Truthout - The dirty secret of the jobless recovery.
On a bright spring day in a wisteria-bedecked courtyard full of earnest, if half-drunk, conference attendees, we were commiserating with a fellow journalist about all the jobs we knew of that were going unfilled, being absorbed or handled "on the side." It was tough for all concerned, but necessary—you know, doing more with less.
Foreign Policy In Focus - The Obama administration appears to have given a green light to an Israeli attack on an unarmed flotilla carrying peace and human rights activists — including a vessel with 50 Americans on board — bound for the besieged Gaza Strip. At a press conference on June 24, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the flotilla organized by the Free Gaza Campaign by saying it would "provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves." Clinton did not explain why a country had “the right to defend themselves” against ships which are clearly no threat. Read more.
Common Dreams - Oklahoma is facing its worst drought since the Dust Bowl. A historic drought is also gripping Texas and surrounding southern states. Floods have ravaged America’s heartland, and we’re discovering unsustainable levels of soil erosion in Corn Belt states. On a larger scale, we see an alarming loss of crop and livestock biodiversity, a decline of bees and other pollinators, and expanding ocean dead-zones. Now more than ever, our nation should promote agricultural conservation measures and sustainable farming systems.
But Congress is threatening once again to slash the only programs that support farmers who protect our water, soil, and the biodiversity on which our nation’s productivity depends. Read more.
Mirror UK - THOUSANDS of furious workers are staging a mass walkout today to fight Government plans to savage their pensions.
The strikes by around 750,000 teachers and civil servants will be the biggest day of industrial action since Margaret Thatcher was PM in the 1980s.
Hard-pressed staff have already been hit by savage Coalition cutbacks and are incensed over proposals to hammer their pensions.
Thousands of schools in England and Wales will be closed today while ports and airports will be disrupted. Driving centres, courts, job centres and even Downing Street will also be affected. Read more.
CNN - An organizer of the Gaza flotilla said Thursday that one of its ships has been sabotaged while anchored in Turkey's territorial waters.
The propeller of the Irish ship Saoirse was damaged by what one organizer says is plastic explosives, the second ship to be damaged this week ahead of a flotilla that intends to challenge Israel's maritime blockage of the Gaza strip. Read more.
In These Times - Joseph Reynolds knew that he owned land on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, but he didn’t know exactly where. Reynolds, who inherited the land from his grandparents, believed as many as 1,000 acres were waiting for him to build a life on. In 1971, when he moved back to South Dakota from California, the then-23-year-old contacted the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). They sent him a 12-page document detailing his inheritance.
Reynolds visited the reservation’s BIA office and asked if officials would show him what he owned. One man told him: “I’ll take you out there. And that baseball cap you’re wearing—you can just throw it in the air and wherever it lands, that can be the land you own.” Read more.
PBS - Stanley Nelson, recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship, is an award-winning filmmaker best known for his groundbreaking historical documentaries that illuminate critical but overlooked history. Nelson's work for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE includes Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind and The Murder of Emmett Till. Nelson has been honored with the Sundance Special Jury Prize, Peabody Award, Primetime Emmy, and an IDA Award. Read more.
Sharif Abdel Kouddous @ The Nation - Over 1,000 people were injured on Wednesday after Egyptian security forces responded to protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square with tear gas and rubber bullets. The crackdown began on Tuesday night after police reportedly beat and arrested family members of those killed during the eighteen-day uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, at an event commemorating martyrs of the revolution. On Sunday, the family members had erupted in angry protest and hurled rocks at police vehicles after a judge in Cairo again postponed the trial of former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides. Read more.
Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - This American life of ours has long been pro-violence and anti-sex, unless the two can be merged so that violence is the dominant theme. The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that historical record on Monday in declaring California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors unconstitutional while continuing to deny constitutional protection to purely prurient sexual material for either minors or adults.
The California law that the court struck down prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to minors “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,” unless the work, taken as a whole, possessed redeeming literary, artistic or social value—qualities that limit censorship of sexually “obscene” material. Read more.
