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Showing posts from July, 2010

FBI Admits Investigating Howard Zinn for Criticizing Bureau

Alternet - Those who knew of the dissident historian Howard Zinn would not be surprised that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI kept tabs on him for decades during the Cold War.
But in a release of documents pertaining to Zinn, the bureau admitted that one of its investigations into the left-wing academic was prompted not by suspicion of criminal activity, but by Zinn's criticism of the FBI's record on civil rights investigations.
"In 1949, the FBI opened a domestic security investigation on Zinn," the bureau states. "The Bureau noted Zinn’s activities in what were called Communist Front Groups and received informant reports that Zinn was an active member of the CPUSA; Zinn denied ever being a member when he was questioned by agents in the 1950s.
"In the 1960s, the Bureau took another look at Zinn on account of his criticism of the FBI’s civil rights investigations." Read more.

Where Are The Prosecutions? SEC Lets Citi Execs Go Free After $40 Billion Subprime Lie

Alternet - What is the penalty for bankers who tell $40 billion lies? Somewhere between nothing and a rounding-error on your bonus.
The SEC just hit two Citigroup executives with fines for concealing $40 billion in subprime mortgage debt from investors back in 2007. The biggest fine is going to Citi CFO Gary Crittenden, who will pay $100,000 to settle allegations that he screwed over his own investors. The year of the alleged wrongdoing, Crittenden took home $19.4 million. That’s right. Crittenden will lose one-half of one percent of his income from the year he hid a quagmire of bailout-inducing insanity from his own investors. That’s it. No indictment. No prison time. Crittenden doesn’t even have to formally acknowledge any wrongdoing. Read more.

Out of Afghanistan

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - The war in Afghanistan is nearly nine years old—the longest in American history. After the U.S. quickly toppled the Taliban regime in October 2001, the Taliban, by all accounts, came back stronger and harsher enough to control now at least 30 percent of the country. During this time, U.S. casualties, armaments and expenditures are at record levels.
America’s overseas wars have different outcomes when they have no constitutional authority, no war tax, no draft, no regular on the ground press coverage, no Congressional oversight, no spending accountability and, importantly, no affirmative consent of the governed who are, apart from the military families, hardly noticing.
This is an asymmetrical, multi-matrix war. It is a war defined by complex intrigue, shifting alliances, mutating motivations, chronic bribery, remotely-generated civilian deaths, insuperable barriers of language and ethnic and subtribal conflicts. It is fought by warlords, militias, criminal…

Michael Anthony Green Of Texas, Exonerated Of Rape By DNA Evidence, Free After 27 Years In Prison

The Huffington Post - Imprisoned for 27 years for a rape he didn't commit, Michael Anthony Green walked out of jail a free man on Friday and in the process was able to leave behind some of the anger that had fueled his survival behind bars.
Accompanied by his attorney, Green walked out of the Harris County Jail and into the arms of about 20 family members who cheered him.
"Live life," Green said, when asked what he is going to do now. Read more.

Defining White Culture

Truthout - My facebook and twitter friend @clyde_online, a community organizer in DC, has been pestering me to define U.S. white culture. Up until now, I've demurred.
Frankly, there are other things I'd rather write about. Besides, though I'm certainly aware of the status and meaning that our civilization has managed to assign to whiteness and realize that I benefit from both, I don't personally buy into either. If it were up to me, I'd get rid of whiteness altogether.
Just so I'm clear: I like the people fine. It's their whiteness (or rather the privileges associated with it) that I'd rather do without.
Of course, this wish -- to be rid of whiteness -- is at the very core of white culture. With the occasional exception of reverse racism (more on that later), White people don't want to talk about their whiteness. Read more.

Strengthen Social Security Coalition Puts Both Parties On Notice

Campaign For America's Future - More than 60 organizations that represent more than 30 million Americans are banding together to deliver a straightforward message to politicians this fall: Don't mess with Social Security.
"Don't turn Social Security in the scapegoat for the deficit," said AFSCME President Gerald McEntee today at a news conference in Washington's National Press Club launching the Strengthen Social Security campaign. "Don't raise the retirement age. Don't tamper with the COLA (cost-of-living adjustment). If you break the promise that was made to American working families 75 years ago, we'll hold you accountable."
"This is very personal for me and for most Americans," said Justin Ruben, the executive director of MoveOn.org. "I have people in my immediate family who would literally be homeless if it weren't for Social Security. So do millions of other MoveOn members. So, I have one message for the Republica…

Society Begins to Crack Under Harsh Measures

Inter Press Service - Every working day, more than a hundred people crowd around the entrance of the merchant and passenger boats' reconstruction industry, well known as 'The Zone', in the southern suburb of Attiki.
Most of them are unemployed steel workers and torch welders, who wait desperately from the early hours of the morning for an announcement of jobs offered on a daily basis on the ships that dock at the port.
"Tensions often run high among them," says Makis Kistikidis, a steel worker with 32 years of experience in the Zone, amid a scuffle between some workers scrambling to grab a two-day job slot.
"This is not the worst of days," Kistikidis says. "Very often, there are no jobs at all. Many of these people haven't had more than five or six days of work since the beginning of this year, and no more than 100 working days since 2008." Read more.

Oil-soaked waste worries Gulf Coast landfills' neighbors

McClatchy Newspapers - At a sprawling landfill some 50 miles from the oil-spotted coastline, trash bags brimming with tar balls, oil-soaked boom, sand, and tangles of sea grass are dumped.
Piles of dirty oil retention booms await disposal at a staging area in Grand Isle, La., Friday, July 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) Though workers in the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history wear protective gloves and coveralls as they labor across the Gulf Coast clearing beaches of oil, the mounds of debris they amass meet a pedestrian fate: burial in the same landfills that take in diapers, coffee grounds, burnt toast, yogurt containers, grass clippings and demolition debris.
Since the first trucks began rolling in June, nearly 40,000 tons of "oily solids" and related debris have been sent to municipal landfills from Louisiana to Florida, sparking complaints - and in one case, enough consternation that BP decided to stop dumping in a landfill. Read more.

