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Veterans Say CIA Tested Drugs, Mind Control on Them

The News and Observer (North Carolina) @ Common Dreams - It was 1968, and Frank Rochelle was 20 years old and fresh out of Army boot camp when he saw notices posted around his base in Virginia asking for volunteers to test uniforms and equipment.

That might be a good break after the harsh weeks of boot camp, he thought, and signed up.

Instead of equipment testing, though, the Onslow County native found himself in a bizarre, CIA-funded drug testing and mind-control program, according to a lawsuit that he and five other veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America filed last week. The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco against the Department of Defense and the CIA. Read more.

Haitian Women and Elections: Presidents, Politics and Power

Truthout - Reconstructing Haiti is not about buildings, projects or money. It's about power, about who gets to control what the future Haiti looks like. Redistributing power and creating a new society based on different theories and practices of it are perhaps more important in the aftermath of the January 11 earthquake than ever.

This priority is not particular to Haitian women. But they are most often the ones propelling it and they and their children have the most to gain from it because of the special burdens that poverty and insecurity place on them. For the majority of women, their work to transform power is focused on including the excluded: the peasants, the residents of internally displaced people's camps and shantytowns, all those who have little voice or participation in national political and economic decisions and who rarely benefit from those decisions.

What could a new power paradigm that serves women look like? And how might a government emerging from the Novemb…

Wikileaks US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomatic crisis

Guardian UK - The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.

At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables - many of which are designated "secret" – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN's leadership.

These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistlebowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues. Read more.

WikiLeaks Releases State Department Cables

McClatchy Newspapers - U.S. diplomats and officials said they're bracing Sunday for at least three newspapers and WikiLeaks to publish hundreds of thousands classified State Department cables that could drastically alter U.S. relations with top allies and reveal embarrassing secrets about U.S. foreign policy.

U.S. diplomats frantically have been reaching out to their counterparts around the world as intelligence officials pleaded with WikiLeaks and the newspapers, including The New York Times, the Guardian in London and Der Spiegel, a German newsweekly, to not publish information that could endanger lives and U.S. policy. Some of the documents are expected to reveal details about how some U.S. diplomats feel about top foreign leaders.

While this is the third time this year that WikiLeaks has released a large batch of documents related to U.S. foreign policy, officials told McClatchy that Sunday's expected release will be far more damaging than the first two combined.

The first ba…

On the World Stage, U.S. Falls Flat on Women’s Equality

Michele Chen @ In These Times - The United States speaks boldly about women's rights in Afghanistan, about liberating Arab women in the Middle East, and about Mama Grizzlies and Supermoms on the home front. But when it comes down to codifying our commitment to women's equality in the law... we'll get back to you.

As the Senate bailed on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have strengthened critical anti-discrimination protections, lawmakers again locked horns on gender equity at the international level, in a debate on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Read more.

The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot

Glenn Greenwald - The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who -- with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI's own undercover agents -- allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon. Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it. Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

What's missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism. All of the information about this episode -- all of it -- comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. As shocking and up…

Tax The Rich: A Deficit Plan That Doesn't Hit We, the People

Campaign For America's Future - Here is MY deficit-reduction plan. This plan does not reflect the views of anyone but myself -- and maybe half the population. Unlike deficit plans from the "serious people" in DC, this one doesn't annihilate the poor and gut Social Security and the middle class while passing even more of the benefits of our society up to a few at the top.

1) Restore pre-Reagan top tax rates. We didn't have massive deficits until we reduced the top tax rates. Read more.

CONVICTED: Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was found guilty by a Texas jury Wednesday of money laundering and conspiracy related to

Truthout - Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was found guilty by a Texas jury Wednesday of money laundering and conspiracy related to campaign contributions he funneled to Texas candidates during the 2002 elections.

A jury of six men and six women delibertated for 19 hours before returning a guilty verdict. DeLay faces a sentence of 2 to 20 years for money laundering and a 5 to 99 year sentence for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Houston Chronicle reported that neither DeLay nor his family showed signs of emotion when the verdict was read. Read more.

