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Showing posts from April, 2010

Whistleblower: BP Risks More Massive Catastrophes in Gulf

Truthout - British Petroleum (BP) has broken federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, a former contractor who worked for the oil behemoth claimed in internal emails and other documents obtained by Truthout.
The whistleblower, whose name has been withheld at the person's request because the whistleblower still works in the oil industry and fears retaliation, first raised concerns about safety issues related to BP Atlantis, the world's largest and deepest semi-submersible oil and natural gas platform, located about 200 miles south of New Orleans, in November 2008. Atlantis, which began production in October 2007, has the capacity to produce about 8.4 million gallons of oil and 180 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
It was then that the whistleblower, who was hired to supervise the company's databases, discov…

The Real War Reporters

William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout - A good friend noted recently how little we hear of Iraq and Afghanistan in the news anymore, and further noted the deafening silence regarding those ongoing wars from what he described as "dishwater left-leaning political activists" whose disengagement from the issue, according to him, makes them full of something I can't repeat in print. That bogus disengagement, he asserts, stems from the fact that Obama is in office now, so everything must be OK. It isn't, of course, but it is hard to miss the fact that we haven't heard much about the wars, or the protesters, since a couple of Januarys ago. Read more.

BP Oil Spill: US military joins Gulf of Mexico oil spill effort

'The Exxon Valdez is going to pale in comparison'
BBC - The US military has joined efforts to stop an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico as fears rise about its scale.
Five times as much oil as previously thought could be leaking from the well beneath where a rig exploded and sank last week, the US Coast Guard says.
Rear Admiral Mary Landry said 5,000 barrels a day were thought to be gushing into the sea off Louisiana.
The Department of Homeland Security has designated the spill as one of "national significance". Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is to go to Louisiana to oversee operations, told reporters in Washington that this designation would allow resources to be ordered in from other areas of the US.
At the same briefing, a coastguard official said the oil slick was expected to wash ashore on the Gulf Coast on Friday. Read more.

Israelis and Egyptians Are Killing Palestinian Youth Who Challenge the Siege of Gaza

Ann Wright @ Common Dreams - slaughtered again as Israel and now Egypt kill and wound more innocent civilians who challenge their illegal siege, blockade and quarantine.
In the past four days, one young Palestinian man has been killed and two young women and a young man have been wounded by Israeli snipers as they protested the Israeli bulldozing of 300 meters of Palestinian land into an Israeli "buffer zone." Four young Palestinian tunnel workers have been killed by suffocation and 6 injured as Egypt sprayed a crowd disbursal gas into a tunnel.
Death in the Tunnels from Egyptian Gas and from Israeli Bombs
According to an Associated Press report yesterday, on April 28, four young Palestinian men who work as tunnel diggers were killed by suffocation by some type of crowd control gas sprayed into one tunnel by Egyptian authorities. Six other tunnel workers were seriously injured by the gas.
Other Palestinian tunnel workers have been killed in tunnels that collapse from Israeli ae…

Punk Rock Legend Patti Smith on her Life, Her Art, Her Singing and Speaking Out

Mec de Mystery LEGENDS: Patti Smith by Max Eternity

Immigration advocates rising up in anger across the nation over new Arizona law

Juan Gonzales @ New York Daily News - Public furor is mounting across the nation over Arizona's new "show me your papers or go to jail" immigration law.
One Hispanic congressman, Raul Grijalva (D-Tucson) is urging tourists and national conventions to boycott his state.
Another, our own Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), wants baseball owners to yank the All-Star Game from Phoenix next year.
"Major League Baseball needs to revisit the issue of whether the All-Star Game, one of America's greatest televised exports to Latin America, should be played in a state that doesn't show any respect to Latinos," Serrano said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said he may step in to challenge the new law, which permits police to stop residents merely on the "reasonable suspicion" that they are unlawfully in the country.
Given that 30% of Arizona's population is Hispanic and 10% is Native American, you can bet many dark-skinned legal residents and citizens will be…

OIL Spills: Will we ever learn

David Lindorff @ Common Dreams - British Petroleum had a fail-safe system for it's Deepwater Horizon floating deep-water drilling rig.
You know, the one that blew up and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving a tangled spaghetti pile of 22-inch steel pipe one mile long all balled up on the sea floor a mile below the surface, and that is leaking oil at 42,000 gallons per day...so far.
The thing is, the fail-safe system, about the size of a McMansion sitting at the wellhead on the ocean floor, um, failed. It didn't collapse and shut off the flow of oil as intended, and it could take months now to shut the well down--during which time the leak rate is likely to increase to up to 300,000 gallons per day, or over two million gallons a week.
President Obama claimed last month that off-shore drilling technology had become so advanced that oil spills and blowouts were a thing of the past. Read more.

