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Showing posts from June, 2010

Harvard Study: Warterboarding considered torture until U.S. began using it

Glenn Greenwald - A newly released study (pdf) from students at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government provides the latest evidence of how thoroughly devoted the American establishment media is to amplifying and serving (rather than checking) government officials. This new study examines how waterboarding has been discussed by America's four largest newspapers over the past 100 years, and finds that the technique, almost invariably, was unequivocally referred to as "torture" -- until the U.S. Government began openly using it and insisting that it was not torture, at which time these newspapers obediently ceased describing it that way: Read more.

We Can’t Afford War

Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - “General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts,” began the MoveOn.org attack ad against Gen. David Petraeus back in 2007, after he had delivered a report to Congress on the status of the war in Iraq. George W. Bush was president, and MoveOn was accusing Petraeus of “cooking the books for the White House.” The campaign asked “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” on a full-page ad in The Washington Post. MoveOn took tremendous heat for the campaign, but stood its ground.
Three years later, Barack Obama is president, Petraeus has become his man in Afghanistan, and MoveOn pulls the critical Web content. Why? Because Bush’s first war, Afghanistan, has become Obama’s war, a quagmire. The U.S. will eventually negotiate its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The only difference between now and then will be the number of dead, on all sides, and the amount of (borrowed) money that will be spent.
Petraeus’ confirmation to become the military commander i…

Congo's Quest for Liberation Continues

Foreign Policy in Focus - Congo has long been the focus of resource exploitation. The first era of colonization in Africa, beginning in the mid-1880s, was most pronounced in this central African country. Belgium's King Leopold brutalized the population in his quest for rubber and riches, leaving a legacy of natural resource exploitation by white Europeans in the heart of Africa.
Today, at the 50th anniversary of Congo's independence, the country continues to be a source of wealth for the world, yet the Congolese people live in poverty. Like many African nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is suffering under this new era of neocolonialism, where natural resources belong not to those who live on the land but to those with power and access to global markets.
The pursuit of true independence and liberation in Congo will continue until foreign nations cease their policies of exploitation. Read more.

Where's the Outrage? EPA Betrays Coalfields (Again) With New Mountaintop Removal Permit

Common Dreams - I'm not sure if the EPA is addled, or downright shameless, but on the heels of meeting with besieged Appalachian coalfield residents and less than three months since its ballyhooed new guidance rules to halt reckless mountaintop removal operations, President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has once again gone back on its word and green-lighted a dangerous mountaintop removal permit in a hair-brained pander to Big Coal that will knowingly destroy miles of critical headwater streams.
The piss poor week of coal news this week makes the BP disaster look like a cake walk. If only I could be glib and declare: The more things change, the more things stay the same. Peabody Energy announced they're opening a massive strip mine in Mongolia that will dwarf Wyoming's Powder River Basin to "solve world poverty"; Australia's strip mines continue to disappear historic communities; and the NY Times pointed out that Big Coal receives over $100 bill…

Questions for Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Supreme Court nominations are a rare opportunity for millions of Americans to watch, learn and converse about what the Court, the Constitution and the Justices mean for their way of life, their freedoms and their livelihoods.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should consider asking Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who has been nominated to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, some or all of the following questions.
1. Do you believe that for-profit corporations should have First Amendment political speech rights identical to those of humans?
2. If no, apart from the right to vote, in what ways do you believe corporate First Amendment political speech rights should differ from those of humans? Read more.

Lara Logan, You Suck

Rolling Stone - Lara Logan, come on down! You're the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!
I thought I'd seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN's "Reliable Sources" program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an "unspoken agreement" that journalists are not supposed to "embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter."
Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn't mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here's CBS's chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that's killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journa…

US banks off the hook until 2022

Guardian UK - It was billed by Barack Obama as the toughest crackdown on Wall Street since the great depression. But top US banks could be given until 2022 to comply with the so-called Volcker rule, which is supposed to restrict financial institutions' risker trading activities.
A string of delays and extension periods written into a final version of Congress's financial regulation reform bill means that firms such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs could exploit loopholes until 2022 before withdrawing from "illiquid" funds such as private equity. The long gestation period is an example of the degree of compromise inserted into the package following months of lobbying on Capitol Hill by powerful banks. Read more.

Robert Byrd’s Redemption

Truthdig - “End of an era” is an overused trope, but in this case it’s appropriate: The last of the old Southern Democrats is gone.
Sen. Robert Byrd had long since repented, of course. The West Virginian, who died Monday at 92, deeply regretted his segregationist past, which included a year as a member of the Ku Klux Klan and at least several more years as a Klan sympathizer. He eventually became a passionate advocate for civil rights, and he was one of the most vocal supporters of legislation making the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday.
But that was after Byrd’s personal enlightenment. Amid what is sure to be a flood of heartfelt encomiums to his lifetime of public service, it is important to note that his is a story of change and redemption—and that Byrd and his party had a shameful past to overcome. Read more.

How many Americans are targeted for President Obama's assassination program?

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - When The Washington Post's Dana Priest first revealed (in passing) back in January that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens targeted for assassination, she wrote that "as of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens." In April, both the Post and the NYT confirmed that the administration had specifically authorized the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. Today, The Washington Times' Eli Lake has an interview with Obama's top Terrorism adviser John Brennan in which Brennan strongly suggests that the number of U.S. citizens targeted for assassination could actually be "dozens": Read more.

