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Showing posts from March, 2011

Obama Doubles Down on Dirty Energy, Continues to Call Nukes ‘Clean,’ Ignores Clean Air Act

- PRESS RELEASE -
***
Friends of the Earth @ Common Dreams - In response to President Obama’s speech today on the subject of energy security, as well as supporting documentation released by the White House, Friends of the Earth Climate and Energy Director Damon Moglen had the following statement:
“This speech was more about polluting the future than winning it. President Obama today doubled down on his support for dirty energy sources including the nuclear, corn ethanol, oil, natural gas, and coal industries, while going AWOL on a crucial fight over the Clean Air Act. Read more.

How to waste money and lives: the American prison system

Celia Chazele @ Michael Moore - In 1970, fewer than 200,000 Americans were incarcerated. Today, with some 2.3 million in prison or jail, the US has more people and a higher percentage of its population locked up than any other country. Adding those on probation and parole, over seven million are under penal supervision. Although much of the growth stems from tougher drug laws, increased sentencing for most offenses has played a large role, too. According to criminologist Todd Clear, prison sentences in the US today average almost twice as long as thirty years ago. American prisoners now endure sentences twice those of the English, four times those of the Dutch, and five to ten times those of the French for the same crimes.
Our penal system affects more middle-class white Americans than we might realize, yet the impact on them is tiny compared with that on minorities – especially young black men from impoverished urban neighborhoods. Over 90 percent of inmates are male, and while 12 per…

Radioactive rainwater recorded eastern US

MSNBC - Trace amounts of radioactive iodine linked to Japan's crippled nuclear power station have turned up in rainwater samples as far away as Massachusetts during the past week, state officials said Sunday.
The low level of radioiodine-131 detected in precipitation at a sample location in Massachusetts is comparable to findings in California, Washington state and Pennsylvania and poses no threat to drinking supplies, public health officials said.
Utilities in North and South Carolina also report trace amounts of radiation from the damaged nuclear reactor in Japan. Read more.

Germany's Merkel Suffers Election Blow Over Nuclear Policy

Reuters @ Common Dreams - Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives appeared set to lose power in a major regional stronghold on Sunday after early results suggested the anti-nuclear Greens were surging to their first ever state premiership.
In Baden-Wuerttemberg state, where anti-nuclear sentiment has been mobilised by Japan's nuclear crisis, the Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) were set to win 48.3 percent, eclipsing the Christian Democrats who have held power for six decades.
Merkel's CDU and their Free Democrat coalition partners, big backers of nuclear power, won a combined 43.2 percent, according to the first projections after polls closed at 1600 GMT in the state of nearly 11 million people. Read more.

Japan: Level of iodine-131 in seawater off chart

The Japan Times - The level of radioactive iodine detected in seawater near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was 1,250 times above the maximum level allowable, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Saturday, suggesting contamination from the reactors is spreading.
Meanwhile, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. turned on the lights in the control room of the No. 2 reactor the same day, and was analyzing and trying to remove pools of water containing radioactive materials in the turbine buildings of reactors 1 to 3.
The iodine-131 in the seawater was detected at 8:30 a.m. Friday, about 330 meters south of the plant's drain outlets. Previously, the highest amount recorded was about 100 times above the permitted level. Read more.

London Marchers Protest Massive Spending Cuts in Britain

LA Times @ Common Dreams - Tens of thousands of demonstrators whistled, chanted, drummed and marched their way through the heart of London on Saturday to protest massive government spending cuts that threaten to leave almost no part of British society untouched.
It was one of the biggest public demonstrations in Britain since 2003, when antiwar rallies were held across the country before the invasion of Iraq. Organizers said up to 500,000 people participated in the march, whose carnival-like atmosphere was briefly marred by black-clad anarchists who smashed a few shop windows, flung paint bombs and attacked luxury icons such as the Ritz Hotel. Read more.

BP Oil Disaster: Obama Administration Tightens Lid on Dolphin Death Probe

Reuters @ Common Dreams - The U.S. government is keeping a tight lid on its probe into scores of unexplained dolphin deaths along the Gulf Coast, possibly connected to last year's BP oil spill, causing tension with some independent marine scientists.
Wildlife biologists contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service to document spikes in dolphin mortality and to collect specimens and tissue samples for the agency were quietly ordered late last month to keep their findings confidential.
The gag order was contained in an agency letter informing outside scientists that its review of the dolphin die-of...read more.

Press Release: Japan Radioactive Iodine Releases May Exceed Three Mile Island by 100,000 Times

IEER @ Common Dreams - The damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan continue to release radioactivity into the atmosphere. So far, the accident has released far more radioactivity than the 1979 Three Mile Island (TMI) accident. While Chernobyl had one source of radioactivity, its reactor, there are seven leaking radiation sources at the Japanese site. Together, the three damaged reactors and four spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi contain far more long-lived radioactivity, notably cesium-137, than the Chernobyl reactor. Read more.

Top Bush-era GITMO and Abu Ghraib psychologist is WH's newest appointment

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - One of the most intense scandals the field of psychology has faced over the last decade is the involvement of several of its members in enabling Bush's worldwide torture regime. Numerous health professionals worked for the U.S. government to help understand how best to mentally degrade and break down detainees. At the center of that controversy was -- and is -- Dr. Larry James. James, a retired Army colonel, was the Chief Psychologist at Guantanamo in 2003, at the height of the abuses at that camp, and then served in the same position at Abu Ghraib during 2004.
Today, Dr. James circulated an excited email announcing, "with great pride," that he has now been selected to serve on the "White House Task Force entitled Enhancing the Psychological Well-Being of The Military Family." In his new position, he will be meeting at the White House with Michelle Obama and other White House officials on Tuesday. Read more.

