowing up buses is savagery, targeting a bus of Jewish mothers and children, savagery, Daniel Pearl, 9/11, 7/7, 3/11, are all savagery,” she said referring to terror attacks in the U.S., Britain and Spain. “I’m just restating the obvious.”
The ad comes after a series of riots in the Mideast and Africa over a movie mocking the Prophet Mohammed and as France braces for unrest after a magazine printed cartoons lampooning the prophet. Depictions of the prophet are considered blasphemy by Muslims.
Gellar said she is concerned that the violent blowback to the movie and the cartoons is squelching free speech around the world. She said that she is not worried about her ads provoking violence, and that only those who commit violent acts are responsible.
“What we’re witnessing here not just locally or nationally but internationally is the enforcement of the restriction of free speech under Sharia law. Under Sharia law you cannot criticize the prophet,” she said. “In my opinion any time is a good time to blaspheme because I am living in America and freedom of speech is not the eighth or tenth or fifteenth amendment, but the first.”
The ads were initially rejected by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York’s subway and train systems. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said that the ad failed to meet its standards, which prohibit demeaning language of any group. But those standards were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge this summer, he said.
“Our hands are tied. The court found the MTA’s regulations on non-commercial ads violated the First Amendment,” Donovan said.
France has temporarily closed its embassies and schools in 20 countries after a satirical magazine in Paris published insulting cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, a move it fears will add “fuel to the fire” of global tensions over an anti-Islam film.
“We have indeed decided as a precautionary measure to close our premises, embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters. Riot police were also sent to the offices of the weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
The acting head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said French courts should deal with the case as firmly as it dealt with a magazine that published topless photographs of the U.K.’s Duchess of Cambridge.
The publication came amid widespread outrage over a crude, provocative film, made by anti-Islam campaigners in California, that mocked the Prophet and ignited days of deadly protests including an attack in Libya in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed.
The front-page cartoon had the figure in a wheelchair saying “You mustn’t mock” under the headline “Untouchable 2,” a reference to a hugely popular French movie about a paralyzed rich white man and his black assistant
France has started providing direct aid and money to five rebel-held Syrian cities as it intensifies efforts to weaken President Bashar Assad, in the first such move by a Western power, a diplomatic source said Wednesday.
The French aid comes as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the Security Council on Wednesday for failing to take action to protect Syrians facing violence that has led to thousands of deaths.
Amid mounting calls for the international community to do more to prevent bloodshed, France — Syria’s former colonial ruler — has pushed to create “liberated zones” in Syria.
France has increased its contacts with armed opposition groups and started giving aid last Friday to local citizens’ councils in five cities outside the government’s control, the diplomatic source told The Associated Press. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius promised last week that such aid was in the pipeline.
editors note:I encourage to check out this authors’ other work.
In a democratic nation a revolution by force of arms needs a few things to succeed. One, enough stratification of society to create a populace of malcontents who will support the revolutionaries. Two, enough fighters, leaders, and propaganda assets to win the war of public opinion with the rest of the population. Three, enough outside support that they can stay in the fight long enough for the legitimate government to quit the fight and cede the field. Fourth, a shadow government that can take hold. These don’t exist in sequential order, they must all exist at the same time.
Our American Revolution had all these elements. The grievances against the Crown (real and imaginary) created a population with enough discontent to actively or passively support the fight for independence. The fighters themselves were passionate enough to give it the old college try. And our propaganda efforts in Europe brought support from France and gave legitimacy to the fledgling Colonial government. Our Continental Congress stood ready to take over.
My previous post about the “Tea Party” taking over Darlington, South Carolina, and the potential of an active military response to the such has struck a bit of a nerve with those who agree with the hypothetical revolutionaries. Wil even went so far as to quote the “Declaration of Independence” back to me. Over at the Small Wars Journal one of the responses was even to quote the British saying that they could rapidly put down the little insurrection once the arms were seized at Lexington…. Look folks, I don’t disagree with you that the FedGov is a bloated hydra desperately needing to be pruned back, so keep that in mind.