Chicago is in a State of Crisis

Rev. Jesse Jackson @ The Huffington Post - Chicago is in a state of emergency. It has been reported that 113 people have been killed in Chicago this year. The same number of U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same time period.
The present structure is not adequate to secure the people. We are laying off teachers, closing schools, proposing shorter school days, reducing public transportation, laying off transit workers and raising the fare for public transportation and public parking. The basic issues in the zones of pain are not being addressed. Neighborhoods facing high crime and violence are also facing record home foreclosure rates and student loan defaults.
If talk about bringing in the National Guard illuminates the issue, then let the debate begin.
We need to revive the ban on assault weapons. We need targeted jobs, targeted job training, open skill and trade training in the unions and organized adult regulated recreation for our children. Read more.

Behind The Arizona Immigration Law: GOP Game to Swipe the November Election

Truthout - Phoenix - Don't be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.
What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote - and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas. Read more.

BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico growing by 42,000 galls per day

SF Gate - The threat of a major oil spill off the coast of Louisiana grew significantly Saturday as a leak was discovered in the oil well that was the site last week of a catastrophic accident that sank a huge drilling rig and likely killed 11 workers.
The spill, which a day earlier Coast Guard officials had thought was contained within a 16-square-mile area on the surface, now covers 400 square miles, and may grow as the well spews 42,000 more gallons of oil per day at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said Saturday.
"This is a very serious spill," she said at a news conference updating the situation. Read more.

Acid Attacks Against Women Continue

News JunkiePost - Acid attacks are common in a number of Asian countries including Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Cambodia(see first photograph) and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh alone, over 2,600 cases of acid attacks have been reported since 1999. Acid attacks are a particularly vicious and damaging form of violence where acid is thrown in people’s faces.
The overwhelming majority of the victims are women, and many are below 18 years of age. The victims are attacked for many reason, quite often by a jealous spouse or someone in their immediate family. In some cases it is because a young girl or woman has refused the sexual advances of a male or either she or her parents have rejected a marriage proposal. More recently, however, there have been acid attacks on children, older women and also men. These attacks are often the result of family and land dispute, dowry demands or more simply a desire for revenge.
The chemical used for these heinous crimes are either nitric or sulfuric acids. The…

Vermont Legislature Votes to Begin Designing 'Single-Payer' Healthcare System

Common Dreams - Vermont lawmakers made clear Friday that recently enacted federal health care reform did not go far enough toward a public model, passing legislation that could bring to the state the "public option" health insurance rejected by Washington or even a Canadian-style single-payer system.
By a vote of 91-42, the Democratic controlled House passed its own version of legislation passed earlier by the Senate. Both bills call for designing a single-payer system, in which a government agency would administer and make all payments for health care.
The House version calls for that as well as a parallel design of a system with a public option for health insurance, meaning a system in which a health insurance program offered by the government would compete against those offered by private companies. The House's version also would expand previously enacted reform efforts. Read more.

The tea party's exaggerated importance

Politico - 2009 was the year when many journalists concluded they were slow to recognize the anti-government, anti-Obama rage that gave birth to the tea party movement.
2010 is the year when news organizations have decided to prove they get it.
And get it. And get it some more.
Part of the reason is the timeless truth in media that nothing succeeds like excess. But part of the reason is a convergence of incentives for journalists and activists on left and right alike to exaggerate both the influence and exotic traits of the tea-party movement. In fact, there is a word for what poll after poll depicts as a group of largely white, middle-class, middle-aged voters who are aggrieved: Republicans.
But just read the succession of New York Times stories, profiling newly energized activists who are “bracing for tyranny.” Or follow the dispatches of the CNN crews who went along with two national Tea Party Express bus tours. Or delve into the crosstabs of polls conducted in the past few weeks b…

Privacy Groups Challenge U.S. Airport Body Scanners

inter Press Services - More than 30 privacy and civil liberties organisations have filed a formal petition with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging the federal agency to shut down the use of 'full body scanners' (FBS) at the nation's airports.
At a press conference, Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), one of the signatories to the petition, said, "There is no question that the body scanner programme should be shut down. This is a government boondoggle - expensive, ineffective, and offensive to Constitutional rights and deeply held religious beliefs."
Last year, the groups asked DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to give the public an opportunity to comment on the proposal to expand the body scanner programme. She rejected the request. Since that time, the groups charge that evidence has emerged that "the privacy safeguards do not work and that the devices are not very effective". Read more.