Bradley Manning Treatment Reveals Continued Government Complicity in Torture

Majorie Cohn @ Common Dreams - Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is facing court-martial for leaking military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico brig in Virginia. Each night, he is forced to strip naked and sleep in a gown made of coarse material. He has been made to stand naked in the morning as other inmates walked by and looked. As journalist Lance Tapley documents in his chapter on torture in the supermax prisons in The United States and Torture, solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations and suicide; it is considered to be torture. Manning's forced nudity amounts to humiliating and degrading treatment, in violation of U.S. and international law.
Nevertheless, President Barack Obama defended Manning's treatment, saying, "I've actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures . . . are appropriate. They assured me they are." Obama's deference is reminiscent of President George W. Bush, who…

Germany Nuclear Power Protest Draws 200,000

Huffington Post - Tens of thousands of people on Saturday turned out in Germany's largest cities to protest the use of nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima reactor disaster, police and organizers said.
In Berlin alone more than 100,000 took to the capital's streets to urge Germany's leaders to immediately abolish nuclear power, police spokesman Jens Berger said.
Organizers said some 250,000 people marched at the "Fukushima Warns: Pull the Plug on all Nuclear Power Plants" rallies in the country's four largest cities, making them the biggest anti-nuclear protest in the country's history. Read more.

Farmers Sue USDA Over Monsanto Alfalfa - Again

Truthout - A coalition of farmers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on March 18 to challenge the agency's recent decision to fully deregulate Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa.
This is the second time the USDA has been sued over its approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa, which is genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate glyphosate, a popular herbicide commonly sold under the Monsanto brand name Roundup. The latest lawsuit, filed by groups like the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the National Family Farm Coalition, opens a new chapter in the five-year battle over the GE alfalfa seed developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics.
Industry watchdogs and farmers say that Roundup Ready alfalfa will increase reliance on already overused herbicides like Roundup, encourage the spread of herbicide-resistant "superweeds" and contaminate organic and conventional alfalfa with Monsanto transgenes through cross-pollination. Read more.

White House Avoids Oval Office Address On Libya For Fear That Someone Might Think There's Some Sort Of 'War' Underway

Jason Linkins - It's been just about a week since the United States started doing some, you know, shooting hundreds of cruise missiles at Libya -- no biggie -- and you might be wondering why we haven't had that moment where President Barack Obama sits in the Oval Office and explains at length about what we're up to and what the plan is and what we hope to achieve.
Well, per Glenn Thrush and Carrie Budoff Brown comes the answer: the president doesn't want to do something that makes anyone worry that there's a war on or anything. Read more.

Bob Herbert is leaving the NY Times

Huffington Post - Bob Herbert is leaving the New York Times after 18 years as an op-ed columnist for the paper, the Times announced Friday.
In a message to staffers, Herbert said that "for some time now I have grown eager to move beyond the constriction of the column format, with its rigid 800-word limit, in favor of broader and more versatile efforts. Read more.

AOL ♥ HuffPo. The loser? Journalism

"To grasp the Huffington Post's business model, picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates"
Tim Rutten @ LA Times - Whatever the ultimate impact of AOL's $315-million acquisition of the Huffington Post on the new-media landscape, it's already clear that the merger will push more journalists more deeply into the tragically expanding low-wage sector of our increasingly brutal economy.
That's a development that will hurt not only the people who gather and edit the news but also readers and viewers.
To understand why, it's helpful to step back from the wide-eyed coverage focused on foundering AOL's last-ditch effort to stave off the oblivion of irrelevance, or Brentwood-based Arianna Huffington's astonishing commercial achievement in taking her Web news portal from startup to commercial success in less than six years.
The media-saturated environment in which we live has been called "the information age" when, in fact, it's the…

Buried Provision In House GOP Bill Would Cut Off Food Stamps To Entire Families If One Member Strikes

Think Progress - All around the country, right-wing legislators are asking middle class Americans to pay for budget deficits caused mainly by a recession caused by Wall Street; they are attacking workers’ collective bargaining rights, which has provoked a huge Main Street Movement to fight back.
Now, a group of House Republicans is launching a new stealth attack against union workers. Read more.

Radiation: Nothing to See Here?

Truthout - Administration spokespeople continuously claim "no threat" from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle "Don't worry, be happy" in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.
That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn't as comforting as it seems. The Japanese reactors hold about 1,000 times more radiation than the bombs dropped over Hiroshima. Read more.

Elizabeth Taylor Dead: Actress Dies At 79

Huffington Post - Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor has died at age 79.
Taylor had been hospitalized in February for congestive heart failure, a condition she learned she had in 2004. A two time Oscar winner (for "Butterfield 8" in 1960 and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1966), Taylor was also known for her eight high profile marriages.
In mid-March, her publicist, Sally Morrison, said she was in stable condition at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Taylor's son, Michael Wilding, released a statement on the passing: Read more.

Why Families Need Health Care Reform Now More Than Ever

Christy Turlington @ Huffington Post - When I set out to make "No Woman, No Cry, a documentary film about the global state of maternal health three years ago, I had no idea just how dismal a job we were doing for our nation's families. I was inspired to highlight the under-reported issue of maternal mortality after learning that almost all of the hundreds of thousands of maternal deaths that occur each year are preventable. Yes, 90 percent! And yet, when I came to know these facts, I discovered that little progress had been reported (for decades) in many countries around the world.

We, as a global community, could and should be doing more if we value our women. The majority of the global burden of maternal deaths occurs in the developing world. In fact, 66 percent occur in just 11 countries. While this statistic is an unjust reality, it may not be all that surprising. What did rattle me was the fact that the United States was ranked behind 40 other countries with regard to mat…

Fresh Oil Continues to Wash Ashore in the Bayou

Huffington Post - Fresh Louisiana crude washed into the beaches and dock areas near Grand Isle over the weekend, creating a sickening sight for the residents of this oil battered region. The reddish brown crude and oily sheen lapped onto the sandy and rocky shores, while some people flocked to Grand Isle's famous white beaches for spring break unaware of the oily assault nearby.

Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle said the oil had hit Elmers island and Lafourch beaches near the main beach area of Grand Isle. He said the oil appeared to be about two miles offshore over the weekend but then started coming ashore to the west of the island. "It reminded me of the first time we saw oil last summer, a brown reddish sheen." Read more.

Do the Unemployed Face More Discrimination Than African-Americans?

Huffington Post - In the last couple of years our country has elected our first black president, and witnessed the appointments of our first Latina Supreme court justice and our first openly gay White House Social Secretary. After centuries marked by slavery, segregation and other forms of legalized inequality it seemed as though our country was finally headed in a direction in which fewer groups would feel the need to request federal civil rights protection simply to survive. But recently progress was tapped on the shoulder by our friend, cold, hard reality and told, "Not so fast."