Oil industry safety record blown open

Guardian UK - The oil industry has been responsible for thousands of fires, explosions, and leaks over the last decade, killing dozens of people and destroying wildlife and the environment across America, according to a report published today.
None of the individual incidents catalogued by the National Wildlife Federation comes close in scale to BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in America's history. But the thousands of lesser offshore spills, pipeline leaks, refinery fires and other accidents demolish the industry argument that BP's ruptured well was a one-off, and that the oil and gas business has grown safer, the report's authors said.
"These disasters make it clear that the BP disaster isn't a rare accident," said Tim Warman, who directs the global warming programme for NWF, which calls itself the country's largest conservation organisation. "These are daily occurrences. These are daily incidents of not pa…

White House Pushes for Warrantless Access to Internet Records

Raw Story @ Common Dreams - The White House has asked Congress to make it possible for the FBI to demand that Internet service providers turn over customers' records in cases involving terrorism or other intelligence issues without first obtaining a court order.
The White House has asked Congress to make it possible for the FBI to demand that Internet service providers turn over customers' records in cases involving terrorism or other intelligence issues without first obtaining a court order. (photo by Flickr user bengsoon)The Electronic Communications Privacy Act currently states that companies are required to provide basic subscriber data to the FBI, but lists only the four kinds of information that might be found on phone bills -- customer's name, address, length of service, and toll billing records. Read more.

The Real Aim of Israel’s Bomb Iran Campaign

Common Dreams - Reuel Marc Gerecht's screed justifying an Israeli bombing attack on Iran coincides with the opening of the new Israel lobby campaign marked by the introduction of House Resolution 1553 expressing full support for such an Israeli attack.
What is important to understand about this campaign is that the aim of Gerecht and of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is to support an attack by Israel so that the United States can be drawn into direct, full-scale war with Iran.
That has long been the Israeli strategy for Iran, because Israel cannot fight a war with Iran without full U.S. involvement. Israel needs to know that the United States will finish the war that Israel wants to start. Read more.

14-Year-Old Turns a '72 VW Beetle into an Electric Car

Treehugger - It will be another two years before Ashton Stark can get his driver's license, but that's not stopping the 14-year-old from looking to the future -- and in more ways than one. With a keen sense of green and a little engineering savvy, Ashton succeeded in transforming his grandfather's 1972 Volkswagen Beetle into a cleaning running, all-electric eco-vehicle.
According to the Argus Observer, the high school sophomore from Oregon spent nearly a year making the old car more fitting for the 21st century than most modern vehicles -- and all for around $4,000. Ashton, with the help of his father, equipped the Beetle with nine golf cart batteries, used to power a single motorized shaft which can propel the car for nearly 50 miles on less than 10 cents worth of electricity.
The converted Beetle is no slow-poke either, able to reach speeds upwards of 45 miles per hour. As the car gets more time on the road, an onboard computer will gather performance data as well. Read …

Scientists Find Evidence That Oil And Dispersant Mix Is Making Its Way Into The Foodchain

The Huffington Post - Scientists have found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico, the first clear indication that the unprecedented use of dispersants in the BP oil spill has broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the foodchain.
Marine biologists started finding orange blobs under the translucent shells of crab larvae in May, and have continued to find them "in almost all" of the larvae they collect, all the way from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Fla. -- more than 300 miles of coastline -- said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.
And now, a team of researchers from Tulane University using infrared spectrometry to determine the chemical makeup of the blobs has detected the signature for Corexit, the dispersant BP used so widely in the Deepwater Horizon
"It does appear that there is a Corexit sort of …

Shadow Elite: WikiLeaks: Irresponsible or Indispensable?

[WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange] argued that, when a regime's lines of internal communication are disrupted, the information flow among conspirators must dwindle, and that, as the flow approaches zero, the conspiracy dissolves. Leaks were an instrument of information warfare. - The New Yorker, June 6, 2010
The Huffington Post - This argument from Julian Assange, the force behind WikiLeaks and this week's massive Afghan war document leak, goes to the heart of one of the key findings of Janine's book Shadow Elite: that a new breed of power broker whose cachet is in their exclusive access to and control of official information (or information that once would have been official) has come to influence. These players use privatized information to advance their own agendas and those of their allies and networks, even while ostensibly working in the public interest.
WikiLeaks is a declared combatant in this information warfare: high-tech, good-government vigilantes. The group acts…

Catalonia bans bullfighting in landmark Spain vote

BBC - The parliament of Catalonia has voted to ban bullfighting - the first region of mainland Spain to do so.
The vote took place as the result of a petition brought to parliament, signed by 180,000 people who say the practice is barbaric and outdated.
Bullfight supporters insist that the corrida, as it is known, is an important tradition to preserve.
They also fear the vote could be the first of many in the country. The ban takes effect in January 2012. Barcelona's main bullring is one of the oldest in Spain, but support for the bullfight has waned. The Barcelona bullring is the only functioning one in Catalonia.
The vote was brought to the agenda by activists who argue it is cruel and unacceptable and say most spectators in Catalonia these days are tourists. The campaign was led by the animal rights lobby group Prou! (Enough!). Read more.