If You Knew How Dangerous Green Cleaning Products Were, You'd Probably Go Back to Soap and Water

Alternet - They're hiding under your sink, deep in the basement and out in your garage. They seem to be multiplying and most of them are green, for gosh sakes!

They are cleaning products. We have one for every conceivable job: floors, walls, dishes, laundry, windows, bathroom porcelain and ceramic tiles, wooden decks, cement surfaces, silverware, one for car paint and another for the chrome, and on and on.

Whatever happened to just plain soap? Well, it seems it wasn't fast enough for our busy lives. And these new cleaners certainly are fast. Just spray and wipe or swish with a mop and the job is done.

If you want really fast general cleaning products, commercial ones like Formula 409, Simple Green and Windex clean faster than any soap and water could. This is because they contain small amounts, usually in the range of 2-6 percent, of some members of the most powerful grease-cutting class of chemicals known: the "glycol ethers."

Many people have heard of glycols, a class …

Private Insurance Induced Stress Disorder (PIISD)

Common Dreams - Pissed off?

Maybe it’s your insurance company.

A Maryland psychiatrist thinks it might be.

Writing in the current issue of Psychiatric Times, Dr. Carol Paris lays out the diagnostic criteria for something she calls Private Insurance Induced Stress Disorder (PIISD).

“Mental illness can sometimes be triggered by abnormalities of brain chemistry,” Dr. Paris said. “But in this case it’s triggered by outside forces – in particular, large corporations.”

Dr. Paris lays out four criteria for diagnosing PIISD. Read more.

Food not Bombs: Sharing Meals, Groceries and Anti-authoritarianism

Truthout - Created in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980, Food Not Bombs (FNB) is the brainchild of Keith McHenry and seven other activists. "We came out of the Clamshell Alliance," says McHenry, which was "trying to shut down Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. It was a collection of mostly anarchists, but also included Quakers and the Red Clams, who were socialists."

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With roots in a variety of social causes, it's not surprising that McHenry describes the FNB project as essentially "the food wing of a movement that includes anti-authoritarian music, art, unlicensed radio, zines, squatting, needle exchange, bike and hemp liberation, info shops, computer networking, autonomous decentralized non-hierarchical organizing, consensus decision-making and sharing a philosophy of tolerance, joy and free expression."

By linking the nati…

FDR, Reagan, and Obama

Paul Krugman - More and more, it’s becoming clear that progressives who had their hearts set on Obama were engaged in a huge act of self-delusion. Once you got past the soaring rhetoric you noticed, if you actually paid attention to what he said, that he largely accepted the conservative storyline, a view of the world, including a mythological history, that bears little resemblance to the facts.

And confronted with a situation utterly at odds with that storyline … he stayed with the myth. Read more.

Millionaires to Obama: Tax us

Yahoo! News - Anti-tax activists everywhere have been loudly arguing for an extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in the United States. Now a group of millionaires is arguing the opposite.

More than 40 of the nation's millionaires have joined Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength to ask President Obama to discontinue the tax breaks established for them during the Bush administration, as Salon reports.

"For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you allow tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000 to expire at the end of this year as scheduled," their website states. "We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more." Read more.

Sex-workers get second chance at life with microloans in Kenya

Women News Network - Nairobi, Kenya: With higher levels of economic growth than expected, Kenya’s banks have already begun giving successful loans to a specific and special group of women. Many of these women have struggled through poverty with only one option available to them as they raise their children alone without assistance.

Known in Kenya as sex-workers – prostitutes – they work selling the only thing they have available to sell – their own bodies.

The move to assist women who are currently working in Kenya as commercial sex-workers is not only meant to get prostitutes out of a risky trade, but to improve their life.

“We are giving loans to prostitutes in a move aimed at helping them,” says Equity Bank Chief Executive Officer, Dr. James Mwangi, during a recent Women News Network interview. Read more.