Unexpected Environmental Alliances Amidst the Oil Spill: 'Jesus Will Rip Your Head Off'

Common Dreams - In the wake of the BP disaster, we've heard powerful stories from fishermen whose livelihoods may have been destroyed for decades or longer. However long it takes for the Gulf's fish, oyster and shrimp harvests to recover, those who've made their livelihoods harvesting them will need to create a powerful common voice if they're not going to continue to be made expendable. A powerful model comes from Seattle and Alaska salmon fisherman Pete Knutson, who has spent thirty-five years engaging his community to take environmental responsibility, creating unexpected alliances to broaden the impact of their voice, and in the process defeating massive corporate interests.
"You'd have a hard time spawning, too, if you had a bulldozer in your bedroom," Pete reminds us, explaining the destruction of once-rich salmon spawning grounds by commercial development and timber industry clearcutting. Pete could have simply accepted this degradation as inevitab…

Libraries and Librarians Are Endangered Species: What You Can Do to Help

The Huffington Post - In April my mother called to say a cost-cutting move threatened to close my hometown's local library. The town council of Cedar Grove, New Jersey needed to trim the budget by $600,000, and by eliminating library funding council members thought they saw an easy cut. There were no unions to deal with, and the library line item in the budget of $490,000 for the remainder of 2010 was large enough that it could wipe out a huge chunk of the budget deficit. As one councilman noted, the surrounding towns had libraries; people could use those.
But residents responded -- in force. By the end of the first standing-room-only meeting, it was clear that the town was going to have to rethink its plan. Read more.

Austrailia elects first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, as social populist Kevin Rudd exits

Truthout - Julia Gillard created history today by becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minster.
Gillard was elected unopposed at an extraordinary caucus meeting after Kevin Rudd decided to stand down.
Despite the ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s in only two and half years in the office. Significant achievements he revolutionized that kept Australia out of global economic recession, got rid of work choices and restore decency to the work place, started to built nations infrastructure i.e. national broad band network which he fundamentally believed would transfer the economy which is yet to conceive, begin education revolution, trade training centres in nation’s secondary schools, new libraries in schools, nationwide early child hood education, introducing national curriculum in every states and territories, created fifty thousand more universities places, invested more in universities researches, deep reform in health system, national health and hospital net work, biggest investmen…

We Are All Trapped in a Global Oil Slick

Jonathan Hari @ The Huffington Post - Has our crude awakening begun, at last? It's not just the pelicans of Louisiana that are flapping and flailing in an oil slick -- it's all of us. We live permanently doused in petrol. Every time we move further than our feet can carry us, or eat food we didn't grow, or go shopping, we burn more barrels. Petrol pours off each of us like an invisible sweat. The 20th century was propelled into the stratosphere on a great gushing geyser of oil, and in the adrenaline-frenzy, nobody wanted to ask where it was coming from, or what it would cost us in the end.
But in this decade, the true costs of oil -- the ones that have been steadily accumulating since 1901, when it began to spurt from a hilltop in Texas -- have begun to finally distract our gaze from the speed-dial. They silently dominate almost every long-term question we face.
Extracting oil from the ground has almost always been disastrous for the people who live nearby. The only thing t…

Lack Of Grant Aid Keeps Low-Income Students From College

The Huffington Post - A new report (.pdf) details how students from low- and middle-income families are having difficulty going to, and succeeding at, four-year colleges because of lack of grant aid.
The report, authored by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance and titled "The Rising Price of Inequality," found that as the price of college has risen, the number of students from low- and middle-income families has fallen. Read more.

"Creating Common Ground"

Oliver Stone: The US Has Launched Military Interventions and Political Coups Fifty-Five Times in Latin America

Robert Greenwald with Oliver Stone @ Alternet - Critically-acclaimed Hollywood Director Oliver Stone dropped by our studio for a Brave New Conversation, where I spoke with him about his latest documentary South of the Border, scheduled to be released in more than 30 countries this month. South of the Border begins by exploring the role that the corporate-owned mainstream media in the U.S. and Venezuela have played in shaping American's perspectives on South America, beginning with clips of the attempted coup on Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. In the Brave New Conversation, Stone describes the South American press:
The press [in South America] is totally owned privately, and most of that press, unlike most Americans realize, is anti-reform. Anybody who comes along and wants to change anything is castigated in the press. Chavez is one example: They kill him every day. The press is vibrant, it's oppositional, calls for his resignation, calls him a madman, and sometimes calls for an …

Media as a Social Justice Issue

Truthout - The control of public media is a life-or-death struggle fought by diverse communities working toward social change against corporate-owned or undemocratic, government-sponsored media and professional journalists. The participation of marginalized and oppressed communities in shaping media systems is the only way forward for a democratic system of communication, and experiences from South America show this to hold true not only on the page, but in the field as well.
This was the message of the USSF workshop Control of Public Media as a Social Justice Issue: Lessons from Latin America and the US, which highlighted the availability of media as a racial and economic justice issue and what steps activists must take to bring media into the hands of the people.
"Who produces media systems?" asked panelist James Owens, an organizer and media coordinator with Chicago Media Action, who called for movement-based media producers organized in a network to lead the fight. "…