Global warming pushes 2010 temperatures to record highs

Guardian UK - Global temperatures in the first half of the year were the hottest since records began more than a century ago, according to two of the world's leading climate research centres.
Scientists have also released what they described as the "best evidence yet" of rising long-term temperatures. The report is the first to collate 11 different indicators – from air and sea temperatures to melting ice – each one based on between three and seven data sets, dating back to between 1850 and the 1970s.
The newly released data follows months of scrutiny of climate science after sceptics claimed leaked emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggested temperature records had been manipulated - a charge rejected by three inquiries.
Publishing the newly collated data in London, Peter Stott, the head of climate modelling at the UK Met Office, said despite variations between individual years, the evidence was unequivocal: "When you follow those decade-to-decade trend…

Michigan Oil Spill Estimated by EPA at 1 Million-Plus Gallons

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Federal officials now estimate that more than 1 million gallons of oil may have spilled into the Kalamazoo River through Battle Creek, and the governor is sharply criticizing clean-up efforts as "wholly inadequate."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the update Wednesday night, shortly after Gov. Jennifer Granholm lambasted attempts to contain the oil flowing down the riiver. She warned of a "tragedy of historic proportions" if the oil reaches Lake Michigan, which is still at least 80 miles downstream from where oil has been seen. Read more.

Israeli government moves to outlaw peaceful protests

Common Dreams - In its bid to maintain its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, the Israeli government has launched a new offensive, this one against its own citizens. A bill that is currently before the Knesset would allow Israelis who support boycotts against Israel to be sued for damages. The bill is part of a government backlash against a small but growing number of Israelis who have taken up the tactic of boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) to bring about an end to their government's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Real News Network recently presented this report on the bill and the Israeli BDS movement.
Human rights organizations in Israel and internationally have condemned the bill as draconian and anti-democratic. Human Rights Watch has called on the Knesset to reject it along with three other bills "that would seriously restrict the rights of Israelis to criticize the policies and actions of their government." Read more.

Obama's Af-Pak occupations, Starbase and other federal frauds

Truthout - The House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to provide $59 billion to continue financing America's two wars, but the vote showed deepening divisions and anxiety among Democrats over the course of the nearly nine-year-old conflict in Afghanistan." (New York Times, 28 2010)
We see at least five basic truths emerging from the Afiascostan situation.
One, Barack Obama baldly lied to us when he promised in his campaign that the days of funding wars via supplemental spending bills - acting as though an ongoing war were suddenly an unpredictable emergency - those days were done. Just elect me, he promised, and you'll never see that bait and switch again. We got gamed. This supplemental was voted in at his personal request.
Two, the war president and his push-button Senate and House war allies are committed to absolutely draining the American taxpayer of all lootable funds. Read more.

Congress Passes Historic Legislation to Reduce Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity

The Huffington Post - Today, the House passed legislation reducing the two-decades-old sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses. The Senate passed an identical bill in March and the legislation is now heading to President Obama, who supports the reform effort.
This is a historic day, with House Republicans and Democrats in agreement that U.S. drug laws are too harsh and must be reformed. The tide is clearly turning against the failed war on drugs. Read more.

NYC Settles Sean Bell Case for $7 Million

Associated Press @ Google News - The fiancee of an unarmed man killed by police in 50-bullet barrage and a friend who survived the shooting said Wednesday that a settlement with New York City that topped $7 million was fair but not cause for celebration.
"Nobody wins in this," a somber Joseph Guzman — who was shot 17 times and still wears a leg brace — said at a news conference a day after the settlement was announced.
The deal in a case that ignited community outrage and raised questions about police firepower awards $3.25 million to the estate of Sean Bell, $3 million to Guzman and $900,000 to a third victim, Trent Benefield, minus 30 percent legal fees.
The Bell estate payout will benefit two young daughters he had with Nichole Paultre Bell, who legally took his name after his death. Read more.

Arizona Immigration Law: Sections BLOCKED By Federal Judge

The Huffington Post - A federal judge dealt a serious rebuke to Arizona's toughest-in-the-nation immigration law on Wednesday when she put most of the crackdown on hold just hours before it was to take effect.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton shifts the immigration debate to the courts and sets up a lengthy legal battle that may not be decided until the Supreme Court weighs in. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer said the state will likely appeal the ruling and seek to get the judge's order overturned.
But for now, opponents of the law have prevailed: The provisions that most angered opponents will not take effect, including sections that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.
The judge also delayed parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places – a move aimed at day laborers. In addition, the judge blocked offi…

State of Denial: After the Big Leak, Spinning for War

Norman Solomon @ Common Dreams - Washington’s spin machine is in overdrive to counter the massive leak of documents on Afghanistan. Much of the counterattack revolves around the theme that the documents aren’t particularly relevant to this year’s new-and-improved war effort.
Even while straining to depict the U.S. war policy as freshly hatched since last winter, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs solemnly proclaimed that the basis for it hasn’t changed since the autumn of 2001. “We are in this region of the world because of what happened on 9/11,” Gibbs said on Monday. “Ensuring that there is not a safe haven in Afghanistan by which attacks against this country and countries around the world can be planned.” In other words: a nifty rationale for perpetual war.
Some Democrats on Capitol Hill were eager to rebrand the war. “Under the new counterinsurgency strategy implemented earlier this year, we now have the pieces in place to turn things around,” said the head of the House Armed Serv…

Ahmadinejad Says Expects US to Attack MidEast Soon

Reuters @ Common Dreams - Iran expects the United States to launch a military strike on "at least two countries" in the Middle East in the next three months, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state-run Press TV.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to a question during a news conference in Tehran June 28, 2010. Ahmadinejad said Iran had "very precise information that the Americans have hatched a plot" to launch a military strike on at least two Middle Eastern countries. (REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)In an interview recorded on Monday, Ahmadinejad did not specify whether he thought Iran itself would be attacked nor did he say what intelligence led him to expect such a move.
The United States and Israel have refused to rule out military action against Iran's nuclear program which they fear could lead to it making a bomb, something Iran denies.
"They have decided to attack at least two countries in the region in the next three months," Ahmadin…