Legal Pros Say No to Citizens United

YES! Magazine - In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, corporate money has poured into the 2010 elections in unprecedented amounts. Now, a bipartisan group of leading law professors, former state attorneys general, former prosecutors, and prominent attorneys from across the country has signed a letter calling on Congress to consider a Constitutional amendment to overrule Citizens United and return elections and government to the people. We joined that call because the notion of “corporate rights” expressed in Citizens United is antithetical to Constitutional principles of free speech, democracy, and self-government.

In that case, the Court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits restrictions on so-called “independent expenditures” by corporations to attempt to defeat or elect candidates. The Court equated corporations with people for purposes of free speech rights and struck down key provisions of the federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

The creation…

Obama's 'Beast' of a limo stands out at green NATO summit

Yahoo News - The Portuguese hosts of Friday's NATO summit hoped to use the event to promote clean-energy and electric cars, but all eyes were on US President Barack Obama's diesel-guzzling "Beast" instead.

As is usual when he travels, Obama's eight-ton armored behemoth of a limousine was flown out to Lisbon before the US leader's arrival, and it ferried him from the airport tarmac to his first meetings of the weekend.

Doubtless he didn't intend the Beast's roar to drown out his hosts' green message, but a US presidential motorcade and its attendant escort of Secret Service SUVs do attract attention, even at the most elite gatherings.

Earlier, Prime Minister Jose Socrates and his fellow Portuguese, the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, had arrived at the summit in quiet, zero-emission electric cars. Read more.

War is a Drug

Corporate Crime Reporter - A friend pointed me to an op-ed buried on page 12 of the most recent edition of the CCBC Connection, the student newspaper of the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).

It was written by Charles Whittington, Jr. - who is identified as a student majoring in "general studies" at the college and an Iraq war vet.

The title of the article - War is a Drug.

The unvarnished truth.

Killing to get high.

Hate.

Slaughter.

The joy of slitting someone's throat.

Every word jumps off the page.

Right there - in black and white - on page 12 of the student newspaper of the Community College of Baltimore County.

"Over in Iraq and Afghanistan killing becomes a habit, a way of life, a drug to me and to other soldiers like me who need to feel like we can survive off of it," Whittington wrote. "It is something that I do not just want, but something I really need so I can feel like myself." Read more.

The Deadly Effects of Long-Term Unemployment

Colorlines - CNN and the New York Times report new research that shows that long-term unemployment doesn’t just impact the jobless in the short-term, but has deep implications for the lifelong health and well-being of an individual as well as their children and families. One study by a sociologist at Albany, Kate W. Strully, found that people who lose their jobs are 83 percent more likely to develop stress-induced conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, or depression.

Another paper by an economist at Columbia University, Till von Wachter, looked at mortality and income records of workers in Pennsylvania during the recession of the early 1980s. Wachter found that death rates increased astronomically for the unemployed in the year they lose their jobs, up to 100 percent. Mortality rates remained significantly higher for those that lose their jobs than for comparable workers who didn’t. In fact, the life expectancy of the unemployed is cut by a year to a year and a half. Read more.

Downl…

Progressives Must Push Back From Below

Normon Solomon @ Common Dreams - In his first term, President Franklin Roosevelt denounced "the economic royalists." He drew the line against the heartless rich: "They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred."

What a different Democratic president we have today.

For two years -- from putting Wall Street operatives at the top of his economic team to signaling that he'll go along with extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy -- Barack Obama has increasingly made a mockery of hopes for a green New Deal.

The news from the White House keeps getting grimmer. Read more.

ACLU Renews Call for Ratification of International “Bill of Rights” for Women

ACLU @ Common Dreams - November 18 - The American Civil Liberties Union submitted a statement to a Senate hearing today urging ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world.