Bolivian President Blames Capitalism for Global Warming

Environmental News Service - Bolivian President Evo Morales said capitalism is to blame for global warming and the accelerated deterioration of the planetary ecosystem in a speech today opening an international conference on climate change and the "rights of Mother Earth."
More than 20,000 indigenous, environmental and civil society delegates from 129 countries were in attendance as President Morales welcomed them to the conference at a soccer stadium in the village of Tiquipaya on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba.
"The main cause of the destruction of the planet Earth is capitalism and in the towns where we have lived, where we respected this Mother Earth, we all have the ethics and the moral right to say here that the central enemy of Mother Earth is capitalism," said Morales, who is Bolivia's first fully indigenous head of state in the 470 years since the Spanish invasion.
Morales is the leader of a political party called Movimiento al Socialismo, the Mo…

Guantanamo Deception: Hundreds of Innocents Jailed

Bill Quigley - Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, provided shocking new testimony from inside the Bush Administration that hundreds of the men jailed at Guantanamo were innocent, the top people in the Bush Administration knew full well they were innocent, and that information was kept from the public.
Wilkerson said President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld “indefinitely detained the innocent for political reasons” and many in the administration knew it. The wrongfully held prisoners were not released because of political maneuverings aimed in part to cover up the mistakes of the administration.
Colonel Wilkerson, who served in the U.S. Army for over thirty years, signed a sworn declaration for an Oregon federal court case stating that he found out in August 2002 that the US knew that many of the prisoners at Guantanamo were not enemy combatants. Read more.

Soldiers in "Wikileaks" Unit Apologize for Violence

An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People: From Current and Former Members of the US Military
Peace be with you,
To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the "Collateral Murder" Wikileaks video:
We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses.
We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.
There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you …

Evangelical Lutherans Embrace "Non-Heterosexual" Parishioners

The Huffington Post - George Bernard Shaw once said, "Certainly all great truths begin as blasphemies." On April 11, 2010, those who identify as people of faith and as "non-heterosexual" were given particular cause to celebrate Shaw's wisdom: a most unlikely church has given a most unlikely people a gift of love and truth, and I cannot stop smiling.
After twenty-five years of deliberation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Church Council has abolished its anti-gay policies, effective immediately. Read more.

Diversity Dead-End: Inclusiveness Without Accountability

Common Dreams - After a recent talk on racism and other illegitimate hierarchies at a diversity conference in Dallas, I received a letter from one of the people who had attended that asked "why you feel it necessary to perpetuate and even exacerbate the divisiveness of language when addressing a group of people assembled to learn how to live better together and be more accepting of differences?" He suggested that by being so sharply critical, I was part of the problem not the solution.
Calls for diversity and inclusiveness from people with privilege (such as a white man with a professional job living in the United States) are meaningful only when we are willing to address the systems and structures of power in which inequality and discrimination are rooted. But because such a critique strikes many people as too radical, crafting a response to those who want to avoid that analysis is crucial to the struggle for progressive social change. Below is my letter to him.
Dear ____: Th…

Bolivia climate change talks to give poor a voice

The Guardian UK - Rafael Quispe is gearing up for his trip. He packs a small leather bag, puts on his black poncho, an alpaca scarf sporting the rainbow-coloured, chequered Andean indigenous flag and his black hat. "This will be an important gathering, a very important gathering. It is about saving our Mother Earth, about saving nature," he says.
Quispe, an Aymara indigenous leader, is heading for Bolivia's central city of Cochabamba for the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, the grassroots alternative to last year's ill-fated UN talks in Copenhagen.
At least 15,000 people from worldwide indigenous movements and civil-society groups, as well as presidents, scientists, activists and observers from 90 governments, are expected to attend what is being called the "Woodstock" of climate change summits. Read more.

Iran Kicks Off Nuclear Disarmament Summit

Antiwar - Starting off with a speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian nuclear disarmament summit kicked off today with 14 foreign ministers, 10 other deputies, and an undisclosed number of other representatives. All told, some 60 nations and several international groups were represented.
The conference, designed as an alternative to the Obama Administration’s summit from earlier this week, sought to focus on the dual issues of nuclear weapon disarmament and urging more international respect for the spreading of civilian nuclear technology to members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Read more.

Disaster Capitalism: Alive and Well

McClatchy Newspapers - New York hedge fund manager John Paulson was one of the first to predict the collapse of the subprime mortgage market - and to cash in on his knowledge.
By late 2005, he already had concluded that the subprime loans underlying high-yield bonds being sold worldwide would become worthless, even as some Wall Street firms were still ramping up their sale of related securities.
"We determined ...that there was a complete mispricing of risk of mortgage securities," Paulson testified at a congressional hearing in November 2008.
As a result, his firm, Paulson & Co., made a $3.7 billion profit by betting against the housing market as it nose dived in 2006 and 2007. On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed that $1 billion of those profits came in an insider deal in which Goldman Sachs allegedly let the company select subprime securities for a complicated offshore deal and then bet on their failure. Read more.