David Morris: ACORN deserves an apology, too

Minneapolis Star Tribune - Shirley Sherrod has her job back and a presidential apology. ACORN is still waiting.
The cases are remarkably similar. Both Sherrod and ACORN were demonized by highly edited videos appearing on right-wing websites and widely publicized by Fox News and conservative radio hosts. In both cases the mainstream media and the federal government rushed to judgment without seeing the full unedited video. Within hours, Sherrod was fired. Within days, Congress cut off federal funding to ACORN.
The Sherrod and ACORN cases are similar in another way. Sherrod's full speech makes clear that over the years personal experience had taught her that the key issue isn't race but class. It's "not about black and white" but "about those who have and those who don't."
ACORN thought so too. For over 30 years ACORN was the nation's preeminent and arguably its most effective poor peoples' organization. Its membership of 400,000 was led by poor…

British PM, David Cameron calls Gaza 'prison camp'

CNN - British Prime Minister David Cameron called Gaza a "prison camp" on Tuesday, a blunt description from a major Western leader about the besieged Palestinian territory.
Cameron made the remarks in the Turkish capital of Ankara, which he was visiting to forge a new relationship with Turkey and show his support for Turkish membership in the European Union.
"Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp," Cameron said, according to a transcript of the speech provided by his office. Read more.

Michigan: 800,000 Gallons of Oil Spill After Pipe Breaks

Associated Press @ Yahoo News - Crews were working Tuesday to contain and clean up more than 800,000 gallons of oil that poured into a creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan, coating birds and fish.
Authorities in Battle Creek and Emmett Township warned residents about the strong odor from the oil, which leaked Monday from a 30-inch pipeline built in 1969 that carries about 8 million gallons of oil per day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.
Crews waded in oily water as they worked to stop the oil's advance downstream. Oil-covered Canada geese walked along the banks of the Kalamazoo River, and photos showed dead fish floating in the spill. The Kalamazoo River eventually flows into Lake Michigan, but officials didn't expect the oil to reach the lake. Read more.

Oil spewing from well near Louisiana marsh

MSNBC - Adding insult to the Gulf's injury, an oil platform hit by a tugboat early Tuesday is now spewing oil and natural gas near a Louisiana marsh area.
While there was no estimate of how much oil was gushing, officials said the mile-long slick it created was small compared with the Gulf spill.
The oil and gas is shooting up 100 feet into the air, officials said, as a private contractor was called in to try to cap the well. Read more.

On the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, congress acts to improve Internet access for disabled

Associated Press - The House on Monday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by approving legislation assuring that the disabled have full access to the Internet and television. "The ADA mandated physical ramps into buildings," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., sponsor of the bill. "Today, individuals with disabilities need online ramps to the Internet so they can get to the Web from wherever they happen to be."
The bill, which passed 348-23 and now moves to the Senate, takes such steps as making it easier for the blind to access the Internet from smart phones, providing deaf people with the ability to watch new TV programs online with captions included, and requiring that telecom equipment used to make calls over the Internet be compatible with hearing aids. Read more.

Medical Marijuana In VA Clinics OK'd In States Where It's Legal

The Huffington Post - Patients treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics will be able to use medical marijuana in the 14 states where it's legal, according to new federal guidelines.
The directive from the Veterans Affairs Department in the coming week is intended to clarify current policy that says veterans can be denied pain medication if they use illegal drugs. Veterans groups have complained for years that this could bar veterans from VA benefits if they were caught using medical marijuana.
The new guidance does not authorize VA doctors to begin prescribing medical marijuana, which is considered an illegal drug under federal law. But it will now make clear that in the 14 states where state and federal law are in conflict, VA clinics generally will allow the use of medical marijuana for veterans already taking it under other clinicians. Read more.

WikiLeaks: Time to Celebrate, Time to Mourn

The Huffington Post - It's a big win for Internet-based indy media that WikiLeaks.org posted its "Afghan War Diary," which is based on 90,000 leaked U.S. military records and details a failing war in which U.S. and allied forces have repeatedly killed innocent civilians. This on-the-ground material is vaster than the Daniel Ellsberg-leaked Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, and was much faster in reaching the public.
Thanks to the Internet and new technologies, it's easier than ever for a whistleblower to anonymously leak documents exposing official abuses and deception, easier to copy and disseminate vast quantities of material, and easier for journalists and citizens to cull through all the data. Read more.

Illegal Immigration Fingerprint Program, Secure Communities, Has Advocates Up In Arms

The Huffington Post - The federal government is rapidly expanding a program to identify illegal immigrants using fingerprints from arrests, drawing opposition from local authorities and advocates who argue the initiative amounts to an excessive dragnet.
The program has gotten less attention than Arizona's new immigration law, but it may end up having a bigger impact because of its potential to round up and deport so many immigrants nationwide. Read more.

BP Response Workers Report Low Morale, Lack of Pay, Sickness

Truthout - BP oil disaster response workers are reporting endemic problems, such as not being paid on time, low morale, rampant sickness, equipment failures and being lied to regularly.
"Yesterday was a catastrophe," one worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Truthout. "People are waiting 2-3 hours for their paychecks to be brought to them and I know for a fact three people that didn't get paid and no reason was given."
The woman has been working as a clerk for Gulf Asphalt Contractors (GAC), a company that describes itself as "the leading provider of sitework (sic) and building construction services in the Florida Panhandle." The company, based in Panama City, Florida, is a BP contractor.
She spoke with Truthout on what she explained was "my first day off work in 45 days." She and her co-workers were instructed to take the weekend off due to Tropical Depression Bonnie, but have yet to be called back to work.
"The last thing I he…

Wind Power Can Change the World -- Why Aren't We Investing In It?