The hearing, held by Senator Richard Durbin's (D-IL) Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, is the first hearing on CEDAW since 2002. The ACLU commended Senator Durbin for holding today's hearing and strongly encouraged Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to bring CEDAW to the floor for a vote as soon as possible.

"CEDAW recognizes that women's rights are human rights and our government can no longer put off cementing its commitment to such a basic and fundamental idea," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Of…

World Comparison Shows U.S. Healthcare Lacking

Reuters @ Common Dreams - A third of Americans say they have gone without medical care or skipped filling a prescription because of cost, compared to 5 percent in the Netherlands, according to study released on Thursday.

The study is the latest in a series by the non-profit Commonwealth Fund showing that while Americans pay far more per capita for healthcare, they are unhappier with the results and less healthy than people in other rich countries.

The study published in the journal Health Affairs also showed that 20 percent of U.S. adults had major problems paying medical bills, compared with 2 percent in Britain and 9 percent in France, the next costliest country. Read more.

Why desperate Haitians want to kick out UN troops

Guardian UK - You may have heard about the civil unrest in Haiti over recent days, on the heels of a hurricane that thwarted efforts to contain a cholera epidemic that is now a national emergency. All this may fit the image often painted of this much-maligned country: crushing poverty, endemic corruption, the threat of violence so constant that international peacekeepers are required to stop Haitians tearing each other apart.

Well, the poverty and the corruption may be true. But on Thursday, demonstrations calling for the departure of the UN troops, known as Minustah, will be held throughout Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, by students, grassroots organisations, opposition groups excluded from the elections, and – most importantly – citizens united by a common cause: that Haiti's escalating nightmares must end now.

As deaths from the cholera outbreak soar past 1,000, fear is taking hold in neighbourhoods that have been so deprived of any civic investment that sanitation infrastr…

Living in the Age of Imposed Amnesia: The Eclipse of Democratic Formative Culture

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - We live in an age in which punitive justice and a theater of cruelty have become the defining elements of a mainstream cultural apparatus that trades in historical and social amnesia. How else to explain the electoral sweep that just put the most egregious Republican Party candidates back in power? These are the people who gave us Katrina, made torture a state policy, promoted racial McCarthyism, celebrated immigrant bashing, pushed the country into two disastrous wars, built more prisons than schools, bankrupted the public treasury, celebrated ignorance over scientific evidence ("half of new Congressmen do not believe in global warming" )(1) and promoted the merging of corporate and political power. For the public to forget so quickly the legacy of the injustices, widespread corruption and moral abyss created by this group (along with a select number of conservative democrats) points to serious issues with the pedagogical conditions and cultural ap…

Airport Security: The Invisible Hand Cops A Feel

Common Dreams - "If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested."

John Tyner's line lacks the elegance of "Give me liberty, or give me death" - but it doesn't lack the weight. We've got to pick it up and run with it, now, while the momentum is ours.

The California software engineer's challenge to an airport Transportation Security Administration agent, who wanted to prod Tyner's genitals before he got on a plane, could - if we act now -- become a long-overdue shout heard round the world. It's a rare moment when we call all speak, confidently and assertively, as one people with one voice. Read more.

The corporate takeover of American schools

The Guardian UK - The trend for appointing CEOs to the top jobs is symptomatic of a declining commitment to public education and social justice

The top positions in state education across the US – for example, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, recent chancellors Joel Klein (New York) and Michelle Rhee (Washington, DC), and incoming Chancellor Cathleen P Black (New York) – reflect a trust in CEO-style leadership for education management and reform. Along with these new leaders in education, billionaire entrepreneurs have also assumed roles as education saviours: Bill and Melinda Gates, and Geoffrey Canada. Read more.

On the Heels of Bush Admission, UN Expert Urges Full US Torture Investigation

Reuters @ Common Dreams - The new U.N. torture expert urged the United States on Tuesday to conduct a full investigation into torture under the Bush administration and prosecute offenders as well as senior officials who ordered it.