It Matters Which Women We Elect to Office

Alternet - Yes, we need more women in office -- females make up 51 percent of the population and Congress only has 17 percent women -- so there is plenty of room for improvement, at the state and local level as well. And yes, as founders of Emerge America, an organization that trains Democratic women to run for office, we are thrilled that there are a significant number of female candidates running for office this year. However, we aren't prepared to call it the "year of the woman," unless those women who are elected care about the issues that will actually move a progressive agenda on issues like the environment, health care and the economy.
There is a long history of women taking advantage of the rights won by women who came before them, but who are hostile to progressive goals. Women actually fought against women's right to vote, women's sexual freedom, equal educational opportunity, and of course, the Equal Rights Amendment.
If we want to make our world a bett…

Speaker Pelosi, More War Funding Next Week Is No 'Emergency

Robert Naiman @ Common Dreams - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is committed to passing an emergency war supplemental before the July Fourth recess, Roll Call reports.
Let us be perfectly clear, as President Obama might say. There is no "emergency" requiring the House to throw another $33 billion into our increasingly bloody and pointless occupation of Afghanistan before we all go off to celebrate the anniversary of our Declaration of Independence from foreign occupation. Read more.

Fighting talk: The new propaganda

Independent UK - Following the latest in semantics on the news? Journalism and the Israeli government are in love again. It's Islamic terror, Turkish terror, Hamas terror, Islamic Jihad terror, Hezbollah terror, activist terror, war on terror, Palestinian terror, Muslim terror, Iranian terror, Syrian terror, anti-Semitic terror...
But I am doing the Israelis an injustice. Their lexicon, and that of the White House - most of the time - and our reporters' lexicon, is the same. Yes, let's be fair to the Israelis. Their lexicon goes like this: Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror.
How many times did I just use the word "terror"? Twenty. But it might as well be 60, or 100, or 1,000, or a million. We are in love with the word, seduced by it, fixated by it, attacked by it, assaulted by it, raped by it, committed to it. It is love and sadism and death …

Death row inmate's rare chance to prove his innocence

Ben Jealous @ CNN - On Wednesday the saga of death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis will begin its last chapter. In an extremely rare ruling last summer, the United States Supreme Court ordered a federal judge in Georgia to grant Troy an evidentiary hearing to prove his innocence.
The ruling is unusual in that the Supreme Court has not granted this writ of habeas corpus in more than 50 years. Their decision is a strong indication that they are concerned about the constitutionality of executing the innocent -- as am I.
Although much work still must be done in our justice system to ensure the innocent do not pay the price of the guilty, the granting of this evidentiary hearing is a major step for Troy Davis and for many other likely innocent prisoners sitting on death row; Troy Davis will have an opportunity to tell his side of the story and new evidence will be considered in this nearly 20-year-old case.
The hearing will allow the testimony of witnesses who have recanted or contradicted the…

Black Republicans in 2010: Symbolism vs. Practical Politics

Truthout - In the wake the election of President Obama a number of analysts and pundits have been calling the 2010 midterm elections the "year of the black Republican." According to The New York Times, "... at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans," and they "... are running with a confidence they have never had before."
Many of them, such as Congressional candidates Vernon Parker in Arizona and Princella Smith in Arkansas, feel that President Obama's victory has made it possible for them to run in their respective districts, but they disagree with his politics. Ideologically, many are Christian conservatives calling for smaller government, less spending and stronger national security. According to Smith, "Aside from the fact that I disagree fundamentally with all his views, I am proud of my nation for proving that we have the ability to do something like that ..." Read more.

Taxpayer-Owned Fannie Mae Attacks Struggling Homeowners

The Huffington Post - Taxpayer-owned mortgage giant Fannie Mae is targeting families by going after struggling homeowners who strategically default on their mortgage, the firm announced Wednesday.
A default is considered strategic when homeowners have the capacity to pay, yet choose to walk away from their mortgage. The trigger, researchers say, is negative equity: When the value of a home is less than what the lender is owed on it, borrowers are more likely to strategically default.
About 11.3 million homeowners with a mortgage, or 24 percent, owe more on their mortgage than the home is worth, according to real estate research firm CoreLogic. Another 2.3 million have less than 5 percent equity in their homes. All told, about 29 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage are either underwater or very close to it. The firm estimates that the typical underwater homeowner won't return to positive equity until late 2015 or early 2016.
And Fannie Mae, an arm of the federal government and …

From Great Man to Great Screwup: Behind the McChrystal Uproar

Norman Salomon @ Common Dreams - When the wheels are coming off, it doesn't do much good to change the driver.
Whatever the name of the commanding general in Afghanistan, the U.S. war effort will continue its carnage and futility.
Between the lines, some news accounts are implying as much. Hours before Gen. Stanley McChrystal's meeting with President Obama on Wednesday, the New York Times reported that "the firestorm was fueled by increasing doubts -- even in the military -- that Afghanistan can be won and by crumbling public support for the nine-year war as American casualties rise."
It now does McChrystal little good that news media have trumpeted everything from his Spartan personal habits (scarcely eats or sleeps) to his physical stamina (runs a lot) to his steel-trap alloy of military smarts and scholarship (reads history). Any individual is expendable.

Like thousands of other U.S. activists, I've been warning against escalation of the Afghanistan war for a lon…

Mass Strikes Against 'Austerity Measures' Hit France

Agence France Press @ Common Dreams - A mass strike against the French government's plan to raise the retirement age disrupted transport and shut down schools on Thursday, with unions saying millions of protestors took to the streets.
Postal workers, gas, electricity and factory workers joined in the movement across the private and public sectors which all but shut down several radio stations, newspapers and theatres.
As protestors massed for a big march in eastern Paris, Bernard Thibault, head of France's biggest union the CGT, estimated countrywide turnout at "about two million". Read more.