Last week Representative Hank Johnson introduced legislation that would add another group to those already protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act: the unemployed. The Fair Employment Act of 2011 would make discrimination against the unemployed a civil rights violation, on par with discrimination on the basis of race or gender.

The reason? Because just as some signs outside of restaurants, stores a…

How Bad Could Japan's Nuclear Crisis Get?

Mother Jones - By all accounts, the situation at Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant appears to be getting worse. (Be sure to check out our real-time updates for the latest news.) Just how bad it could get?

Nuclear power experts and watchdogs warn that we're entering uncharted territory. "The situation is worsening," says Robert Alvarez, a scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former senior policy advisor to the secretary of energy during the Clinton administration. "It seems to be slipping out of the control of authorities." The situation at the Japanese plant is constantly changing and involves several reactors in various states of disrepair. The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Greg Jaczko, says it could be "possibly weeks" before it is totally under control. Until then, the risk of a full meltdown still looms. Read more.

First it was Saddam. Then Gaddafi. Now there's a vacancy for the West's favourite crackpot tyrant

Robert Fist @ Independent UK - So we are going to take "all necessary measures" to protect the civilians of Libya, are we? Pity we didn't think of that 42 years ago. Or 41 years ago. Or... well, you know the rest. And let's not be fooled by what the UN resolution really means. Yet again, it's going to be regime-change. And just as in Iraq – to use one of Tom Friedman's only memorable phrases of the time – when the latest dictator goes, who knows what kind of bats will come flying out of the box?

And after Tunisia, after Egypt, it's got to be Libya, hasn't it? The Arabs of North Africa are demanding freedom, democracy, liberation from oppression. Yes, that's what they have in common. But what these nations also have in common is that it was us, the West, that nurtured their dictatorships decade after decade after decade. The French cuddled up to Ben Ali, the Americans stroked Mubarak, while the Italians groomed Gaddafi until our own glorious leader …

Obama's Aggression: Libya and the familiar patterns of war

Glenn Greenwald - Bracing for a backlash from impending war with Iraq, the Bush administration put the nation on high alert for a terrorist attack and announced that it was redoubling efforts to enhance security at home. The decision to raise the terrorism threat level from yellow to orange, the third such move in the last six months, followed several months worth of intelligence reports indicating a strong likelihood of some type of terrorist attack or retaliation if the U.S. went to war with Iraq. Those strikes, officials said, could come from organized Al Qaeda cells or groups sent here by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, or from individuals or small groups who sympathize with them. Read more.

The "Degrading Treatment" of Bradley Manning

The Huffington Post - Human rights activists on Saturday demanded a stop to the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning, the Army private who has been imprisoned for nine months on charges of giving classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

The degrading treatment he has received, they say, “brings back memories of the abuses committed in Abu-Ghraib.”

In a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, top human rights organizations Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights joined with actors, musicians and activists such as Daniel Ellsberg in asking for immediate action to “stop the cruel treatment of an American soldier," who, earlier this month, was forced to sleep naked in a military jail after a commander of the brig in Quantico, Va., ordered his clothes be taken away for a full seven hours. Read more.

Obama's New War: US Launches 112 Tomahawk Missiles into Libya

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - The U.S. military attacked Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses Saturday with strikes along the Libyan coast that were launched by Navy vessels in the Mediterranean.

A senior military official said the assault would unfold in stages and target air defense installations around Tripoli, the capital, and a coastal area south of Benghazi. That’s the rebel stronghold under attack by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.

Complete details were not immediately available, though the Pentagon said 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from U.S. and British warships off the Libyan coast.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive military operations. Read more. Read more.

Debt, Austerity and How to Fight Back

Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West @ The Nation - Wall Street Banks, American corporations and their political allies have declared a one-sided war on the American people. This war is being waged at our schools and colleges, the workplace and in our communities.

Today, Americans are working harder and earning less while corporate profits soar. As homeowners, consumers and students we see our wealth being stripped away by banks. Our government plunges into debt waging trillion-dollar wars. Meanwhile, our infrastructure erodes and climate change proceeds unchecked. Schools, daycare centers, senior citizen facilities, clinics, parks and firehouses are starved for funds so that corporations and the rich can get billions in tax breaks! Read more.

The Last Iceberg: Nature Sculpts Itself, Then Dies

Max Eternity @ Truthout - With an ancestry of African-American, Italian and Shinnecock Indian in her veins, perhaps it should come as no surprise that photographer Camille Seaman feels a deep connection to the earth, which she affirmed in a recent conversation. Looking me straight in the eye, "This," she said with noble conviction, "is my planet." Read more.

Daniel Ellsberg on Bradley Manning’s Solitary Confinement: "The Conditions Clearly Violate the Constitution"

Radiation from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reaches California; experts: no health risk

NY Daily News - Trace amounts of radiation from Japan's nuclear crisis have reportedly reached California - but they're nowhere near hazardous levels.

"(They're) about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening," a diplomat with access to radiation tracking by the U.N.'s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization told the Associated Press. Read more.

The war on WikiLeaks: A John Pilger investigation and interview with Julian Assange

John Pilger - The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders, in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before. Read more.

Groupon Is Said to Be Discussing IPO Valuation of as Much as $25 Billion

Bloomberg - Groupon Inc. has held talks with banks about an initial public offering that would value the online-coupon company at as much as $25 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

The two-year-old startup’s IPO may happen this year and is unlikely to assign Groupon a valuation of less than $15 billion, the people told Bloomberg Businessweek. They asked not to be identified because the talks were private.

Groupon, the top provider of online daily discounts, has pushed into hundreds of new cities and doubled its subscriber base over the past three months. Read more.

Japan nuclear disaster troubles few near growing Georgia plant

USA Today - A nuclear plant disaster in Japan has done little to change the thinking about nuclear energy in Waynesboro, Ga., where the USA's first nuclear power plant construction in decades is planned.

Mayor George DeLoach, 70, says people in Waynesboro trust Southern Co., which is expanding its Albert W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant from two nuclear reactors to four.

"We have a lot of confidence in the Southern Co.," says DeLoach, who is in his 16th year as mayor. "The plant is over 20 years old. It's been operating since the late '80s and we haven't had a serious accident or complaint out there. They do a great job."

In Shell Bluff, the view isn't as charitable, according to the Rev. Charles Utley, pastor of McElmurray Spring Branch Baptist Church, which is about 5 miles from the plant in rural Burke County.