Juan Ernesto Mendez told Reuters he also hoped to visit Iraq to probe a "very widespread practice of torture" of detainees with the help of coalition forces, revealed in confidential U.S. files issued by Wikileaks.

He will also try to visit the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo -- on condition that he is granted private interviews with prisoners still being held by the Obama administration, he said in his first interview with an international media organisation since taking up the independent post two weeks ago.

"The United States has a duty to investigate every act of torture. Unfortunately, we haven't seen much in the way of accountability,"...read more.

Land of the Food Insecure: Record Rates of Hunger in US

BBC News - US authorities say that figure is the highest they have seen since they began collecting data in the 1990s, and a slight increase over 2008 levels.

Single mothers are among the hardest hit: About 3.5 million said they were at times unable to put sufficient food on the table.

Hispanics and African Americans also suffer disproportionately.

The food security report is the result of an annual survey conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Read more.

Charles Rangel GUILTY: Convicted By House Ethics Panel Of 11 Charges (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post - Rep. Charles Rangel, once one of the most influential House members, was convicted Tuesday on 11 counts of breaking ethics rules and now faces punishment.

An ethics panel of eight House peers deliberated over two days before delivering a jarring blow to the 20-term New York Democrat's career. Rangel was charged with 13 counts of financial and fundraising misconduct.

The conviction also was another setback for Democrats who lost control of the House to the GOP in the midterm elections.

Rangel, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is not expected to resign. Read more.

(VIDEO) Georgia Megachurch Pastor, Comes Out To Congregation After Gay Teen Suicides

The Huffington Post - Jim Swilley, the pastor of a Georgia megachurch, recently revealed to his congregation that he is gay. The 52-year-old father of four said that his wife, to whom he was married for more than 20 years, encouraged him to come out years ago, but at the time, he told her: "These words will never come out of my mouth."

However, the recent spate of teen suicides, particularly that of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, prompted him to change his mind. "For some reason his situation was kind of the tipping point with me,"...read more.

Human Rights Groups United in Demand for Bush's Prosecution

Common Dreams - Several human rights groups are united in their demand that former president George W. Bush face prosecution following his open admission that he authorized the use of waterboarding, one of the cruelest forms of torture. Former president Bush made his admission during interviews publicizing his book, Decision Points. Bush's admission of having authorized torture, however serious the claim is, is just one of the reasons the former president could be prosecuted.

During an interview with NBC News Bush said, "Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives." And he added, "My job was to protect America. And I did." This is not the opinion of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch, three of the most prestigious human rights organizations.

"The Department of Justice has made clear that waterboarding is torture and, as such, a crime under the federal anti-torture statute.18…

Businesses Do Not Create Jobs

Campaign for America's Future - Businesses do not create jobs. In fact, the way our economy is structured the incentive is for businesses to get rid of as many jobs as they can.

Demand Creates Jobs

A job is created when demand for goods or services is greater than the existing ability to provide them. When there is a demand, people will see the need and fill it. Either someone will start filling the demand alone, or form a new business to fill it or an existing provider of the good or service will add employees as needed. Read more.

Haiti's Unnatural Disasters

Truthout - As hurricane Tomas unleashed its wrath on Haiti, hundreds of thousands of Haitians endured the storm under flimsy tents, tarps and bedsheets located on floodplains and perched on mudslide-prone slopes. Many Haitians lost what little they have left in the world in a completely foreseeable disaster.

Since the earthquake of January 12, there has been a lot of talk in the media about "disaster-prone Haiti" and the "ill-fated Haitian people." First there was the worst earthquake in Haiti's history, killing an estimated 300,000 people, seriously injuring even more and destroying much of Haiti's capital. Just last month, cholera broke out north of Port-au-Prince. According to official numbers, the body count is over 500 and the number of people infected is over 7,000 - and these numbers are certain to rise. Then, last Friday, Hurricane Tomas assailed Haiti with major flooding, mudslides and winds. Read more.