I am a protester, not a terrorist

Toronto Star - There was a knot in my stomach as I rode the subway to my first anti-G20 protest this week.
All the foreboding emails flooding my inbox had me spooked. Company instructions on gas masks, underwear choice (avoid cotton, it absorbs gas fumes), and making sure to have an escape route. My husband had just forwarded me a missive from his office administrator, suggesting staff go underground to avoid the afternoon’s protest.
Surely not Casey Oraa, a 25-year-old gay activist who wore a hot pink scarf and talked about the federal government’s decision to pull funding from the Gay Pride festival as we strolled side-by-side along Queen West in a sea of protesters. Read more.

Cell Phone Radiation Law Passed In San Francisco

The Huffington Post - In this city known for producing laws both path-breaking and contentious, legislators have forcefully stepped into another debate – this time over the potential danger of cell phone use.
With the Board of Supervisors' 10-1 vote in favor of an ordinance Mayor Gavin Newsom has indicated he will sign, San Francisco has waded into the as-yet unresolved debate over the relationship between long-term use of cell phones and health problems such as brain tumors.
It would be the country's first law requiring cell phone retailers to disclose the phones' specific absorption rate, or SAR, to customers. Read more.

The Fate of the Internet. Decided in a Back Room

Save The Internet - The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Federal Communications Commission is holding "closed-door meetings" with industry to broker a deal on Net Neutrality – the rule that keeps control over the Internet with the people who use it.
Given that the corporations at the table all profit from gaining control over information, the outcome won't be pretty.
The meetings include a small group of industry lobbyists representing the likes of AT&T, Verizon, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Google. They reportedly met for two-and-a-half hours on Monday morning and will convene another meeting today. The goal according to insiders is to "reach consensus" on rules of the road for the Internet.
This is what a failed democracy looks like: Read more.

You Can't See the Boarded-Up Schools From the Mansions

Common Dreams - The long-term effect of shutting down schools, going to a 4-day school week, and cramming 40 students in a classroom is too unpleasant to imagine. But easy to ignore if you can afford enough acreage to block the view.
Everyone's feeling the pain, they say. Really? Consider these facts:
(1) In 1980 the richest 1% of America took one of every fifteen income dollars. Now they take THREE of every fifteen income dollars. They've TRIPLED their cut of America's income pie. That's a TRILLION extra dollars a year. That's 1/7 of the whole pie, in addition to what they had before. Read more.

Market-Based Educational Reform and the Politics of Fraud

Truthout - In Arne Duncan's world, the language of educational reform is defined primarily through the modalities of competition, measurement and quantification. Competition is now one of the most important registers organizing and defining schools and classroom pedagogical practices - no doubt made obvious by the name of Obama's educational reform policy "Race to the Top," with its allusion to Wall Street values and casino capitalism. Within this discourse, there seems to be little understanding, as Stuart Hall has argued, "that there is a limit to the good that can be produced by individual competitiveness."[1] Of course, competition itself is not the problem since competition can be healthy in a number of areas. The real issue is when competition becomes, as Christopher Newfield points out, "the sole organizing principle of society."[2] And when that happens in educational policies such as those pushed by the Obama administration, one conseque…

On Heels of Diebold/Premier Purchase, Canadian Firm Also Acquires Sequoia, Lies About Chavez-Ties in Announcement

Bradblog - In our recent breaking coverage detailing the SEC's fraud lawsuits filed against Diebold and a number of their top executives --- including their former Chief Financial Officer who, as we reported exclusively back in 2007, was the top earner from an apparent insider sell-off at the company just days before its stock would plummet from its all-time high on the announcement of spinning off their troubled election division to a "new" company renamed Premier --- we noted that Diebold/Premier's assets had recently been purchased by a small Canadian firm by the name of Dominion Voting. But Dominion hasn't stopped there.
Their purchase of Diebold/Premier's assets was actually made from ES&S, the world's largest voting machine company, who was forced to divest of the assets they'd purchased from Diebold (previously, the second largest voting machine company in the country) for $5 million last year, as part of an anti-trust suit settlement with …

Israeli Shipping Line Zim Shut Out at Oakland Docks

Common Dreams - Long before 5:30 a.m. on June 20 about 800 protesters traveled the mile from West Oakland's BART station, near San Francisco, to Berth 57 of the Oakland docks. The early risers were determined to block the gates and discourage longshoremen from unloading a Zim cargo ship. Zim is an Israeli shipping company.
A second shift of more than 200 hundred protesters kept the gates closed for the 4:30 p.m. work crew too.
Gloria La Riva organized the personal vehicle shuttle service that transported both waves of protesters.
She said, "There is a provision in their contract that states workers do not have to cross a picket line if their health or safety is at stake. The arbitrator -- who is always on call for these kinds of situations -- twice reviewed the lines of protesters in the morning. At about 9:15 a.m. he decided that it wasn't safe for the workers. We consider it a great victory that the arbitrator ruled in the union's favor and the men did not have to wor…