Other Words - In college, I considered my Apple laptop a faithful, effective, and occasionally even fun machine. A year past graduation, this constant companion to late nights spent studying, working, or wasting time has aged into a decrepit device. Like the old Windows hourglass, its colorful pinwheel cursor consistently heralds interminable delays.
Similarly, my prehistoric mobile phone frequently freezes, drops calls, or prematurely runs out of battery power. Even in those treasured moments when it operates at capacity, it lacks the touch screen, email, and Internet capabilities today's savvy consumers supposedly demand. By all indications, I'm ripe for an upgrade to a new MacBook, iPhone, or iPad. Read more.
Common Dreams - The global obesity/diabetes epidemic is receiving wide spread attention like the June 26, article in the Washington Post by David Brown. One fourth of our national health care bill of $2.3 trillion is linked to the treatment of diabetes and its complications. Average American life expectancy is now dropping because of this disease complex. Even children are being recommended for gastric bypass. Read more.
Psychology Today - American women and men alike are stunned when I tell them that Canada in a matter of weeks decided to incorporate a provision banning sex discrimination into their equivalent of our Bill of Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Responding to their curiosity about how that had happened in 1981, when in 2011 the U.S. is still far from passing decades-old proposals for an Equal Rights Amendment, I speak from what I learned living in Toronto for nearly 20 years: In the U.S., the emphasis among citizens, legislators, and the courts tends to be on rights, but in Canada that emphasis is paired with one on fairness.
As a result, when plaintiffs in a case about discrimination are able to demonstrate a clear pattern of bias based on sex, race, or other group membership, the average American is more likely than the average Canadian to worry about the loss of privilege of the group that has historically had the upper hand. Read more.
Reuters @ Common Dreams - When President Barack Obama cited cost as a reason to bring troops home from Afghanistan, he referred to a $1 trillion price tag for America's wars.
Staggering as it is, that figure grossly underestimates the total cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the U.S. Treasury and ignores more imposing costs yet to come, according to a study released on Wednesday.
The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, according to the research project "Costs of War" by Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. Read more.
Alabama.com - Isabel Rubio, executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, said she hoped a federal judge's decision to temporarily block parts of Georgia's strict new law targeting illegal immigration foreshadows such a move by a judge when Alabama's immigration law is challenged in federal court.
"We feel the decision in Georgia is a good decision. We hope to have similar results in Alabama," Rubio said. Read more.
Truthout - Mr. President, this is a pivotal moment in the history of our country. In the coming days and weeks, decisions will be made about our national budget that will impact the lives of virtually every American in this country for decades to come.
At a time when the richest people and the largest corporations in our country are doing phenomenally well, and, in many cases, have never had it so good, while the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing, it is absolutely imperative that a deficit reduction package not include the disastrous cuts in programs for working families, the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor that the Republicans in Congress, dominated by the extreme right wing, are demanding. Read more.
Leslie Thatcher @ Truthout - In a recent briefing with a small group of reporters and activists in Minneapolis, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) discussed the relentless right-wing attacks on Social Security and the need for a concerted strategy to counter them.
According to Senator Whitehouse, any and all the proposals that would undermine the program should be vigorously opposed and debated now before the Biden Group releases its July 1 report, expected to offer a trillion dollars in cuts. The senator was clear that a key GOP goal in the ongoing budget/public deficit negotiations is for Democrats to become complicit in weakening the program and so be vulnerable to attack on hugely popular Social Security. It is crucial, he argued, that there be not the single slightest crack in the Democratic dike containing attacks against the system. Read more.
NY Times - The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants on Monday for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and his chief of intelligence, Abdullah Senussi, on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution, stemming from the first two weeks of the uprising in Libya that led to a NATO bombing campaign. Read more.
Salon - I've always felt conflicted about the idea of "gay pride." The standard definition of pride is "a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements."
Being gay is something else. I didn't "become" a lesbian; it's not some goal that I achieved. I've known I was attracted to other women since the moment I hit puberty. The only difference, compared to the experience of my heterosexual peers, was that I found myself as the one girl who liked other girls when every girl I knew liked boys. This made me question my feelings and led to years of confusion because, like every adolescent, I wanted to be like everyone else. But I never did anything to become a lesbian. I just always was. Read more.