"There is great concern," Utley says. "There has been a lot of talk about it. The situation in Japan has increased their…

Is Your Water at Risk from Fracking?

Torturing Bradley Manning

Kevin Zeese @ Truthout - Bradley Manning's appeal of the refusal to relax his conditions of confinement makes a strong case that he has been a model prisoner who is being unjustly abused. His inhumane treatment violates his due process rights and is cruel and unusual punishment.

After providing detailed descriptions of his excellent behavior and the positive reports he has received while detained at Quantico since July 29, 2010, Manning contradicts the military's claim that he is being treated just like any other prisoner. Read more.

Exclusive: AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages Notices To Go Out This Week, Capping Begins May 2

Broadband Reports - Broadband Reports was the first to learn, and has confirmed with AT&T, that the company will be implementing a new 150GB monthly usage cap for all DSL customers and a new 250 GB cap on all U-Verse users starting on May 2. From March 18 to March 31, AT&T users are going to be receiving notices informing them of the change in the company's terms of service. AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom confirmed the news to Broadband Reports after we initially contacted him last Friday concerning a leaked copy of the upcoming user notification. According to Bloom, the cap will involve overage charges. Read more.

Net Neutrality FAIL: AT&T to Limit Internet Access and Charge Overage Fees

Truthout - Starting May 2, AT&T will begin implementing monthly usage limits for its U-Verse and DSL users and charge $10 fees every time a customer exceeds the cap.

According to Broadband Reports, DSL customers will have a 150GB monthly usage limit, while U-Verse subscribers will get 250GB. AT&T will impose the $10 fee for every 50GB over the limit a customer uses. Read more.

The Tsunami of Lies about Nuclear Power

Stephen Pizzo @ Buzzflash - Liar, liar. Nuclear Pants on Fire.

If Sunday morning you heard a loud "clunk," it was just the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.

After watching a couple of hours of coverage of Japanese nuclear meltdowns, I hit the remote to change channels. There was Republican Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell and from his mouth came the following words:

"I don't believe that making US energy policy based on something happening in another country is how we should make policy."

Then he went on to add,

"(And) I don't think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy."

If there were ever a moment in recent history in which the utter bankruptcy of ideas, lack of morals, courage, backbone, intelligence or even the most modest serving of commonsense was on full display, I can't think of that moment. Read more.

Don't Sleep Through Assault on Workers

Jesse Jackson @ Huffington Post - This weekend in Wisconsin, some 200,000 citizens rallied to protest the governor's assault on working families. The crowd included farmers and firefighters, teachers and students, parents and children. In Wisconsin -- and across the Midwest -- they are connecting the dots.

They realize that the assault on the right of public workers to organize isn't about the budget crisis. Gov. Scott Walker and the right across the country are pushing to weaken the ability of working families to counter what is a brutal assault on the middle class in America. Read more.

WH forces P.J. Crowley to resign for condemning abuse of Manning

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - On Friday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denounced the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention as "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid," forcing President Obama to address those comments in a Press Conference and defend the treatment of Manning. Today, CNN reports, Crowley has "abruptly resigned" under "pressure from White House officials because of controversial comments he made last week about the Bradley Manning case." In other words, he was forced to "resign" -- i.e., fired.

So, in Barack Obama's administration, it's perfectly acceptable to abuse an American citizen in detention who has been convicted of nothing by consigning him to 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, barring him from exercising in his cell, punitively imposing "suicide watch" restrictions on him against the recommendations of brig psychiatrists, and subjecting him to prolonged, forced nudity designed to humilia…

Obama Gets Pushed Out of His Comfort Zone -- and Pushes Back

Huffington Post - The news on Sunday that State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was forced to resign for his frank comments about the treatment of Bradley Manning is sparking lots of justifiable criticism. The question is, why would the administration do something so "ridiculous, counterproductive, and stupid"?

Those are, of course, the exact words that Crowley used to describe the treatment of Manning, the Army private suspected of leaking secret government documents to WikiLeaks, now imprisoned at the Marine Brig at Quantico. Although the Pentagon and State Department have themselves acknowledged that the leaks haven't actually endangered national security, they've been treating Manning as if he's a hardened terrorist.

That's prompted some serious questioning from influential bloggers like Marcy Wheeler, who noted last week the eerie parallels between Manning's being forcibly stripped naked every night and some of the treatment of detainees such as Abu …

Saito, Japan Town, Completely Vanishes After Tsunami

Huffington Post - It's hard to believe there was ever a village here at all.

The tsunami that devastated Japan's coast rolled in through a tree-lined ocean cove and obliterated nearly everything in its path in this village of about 250 people and 70 or so houses.

Now, three days later, Saito is a moonscape of death and debris, a hellish glimpse into the phenomenal destruction caused by the killer wave that followed Japan's most powerful earthquake on record and one of the five strongest on Earth in the past 110 years. Read more.

This Shameful Abuse of Bradley Manning

Daniel Ellsberg - President Obama tells us that he's asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, "are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are."

If Obama believes that, he'll believe anything. I would hope he would know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they've been behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a press conference the same thing: "I was assured by the the White House Plumbers that their burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's doctor in Los Angeles was appropriate and met basic standards."

When that criminal behaviour ordered from the Oval Office came out, Nixon faced impeachment and had to resign. Well, times have changed. But if President Obama really doesn't yet know the actual conditions of Manning's detention – if he really believes, as he's said, that "some of this…

Undaunted! More Than 100,000 Wisconsinites Rally "To Take Our State Back!"

John Nichols - "Wow! You go away for a couple of weeks and look at what happened!" shouted state Senator Jon Erpenbach, as he surveyed a crowd that organizers estimated at well over 100,000 that had rallied to welcome home Wisconsin's dissident senators.

Erpenbach and 13 other senators fled the state Capitol in mid-February, when Governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies were using their legislative majorities to strip state, county and municipal workers and teachers of their collective bargaining rights. That move blocked a vote on the legislation for three weeks, before the Republicans finally adopted a "nuclear strategy" to force adoption of the anti-union measure.