Obama's Foreclosure Fail

The Huffington Post - More than five times as many homeowners were kicked out of the Obama administration's primary foreclosure-prevention program last month than were granted new relief, new data released Monday show.
Nearly 155,000 homeowners were bounced from the administration's Home Affordable Modification Program in May versus about 30,000 who were offered new temporary trial plans of lower monthly payments.
About 48,000 more homeowners were granted five-year plans of lower payments compared to April, with an undisclosed amount offered five-year plans that have yet to complete the paperwork.
All told, last month about twice as many homeowners were bounced from a program that promised to help struggling families hurt by the firms at the heart of the worst financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn since the Great Depression. Those firms received hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer cash and guarantees.
Meanwhile, 16 months after President Barack Obama told a cr…

US Social Forum 2010

Detroit Free Press - As many as 20,000 people are coming to Detroit for a massive discussion of social change.
First of all, "Yay!" that as many as 20,000 people are coming to Detroit.
Second of all, do not dismiss the grassroots activists, idealists, revolutionaries and community organizers (even Tea Party members inquired about space) who will be in the city for the US Social Forum from Tuesday through Friday. Organizers say it will be the largest gathering of its kind to explore, among many things, improving public education and strengthening the working class. Read more.

Despite Criminal Charges, Obama Keeps Blackwater on the Payroll

Jeremy Scahill @ The Nation - Blackwater is up for sale and its shadowy owner, Erik Prince, is rumored to be planning to move to the United Arab Emirates as his top deputies face indictment for a range of alleged crimes, yet the company remains a central part of President Obama's Afghanistan war. Now, Blackwater's role is expanding.
On Friday, the US State Department awarded Blackwater another "diplomatic security" contract to protect US officials in Afghanistan. CBS News reports that the $120 million deal is for "protective services" at the US consulates in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. Read more.

Generation Monsanto

Common Dreams - Gen-M, the first Monsanto Generation of humans force-fed genetically modified foods hasn't reached reproductive age yet (they were born in the late 1990s). But, if a critical mass of animal feeding studies are any indication, the millennial generation, reared on Food Inc.'s unlabeled "Frankenfoods" can look forward to a long-term epidemic of cancer, food allergies, learning disabilities, sterility, and birth defects. Read more.

Japan Has 'Priority' On Rights To Mine Afghanistan Mineral Deposits, Says Hamid Karzai

The Huffington Post - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said this week that Japan -- not the U.S. -- takes priority over other nations when it comes to mining his country's vast mineral deposits.
During an appearance at Japan Institute for International Affairs, Karzai focused on his country's mineral deposits. He Pointed to Japan's status as Afghanistan's second-biggest donor, and reasoned that Japan should enjoy special access to Afghan resources with estimated values that range from $1-3 trillion dollars. Read more.

Obama's Liberal Critics Find Their Voice

Guardian UK - Until BP's blowout in the Gulf eight weeks ago the American left (what there is of it) trailed poodle-like after Barack Obama, refusing to criticise, let alone, attack "our guy in the White House". We had worked our butts off for his election, and now we were punched out or perhaps felt we had nowhere else to go – and isn't it nice for a change to have a president who can parse a complicated sentence? Any lingering doubts we had were stifled after one scary look at Obama's yowling enemies – racist and crazy about Palin – which was enough to send us whimpering back to our kennels.
But the dogs are waking up and barking in the night.
We, Obama's "liberal base", of which I'm a charter member, were in numb denial that our former community organiser, who elicited such an outpouring of love from his vast network of volunteers, is actually just another Illinois pol – but with a better vocabulary. Read more.

Obama officials still approving flawed Gulf drilling plans

McClatchy Newspapers - Despite President Barack Obama's promises of better safeguards for offshore drilling, federal regulators continue to approve plans for oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico with minimal or no environmental analysis.
The Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service has signed off on at least five new offshore drilling projects since June 2, when the agency's acting director announced tougher safety regulations for drilling in the Gulf, a McClatchy review of public records has discovered.
"It's just outrageous," said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation organization. "The whole world is screaming and . . . they're just continuing to move this stuff through the system." Read more.

Mailorder Wombs: Outsourcing Birth to India

Michele Chen @ Racewire - So much of America’s economic activity takes place on faraway shores, from call centers in Mumbai to sweatshops in Shanghai. Still, you’d think that making a baby would be one job that’s hard to offshore. But today, for a fee, a woman in another country can serve as a “gestational surrogate,” carrying a fertilized egg to term and then delivering the baby straight to your door, halfway around the world. We’re not used to talking about that kind of labor as an outsourced job. But farmed-out childbirth has become a full-fledged industry in India, turning the rural poor into wombs for hire. Read more.

ACORN Leader says critics Mounted ‘McCarthy-Era War Against the Poor’

Rawstory - The former president of the now-dissolved activist group ACORN struck back at Republicans, Democrats and even the Obama Administration Thursday after a federal report cleared the organization of misusing federal funds and election fraud.
In an exclusive interview with Raw Story -- her first public remarks since the report’s release -- ACORN's Bertha Lewis said the findings of the Government Accountability Office proves the withering criticism against ACORN that all but shuttered the group was an orchestrated right wing attack against the poor. Read more.

High-Tech Torture: U.S. Testing Pain Ray in Afghanistan

Wired - The U.S. mission in Afghanistan centers around swaying locals to its side. And there’s no better persuasion tool than an invisible pain ray that makes people feel like they’re on fire.
OK, OK. Maybe that isn’t precisely the logic being employed by those segments of the American military who would like to deploy the Active Denial System to Afghanistan. I’m sure they’re telling themselves that the generally non-lethal microwave weapon is a better, safer crowd control alternative than an M-16. But those ray-gun advocates better think long and hard about the Taliban’s propaganda bonanza when news leaks of the Americans zapping Afghans until they feel roasted alive. Read more.