Alternet - Jim Dehlsen, America’s most successful wind power innovator and entrepreneur, has been tilting at windmills since the early 1980s.
Back then, he installed one of the largest wind farms in the world in the mountains near Mojave, Calif., where a strong gust could snap a windmill blade in two. He called it his “Victory Garden.”
Today, at 73, Dehlsen is producing one of the most advanced and efficient windmills in the world, employing 300 people at a plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And he is building a plant in England to manufacture the largest offshore windmill in the world, creating 500 green jobs.
Like Don Quixote of La Mancha, the errant knight of windmill fame, Dehlsen is on a life’s quest, propelled by the vision of a moral world — by his definition, a planet that is much less dependent on coal and oil.
Now, he is drawing on his expertise in wind to explore the untapped energy of the sea. With his son Brent, Dehlsen has designed an underwater “windmill” to harvest the unstoppa…

Marijuana Law Reform Is a Civil Rights Issue

Alternet - "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," said the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967 when he spoke out against the Vietnam War. At the time, he was roundly criticized by friend and foe alike for speaking out on an issue considered outside the purview of civil rights' leaders. Dr. King understood better than most at the time the true cost of war -- in lives lost, in futures squandered, in dreams deferred and in misspent resources. Eventually, a majority of Americans came to agree with him about the war in Vietnam but he did not live long enough to see the shift in public opinion. His moral courage lay in speaking out in the face of disagreement, caring more about his integrity than popularity.
As leaders of the California NAACP, it is our mission to eradicate injustice and continue the fight for civil rights and social justice wherever and whenever we can. We are therefore compelled to speak out against another war, the so calle…

80% of Post-Traumatic Stress Sufferers Lost Symptoms After Taking Ecstasy -- Study's Results

Alternet - After MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, over 80% of sufferers from post traumatic stress disorder no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, as compared to only 25% in the control group. This study, just released, was conducted by Michael Mithoefer, M.D. (and his colleagues) and is published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Psychopharmacology.
According to the media release, MDMA could "offer sufferers a vital window with reduced fear responses where psychotherapy can take effect." MDMA is also called Ecstasy.
Facts about MDMA have been obscured, first by panic about the rave culture, then by a well-publicized university study that actually administered a different substance, and then by propaganda associated with the “war on drugs.”
If MDMA is shown to cause more harm than good as a medicine, it would not be used. But that is the opposite of what the study showed. To quote the research paper, “there were no drug-related serious adverse effects, adverse neurocognitiv…

5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men

Alternet - If you have a scrap of progressive politics in your bones, it's no surprise to you that sexism hurts women. Like, duh. That's kind of the definition of the word.
But we don't talk as much about how sexism hurts men. Understandably. When you look at the grotesque ways women are damaged by sexism -- from economic inequality to political disenfranchisement to literal, physical abuse -- it makes perfect sense that we'd care more about how sexism and patriarchy and rigid gender roles affect women, than we do about how they affect men.
But men undoubtedly get screwed up by this stuff, too. Not screwed up as badly as women, to be sure... but not trivially, either. I care about it. And I think other feminists -- and other women and men who may not see themselves as feminists -- ought to care about it, too. Read more.

Where is Obama's "Teachable Moment" on Race?

Truthout - The Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Shirley Sherrod. The minister, the professor, the civil servant. All black, each a flash point for race in America. And each a distraction for the first black US president.
Since taking office, President Obama has not dwelt on race – his own or the history of race and racism in America. He has not reacted to the racial jibes by some conservative commentators and some in the “tea party” movement. And for all the talk about “teachable moments,” he has not encouraged (let alone led) a deep national discussion of the issue. Read more.

Experts: Health Hazards in Gulf Warrant Evacuations

Truthout - When Louisiana residents ask marine toxicologist and community activist Riki Ott what she would do if she lived in the Gulf with children, she tells them she would leave immediately. "It's that bad. We need to start talking about who's going to pay for evacuations."
In 1989, Ott, who lives in Cordova, Alaska, experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdex oil disaster. For the past two months, she's been traveling back and forth between Louisiana and Florida to gather information about what's really happening and share the lessons she learned about long-term illnesses and deaths of cleanup workers and residents. In late May, she began meeting people in the Gulf with symptoms like headaches, dizziness, sore throats, burning eyes, rashes and blisters that are so deep, they're leaving scars. People are asking, "What's happening to me?"
She says the culprit is almost two million gallons of Corexit, the dispersant BP …

Truthout Interview: The Silent Killing of America's Workforce

The Silent Killing of America's Workforce: An Interview with Patrice Woeppel on the Deadly Inadequacies of the Workers' Compensation System
Frank Joseph Smecker: You begin your book "Depraved Indifference: the Workers' Compensation System" with a staggering fact: "Every eight minutes in the US, someone dies from an occupational illness or injury." That's incredible, in a really disconcerting sense -- that's more than 60,000 deaths per year ... Can you explain how this nightmare has become a reality for so many?
Patrice Woeppel: Worker deaths from toxic exposures and other work illnesses are conservatively estimated by NIOSH, Markowitz, Steenland and other researchers to be 50,000 to 60,000 deaths each year, or 10 times the number of fatalities recorded by the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).1 It is a disaster of monumental proportions that goes largely unrecorded and unnoticed. The United States has no comprehensive occupational health data colle…

US Criminal Justice" A New Caste System

Bill Quigley - The biggest crime in the U.S. criminal justice system is that it is a race-based institution where African-Americans are directly targeted and punished in a much more aggressive way than white people.
Saying the US criminal system is racist may be politically controversial in some circles. But the facts are overwhelming. No real debate about that. Below I set out numerous examples of these facts.
The question is – are these facts the mistakes of an otherwise good system, or are they evidence that the racist criminal justice system is working exactly as intended? Is the US criminal justice system operated to marginalize and control millions of African Americans?
Information on race is available for each step of the criminal justice system – from the use of drugs, police stops, arrests, getting out on bail, legal representation, jury selection, trial, sentencing, prison, parole and freedom. Look what these facts show. Read more.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: more revelations to come