Wage Theft Epidemic, Spur Nationwide Protests

In These Times - Activists in more than 30 cities, organized by Interfaith Worker Justice and backed by labor groups, are staging a National Day of Action Against Wage Theft on November 18. "As the crisis for working families in the economy has deepened, so too has the crisis of wage theft," says Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) Executive Director Kim Bobo, perhaps the country's leading reformer addressing the ongoing scandal.

As much as $19 billion is stolen from American workers annually in unpaid overtime and minimum wage violations and, in some cases, through the human trafficking of legal immigrant workers. The latest case to come to light involves alleged horrendous conditions for immigrant workers reportedly hoodwinked in Mexico by a food services contractor for the New York State Fair and kept in near-slavery conditions of $2 an hour. Read more.

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A Small Fraction of a Man

William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout - George W. Bush was all over my television this past week, all over the newspapers, and the feelings inspired by his sudden reappearance are almost beyond my capacity to describe. There was the story about his hearty approval of waterboarding. There was the story that had him contemplating dropping Dick Cheney from the administration. There was the story that had him describing himself as a "dissenter" on the Iraq invasion. He did interviews, and excerpts of his new book dribbled out, and it was all too much to endure.

This is the guy, I thought to myself when I saw his face or heard his voice. This is the guy.

This is the guy who took a massive Clinton administration budget surplus and gave it away to his friends at the top of the tax bracket, a move that laid the groundwork for our current economic calamity.

This is the guy who breezed past a pointed warning about Osama bin Laden, terrorism and airplanes on August 8, 2001, because he was on vac…

Bush Pens True Crime Book, No Justice for CIA Destruction of 92 Torture Tapes: Why George W. Should Still Worry

Bill Quigley @ Truthout - In his memoir (which some wise people have already moved in bookstores to the CRIME section) George W. Bush admitted that he authorized that detainees be waterboarded, tortured, a crime under US and international law.

Bush's crime confession coincides with reports that no one will face criminal charges from the US Department of Justice for the destruction of 92 CIA videotapes which contained interrogations using waterboarding.

Where is the accountability for these crimes? Read more.

Study Shows Fast Food Companies Aggressively Market to Kids, Minorities

Civil Eats - In what is the most comprehensive analysis of fast food nutrition and marketing to date, the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released a study Monday indicting fast food restaurants for aggressive marketing campaigns targeted to youth and other vulnerable groups, and a lack of readily available healthy options on their menus.

In a telephone briefing on Monday, the authors of the study discussed why their research is so important. They cited statistics compiled over the past year, which show that one-third of U.S. children and teens eat fast food every day, accounting for 16 to 17 percent of their daily caloric intake. “Eating at fast food restaurants is ingrained in our culture. That’s why the nutritional quality of these meals is so important,” Marlene Schwartz, co-author of the study said on Monday. Jennifer Harris, lead author of the study added that they uncovered how the barrage of fast food advertising has made kids think that this kind of food is “normal…

Death to the Death Penalty

Miami Herald - A few days ago, Anthony Graves called his mother and asked what she was cooking for dinner. She asked why he wanted to know. He said, “Because I’m coming home.”

Maybe it sounds like an unremarkable exchange. But Anthony Graves had spent 18 years behind bars, 12on Death Row, for the 1992 murder of an entire family, including four children, in the Texas town of Somerville. It wasn’t until that day, Oct. 27, that the district attorney’s office finally accepted what he’d been saying two decades: He’s innocent.

So the news that Graves would be home for dinner was the very antithesis of unremarkable. His mother, he told a news conference the next day, couldn’t believe it. “I couldn’t believe I was saying it,” he added.

Graves’ release came after his story appeared in Texas Monthly magazine (texasmonthly.com). The article by Pamela Colloff detailed how he was convicted even though no physical evidence tied him to the crime, even though he had no motive to kill six strangers, even…

Special Prosecutor Declines to File Criminal Charges Over Destruction of CIA Torture Tapes

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - Nearly three years after he was appointed to investigate the destruction of at least 92 interrogation videotapes, a dozen of which showed two high-value detainees being subjected to various torture techniques by CIA interrogators, Special Prosecutor John Durham has determined that he does not have enough evidence to secure an indictment against anyone responsible for the purge.

Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Tuesday that Durham, a US Attorney from Connecticut, has "concluded that he will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of interrogation videotapes." Read more.

A Recipe for Fascism

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - American politics, as the midterm elections demonstrated, have descended into the irrational. On one side stands a corrupt liberal class, bereft of ideas and unable to respond coherently to the collapse of the global economy, the dismantling of our manufacturing sector and the deadly assault on the ecosystem. On the other side stands a mass of increasingly bitter people whose alienation, desperation and rage fuel emotionally driven and incoherent political agendas. It is a recipe for fascism.

More than half of those identified in a poll by the Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports as "mainstream Americans" now view the tea party favorably. The other half, still grounded in a reality-based world, is passive and apathetic. The liberal class wastes its energy imploring Barack Obama and the Democrats to promote sane measures including job creation programs, regulation as well as criminal proceedings against the financial industry, and an end to our perman…

ACLU and CCR Statement: Obama Administration Claims Unchecked Authority to Kill Americans Outside Combat Zones

Common Dreams - The Obama administration today argued before a federal court that it should have unreviewable authority to kill Americans the executive branch has unilaterally determined to pose a threat. Government lawyers made that claim in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) charging that the administration's asserted targeted killing authority violates the Constitution and international law. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard arguments from both sides today.

"Not only does the administration claim to have sweeping power to target and kill U.S. citizens anywhere in the world, but it makes the extraordinary claim that the court has no role in reviewing that power or the legal standards that apply," said CCR Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, who presented arguments in the case. "The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected the government's claim to an unchecked sys…

Our Big, Fat, Invisible Wars

Jon Letman @ Truthout - Appearing on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, the president joined a small pantheon of acting and former heads of state like Pervez Musharraf, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Evo Morales and Bill Clinton to sit down for some casual conversation peppered with quips and yuks.

Stewart asked the president if he was surprised that "even [his] base can be disappointed" and yet he never once uttered the words "Afghanistan," "Iraq" or "Pakistan." The complete lack of even an oblique reference to what both Obama and Bush have made the centerpiece of their foreign policy, if not their entire presidency, is pretty remarkable, but sadly indicative of how, after a decade of war with close to 6,000 American troops killed, almost 50,000 American soldiers still in Iraq, nearly 100,000 in Afghanistan and an undeclared, virtually unscrutinized predator drone war in Pakistan that has more than tripled in number of st…

New Report Refutes Industry Argument that Genetically Modified Salmon will Feed Hungry World Populations

Food and Water Watch Europe - Food & Water Europe released a report today outlining why the genetically engineered (GE) salmon currently being considered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval as a human food will not alleviate global hunger.

GE Salmon Will Not Feed the World outlines several reasons why this transgenic fish is likely to be more expensive to produce than perceived, as well as problematic for the environment, fishing communities and consumers. Read more.

The Party of Organized Money

Robert Koehler @ Common Dreams - Thud goes hope. Whatever the causes of "voter dissatisfaction" and voter despair that gave the party of destruction so much power back, I sit in dread the next morning not so much of the results as of the phenomenon of openly purchased elections.

"The midterms have shattered spending records for a non-presidential contest, providing a likely blueprint for the frenzy to come when the White House is up for grabs in two years."

So the Washington Post informed us on Tuesday. The exaggerated influence of corporate money in politics and government has always been a problem, but last January the Supreme Court threw open the floodgates, overturning all restrictions on corporate spending to influence election results. Read more.

Bill Moyers: "Welcome to the Plutocracy!"