UK Green Party Issues Bold Manifesto

Independent UK - Well, you can't say they're not different. The Green Party launched a manifesto yesterday, openly promising to take quite enormous sums from the rich and hand them over to the poor.
The party that for the past 20 years has put the planet first has found a fierce new focus to sit alongside its environmental concern: social justice and inequality. Yesterday it set out an eye-popping programme of redistributive taxation that would have been considered radical even by Old Labour at its most extreme period in the early Eighties.
To pay for a wide range of benefits for people on lower incomes, the Greens in government would seek to raise £73bn in new taxation right away, rising to £112bn in 2013, and increasing the tax take as a share of national income by 25 per cent in just four years. This would come from large hikes in income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, financial transaction tax and a permanent tax on bankers' bonuses. The Greens would also increa…

CIA Deliberately Destroyed Agency's Torture Tapes

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Internal CIA e-mails show the former agency head, Porter Goss, agreed with a top aide's 2005 decision to destroy videotapes of the harsh interrogation of a terror suspect, a controversial action that remains the focus of an FBI investigation.
The documents show that, despite Goss' apparent agreement, CIA officials almost immediately began worrying they'd done something wrong. The e-mails also indicate that President George W. Bush's White House counsel, Harriet Miers, hadn't been informed of the tapes' destruction and was "livid" to find out later.
The videos showed CIA interrogators using waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that's widely considered torture, on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah. The videos showed that interrogators did not follow the wate
"These documents provide further evidence that senior CIA officials were willing to risk being prosecuted for obstruction of justice in order to avoid …

Monsanto Faces Rising Grassroots Opposition in South Africa

Photo credit: xandert from morguefile.com
Food First - Africa are facing increasing resistance from both farmers and consumers. Nonetheless, they are making inroads by partnering with African institutions and governments that are eager to ‘modernize' their agricultural sectors. South Africa is of particular importance in this regard. The country has gone against the grain of general distrust of GMOs in Africa to become a gateway for the distribution of GM food aid; the commercialization and export of GM seeds; and experimentation with GM crops not approved elsewhere.[i]
But here too, they face mounting opposition. In July 2009, for instance, the South African government rejected the commercial release application for GM potatoes after the Executive Council, a government licensing body, concluded that the toxicology studies were "inadequate, scientifically poorly designed and fundamentally flawed." It was also reported that, in 2008/2009, 80% of Monsanto's GM maize in …

For Haiti, microfinance presents pathway to a better life

Truthout - A micro-credit program and banking system for more than 200,000 women in Haiti has come to the rescue of the overall economy in the wake of the devastating earthquake.
At a time when Haitian commercial banks remain closed, Fonkoze, the Haitian branch of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, mobilized over one weekend to get funds to its members in rural towns as well as Port-au-Prince.
Between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m., last Saturday, January 23, Fonkoze brought in two million dollars in cash from their U.S. bank and distributed it by helicopters to regional offices in the most remote parts of the country.
That got money flowing again. The cash came from Haitians working abroad who had sent funds — called remittances — to their relatives. Read more.

Lawrence Wilkerson Demolishes Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld’s Lies about Guantánamo

The Future of Freedom Foundation - Last March, Col. Wilkerson wrote a guest column for The Washington Note, “Some Truths About Guantánamo Bay,” in which he first laid out some of his major complaints about the failures of the Bush administration’s detention policies in the “war on terror.” In his column, Col. Wilkerson decried “the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there,” and explained, “Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”
Col. Wilkerson also wrote:
[S]everal in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released. But to have admitted this reality would have been a black …

The Whistleblower They Ignored

Fannie Mae Headquarters (photo: Wikipedia)
Truthdig - There aren’t too many genuine heroes to come out of the banking disaster, but Armando Falcon is one of them. You have probably never heard of him, but his testimony Friday before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, available on the commission’s website, is must reading for anyone trying to figure out why U.S. taxpayers had to bail out companies to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
Falcon was the chief regulator attempting to bring order to the houses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the first four years of this decade, and had he been listened to, a significant part of the housing crisis could have been mitigated. Instead his agency was denied serious regulatory power by Democrats in Congress including liberals such as Reps. Barney Frank and Maxine Waters, both of whom assumed he was undermining public support for more affordable housing. Read more.

School Reform We Can't Believe In

Rethinking Schools - While running for president, Barack Obama called No Child Left Behind “one of the emptiest slogans in the history of American politics.” By the time he gets a new version of the law through Congress, his own campaign theme—“change you can believe in”—may be a contender for the same title.
In fact, if the healthcare debate is any guide and the reform ideas being floated by the current administration are ultimately adopted, the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, still commonly known as NCLB, could make a bad law worse. Read more.

Massey Coal Mine Disaster Not Just Tragic, It's Criminal

Amy Goodman @ Common Dreams - Massey Energy runs the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine in Montcoal, W.Va., where 29 miners were killed last week. The loss of life is tragic, but the UBB explosion is more than tragic; it is criminal. When corporations are guilty of crimes, however, they don’t go to prison, they don’t forfeit their freedom—they just get fined, which often amounts to a slap on the wrist, the cost of doing business. No one makes this clearer than the CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship. He has been the bane of climate-change activists and mine safety advocates for years. This latest mine disaster, if nothing else, will surely bring needed attention to this poster boy for malevolent big business trampling on communities, the environment and workers’ rights.
Days after the Massey explosion, Blankenship admitted in a radio interview: “Violations are, you know, unfortunately, a normal part of the mining process ... there are violations at every coal mine in America. And UBB was a …