ACORN: A 21st Century Lynching

Abby Zimet @ Common Dreams - The former head of the now-defunct activist group ACORN lashed out at Republicans, Democrats, the Obama White House and progressives who failed to support them after a federal report cleared them of all charges of misusing funds...read more.

BP's Gulf well holds enough oil to spew out for two years, claim experts

Guardian UK - BP's out-of-control well will go on spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the next two years or more if all attempts to contain or plug the gusher fail, oil industry experts said today.
The estimates, based on new figures supplied by BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, during seven contentious hours of testimony to Congress on Thursday, suggest the potential environmental and economic devastation would far outstrip the damage done so far by the ruptured well, which has been spewing for 60 days. Read more.

Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world

"Obama cannot order pelicans not to die (no matter whose ass he kicks). And no amount of money – not BP’s $20bn, not $100bn – can replace a culture that’s lost its roots"
Naomi Klein @ Guardian UK - The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident – it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism. Read more.

Farmers Push Comeback of ‘Cereal of the Poor’

Inter Press Service - Eshwarappa Banakar has been a farmer most of his adult life, but these days he has also turned banker - banker of seeds, that is, and especially of millet strains.
Yet while his is Karnataka's first seed bank to be set up by an individual farmer, it is only one of the signs of the millet's creeping comeback in the agricultural sector of this southern Indian state.
The welcome trend is partly due to the efforts of Sahaja Samrudha (Bountiful Nature), an organisation working toward reviving the cultivation of traditional millets in Karnataka's dryland tracts. Banakar, for instance, acquired his seeds from the group, which maintains a network of farmers and encourages on- farm conservation of traditional seed varieties. Read more.

Sea Shepherd activists free hundreds of threatened bluefin tuna off Libya

Guardian UK - Green activists using helicopters, divers and rotten butter yesterday confronted Libyan and Italian fishermen to release hundreds of threatened bluefin tuna which they strongly suspect were illegally caught off the Libyan coast.
In the first action of its kind in north African waters, the international crew of the California-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society released around 800 tuna from a cage being towed behind the Italian trawler Cesare Rustico.
Stocks of bluefin tuna, one of the most valuable but endangered fish in the Mediterranean, have been decimated by ruthless overfishing in the last 20 years to the point where they are now unlikely to survive more than a few more years. Read more.

Iran says UN Sanctions Show Double Standard

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - The Supreme National Security Council said that U.S. and other nuclear-armed powers have punished Iran with the sanctions even though it doesn't have nuclear weapons, while at the same time they support Israel, which is widely believed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal.
The Jewish state, which unlike Iran has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear program, neither confirming nor denying that it has nuclear weapons.
"The world has never seen any Security Council resolution about the Zionist regime's proliferation of nuclear weapons," the Iranian council said, referring to Israel. "The Security Council has never wanted to investigate who provided nuclear weapons to this regime." Read more.

Roy Freedle: SAT puts Blacks at a disadvantage

The Huffington Post - Research psychologist Roy Freedle has been working for 23 years to prove that the SAT puts black students at a disadvantage -- and his ideas are just now gaining traction.
Freedle's long-term project was widely greeted with dismissals and criticism from those in academia. But a recent paper in the Harvard Educational Review corroborates Freedle's original thesis and calls for the testing industry to look further into the claim.
The Washington Post has more on Freedle's initial findings, which identified a difference between "hard" and "easy" questions on the SAT: Read more.

All Talk No Action: Obama, BP and the Pentagon

Tom Dispach - It couldn’t be worse, could it? In the Gulf, BP now claims to be retrieving 15,000 barrels of oil a day from the busted pipe 5,000 feet down. That’s three times the total amount of oil it claimed, bare weeks ago, was coming out of that pipe. A government panel of experts now suggests that the real figure could be up to 60,000 barrels or 2.5 million gallons a day, the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill every four days -- and some independent experts think the figure could actually be closer to 100,000 barrels a day.
In the meantime, we just learned from the Los Angeles Times that -- go figure -- the “primary responsibility for safety and other inspections” on the oil rig that blew in the Gulf “rested not with the U.S. government but with the Republic of the Marshall Islands,” and that those impoverished islands had outsourced their responsibilities to private companies. Go BP! We also learned that the relief wells sure to staunch the flow of oil by “early August” c…

New Clash in World Cup Labor Dispute

Reuters @ Common Dreams - Police fired rubber bullets and a stun grenade on Thursday to disperse protesting workers in the latest episode of a dispute that has forced police to take over World Cup stadium security and has embarrassed organisers.
A police spokesman said seven guards were arrested in the illegal protest outside their employer's offices in Cape Town.
Police said they had permanently taken over security at four venues; the showpiece Soccer City stadium and Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and the newly-built arenas in Cape Town and Durban. They were already guarding the coastal stadium in Port Elizabeth. Read more.