Guardian UK - The Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, said today that the organisation is working through a "backlog" of further secret material and was expecting a "substantial increase in submissions" from whistleblowers after one of the biggest leaks in US military history.
Speaking in London after his website published more than 92,000 classified military logs relating to the war in Afghanistan, Assange said that he hoped for an "age of the whistleblower" in which more people would come forward with information they believed should be published.
Assange said that the site, which currently operates with a small dedicated team but has a network of about 800 volunteers, had a "backlog" of more material which only "just scratched the surface".
While he would not be drawn into commenting on the nature of the material, he said that the organisation held "several million files" that "concern every country in the world with a …

Afghanistan war logs: Wikileaks founder rebuts White House criticism

Guardian UK - The founder of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks today defended his decision to publish thousands of secret US military files about the war in Afghanistan, faced with criticism from the White House for placing troops in danger.
Julian Assange said his organisation was currently working through a backlog of further secret material and was expecting a "substantial increase in submissions" from whistleblowers after one of the biggest leaks in US military history.
He said the files showed that "thousands" of war crimes may have been committed in Afghanistan.
The documents have revealed unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings and information about secret operations against Taliban leaders, as well as highlighting US fears that Pakistan's intelligence service was aiding the Afghan uprising.
Assange rejected accusations that the leak had compromised America's national security. "We are familiar with groups whose abuse we expose attempti…

Wikileaks: Massive Leak of Secret Files Exposes Truth of Occupation

Guardian UK @ Common Dreams - A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and NATO commanders fear neighboring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency.
The war logs reveal civilian killings by coalition forces, secret efforts to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaida leaders, and discuss the involvement of Iran and Pakistan in supporting insurgents. Photograph: Max Whittaker/CorbisThe disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more…

The WikiLeaks Afghanistan leak

Glenn Greenwald - The most consequential news item of the week will obviously be -- or at least should be -- the massive new leak by WikiLeaks of 90,000 pages of classified material chronicling the truth about the war in Afghanistan from 2004 through 2009. Those documents provide what The New York Times calls "an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal." The Guardian describes the documents as "a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency."
In addition to those two newspapers, WikiLeaks also weeks ago provided these materials to Der Spiegel, on the condition that all three wait until today to write about them. These outlets were presumably chosen by WikiLeaks with the …

The Real Story of Racism at the USDA

Facing South - Right now, if you do a web search of the words "racism" and "USDA," the majority of links will steer you to coverage of this week's Shirley Sherrod affair, in which the African-American U.S. Department of Agriculture staffer based in Georgia resigned after a conservative website reversed the meaning of a speech she gave last year to imply she would deny farm loans to whites.
It's an astonishing development given the history of race relations at the USDA, an agency whose own Commission on Small Farms admitted in 1998 that "the history of discrimination at the U.S. Department of Agriculture ... is well-documented" -- not against white farmers, but African-American, Native American and other minorities who were pushed off their land by decades of racially-biased laws and practices. Read more.

America's Alternative People's Budget

Guardian UK - In 1909 Britain's prime minister, Herbert Asquith, and chancellor, David Lloyd George, presided over an extraordinary budget. It raised taxes on Britain's landed, wealthy elites, so as to provide a raft of social services, from pensions to unemployment benefits. In many ways, it laid the groundwork for the welfare state that emerged after the second world war.
One hundred and one years later, the People's Budget, as it came to be known, still has the power to amaze and to inspire. It was a piece of politics ahead of its time, brave in its identification of the pressing social problems of the age, willing to take on the rich and powerful in order to help society's most vulnerable. It was also one of the very few national budgetary strategies, in Britain or anywhere else for that matter, that acquired both its own name and its own distinct place in the popular consciousness. It is hardly an exaggeration to argue that in one fell swoop it catapulted Britain i…

Saber Kushour: 'My conviction for "rape by deception" has ruined my life'

Guardian UK - Saber Kushour apologises as he asks his guests to move the plastic chairs on his breeze-block balcony a little closer to the door to his house. If he were to sit where they are now, he explains, the electronic tag attached to his ankle would set off an alarm.
Kushour's edginess is understandable – he is recalling a 15-minute encounter almost two years ago which he says "has destroyed my life".
Last week the married father of two from east Jerusalem was sentenced to 18 months in jail for the "rape by deception" of a Jewish woman who claimed she would not have had sex with him had she known he was an Arab. What might have been a tawdry episode – casting neither Kushour nor the woman in a favourable light – exploded into a debate in Israel about racism, sexual mores and justice.
"I am paying the price for a mistake that she made," Kushour, 30, told the Observer. "I was shocked at the sentence – it shows a very vivid and clear racism.&quo…

Germany Love Parade Tragedy: 15 Killed In Stampede At Festival

The Huffington Post - A stampede inside a tunnel crowded with techno music fans left 15 people dead and dozens injured at the famed Love Parade festival in western Germany on Saturday.
Other revelers initially kept partying at the event in Duisburg, near Duesseldorf, unaware of the deadly panic that started when police tried to prevent thousands more from entering the already-jammed parade grounds.
Authorities were still trying to determine exactly what happened at the event, which drew hundreds of thousands of people, but the situation was "very chaotic," police commissioner Juergen Kieskemper said.
Emergency workers had trouble getting to the victims in the wide, 500- to 600-meter-long (500- to 600-yard) tunnel that led to the grounds. The area around the tunnel was a hectic scene, with bodies lying on the ground as rescue workers rushed to aid them. Many of the injured were loaded into Red Cross vans and driven away. Read more.