The Confederacy Isn't Something To Be Proud Of

Truthdig - It was bad enough when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proclaimed Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery, but at least he came to his senses and apologized. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s contention that the whole controversy “doesn’t amount to diddly” is much worse.
“I don’t know what you would say about slavery,” Barbour told CNN, “but anybody that thinks that you have to explain to people that slavery is a bad thing, I think that goes without saying.”
And that’s the problem—Barbour thinks it “goes without saying.” The governor of the state whose population includes the highest percentage of African-Americans in the nation believes it is appropriate to “honor” those who fought for the Confederacy. Clearly, he has no problem with revisiting the distant past. Yet he sees no reason to mention the vile, unthinkable practices—state-sanctioned kidnapping, torture and rape—that those Confederate soldiers were fighting to protect. Read more.

Missing Lesson From the Mine Tragedy: Union-Busting = Death

Truthout - In the wake of last week's disaster at Massey Energy Company's Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, it's become increasingly clear that CEO Don Blankenship has gamed the loophole-laden mine safety enforcement system. Despite a supposedly tougher federal law that passed in 2006 after the Sago, West Virginia, mine explosion killed a dozen miners, Massey and other companies have been able to use the law as a shield to avoid tougher enforcement measures by appealing safety citations - and overwhelming the weak Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) with a backlog of appeals.
Even though Massey has faced proposed fines nearing $2 million since 2005 and been cited over 1,300 times, it's paid only a fraction - one-sixth - of the proposed fines. All told, according to the United Mine Workers of America, nearly 50 people have been killed at Massey mines in the last ten years. In March alone, it was cited over 50 times for violations, many directly related to …

Life After Katrina in 2010: Human Rights on the Gulf Coast

“I am tired of living like this. They were not even listening to my crying. They think it’s a joke but it’s really not.”
—DeBorah W., hurricane survivor and resident of New Orleans, describing her struggle to find a new home after suffering severe respiratory problems while living in her public housing unit.
RaceWire - years on, the storm still rages. Amnesty International has compiled a grim list of human rights violations witnessed on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes. The storm itself was tragic, but the worst suffering was wrought by humans: the widespread demolition of homes, traumatized survivors left without medical or mental health services, the brutalization of residents under a draconian criminal justice system. Read more.

Vandana Shiva: Value Soil Not Oil

South Bend Tribune - Vandana Shiva was on the fast track for a career as a nuclear physicist in the 1970s, working in an atomic research center in Bombay in her native India.
But when her sister, a medical doctor, pointed out Shiva's lack of understanding of nuclear hazards, she planted a seed in Shiva's mind. That seed took root and eventually caused Shiva to abandon her nuclear ambitions and dedicate her life to what she calls "sciences that defend life."
In particular, she focuses on food security and sustainable farming to protect and promote the most elemental form of life: the seed.
"If you're living on a planet of shrinking resources, it doesn't make sense," she said. Especially when this wasteful, polluted farming has replaced the perfect cycle of traditional farming that created no emissions, waste or conflict, she said.
Calling out industrial farming corporations, Shiva explained these companies are destroying biodiversity that is critical f…

The 'Obama doctrine': kill, don't detain

The Guardian UK - In 2001, Charles Krauthammer first coined the phrase "Bush Doctrine", which would later become associated most significantly with the legal anomaly known as pre-emptive strike. Understanding the doctrine with hindsight could lead to a further understanding of the legacy that the former administration left – the choice to place concerns of national security over even the most entrenched norms of due process and the rule of law. It is, indeed, this doctrine that united people across the world in their condemnation of Guantánamo Bay.
The ambitious desire to close Guantánamo hailed the coming of a new era, a feeling implicitly recognised by the Nobel peace prize that President Obama received. Unfortunately, what we witnessed was a false dawn. The lawyers for the Guantánamo detainees with whom I am in touch in the US speak of their dismay as they prepare for Obama to do the one thing they never expected – to send the detainees back to the military commissions – a…

No One Is to Blame for Anything

Frank Rich - “I was right 70 percent of the time, but I was wrong 30 percent of the time,” said Alan Greenspan as he testified last week on Capitol Hill. Greenspan — a k a the Oracle during his 18-year-plus tenure as Fed chairman — could not have more vividly illustrated how and why geniuses of his stature were out to lunch while Wall Street imploded. No doubt he applied his full brain power to that 70-30 calculation. But the big picture eludes him. If the captain of the Titanic followed the Greenspan model, he could claim he was on course at least 70 percent of the time too.
Greenspan was testifying to the commission trying to pry loose the still incomplete story of how the American economy was driven at full speed into its iceberg. He was eager to portray himself as an innocent bystander to forces beyond his control. In his rewriting of history, his clout in Washington was so slight that he was ineffectual at “influencing the Congress.” The “roots” of the crisis, he lectured, dated b…