Live Video Feed of Endless Gush of Oil: A Damning Fountain of Truth

The Boston Globe - ONE IMAGE captures the truth and enormity of the Gulf oil spill, even more than the muck-soaked pelicans.
It's the live video feed of oil spewing into the ocean, which BP was forced to post on the Internet, thanks to US Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts. Gaining access to the video was a major battle. Now, the relentless scrutiny of that undersea eye - actually 12 undersea eyes attached to a dozen camera-bearing robots - keeps the pressure on the oil company.
It also keeps the pressure on President Obama as he tries to buff up a tarnished commander-in-chief image. Whether Obama is meeting with BP executives or walking along Gulf beaches, the camera never blinks on the worst environmental disaster in US history. Read more.

Cashiering Helen Thomas

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - The termination of Helen Thomas' 62-year long career as a pioneering, no-nonsense newswoman was swift and intriguingly merciless.
The event leading to her termination began when she was sitting on a White House bench under oppressive summer heat. The 89-year-old hero of honest journalism and women's rights, the scourge of dissembling presidents and White House press secretaries, answered a passing visitor's question about Israel with a snappish comment worded in a way she didn't mean; she promptly apologized in writing. Recorded without permission on a hand video, the brief exchange, that included a defense of dispossessed Palestinians, went internet viral on Friday, June 4.
By Monday, Helen Thomas was considered finished...read more.

US Assembly of Jews: Confronting racism & Israeli apartheid

PRESS RELEASE:
Jews Confront Apartheid - The 2010 US Social Forum comes at a time when there is great urgency to build on recent successes of the Palestine solidarity movement, as United States corporations and the government continue to commit grave injustices in Palestine- not to mention in our own communities. Organized anti-Zionist Jews in the United States can play a critical role in movements with anti-racism and anti-imperialism at the center, and building stronger international solidarity.
Come together with other anti-Zionist Jewish activists committed to challenging racism, colonialism and imperialism- first and foremost by contributing to efforts to overcome Zionism and decolonize Palestine: Read more.

Humiliation and Shame: Part of Being Insured in America

Donna Smith @ Michael Moore - Oh, the things we did not fix in the healthcare bill are shocking. Just as seniors falling into the Medicare drug benefit donut hole begin to get the $250 checks meant to calm their fears about our new healthcare legislation, the rest of us would do well to remember the abuses of the for-profit healthcare system that will continue and even accelerate in the coming years.
Health insurance is not health care. Health insurance is a financial product marketed and sold to protect health and wealth which may do neither thing very well. I view it as a defective product. Yet, very soon we will be buying more of it and helping more of our fellow Americans buy more of it with the subsidies that support the great health insurance bailout that is being called "patient protection." Read more.

Record Number of US Kids Facing Summer of Hunger

AOL News - With the school year ending in communities across America, more than 16 million children face a summer of hunger.
While classes were in session, they relied on free or discount cafeteria meals subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But they will not be reached by the patchwork summer food programs financed by the USDA, which feed fewer than one in five of the total number of kids poor enough to qualify.
The children caught in the gap will likely spend the next few months cadging leftovers from neighbors, chowing down on cheap junk, lining up with their families at food banks that are already overmatched or simply learning to live with a constant headache, growling stomach and chronic fatigue. When school rolls around again in the fall, they will be less healthy and less ready to learn than their peers. Read more.

Obama's Oil Spill Speech: What was the point?

Jason Linkins @ The Huffington Post - I am really not entirely sure what the point to this Oval Office address was! Were you looking for something that resembled a fully-realized action plan, describing a detailed approach to containment and clean up? Or perhaps a definitive statement, severing the command and control that BP has largely enjoyed, in favor of a structured, centralized federal response? Maybe you were looking for a roadmap-slash-timetable for putting America on a path to a clean energy future? Well, this speech was none of those things.
I mean, don't get me wrong. Obama really, really wants to stop the oil spill. And he really, really wants to hold BP accountable for the damage they've done. And he really, really wants the Gulf Coast to come through this hardship and he really, really wants to wean us from our dependency on foreign oil, and oil in general. But "really, really wants" is not a plan, and only the bitterest and most brain-dead of political…

Marines Accused Of Beating Gay Man Over Alleged Wink

The Huffington Post - Two Marines have been arrested for allegedly beating a gay man in Savannah, Georgia.
Keil Cronauer and Christopher Stanzel are accused of attacking Kieran Daly so badly that he suffered bruises on his brain, reports the Savannah Morning News. In addition to the bruises, Daly suffered two seizures immediately after the attack. His friends performed CPR. Read more.

Savannah, Georgia LGBT leaders want misdemeanor charges in gay man’s beating upgraded to felony

Ga Voice - Georgia is only one of five states without a hate crimes law and local LGBT activists are now relying on a federal hate crimes law to intervene in the beating of a gay man in Savannah allegedly by two U.S. Marines.
“I’ve been in touch with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on this and they were passing it on to appropriate officials to look at,” said Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham.
“Since we don’t have a statute we have to depend on federal authorities for the crime to be investigated and prosecuted,” he said.
The two Marines arrested and charged in the beating over the weekend face misdemeanor charges.
“I’m very concerned this happened in the first place. But these misdemeanor charges are outrageous,” Graham added. “And then to turn [the Marines] over to the military police is a miscarriage of justice.” Read more.