Researchers Confirm Subsea Gulf Oil Plumes are from BP Well

McClatchy Newspapers - Through a chemical fingerprinting process, University of South Florida researchers have definitively linked clouds of underwater oil in the northern Gulf of Mexico to BP's runaway Deepwater Horizon well - the first direct scientific link between the subsurface oil clouds commonly known as "plumes" and the BP oil spill, USF officials said Friday.
Until now, scientists had circumstantial evidence, but lacked that definitive scientific link.
The announcement came on the same day that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that its researchers have confirmed the existence of the subsea plumes at depths of 3,300 to 4,300 feet below the surface of the Gulf. NOAA said its detection equipment also implicated the BP well in the plumes' creation. Read more.

Shirley Sherrod was "Thrown to the Wolves" by President Obama

"Black people are in a terrible condition right now — economically, socially, educationally and otherwise — and there is no effective champion fighting for their interests. Mr. Jealous and the new edition of the N.A.A.C.P. have shown in this episode that they are not ready for prime time, and President Obama seems reluctant to even utter the word black. Or poor, for that matter"
Bob Herbert - The Shirley Sherrod story tells us so much about ourselves, and none of it is pretty. The most obvious and shameful fact is that the Obama administration, which runs from race issues the way thoroughbreds bolt from the starting gate, did not offer this woman anything resembling fair or respectful treatment before firing and publicly humiliating her.
Moving with the swiftness of fanatics on a hanging jury, big shots in the administration and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News came to exactly the same conclusion: Shirley Sherrod had to go — immediately! No time for facts. No time for justice.
What w…

Beyond Apartheid

Al Jazeera - Israel's decision to force all prospective Israeli citizens to declare loyalty to "a Jewish and democratic state" is not only racist, but designed to further institutionalise the dispossession of Palestinians.
It is ironic that the oath should include the term democracy as the law itself is a blatant exercise in state coercion.
As Adalah, a legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel, puts it, the new amendment "requires all non-Jews to identify with Zionism and imposes a political ideology and loyalty to the principles or Judaism and Zionism".
Targeting intermarriage
In practice, the amendment to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law - which requires that Jews and non-Jews applying for citizenship endorse the ideology of the state - is mainly aimed at Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs. Read more.

Ralph Nader: Letter to President Obama on Professor Elizabeth Warren

Dear President Obama:
It is time for you to give taxpayers, consumers, and investors a reason to believe that you are truly interested in consumer protection by nominating Professor Elizabeth Warren to be the Director of the much-anticipated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Professor Warren combines rigorous scholarship, a superb sense of needed change and clear ways to communicate those needs to families and individuals around the country. Consumer leaders know that Professor Warren has been a strong and talented Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) reviewing the current state of financial markets and the regulatory system.
In addition, Professor Warren had the vision and good sense to propose and advocate for the creation of an entity much like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Continue reading.

Why Does Fox News Have More Power Than Any Progressive in the Country?

Cenk Uygur @ The Huffington Post - As we can all see now, when Fox says jump, the Obama administration asks how high? (Then jumps one inch less and considers it a progressive victory). Is there anyone Obama won't fire or throw under the bus if Fox asks him to? What if they ask Obama to fire himself? Would he do it? Or would he just fire Biden and say he met them halfway?
If the firing of Shirley Sherrod was the first time they had done this, then all of the criticism they have received might be a bit much. But as we have learned from this incident (which the rest of us already knew, with the apparent exception of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart), context matters. We've seen the rest of the tape on the Obama administration and it isn't pretty.
Van Jones, ACORN, Dawn Johnsen, Shirley Sherrod. First sign of trouble, throw someone overboard. When they fired Van Jones, I said they were only encouraging Fox. But that wasn't some genius prediction; it was only the most obvious t…

Unemployment Benefits Bill Approved By House, 272-152

The Huffington Post - Congress has approved legislation to restore unemployment benefits to people who have been out of work for six months or more, ending a seven-week interruption that caused 2 1/2 million people to lose unemployment benefits averaging about $300 a week.
The 272-152 House vote Thursday will send the measure to President Barack Obama, who has promised to quickly sign it. The House vote came less than 24 hours after a mostly party-line Senate vote Wednesday on the measure, which is just one piece of a larger Democratic jobs agenda that has otherwise mostly collapsed after months of battles with Republicans.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday Obama will sign the measure as soon as he gets it. Read more.

In Israel, Miscegenation Equals Rape

Common Dreams - On Monday, Sabbar Kashur, a young Palestinian man from East Jerusalem, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for something called "rape by deception." Apparently, Mr. Kashur had consensual sex with a Jewish Israeli woman after assuring her that he was also Jewish. When she found out that he had lied to her, she went to the police.
Imagine living in a society where you can say, "I wish I had never slept with you. I'm going to the cops." Only it's not funny because Sabbar Kashur will probably go to jail for a year and a half. Meanwhile, efforts to combat actual sexual violence are undermined by a cynical distortion of the term rape. The real crime here, of course, is miscegenation. Read more.

Woolsey to introduce ‘robust public option’ bill

Raw Story - Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), co-chair of the progressive caucus, is making good on her promise to continue pushing for a public health insurance option after the enactment of sweeping reform legislation.
On Thursday afternoon, the Northern California congresswoman will announce the introduction of a bill offering consumers a choice between private plans and a "robust" public plan in the health insurance exchanges set up by the law.
"The robust public option offers lower-cost competition to private insurance companies," Woolsey told Raw Story. "This will make insurance more affordable for those who do not have it and keep insurance affordable for those who do. We are introducing the public option now so is will be available as a ready-made off set or deficit reducer in this or the next Congress." Read more.