Patrick Cockburn @ Independent UK - In the first months of the Arab Spring, foreign journalists got well-merited credit for helping to foment and publicise popular uprisings against the region's despots. Satellite TV stations such as Al Jazeera Arabic, in particular, struck at the roots of power in Arab police states, by making official censorship irrelevant and by competing successfully against government propaganda. Read more.
Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - A co-founder of the right-wing blog RedState (and former Bush speechwriter) created a mini-controversy over the weekend when he issued a sociopathic endorsement of Israel's possible shooting of his fellow unarmed citizens on a flotilla currently sailing to Gaza; that flotilla is trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gazans and protest the ongoing Israeli blockade: Read more.
Associated Press @ Common Dreams - As America's nuclear power plants have aged, the once-rural areas around them have become far more crowded and much more difficult to evacuate. Yet government and industry have paid little heed, even as plants are running at higher power and posing more danger in the event of an accident, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Populations around the facilities have swelled as much as 4 1/2 times since 1980, a computer-assisted population analysis shows. Read more.
Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Missouri River floodwater seeped into the turbine building at a nuclear power plant near Omaha on Monday, but plant officials said the seepage was expected and posed no safety risk because the building contains no nuclear material.
An 8-foot-tall, water-filled temporary berm protecting the plant collapsed early Sunday. Vendor workers were at the plant Monday to determine whether the 2,000 foot berm can be repaired. Read more.
Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - I visited the Hartford Courant as a high school student. It was the first time I was in a newsroom. The Connecticut paper’s newsroom, the size of a city block, was packed with rows of metal desks, most piled high with newspapers and notebooks. Reporters banged furiously on heavy typewriters set amid tangled phone cords, overflowing ashtrays, dirty coffee mugs and stacks of paper, many of which were in sloping piles on the floor. The din and clamor, the incessantly ringing phones, the haze of cigarette and cigar smoke that lay over the feverish hive, the hoarse shouts, the bustle and movement of reporters, most in disheveled coats and ties, made it seem an exotic, living organism. I was infatuated. I dreamed of entering this fraternity, which I eventually did, for more than two decades writing for The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and, finally, The New York Times, where I spent most of my career as a foreign correspond…
Truthout - Even as he sits in a Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, jail, Bradley Manning was not forgotten at LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pride parades across the country this past month, when supporters marched in his honor. Read more.
Truthout - America’s wars are forcing Afghans and Iraqis to flee their homes in greater numbers. According to a recent U.N. High Commission for Refugees study, nearly one half of the world’s refugees are from Afghanistan and Iraq, 3.05 million and 1.68 million, respectively. Read more.
LA Times - New York's Andrew Cuomo may be a freshman governor, but he's no rookie.
For 12 years, during his father's two terms in the governor's mansion, and as attorney general, Cuomo had an up-close look at how Albany works — and its famously gross dysfunction. By all assessments, he drew on that experience to have a productive first legislative session, capped by passage of a same-sex marriage bill while the whole country was watching. Read more.
CBS - Thanks to Saturday's historic vote in the New York state senate, same-sex marriage is now legal in six states, but the battle to extend it to all American citizens will still be long and difficult. The fight over gay marriage will be played out in both America's courts as well as its political chambers, as politicians have for years used it as fodder to rally support one way or another.
It's been a tricky issue for President Barack Obama, who has largely tiptoed around it, all while openly courting the backing of the gay and lesbian community. Read more.
Inter Presse Service - They have taken over a strip of the sidewalk at Park Place and Broadway, handing out flyers to passersby and taping posters to the ground and to the metal crossbars of the scaffolding that shelters them from the rain.
They sleep here too, on the sidewalk, and hold assembly meetings twice daily for people to raise concerns and plan events. Their bottom line: no budget cuts.
Calling their takeover and sleep-in Bloombergville - an allusion to the infamous shanty towns known as Hoovervilles that sprung up during the Great Depression - they are New Yorkers Against the Budget Cuts (NYABC), a coalition of different groups and individuals united by their opposition to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget for next year and their determination to press the City Council not to adopt it. Read more.
BBC - Of the 200,000 paintings that belong to the nation and are owned by British taxpayers, most are in storage, or on walls few can see. London's public collections are no exception, but now a new online gallery will throw open the vaults so at least digital versions can be seen.