While opponents of the bill suffered a momentary legislative defeat, they enjoyed a dramatic political victory -- as a mass movement built, attracting hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites to mass rallies in Madison and communities across the state and causing the collapse of Walker's app…

Health Gut Bacteria: Fecal transplants found to heal a variety of digestive disorders (audio link)

BBC - The idea of taking faeces from someone and transplanting it into the bowels of a loved one might sound disgusting. Medically, it might make good sense though. In fact a number of doctors have discovered that this procedure cures intestinal infections when all other treatments have failed. As Dr Mark Porter discovers, it's an illustration of the power of 'good' bacteria.

Our bowels are home to an ecosystem of billions of bacteria and other microbes. Many of these gut bugs perform vital jobs for us...read more.

Why is the United States torturing Pvt. Manning?

Ron Smith @ Baltimore Sun - Ten months after his arrest on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is systematically being stripped of his humanness by his warders at the brig inside the Marine base at Quantico, Va.

Not yet tried for — much less convicted of — crimes against the state, Private Manning is forced to endure punishment that certainly fits the definition of torture. He is being held in solitary confinement in a tiny cell 23 hours a day, allowed no exercise other than walking around dragging his ankle shackles during the 24th hour.

Every five minutes during waking hours, he must answer the question, "Are you OK?" If his hands aren't outside his blanket while sleeping, or if his head is turned toward the wall, the young soldier is awakened.

The result is that Private Manning is under more or less constant interrogation, a tactic routinely employed by the notorious NKVD, the secret police of Lenin and Stalin, on Soviet dissid…

Pay Teachers More

Nicholas Kristof @ NY Times - From the debates in Wisconsin and elsewhere about public sector unions, you might get the impression that we’re going bust because teachers are overpaid.

That’s a pernicious fallacy. A basic educational challenge is not that teachers are raking it in, but that they are underpaid. If we want to compete with other countries, and chip away at poverty across America, then we need to pay teachers more so as to attract better people into the profession.

Until a few decades ago, employment discrimination perversely strengthened our teaching force. Brilliant women became elementary school teachers, because better jobs weren’t open to them. It was profoundly unfair, but the discrimination did benefit America’s children.

These days, brilliant women become surgeons and investment bankers — and 47 percent of America’s kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers come from the bottom one-third of their college classes (as measured by SAT scores). The figure is from a study b…

Will Workers Stand with Obama Again in 2012?

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Union leaders urged Vice President Joe Biden during a White House meeting last month to go to Wisconsin and rally the faithful in their fight against Gov. Scott Walker's move to curtail collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

Request rebuffed, they asked for Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

So far, however, the White House has stayed away from any trips to Madison, the state capital, or other states in the throes of union battles. Read more.

Assault on Collective Bargaining Illegal, Says International Labor Rights Group

Jean Mirer and Marjorie Cohn @ Truthout - The International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR) sent a notice to the Wisconsin Legislature, explaining that its attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers is illegal.

Anyone who has watched the events unfolding in Wisconsin and other states that are trying to remove collective bargaining rights from public workers has heard people protesting the loss of their "rights." (For more on the record turnout, see this story.) The ICLR explained to the legislature exactly what these rights are and why trying to take them away is illegal.

The ICLR is a New York-based nongovernmental organization that coordinates a pro bono network of labor lawyers and experts throughout the world. It investigates labor rights violations and issues reports and amicus briefs on issues of labor law. Read more.

Nearly Identical Anti-Labor Bills Appear In Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Other States

Think Progress - Reporting for the progressive Maine blog Dirigo Blue, Gerald Weinand has discovered that a proposed “right to work” law in Maine mirrors similar proposals in several other states, like New Hampshire and Missouri. The legislation in Maine, LD788, sponsored by State Rep. Tom Winsor (R), would make Maine like other low-wage anti-labor states by weakening unions. Right to work laws typically allow workers to opt-out of union dues while benefiting from union contracts, a cycle that usually kills a labor union over time. But the assault on worker rights in Maine appears to be part of a larger attack coordinated by conservative front groups. Winsor’s bill contains phrases and language strikingly similar to other right to work proposals from Republicans across the country: Read more.

Japan Frantic to Avert Multiple Nuclear Meltdowns

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Japan's nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 170,000 people evacuated the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination.

Nuclear plant operators were frantically trying to keep temperatures down in a series of nuclear reactors - including one where officials feared a partial meltdown could be happening Sunday - to prevent the disaster from growing worse. Read more.

PJ Crowley resigns over Bradley Manning remarks

Guardian UK - PJ Crowley, the official spokesman at the state department, has fallen on his sword after calling the treatment of Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the WikiLeaks files, "counterproductive and stupid".

The resignation followed Crowley's remarks to an MIT seminar last week about Manning's treatment in military prison.

Crowley had said: "What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence." Read more.

Forced Out: P.J. Crowley Resigns As State Department Spokesman

Huffington Post - P.J. Crowley resigned as spokesman for the State Department Sunday. According to CNN, Crowley came under pressure from the Obama administration to step down in the wake of making controversial comments about the Pentagon's treatment of Army private Bradley Manning, who is currently detained over suspicion he was complicit in leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks.

"It is with regret that I have accepted the resignation of Philip J. Crowley as assistant secretary of state for public affairs," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement Sunday. "P.J. has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian. His service to country is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best."

Crowley issued a statement of his own on his departure Sunday Read more.

Atlantis, Lost City Swamped By Tsunami, May Be Found

Huffington Post - A U.S.-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain.

"This is the power of tsunamis," head researcher Richard Freund told Reuters.

"It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about," said Freund, a University of Hartford, Connecticut, professor who lead an international team searching for the true site of Atlantis. Read more.

In protest, Wisconson firefighters are moving money from bank that supports Gov. Walker

Huffington Post - On the day that the bill passed the Wisconsin Assembly effectively ending 50 years of collective bargaining in Wisconsin and eviscerating the ability of public unions to raise money through dues, a new front opened in the battle for the future of Wisconsin families.

Bagpipes blaring, hundreds of firefighters walked across the street from the Wisconsin Capitol building, stood outside the Marshall and Ilsley Bank (M&I Bank) and played a few tunes -- loudly. Later, a group of firefighter and consumers stopped back in at the bank to make a few transactions. One by one they closed their accounts and withdrew their life savings, totaling approximately $190,000. After the last customer left, the bank quickly closed its doors, just in case the spontaneous "Move Your Money" moment caught fire.