Dixie Carter Dead: Actress Dies At 70

The Huffington Post - "Designing Women" star Dixie Carter, whose Southern charm and natural beauty won her a host of television roles, has died at age 70.
Carter died Saturday morning, according to publicist Steve Rohr, who represents Carter and her husband, actor Hal Holbrook. He declined to disclose the cause of death or where she died. Carter lived with Holbrook in the Los Angeles area.
"This has been a terrible blow to our family," Holbrook said in a written statement. "We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy."
A native of Tennessee, Carter was most famous for playing wisecracking Southerner Julia Sugarbaker for seven years on "Designing Women," the CBS sitcom that ran from 1986 to 1993. The series was the peak of a career in which she often played wealthy and self-important but independent Southern women.
She was nominated for an Emmy in 2007 for her seven-episode guest stint on the ABC hit "Desper…

Iran backs unity government in Iraq with Sunnis

Yahoo - Iran urged leaders in neighboring Iraq on Saturday to form a national unity government that included Sunni Muslims.
Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi said the Iraqiya coalition, which includes Sunnis and Shi'ites and won the largest share of seats in last month's parliamentary election, would hold discussions in Tehran in the coming days.
Iraqi political leaders have been in talks to form a government since the inconclusive election. Shi'ite Iran has in the past advocated a Shi'ite-dominated government. Read more.

Wisconsin Teachers, Students Mystified by Sex Education Warning

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Mike Taake has taught sex education for 30 years, and he says he knows what doesn't work: just telling students to wait.
The Mauston High School health teacher has used abstinence-only and comprehensive curriculums, and he said students need all the information they can get about sex to make the best choices. But teaching them about contraceptives could land him and other teachers in court.
Last month, Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth sent a letter to area school districts warning that health teachers who tell students how to put on a condom or take birth control pills could face criminal charges. The warning has left many teachers, school administrators, and parents flabbergasted.
"Seems like a step back in time,'' Taake said of Southworth's logic.
Southworth, a Republican and a Christian evangelical, took issue with a law that Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, signed in February requiring schools that teach sexual ed…

Disenfranchised by Design

Allison Kilkenney - If you’re part of the lucky 29 percent of adults living in the US who attended a college or university, and are now the proud owner of a bachelor’s degree (in addition to a mountain of debt), you’re no doubt eager to find some employment.
Hopefully, you have a perfect credit score, never committed a felony, and have a solid “in” for an entry level position at your dream company. Otherwise, arrival into the corporate world may serve as a rude awakening.
According to a Sallie Mae study, only 17 percent of college kids paid their credit cards in full every month and another 1 percent left that to their parents. The remaining 82 percent carries a growing debt. In 2009, seniors graduated with an average credit card debt of $4,100, up from $2,900 among 2004 graduates. Almost one-fifth of 2009’s graduates owed more than $7,000 on their cards.
Carrying such a fiscal burden is stressful enough, but now indebted graduates may not be jeopardizing just their credit scores — they …

Obama Sinks Dawn Johansen

Glenn Greenwald - After waiting 14 months for a confirmation vote that never came, Dawn Johnsen withdrew [Friday] as President Obama's nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel. As I documented at length when the nomination was first announced in January, 2009, Johnsen was an absolutely superb pick to head an office that plays as vital a role as any in determining the President's record on civil liberties and adherence to the rule of law.
I don't know the real story behind what happened here -- I had an email exchange with Johnsen this afternoon but she was only willing to provide me her official, pro forma, wholly uninformative statement -- but here's what I do know: virtually everything that Dawn Johnsen said about executive power, secrecy, the rule of law and accountability for past crimes made her an excellent fit for what Candidate Obama said he would do, but an awful fit for what President Obama has done. To see how true that is, one can see the post I wrot…

Occupied in Washington DC

Common Dreams - As a visitor to our nation's capital, I cannot tell you how disconcerting it is to step off the metro and find yourself face to face with a F-35 fighter jet. Where you would normally expect to find ads for cell phones or museum exhibitions, Washington's subway, the second busiest in the country, instead displays full color backlit billboards for some of the most deadly – and expensive – weapons systems ever produced.
The ads for such companies as Lockheed Martin, the world's largest weapons producer, Goodrich, KBR, AGI, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman can be found in many of the metro stations in the Washington metropolitan area. Not surprisingly, the heaviest concentration is at Pentagon City and near government offices at the Federal Center and Capitol South stations. Read more.

Ex-Bush Official Willing to Testify Bush, Cheney Knew Gitmo Prisoners Innocent

Truthout - Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once declared that individuals captured by the US military in the aftermath of 9/11 and shipped off to the Guantanamo Bay prison facility represented the "worst of the worst."
"If you think of the people down there, these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield," Rumsfeld said back in 2002, "they're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers ... would-be suicide bombers."
But Rumsfeld knowingly lied, according to a former top Bush administration official. Read more.