There are works by firefighters and by established masters. By local landscape lovers and by painters commissioned to record a prominent person or a particular profession.
Many of these publicly owned paintings are in well known galleries and museums, but many are in offices, town halls and even schools. Read more.
Robert Naiman @ Common Dreams - In many arenas of human endeavor, there is no plausible way to convince someone through abstract argument that an endeavor that appears to be incredibly difficult is nonetheless not impossible. There's nothing for it but to create an example.
Efforts to get Members of Congress to do anything related in any way to the basic human rights of Palestinians that is not slavishly pro-Likud is a prime example of this phenomenon. Many are convinced - not without evidence that makes their position seductive - that it is an immutable law of the universe that all Members of Congress must always express fealty to right-wing views on this topic.
Well, now we have a counterexample. Six Members of Congress have written to Secretary of State Clinton, urging her to do "everything in her power" to work to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope. Read more.
Agence France Presse @ Common Dreams - Spain's "indignant" activists began their last and longest protest march on Saturday, leaving from the northeastern city of Barcelona to cover 650 kilometres on their way to a major Madrid rally on July 24.
Two other marches set off earlier this week, from Valencia in the east on Monday and Cadiz in the south on Thursday, spreading the message of their anger at unemployment, welfare cuts and corruption. Read more.
Independent UK - The report that the ocean is in trouble is no surprise. What is shocking is that it has taken so long for us to make the connection between the state of the ocean and everything we care about – the economy, health, security – and the existence of life itself.
If the ocean is in trouble – and it is – we are in trouble. Charles Clover pointed this out in The End of the Line, and Callum Roberts provided detailed documentation of the collapse of ocean wildlife – and the consequences – in The Unnatural History of the Sea. Read more.
Abby Zimet @ Common Dreams - Consider Paul Allen, 55, a former mortgage CEO who defrauded lenders of over $3 billion. This week, prosecutors celebrated the fact they got him a 40-month prison sentence. Consider Roy Brown, 54, a hungry homeless man who robbed a Louisiana bank of $100 - the teller gave him more but he handed the rest back. He felt bad the next day and surrendered to police. He got 15 years. Read more.
NPR - Barely 40 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.
But North Carolina wasn't alone: More than half of states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, some of which persisted into the 1970s.
North Carolina is now considering compensating its sterilization victims. A state panel heard from some of them Wednesday. They were mostly poor and uneducated — both black and white — and often just girls when it happened. Read more.
Independent UK - Human rights organisations have cast doubt on claims of mass rape and other abuses perpetrated by forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, which have been widely used to justify Nato's war in Libya.
Nato leaders, opposition groups and the media have produced a stream of stories since the start of the insurrection on 15 February, claiming the Gaddafi regime has ordered mass rapes, used foreign mercenaries and employed helicopters against civilian protesters.
An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for these human rights violations and in many cases has discredited or cast doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence. Read more.
Kevin G. Hall for McClatchy Newspapers @ Truthout - Oil prices dropped sharply Thursday on news that the U.S. and Europe will sell 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves over the next 30 days, a move experts called an important policy shift that should help restrain volatile energy prices. Oil prices for month-ahead delivery fell by $4.39 a barrel, or almost 5 percent, to settle at $91.02 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Read more.
Truthout - Jury selection began June 22 in what observers have called the most important trial New Orleans has seen in a generation. It concerns a shocking case of police brutality that has already redefined this city's relationship to its police department, and radically rewritten the official narrative of what happened in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina. Five police officers are facing charges of shooting unarmed African-Americans in cold blood, killing two and wounding four, and then conspiring to hide evidence. Five officers who participated in the conspiracy have already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against their fellow officers. Read more.