The sedate, old fashioned M&I Bank on the Capitol Square has gained some notoriety in recent weeks. Oddly, a tunnel in the M&I parking garage links to the capitol ba…

China cracks down on conterfiet good production

Huffington Post - Chinese authorities have arrested 3,001 people in their latest crackdown on rampant product piracy and seized fake or counterfeit medicines, liquor, mobile phones and other goods, officials said Sunday.

The campaign launched in October comes as Beijing faces pressure from the United States and other trading partners to stamp out product copying. China is a leading soure of fake goods despite repeated crackdowns, but Chinese officials have promised the latest enforcement will produce lasting results. Read more.

Tractors Roll Into Madison, As Wisconsin Readies for the Biggest Protest Yet

John Nichols @ The Nation - The numbers tell the story of Wisconsin’s resistance, and its resilience.

The tens.

The hundreds.

The thousands.

The tens of thousands.

The hundreds of thousands.

Wisconsinites from every background, every religion, every politics and every job have filled the Capitol Square for the past month.

Their message has been clear and unequivocal. They oppose Scott Walker’s assault on working families. They oppose the lawless actions of legislative leaders who are more determined to advance the governor’s political agenda than to respect their colleagues or to serve the interests of the whole state. Read more.

How the So-Called Guardians of Free Speech Are Silencing the Messenger

John Pilger @ Truthout - As the United States and Britain look for an excuse to invade another oil-rich Arab country, the hypocrisy is familiar. Colonel Gaddafi is "delusional" and "blood-drenched" while the authors of an invasion that killed a million Iraqis, who have kidnapped and tortured in our name, are entirely sane, never blood-drenched and once again the arbiters of "stability."

But something has changed. Reality is no longer what the powerful say it is. Of all the spectacular revolts across the world, the most exciting is the insurrection of knowledge sparked by WikiLeaks. This is not a new idea. In 1792, the revolutionary Tom Paine warned his readers in England that their government believed that "people must be hoodwinked and held in superstitious ignorance by some bugbear or other." Paine's "The Rights of Man" was considered such a threat to elite control that a secret grand jury was ordered to charge him with "a da…

Gov. Rick Scott Revives Law Originally Intended To Disenfranchise Blacks

Political Correction @ Media Matters - On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), along with his cabinet, reinstated a rule with major civil rights implications requiring felons to wait at least five years beyond the end of their sentence before applying to regain the right to vote. From the Palm Beach Post:

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Wednesday imposed a minimum five-year waiting period for convicted felons to apply to have their rights restored, setting up a more onerous standard than the state has used for the past three decades. Read more.

Radiation leaks from Japan's quake-hit nuclear plant (Video Link)

Chris Meyers and Kim Kyung-hoon @ Reuters - Radiation leaked from Japan's earthquake-crippled nuclear plant on Saturday after a blast blew the roof off, and authorities prepared to distribute iodine to people in the vicinity to protect them from exposure.

Smoke rises from Fukushima Daiichi 1 nuclear reactor after an explosion March 12, 2011 in this still image from video footage via Reuters TV The government insisted radiation levels were low because although the explosion severely damaged the main building of the plant, it had not affected the reactor core container.

Local media said three workers suffered radiation exposure at the plant in the wake of Friday's massive earthquake, which sent a 10-meter (33-foot) tsunami ripping through towns and cities across the northeast coast.

Kyodo news agency said more than 1,700 people were killed or missing as a result of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake...read more.

Earthquake Aftershock: Japan's nuclear plant explosion raises fears of meltdown

Huffington Post - An explosion at a nuclear power station Saturday destroyed a building housing the reactor, but a radiation leak was decreasing despite fears of a meltdown from damage caused by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, officials said.

Government spokesman Yukio Edano said the explosion destroyed the exterior walls of the building where the reactor is placed, but not the actual metal housing enveloping the reactor. Read more.

We Women Must Declare a Nonviolent Revolution

Bianca Jagger @ Huffington Post - I am calling for a non-violent revolution. A call to arms, without weapons.

On Tuesday the 8th of March, I joined Annie Lennox, Cheri Lunghi, Jude Kelly, Natasha Walter and hundreds of women on a march along London's Southbank to celebrate 100 years of International Women's Day (IWD).

It was encouraging to see so many women come together, but we should have been thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions perhaps? The first march in 1911 saw over a million women and men campaign to end discrimination against women and to demand equal rights.

Are we so complacent that we feel we do not need to demand gender equality? Many women are convinced there is equality between men and women. The fact however is that the US has never had a female president and, in the UK there has been just one female prime minister out of 52 male leaders. Shouldn't this be a wake up call to all those who think we have achieved gender equality? Read more.

In Defense of NPR

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship @ Truthout - Come on now: let's take a breath and put this National Public Radio (NPR) fracas into perspective.

Just as public radio struggles against yet another assault from its longtime nemesis - the right-wing machine that would thrill if our sole sources of information were Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and ads paid for by the Koch Brothers - it walks into a trap perpetrated by one of the sleaziest operatives ever to climb out of a sewer. Read more.

Japan Earthquake: Tsunami aftershocks (VIDEO)

8.9 Earthquake Strikes Japan: Tsunami warning issued for entire West Coast

Huffington Post - A ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan's eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it swept away boats, cars and homes while widespread fires burned out of control.

Hours later, the tsunami hit Hawaii and warnings blanketed the Pacific, putting areas on alert as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast. Read more.

Wis. lawmakers pass bill to curb union rights

MSNBC - Wisconsin's union-busting governor and fellow Republicans in the state legislature successfully pushed through a law Thursday that strips public workers of most collective bargaining rights.

That ends — for now — a three-week battle that saw all Democratic state senators flee to a neighboring state and as many as 80,000 protest at the Capitol building.

Union leaders say they plan to use the setback to galvanize members nationwide and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012. Read more.

The Day After: Death Penalty Opponents, Advocates Weigh in on Repeal

Chicagoist - The media has had time to analyze Gov. Quinn's signing of the death penalty repeal into law yesterday. Both the Tribune and the Sun-Times gave Quinn his propers for doing what they said was the right thing.The Tribune also writes that, despite Quinn's contention that signing the repeal was the "moral" thing to do, it was the question of accuracy that led to the ban.