Afghanistan's mineral find and the Washington clock

Politco - The Pentagon is highlighting a new U.S. Geological Survey estimate that Afghanistan may be sitting on a trillion dollars’ worth of mineral wealth, the New York Times reports.
“An internal Pentagon memo … states that Afghanistan could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium,’ a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys,” the paper reports.
The paper goes on to quote Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus: “There is stunning potential here. There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”
But veteran Afghan hands say the “discovery” of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is hardly new. And some detect an echo of Petraeus’ effort to “put a little more time on the Washington clock” for the Afghanistan surge as he once described his public relations strategy to buy time in the U.S. for the Iraq surge. The Times report itself notes the Pentagon agreed to discuss the minerals discovery as a rare good news story amid many m…

U.S. Knew About Afghan Mineral Bonanza in 2007

Paul Jay @ The Huffington Post - The New York Times reported on Sunday, June 13, 2010 "The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials. The previously unknown deposits -- including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium -- are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe."
According to the NYT story, "an internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys."
The problem is, what the NYT d…

Banks Profit while Farmers Fail

"It appears that the people who depend on their land for survival and provide us with food--farmers, ranchers, fishers and laborers--are more expendable than people sitting behind a desk trading stocks"
Other Words
- A recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago indicated that 11 percent of Wisconsin farmers with existing lines of credit may not have credit extended next year; this is especially significant because of the a 56 percent decline in net farm income in 2009. Dairy farmers have received prices far below their costs of production for nearly two years. With eroding equity, many are in immediate danger of losing their farms.
Farmland is so valuable that local (but often not locally owned) banks call in farm loans at the first opportunity, destroying families, communities, and regional economies. Farms entering foreclosure are listed publicly, further devastating owners while notifying speculators and investors of chances to take advantage of distraught landow…

3 Trillion Dollars in Minerals, Said to be Discovered in Afghanistan

Common Dreams - Americans discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, including iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium, according to the report. The Times quoted a Pentagon memo as saying Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and cell phones.
During a visit last month to Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his nation's untapped mineral deposits could be even higher - perhaps as much as $3 trillion. Read more.

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

"The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan"

The New York Times - The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe. Read more.

Environmentalists Give Barack Obama a Pass on Oil Spill

Politico - Last week, it seemed, environmentalists were finally ready to let loose on President Barack Obama over the Gulf oil spill.
As the greatest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history has played out on Obama's watch, the environmental movement has essentially given him a pass - all but refusing to unleash any vocal criticism against the president even as the public has grown more frustrated by Obama's performance.
About a dozen environmental groups took out a full page ad in the Washington Post Tuesday - not to fault Obama over the ecological catastrophe but to thank him for putting on hold an Alaska drilling project. "We deeply appreciate your decision. ..." the ad says to Obama. Read more.

Chevron Oil Spill In Utah: 21,000 gallons of oil flows into Red Butte Creek after pipeline breaks

The Huffington Post - A leaked pipeline sent oil spilling into a Salt Lake City creek, coating geese and ducks and closing a park, officials said Saturday as they started a cleanup effort expected to last weeks.
At least 400 to 500 barrels of oil spewed into Red Butte Creek before crews capped the leak site. Nearly 50 gallons of crude oil per minute initially had spilled into the creek, according to Scott Freitag, a Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman.
Chevron determined the pipeline broke at 10 p.m. Friday, and police and fire crews were notified of it shortly before 7 am. Saturday. Read more.

Why unpaid maternity leave isn't enough

"When it comes to paid maternity leave, the United States is in the postpartum dark ages"
The Washington Post - One hundred and seventy-seven nations -- including Djibouti, Haiti and Afghanistan -- have laws on the books requiring that all women, and in some cases men, receive both income and job-protected time off after the birth of a child. But here, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides only unpaid leave, and most working mothers don't get to stay home with their newborns for the 12 weeks allowed by the law. Many aren't covered by the FMLA; others can't afford to take unpaid time off. Some go back to work a few weeks after giving birth, and some go back after mere days.
The century-long battle for maternity leave in America is a story of missed opportunities and historical accidents, further slowed by activists' miscalculations and some well-funded opposition. In other words: It didn't have to be this way.
As far back as 1919, when the Model …

The Alternative to Austerity

"Borrowing is not the only alternative to spending cuts for governments trying to promote a sustainable economic recovery. The redistribution of income through progressive taxation can provide a similar growth stimulus and help to reduce inequality"

The New Left Project - A few weeks ago on New Left Project, Kevin Blowe wrote on the need for a clearly articulated opposition to massive cuts: an Alternative Plan for the Economic Crisis. From contributions on this site and elsewhere, we can start to see what such a plan might look like: a preference for taxing the rich over cuts for the poor; a preference for investment in what’s socially useful and for cuts to waste like Trident. Lots of good ideas. But perhaps we’re skirting around the main issue: How can we promote economic recovery? How can we create jobs? How can we manage the massive private debt hangover from the last decades? And how can we hope, eventually, to get the public borrowing back to a sustainable level? Read…

Remembering Jacques Cousteau: Carrying on the Legacy on His 100th Birthday

Jean-Michele Cousteau @ The Huffington Post - My father, Captain Jacques Cousteau, would have been 100 years old today. He was a man of undeniable charisma, a man who always achieved his objectives, a man of such single-minded determination that he would not give up on a goal until he had achieved it. His lifelong vision was to help millions of people understand the fragility of life on what he called our "'water planet."
He would be heartbroken at what is taking place in our seas today, especially the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the memories I carry with me to this day is of my father standing on the deck of our wind ship, Alcyone, looking ahead to the legacy he might leave behind. He issued me a challenge that belonged not only to me, but to all who are determined to protect our seas. "It is you, Jean-Michel, who will carry the flame of my faith." Read more.