Iraq War Vet: "We Were Told to Just Shoot People, and the Officers Would Take Care of Us"

Truthout - On Monday, April 5, Wikileaks.org posted video footage from Iraq, taken from a US military Apache helicopter in July 2007 as soldiers aboard it killed 12 people and wounded two children. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency: photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh.
The US military confirmed the authenticity of the video.
The footage clearly shows an unprovoked slaughter, and is shocking to watch whilst listening to the casual conversation of the soldiers in the background.
As disturbing as the video is, this type of behavior by US soldiers in Iraq is not uncommon.
Truthout has spoken with several soldiers who shared equally horrific stories of the slaughtering of innocent Iraqis by US occupation forces. Read more.

George W. Bush 'knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent'

Times Online - George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.
The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.
Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.
General Powell, who left the B…

Rationalizing Murder: Apache helicopter gunners talk good game 'so the people don't seem real'

The Australian - A report yesterday said many people found the cockpit chatter in the Apache the most disturbing detail about the video, released this week by the advocacy group WikiLeaks.org.
The video shows the US military killing a Reuters photographer and his driver on a Baghdad street in 2007. The video, confirmed as authentic by the US military, shows repeated fire by two US Apache helicopter crews on a group of men including two Reuters employees, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.
The soldiers joke and jeer as they shoot: "Look at those dead bastards," one helicopter pilot says. Another replies: "Nice . . . good shootin'."
Reports yesterday said many veterans who viewed the footage made the point that soldiers cannot do their jobs without creating psychological distance from the enemy. One reason that the soldiers seemed as if they were playing a video game is that, in a morbid but necessary sense, they were, experts told The New York Times. Read more.

Haaretz Threatened for Exposing Israeli Assassination Cover-Up

Antiwar - Reports have emerged over the past few weeks that Israeli reporter Anat Kam has been held under secret house arrest in the nation since December of last year, but the reports have been confined to the Western media as, despite the story appearing in papers the world over, the Israeli government had forbidden domestic media from reporting on the matter until today.
Kam is facing charges of “treason” for leaking copies of classified military documents to Uri Blau, a reporter for Haaretz who has often been critical of the Israeli military. Blau has written several stories over the past few years, mostly based around the Israeli military flouting orders about rules of engagement by the High Court, based on the documents. One of the articles involved an “arrest” mission that ended in the deaths of three Islamic Jihad members. Soldiers admitted in the classified data that they were ordered to kill, not arrest the three.
Blau has since fled the country and is said to be in Britain. H…

Oil drilling prompts Al Gore's first public split on climate with President Obama

The Hill - President Barack Obama's decision to allow expanded offshore oil drilling prompted the first public criticism of his administration from Al Gore's environmental advocacy group, the Alliance for Climate Protection.
The organization, which the former vice president founded and chairs, put out a statement last week opposing the new policy.
"This plan continues our reliance on dirty fossil fuels - we cannot simply drill our way to energy security," the Alliance's CEO, Maggie Fox, said in the statement. "What we need now is presidential leadership that drives comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that caps harmful carbon pollution, puts America back to work, ends our reliance on foreign oil and keeps us safe." Read more.

When Puppets Fight Back

President Hamid Karzi of Afghanistan (photo: Wikipedia)
Common Dreams - Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a former consultant for UNOCAL oil company was installed by the US as the President of Afghanistan after our invasion and occupation of that country. Now he complains that US and NATO troops are invaders of Afghanistan and this is drawing a furious reaction from the Obama administration and the mainstream media. His outburst deserves a closer look at what led up to this furor in Afghanistan as Karzai turns on his US puppeteer.
Karzai denounced those in the Washington and the media who have criticized the corruption and incompetence of his regime with what could be a very true complaint, "They wanted to have a puppet government. They wanted a servant government." Read more.

You Call This Food?

The Slow Cook - I was ready to have a perfectly civilized discussion–blog-to-blog–with Sam Fromartz over at ChewsWise on the subject of what we can do to get kids to eat better when I was stopped dead in my tracks by the lunch being served at my daughter’s elementary school here in the nation’s capital. Look at the photo above and tell me what you see. Do you see the same thing I do? French fries, a bag of Sun Chips, and an 8-ounce carton of strawberry-flavored milk.
You almost have to rub your eyes and take a second look. Can this really be true? Hello, Jamie Oliver! Not all the bad school food is in Huntington, W.Va. We’ve got the same stuff right here in Washington, D.C., barely a mile from the White House.
To my knowledge, Michelle Obama has never addressed the glycemic bomb being served daily to public school children right outside her door. But I could be wrong. Yes, just a mile or so from the White House, where we’re told over and over the Obamas are hard on the case, solving th…

Revive the WPA

The Huffington Post - Today is the 75th anniversary of the Works Progress Administration, a $10 billion federal program that put millions of Americans to work during the Great Depression. The WPA enabled workers and their families to survive the ravages of the Great Depression, while taking on public works projects that created a sound foundation for greater economic growth.
Faced with the enormous unemployment created by the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress acted decisively to get Americans back on their feet with real jobs, helping jump-start the economy. From LaGuardia Airport to Camp David to the Golden Gate Bridge, the legacy of WPA remains with us today. No matter where you reside, there are lasting testaments to the enduring legacy of infrastructure and rejuvenation created by the WPA. Read more.