Local states attorneys condemned Quinn's decision, holding fast to the claim that the most violent criminals will now feel free to act with impunity, despite little proof of capital punishment as a deterrent to such actions. Other prosecutors said repealing the death penalty takes away a bargaining tool they can dangle in plea bargain agreements.

Families of victims also weren't pleased with the signing. Thomas Nicarico, whose daughter Jeanine's 1983 murder and the subsequent wrongful prosecution of three men for it stood as a reason for death penalty opponents to fight for the ban,…

Radioactive Material Found in Tokyo Water

Guardian UK - The Japanese government has reported that trace amounts of radioactive iodine have been detected in tap water in Tokyo and five other areas, amid concerns about leaks from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station.

The ministry says the amounts did not exceed government safety limits, but the announcement has added to safety fears among the Japanese people. Earlier in the day, Japan banned the sale of food products from near Fukushima after finding elevated radiation levels in spinach and milk from the area's farms. Read more.

From "Morning in America" to the Nightmare on Main Street

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - Ronald Reagan's infamous "it's morning in America" slogan, used as part of his 1984 presidential campaign, paved the way for a set of market-driven policies that historians faithful to the human record will be compelled to rename twilight in America to signal a historical crisis fueled less by a spirited hope for the future than by a shocking refusal to be held accountable to and for it. The policies that informed Reagan's neoliberal agenda have given way to the intense assault now being waged by his more extremist governmental descendants on all vestiges of the democratic state. This brutal evisceration includes a rejection and devaluing of the welfare state, unions, public values, young people, public and higher education; and other political, social and economic institutions and forces in American life that provide a counterweight against the political power of mega-corporations, the rich and the powerful. Read more.

Investigation: Interpol and Julian Assange's Red Notice

Tess Lawrence @ Independent Australia - Why did Julian Assange receive an Interpol Red Notice, but Gaddafi only an Orange? Tess Lawrence investigates the murky world of Interpol exclusively for IA, asking some troubling questions and uncovering some startling facts.

Why was Julian Assange – who has not yet been charged – given the most severe Red Notice by Interpol, when brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi only received an Orange Notice?Do senior Interpol officials have a vendetta against Wikileaks and Julian Assange?Is the organisation and its Notice System fatally compromised?
What’s with the Interpol Colour Chart for the world’s most wanted? Read more.


Filapinas Choose Choice

Truthout - With approximately 97 million people crammed into a territory slightly bigger than Nevada, where 90,000 women are damaged from roughly 600,000 “back-alley” abortions yearly, a comprehensive reproductive and maternal health care and service law for the Philippines seems no more than common sense.

But this is a predominantly Catholic country, the last in the world (besides Vatican City) without even a divorce law, where the Church held absolute power during the 500 years of Spanish colonization and where Church existence began with the extermination of indigenous priestesses and absolute disenfranchisement of women.

Anything that hints at returning even a minuscule of rights to women is cause for strident debate. Read more.

America's secret plan to arm Libya's rebels

Robert Fisk @ Independent UK - Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a "day of rage" from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington's highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.

Washington's request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 and later – to America's chagrin – also funded and armed the Taliban.

But the Saudis remain the o…

Degrees and Dollars

Paul Krugman @ NY Times - It is a truth universally acknowledged that education is the key to economic success. Everyone knows that the jobs of the future will require ever higher levels of skill. That’s why, in an appearance Friday with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Obama declared that “If we want more good news on the jobs front then we’ve got to make more investments in education.”

But what everyone knows is wrong.

The day after the Obama-Bush event, The Times published an article about the growing use of software to perform legal research. Computers, it turns out, can quickly analyze millions of documents, cheaply performing a task that used to require armies of lawyers and paralegals. In this case, then, technological progress is actually reducing the demand for highly educated workers.

And legal research isn’t an isolated example. As the article points out, software has also been replacing engineers in such tasks as chip design. More broadly, the idea that modern technolo…

Under Obama, Better to Commit a War Crime Than Expose One

Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis @ Common Dreams - Bradley Manning is accused of humiliating the political establishment by revealing the complicity of top U.S. officials in carrying out and covering up war crimes. In return for his act of conscience, the U.S. government is holding him in abusive solitary confinement, humiliating him and trying to keep him behind bars for life.

The lesson is clear, and soldiers take note: You're better off committing a war crime than exposing one.

An Army intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, the 23-year-old Manning – outraged at what he saw – allegedly leaked tens of thousands of State Department cables to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. These cables show U.S. officials covering up everything from U.S. tax dollars funding child rape in Afghanistan to illegal, unauthorized bombings in Yemen. Manning is also accused of leaking video evidence of U.S. pilots gunning down more than a dozen Iraqis in Baghdad, including two journalists for Reut…

Reflections On The 100th Anniversary Of International Women's Day

Lucinda Marshall - This year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It is a time to celebrate the lives of women and to renew our commitment to women’s human rights throughout the world.An early International Women's Day event

That it is even necessary to have such a day should give us pause. There is not, after all, an International Men’s Day. But the truth is that while women may be half of the world’s population, they most assuredly are not equal stakeholders when it comes to human rights and empowerment. Read more.

The Republican Attack on Women’s Health Goes Global

Common Dreams: Michele Chen @ Colorlines - What does a congressperson from Ohio have in common with a 16 year-old sex worker in Cambodia? They’re both symbols of the perverse political stalemate in Washington, D.C., that threatens to set back the struggle for women’s equality around the world.

The year that girl was born, a conference of world leaders vowed to eliminate many of the worst forms of gender oppression. Last week, officials and civil society groups convened again at the United Nations to take stock of all the ways the international community has fallen short of its promises on women’s health, education and political and economic empowerment. And on Capitol Hill, the GOP is pushing budget cuts that would make sure the promise remains broken. Read more.

The Military Industrialist Complex from Eisenhour to Obama

The Opaque White House: Despite openness pledge, President Obama pursues leakers

Politico - The Obama administration, which famously pledged to be the most transparent in American history, is pursuing an unexpectedly aggressive legal offensive against federal workers who leak secret information to expose wrongdoing...

In just over two years since President Barack Obama took office, prosecutors have filed criminal charges in five separate cases involving unauthorized distribution of classified national security information to the media. And the government is now mulling what would be the most high-profile case of them all - prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The government insists it’s only pursuing individuals who act with reckless disregard for national security, and that it has an obligation to protect the nation’s most sensitive secrets from being revealed. Anyone seeking to expose malfeasance has ample opportunity to do so through proper channels, government lawyers say.