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Anthony Gucciardi NaturalSociety March 9, 2012
After their products were confirmed to have some of the highest BPA levels among canned foods tested in independent research, consumers have been calling upon Campbell’s to stop using bisphenol A (BPA) in their popular canned soups. Linked to breast cancer in over 130 studies as well as diabetes, hardening of the arteries, and depression, BPA is comprising the health of many. Despite this scientific evidence, Campbell’s and some stubborn public health organizations still continue to assert that BPA is completely safety. Nonetheless, the company is making the move in response to the powerful concerns raised by consumers and health advocates alike, representing a major victory and highlighting the power of vital health activism. The news comes just after it was announced that the FDA may soon ban the usage of BPA within the United States. With the final decision coming by March 31, the agency said that it is actually considering a ban on BPA usage in all food packaging. It is not yet certain if the FDA will follow through with the decision, as it took the organization 41 months to even respond to the original petition calling for the ban. In fact, the FDA says that the potential U.S. ban of BPA originally dates back to a 2008 lawsuit filed against the FDA by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
After not answering for an absurd number of months despite regulations requiring the agency to respond after a 180 day maximum time period, court intervention brought upon by the NRDC has finally forced the agency to answer. Now, the final notice will be known at the end of the month. The report comes at a time where many nations are taking action against BPA, with France banning the use of BPA in all food packaging back in February. Many other countries besides France have already taken direct action against BPA to protect the health of citizens: •The European Union, Turkey, and other nations banned BPA from baby bottles as far back as 2008. •In 2007, Canada took a stand against BPA and banned it from baby bottles •Denmark has banned BPA in baby food products. •Japan has taken action against using BPA in can linings. Campbell’s removing BPA from their products is a result of real activism, protecting the consumer in the absence of FDA action through grassroots initiatives. With BPA being removed from the industry, it is now time to target mercury-filled high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and genetically modified foods.
Explore More: 1.Poland Joins Ranks of Grassroots Anti-Monsanto Activism 2.How to Stop the Resurgence of Agent Orange in Your Food Supply | Vital Activism 3.Reclaiming Health: BPA Ban Passes California State Senate 4.4 Proofs The FDA Does Not Care About Your Health 5.What to do Before and After Receiving a Vaccine | Helping to Block the Immune Response 6.Action Alert: Legislation Seeks to Censor Taxpayer-Funded Health Research
BAYONNE, France (AP) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy took refuge from a crowd of several hundred angry protesters in a cafe Thursday, as riot police swarmed in to protect him while he campaigned in the country’s southwest Basque country.
Riot police surrounded the Bar du Palais in central Bayonne where Sarkozy stayed for about an hour to get away from the protesters — some of them Basque nationalists, others carrying posters of rival Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.
Even for the unpopular leader, it was a bizarre turn of events. The French president’s security entourage is typically smaller than, say, the U.S. president’s detail, and it has been particularly sparse at some recent campaign events, as Sarkozy has tried to connect with voters.
But the quick reaction of riot police underscored how serious — and strange — the siege of a world leader was. Inside the cafe, where he met with residents of Bayonne, Sarkozy denounced “the violence of a minority and their unacceptable behavior.”
While he was inside, some of the protesters outside threw eggs toward the barrier of riot police guarding the cafe.
French TV repeatedly showed footage of the crowds throughout the afternoon, though the images were often of supporters.
The conservative Sarkozy trails Hollande, the front-runner, in the two pronged April and May presidential election.
“Here, we’re in France, on the territory of the French republic, and the president of the republic will go everywhere,” Sarkozy said once inside the cafe. “And if that doesn’t please a minority of troublemakers, too bad for them.”
The narrow streets of the historic center of Bayonne, in the French Basque country, were packed with supporters and protesters following Sarkozy during his visit. Tension mounted as Basque separatists threw pieces of paper at him. They were joined by others holding portraits of Hollande and his presidential program.
“If this is the concept of democracy, that the Socialists associate with Basque separatists, if this is it, the country they have in mind, it doesn’t make you want to get there,” Sarkozy said to reporters inside the cafe.
Sarkozy left the cafe escorted by riot police and protected by an umbrella.
The president’s campaign spokeswoman, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, asked Socialists to “respect the rules of democratic debate.”
“It’s not because you don’t have ideas that you have to stop others from expressing theirs,” she said.
Sarkozy declared his candidacy on Feb. 15. The latest polls show him narrowing the gap in the first round but lagging far behind in the final round. With the president now actively on the campaign trail, the debate has grown increasingly bitter with harsh denunciations by supporters on both sides.