Bill Moyers @ Truthout - I was honored when you asked me to join in celebrating Howard Zinn’s life and legacy. I was also surprised. I am a journalist, not a historian. The difference between a journalist and an historian is that the historian knows the difference. George Bernard Shaw once complained that journalists are seemingly unable to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization. In fact, some epic history can start out as a minor incident. A young man named Paris ran off with a beautiful woman who was married to someone else, and the civilization of Troy began to unwind. A middle-aged black seamstress, riding in a Montgomery bus, had tired feet, and an ugly social order began to collapse. A night guard at an office complex in Washington D.C. found masking tape on a doorjamb, and the presidency of Richard Nixon began to unwind. What journalist, writing on deadline, could have imagined the walloping kick that Rosa Park’s tired feet would give to Jim Cr…

Obama's Cheeleaders Fall on their Faces

John Stauber@ Common Dreams - The electoral debacle suffered by the Obama Administration and its Democratic Party will be blamed on many things, especially the secret wealth behind the myriad of coordinated campaign front groups dominating TV advertising in the wake of the Supreme Court's horrific decision in the Citizen United case, a Right Wing coup that essentially drove the nail into the money coffin encasing American democracy.

But let the blame be laid instead with the Obama Administration itself, the phony rhetoric of change and populism it embraced to win in 2008, and the betrayal of its promises of fundamental reform, openness and peace, ideals that so excited new and independent voters just two years ago. I've been writing since 2007 about the sell-out of the peace movement by MoveOn and its co-option as a campaign tool by Democratic Party. Web-centric, navel-gazing fundraising operations such as MoveOn and the liberal millionaires behind the Democracy Alliance fooled…

US is not greatest country ever

Politico - The notion that America and Americans are special, among all the peoples of the earth, is sometimes called "American exceptionalism." Because of our long history of democracy and freedom, or because we have a special mission to spread these values (or at least to remain a shining example of them), or because of our wealth, or because of our military strength, our nuclear arsenal, our wide-open spaces, our pragmatism, our idealism, or just because, the rules don't apply to us. There are man-made rules like, "You can't start a war without the permission of the United Nations Security Council." We've gotten away with quite a bit of bending or breaking of that kind of rule. This may have given us the impression that we could ignore the other kind of rules -the ones that are imposed by reality and therefore are self-enforcing. These are rules such as, "You can't have good ice cream without fat" or "You can't borrow increasin…

The Phantom Left

Chris Hedges - The American left is a phantom. It is conjured up by the right wing to tag Barack Obama as a socialist and used by the liberal class to justify its complacency and lethargy. It diverts attention from corporate power. It perpetuates the myth of a democratic system that is influenced by the votes of citizens, political platforms and the work of legislators. It keeps the world neatly divided into a left and a right. The phantom left functions as a convenient scapegoat. The right wing blames it for moral degeneration and fiscal chaos. The liberal class uses it to call for “moderation.” And while we waste our time talking nonsense, the engines of corporate power—masked, ruthless and unexamined—happily devour the state.

The loss of a radical left in American politics has been catastrophic. The left once harbored militant anarchist and communist labor unions, an independent, alternative press, social movements and politicians not tethered to corporate benefactors. But its disap…

Let's Rally to Restore Peace

Majorie Cohn @ Common Dreams - In their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert effectively demonstrated how the media hypes fear. They brought out Kareem Abdul Jabbar to show that not all Muslims are terrorists. A couple of musical numbers dealt with the wars we are fighting. But neither Stewart nor Colbert mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan and how they are allowed to continue by the hyping of fear.

Like his predecessor, President Obama also hypes fear - by connecting his war in Afghanistan to keeping us safe, even though CIA director Leon Panetta recently admitted that only 50 to 100 al Qaeda fighters are there. Hoping to put the unpopular Iraq war behind him, Obama declared combat operations over, although 50,000 U.S. troops and some 100,000 mercenaries remain.

Tragically, both wars have largely disappeared from the national discourse. On October 22, Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 previously classified U.S. military documents about the Iraq war. Read more