Still, leak prosecutions brought under Obama amount to “almost twice as many as al…

Vietnam enters a new age of urban sustainability

Architects + Artisans - On 460 acres in Danang, Skidmore Owings & Merrill is now developing its second master plan for Vietnam, following up on a successful Green Tech City in Hanoi.

FTP City, named for the technology company of the same name, is to be home to 30,000 employees, residents and students. At its heart of the sustainable, high-tech development is a 40-acre university campus, which is linked to a business district. Read more.

Michael Moore: "America is not Broke"

"America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and
cash. It's just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the
greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks
and the portfolios of the uber-rich ... The only thing that's broke is the
moral compass of the rulers. And we aim to fix that compass and
steer the ship ourselves from now on." – Michael Moore
in Madison, Wisconsin on March 5, 2011

The Bush Obama Oligarcy Cracks: Wisconsin and the End of the New Gilded Age

The Editors of Esquire Magazine - Usually, unless you happen to be one of the fifty-odd people with whom David Brooks customarily eats dinner, throws back a few, or gobbles the free snacks in Jim Lehrer's greenroom, reading one of his columns from the position of a normal, everyday, wage-earning human being gives you the inescapable feeling of being a bug, looking, upwards and backwards through the magnifying glass, at a giant eyeball. No columnist is as obviously convinced that everybody on earth is a specimen in his jar. No columnist is as utterly contemptuous of his fellow Americans if they don't stay pinned right there on the card where they belong. His self-importance is that of a two-bit grifter, looking to sponge the loose change somebody might have left as a tip at Applebee's.

We had something of a masterpiece of the form this week when Brooks bestirred himself to write about the current goings-on in Wisconsin, where they elected an undereducated county commissioner…

Julian Assange: At the Forefront of Twenty-First Century Journalism

Truthout - If there were ever a doubt about whether the editor in chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is a journalist, recent events erase all those doubts and put him at the forefront of a movement to democratize journalism and empower people.

The US Department of Justice is still trying to find a way to prosecute Assange and others associated with WikiLeaks. A key to their prosecution is claiming he is not a journalist, but that weak premise has been made laughable by recent events.

The list of WikiLeaks revelations has become astounding. During the North African and Middle East revolts, WikiLeaks published documents that provided people with critical information. The traditional media has relied on WikiLeaks publications, and is now also emulating WikiLeaks. Read more.

Pvt Manning: Is Army Aping Mafia?

Ray McGovern @ Common Dreams - Is the U.S. Army acting like the Mafia in seeking to imprison 23-year-old Private Bradley Manning for the rest of his life? Is the primary aim of the abuse being dished out to Manning that of deterring other U.S. soldiers who might be tempted to put conscience, compassion, and commitment to truth ahead of going by the book regarding classification restrictions?

If the Mafia comparison strikes you as a tad over the top, perhaps a seven-year trip down memory lane may prove instructive. Remember what happened after the U.S. Army learned of the obscene and brutal treatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in early 2004?

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba led the first (and only honest) investigation of the scandal. In May 2004, he completed a report that sharply criticized the Army and the higher-ups in the Bush administration for creating the conditions that permitted the mistreatment to occur.

When the report leaked to the press, Taguba found himself treated lik…

Matt Damon Calls Out President Obama, Education Policy

Huffington Post - This is not the man he voted for.

Matt Damon sat down with Piers Morgan for an interview that will air Thursday night, and among other things, talked about his feelings on the first two years of President Obama's administration. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Damon was a vocal Obama supporter, campaigning for the then-candidate at rallies, promoting him through a MoveOn video contest and attending fundraisers for him.

Now, he's not so enthused about Obama. When asked if he was happy with the way the President is running the country, Damon said, point blank, "no." Read more.

Why the Jewish Right Is Terrified by J Street's Conference

Huffington Post - J Street, the political arm of the American Jewish pro-Israel, pro-peace movement, will convene its second national conference on Saturday night. There will be an enormous turnout. An organizer told me that about 2100 people are pre-registered (at their last conference, only 850 people were pre-registered but 1500 people showed up). There will be about 500 students from 100 campuses.

Why are all of these people converging? There are many reasons. They are desperate to find hope in what often seems like a hopeless mess in Israel and the territories. They want answers to troubling questions, like, "Is the 2-state solution dead?" and "What, in God's name, can the U.S. do to help?" They want community. They want inspiration. They crave ideas for mobilizing somnolent American Jews and cowardly U.S. politicians. I'm going, and I want all of those things.

This won't be quite as large as AIPAC's legendary policy conferences, but AIPAC has ha…

Michael Moore: 'Corporations Have Taken Over Our Country"

John Nichols @ The Nation - Filmmaker Michael Moore will march with members of Madison Firefighters Local 311 to the Wisconsin Capitol today and join a mass rally at the King Street entrance around 2 p.m.

Moore, a long-time supporter of labor rights, is the director and producer of Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, and Capitalism: A Love Story, four of the top nine highest-grossing documentaries of all time. His breakthrough film, Roger & Me, chronicled the deindustrialization of his his hometown of Flint, Michigan, along with the struggles of blue-collar workers. Read more.

Daniel Ellsberg: "Bradley Manning Is Acting in the Interest of the United States"

"There's a campaign here against whistleblowing that's actually unprecedented in legal terms"

- Daniel Ellsberg


Truthout - The US Army on Wednesday brought 22 new charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking classified military and government documents to whistleblower web site WikiLeaks. Manning was arrested in May 2010 for transferring classified data onto his personal computer and disclosing classified information concerning the national defense.

The new charges include one count of "aiding the enemy," a capital offense that is punishable by execution, although Manning's prosecutors have said they will likely seek life imprisonment without parole rather than the death penalty. Manning previously faced 52 years in prison. Read more.

Facebook To Share Users' Home Addresses, Phone Numbers With External Sites

Huffington Post - Facebook will be moving forward with a controversial plan to give third-party developers and external websites the ability to access users' home addresses and cellphone numbers in the face of criticism from privacy experts, users, and even congressmen.

Facebook quietly announced the new policy in a note posted to its Developer Blog in January. It suspended the feature just three days later following user outcry, while promising that it would be "re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks." Read more.