Red Cross Defunct In Haiti: Democratic lawmaker back from Haiti says Red Cross nowhere to be found

The Hill - Donors should think twice before giving money to the Red Cross for earthquake relief in Haiti, a Democratic lawmaker said.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who traveled to Haiti with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) earlier this week, said Thursday the internationally renowned relief group was nowhere to be found in Haiti.
"We were actually pretty struck by the fact that we didn't see the Red Cross anywhere, at all," Wasserman Schultz said during an appearance on Florida radio station WTFL. Read more.

Olbermann on Obama's assassination program

Glenn Greenwald - There are many legitimate criticisms voiced about Keith Olbermann, but he deserves substantial credit for his coverage last night of a story that is as self-evidently significant as it is under-covered: Barack Obama's assassination program aimed at American citizens. He not only led off his show with this story, but devoted the first two segments to it, and made many of the key observations and asked virtually all of the right questions. The videos of those two segments, worth watching, are below.
What's most striking to me about all of this is that -- as I noted yesterday (and as Olbermann stressed) -- George Bush's decision merely to eavesdrop on American citizens without oversight, or to detain without due process Americans such as Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, provoked years of vehement, vocal and intense complaints from Democrats and progressives. All of that was disparaged as Bush claiming the powers of a King, a vicious attack on the Constitut…

The Last Oyster Haul?

Common Dreams - Thanks to greenhouse gas emissions, it's looking like my days as a commercial fisherman are numbered.
I've been working the sea on-and-off my whole life. At 15 years old I quit high school to work the lobster boats out of Lynn, MA; later I fished cod and crab boats on the Bering Sea. As over-fishing decimated the cod stocks, I headed back home to Newfoundland to try my hand as a fish farmer growing halibut and salmon.
Now I'm an oyster man, growing 100,000 organic oysters a year on a 40-acre plot in the Long Island Sound. I see myself as a new breed of green fisherman, who have shifted from hunter-gatherers trolling the seas in search of declining fish stocks, to ocean-based farmers, sustainably growing shellfish on small plots of ocean acreage for local markets. (Oysters rank as one of the top "super green seafoods" by the Environmental Defense Fund.)
But now, just as I've regained my green sea legs, scientists tell me that in the coming decades…

Haiti's Detractors: The Business of Disaster

Common Dreams - "A sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the international donors conference on March 31 in New York, where foreign nations and other international institutions pledged $5.3 billion toward Haiti over the next 18 months, of which $1.15 billion comes from the U.S. government. Mr. Ban continued, "Today, we have mobilized to give Haiti and its people what they need most: hope for a new future."[i]
In an informal survey of citizens' views of the international communities' plans for their nation, taken over the past two months in urban and rural Haiti, not one expressed ‘hope' or a similar perspective for the plans of the foreign powers. Their experience of ‘nation-building' under foreign powers has not been positive, either in process or in result.
Twenty-two Haitian organizations, representing religious, conflict resolution, women, human rights, develop…

Robert Rubin returns

Politico - Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin - who watched his reputation as an economic titan shattered after leaving the Clinton White House - is decidedly out of favor in the nation's capital.
Except one place - the Obama administration.
Behind the scenes, Rubin still wields enormous influence in Barack Obama's Washington, chatting regularly with a legion of former employees who dominate the ranks of the young administration's policy team. He speaks regularly to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who once worked for Rubin at Treasury.
According to Geithner's public calendar, the Treasury Secretary spoke or met with Rubin at least four times in the first six months of Geithner's tenure. Three of those chats, including an hour-long session in Rubin's New York office, came before President Obama released his Wall Street regulatory reform proposal in June of 2009. Read more.

New Orleans Cop Explains How Police Gunned Down Unarmed Civilians In Post-Katrina Incident

Talking Points Memo - A former New Orleans police officer has given authorities a shocking account of the killing by police of two unarmed civilians and the wounding of four others on Danziger Bridge in post-Katrina New Orleans.
The account of the September 2005 incident by former Officer Michael Hunter, 33, who pleaded guilty yesterday to charges associated with the coverup of the shootings, is contained in a court filing that you can read in full below.
In this excerpt, Hunter describes another officer shooting Ronald Madison, 40, a mentally disabled man, in the back with a shotgun. A second officer then beat the dying man on the ground, according to Hunter.
At this point in Hunter's account, he and an Officer A had gotten into an unmarked Louisiana State Police car after an initial round of shootings. The car pursued three black men running away near the bottom of the bridge: Read more.