Finding Vegetables in Unexpected Places

Centers for American Progress - “In the city of Detroit, the most accessible food-related establishments are party stores, dollar stores, fast-food restaurants, and gas stations,” states the city’s Food Security Policy, which lays out Detroit’s plan for ensuring its residents have access to healthy and affordable food. Urban agriculture is an important part of the solution.
Urban agriculture, or urban farming, is becoming more common not only in Detroit—where some say the trend began—but around the country. Urban farms range from small-scale vegetable gardens in abandoned lots to larger operations with hoop houses and honeybees. Community leaders, unemployed workers, and families are hoping that urban farming can help address many of the problems of American inner cities, from crime rates to incidences of obesity and heart disease.
Economic recession is driving the growth of the farms—halted construction projects and foreclosures make land cheap. The recession has also put people out o…

China Energy Use Surpasses US. Who Didn't See that Coming?

Christian Science Monitor @ Truthout - China passed the United States as the world's No. 1 energy consumer. China denies it. But followers of China energy use are not surprised by the International Energy Agency's announcement.
Amid the hoopla over the International Energy Agency (IEA) announcing that in 2009 China surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest energy user, followers of Sino affairs are responding with a shrug.
“I don’t think there should be any great surprise,” says Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s not unexpected to people who follow Chinese energy issues.” Read more.

White House Apologizes To Shirley Sherrod

The Huffington Post - The Obama administration formally apologized on Wednesday to Shirley Sherrod, the USDA official abruptly fired earlier this week for comments taken out of context by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
"On behalf of our administration, I offer an apology," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said during Wednesday's daily briefing, acknowledging that the administration had not seen a full tape of Sherrod's comments prior to Tuesday evening. "Look, a disservice was done, an apology is owed. That's what we've done." Read more.

Tom Vilsack "Shirley Sherrod has been put through hell," Deserves apology

The Huffington Post - The White House did a sudden about-face Wednesday and begged for forgiveness from the black Agriculture Department employee whose ouster ignited an embarrassing political firestorm over race. She was offered a "unique opportunity" for a new job and said she was thinking it over.
With lightning speed, the controversy moved from Monday's forced resignation of a minor U.S. Ag official in Georgia to Tuesday's urgent discussions at the White House amid a rising public outcry and then to Wednesday's repeated apologies and pleas for Shirley Sherrod to come back.
Sherrod said she resigned under White House pressure after the airing of a video of racial remarks she made at an NAACP gathering about events that transpired more than two decades ago. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said repeatedly on Wednesday that the decision had been his alone.
"I asked for Shirley's forgiveness and she was gracious enough to extend it to me," he sai…

Shirley Sherrod: I'm a Victim of Breitbart, Fox 'Racism'

Media Matters - Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department Georgia Director of Rural Development, says she is a victim. A victim of poor reporting and, as she contends, clear bias and racist coverage from both Andrew Breitbart and Fox News.
"When you look at their reporting, this is just another way of seeing that they are (racist)," Sherrod told me about Fox in a lengthy interview Tuesday night. "But I have seen that before now. I saw their reporting as biased during the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration." Read more.

China oil spill after pipe blast 'worse than thought'

BBC - There are growing fears that strong winds have dispersed the pollution more widely than previously thought.
The environmental group Greenpeace told the BBC the oil was up to 20cm thick along parts of the coast near the city of Dalian.
Shipments of oil from the north to the industrial belt in the south have been disrupted since the accident.
At least one person has died during the clean-up operation, after being thrown from a ship by waves and drowning in the oil. Read more.

400,000 Gallons of Oil Spilled in Chinese Waters

Yahoo News - China's largest reported oil spill had more than doubled by Wednesday, closing beaches on the Yellow Sea and prompting an environmental official to warn the sticky black crude posed a "severe threat" to sea life and water quality.
Some workers trying to clean up the inky beaches wore little more than rubber gloves, complicating efforts, one official said. But 40 oil-control boats and hundreds of fishing boats were also deployed in the area. Read more.

USDA reconsiders employee ouster over race remarks

Associated Press - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he will reconsider the department's decision to oust a black employee over racially tinged remarks after learning more about what she said.
Vilsack said in a statement early Wednesday morning that he will "conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts" about his decision to ask Shirley Sherrod to resign.
Sherrod, who was the Agriculture Department's director of rural development in Georgia, criticized the administration for pushing her to resign Monday after a blogger posted an edited video of her saying that she didn't give a white farmer as much help as she could have 24 years ago.
Sherrod says her remarks were part of a story about racial reconciliation, not racism. Read more.

Purge This Poison: NAACP calls out endemic racism in the "Tea Party"

Truthout - On Sunday, the National Tea Party Federation announced it had expelled one of the movement's most prominent figures -- a California blowhard named Mark Williams -- because of the outrageously racist things he had said about the NAACP. Ejected along with Williams was his whole organization, Tea Party Express, which had been a particularly active, high-profile group.
The last straw was a "satirical" letter that Williams, a right-wing talk radio host, posted on his website. It was supposed to be a missive from NAACP President Ben Jealous to Abraham Lincoln, and the Tea Party Federation deemed it "clearly offensive." With good reason.
Here is one passage: "We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"…

The Real U.S. Government

Glenn Greenwald - The Washington Post's Dana Priest demonstrates once again why she's easily one of the best investigative journalists in the nation -- if not the best -- with the publication of Part I of her series, co-written with William Arkin, detailing the sprawling, unaccountable, inexorably growing secret U.S. Government: what the article calls "Top Secret America." To the extent the series receives much substantive attention (and I doubt it will), the focus will likely be on the bureaucratic problems it documents: the massive redundancies, overlap, waste, and inefficiencies which plague this "hidden world, growing beyond control" -- as though everything would better if Top Secret America just functioned a bit more effectively. But the far more significant fact so compellingly illustrated by this first installment is the one I described last week when writing about the Obama administration's escalating war on whistle blowers:
Most of what th…