PR Watch - While the U.S. media has been occupied with Anthony Weiner, the Republican presidential candidates and Bristol Palin's memoir, coverage of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has practially fallen off the map. Poor mainstream media coverage of Japan's now months-long struggle to gain control over the Fukushima disaster has deprived Americans of crucial information about the risks of nuclear power following natural disasters. After a few weeks of covering the early aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. media moved on, leaving behind the crisis at Fukushima which continues to unfold. U.S. politicians, like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, have made disappointing and misleading statements about the relative safety of nuclear power and have vowed to stick by our nuclear program, while other countries, like Germany and Italy, have taken serious steps to address the obvious risks of nuclear power -- risks that the Fukushima disaster mad…
Isabel MacDonald @ Colorlines - “I love my house,” exclaimed Ander, whose apartment is part of an affordable housing complex known as Village de la Renaissance, overlooking the expo site Clinton visited last Wednesday, alongside Haiti’s newly inaugurated president Michel Martelly.
“I’m very, very happy,” added the resident of Port-au-Prince’s Zoranger region with a laugh, in an interview in the comfortable living room of her two-bedroom apartment.
According to Daniel Fauresmy, an engineer working with the housing expo, Ander’s building is resistant to both the earthquakes and hurricanes that have devastated Haiti in recent years. The concrete building is also constructed with supplies manufactured in Haiti, something that Fauresmy emphasizes is important, as the “best solution is to work with local materials.”
However, Village de la Renaissance, which was built in 2003 by the government of former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, and aborted when he was ousted in a U.S.-backed…
Johann Hari @ Independent UK - In the 20th century, all the nightmare-novels of the future imagined that books would be burnt. In the 21st century, our dystopias imagine a world where books are forgotten. To pluck just one, Gary Steynghart's novel Super Sad True Love Story describes a world where everybody is obsessed with their electronic Apparat – an even more omnivorous i-Phone with a flickering stream of shopping and reality shows and porn – and have somehow come to believe that the few remaining unread paper books let off a rank smell. The book on the book, it suggests, is closing. Read more.
Mathew Rothschild - The Progressive - Our war president promised more war. While he trumpeted his big Afghanistan speech as the first step in ending that war, Barack Obama essentially told the American people that tens of thousands of our soldiers would still be fighting there for at least three more years.
A year from now, Obama said all the additional “surge” troops will be back home. But the U.S. will still have close to 70,000 troops in Afghanistan, twice the number that were there when Obama took office.
Only “by 2014,” he said, will the Afghan people “be responsible for their own security.” Read more.
Linh Dinh - When Obama came into power, there were roughly 35,000 American troops in Afghanistan. Within two years, he tripled that number. Now, Obama announces that 10,000 soldiers will come home by the end of 2011, and 33,000 by the end of next summer. He surges twice, pulls back once, and declares it a successful withdrawal, as promised. I’m sure glad Obama’s not my accountant, or both of us would be arrested for fraud, but wait a sec, Obama is my accountant, and my banker, and my president. Read more.
Bill Quigley @ Common Dreams - Haiti experienced a major earthquake January 12, 2010. Tens of thousands died, estimates range from 65,000 to 230,000 people killed. About 2 million more people were displaced. Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with a per capita income of about $2 a day. Seventeen months later, Haiti remains deeply wounded. The numbers below give an indication of some of the challenges that remain for the Haitian people. Read more.
The Progressive - The FBI should not be given more power to spy on dissenters in America. In fact, it should not have that power at all.
Once upon a time, the FBI could investigate a person or organization only when the agency had reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. This crucial requirement came about after the revelations of massive FBI abuse in the 1960s and early 1970s.
In 1976, Sen. Frank Church of Idaho held hearings on FBI wrongdoing. The Church Committee’s findings shed crucial light. Read more.
"Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do"
- Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout - For the sake of full disclosure, I will tell you that I do not like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In my opinion, he has no business sitting on the high court after the reprehensible treatment he forced Anita Hill to endure, and has been a disgrace to the bench lo these last twenty years. Anthony Weiner, one of Clarence Thomas' most ardent critics, was just run out of Washington DC on a rail for behavior far less offensive; Mr. Thomas is lucky there was no such thing as Twitter when he was sexually harassing Hill, or he'd be chasing ambulances outside of muni court like the hack he is. He sits up there like a lump, never speaking or offering questions to petitioners, and has not had an original thought since his shameful Senate approval. Read more.
by Naomi Klein, Wendell Berry, Maude Barlow, Bill McKibben and Others
This will be a slightly longer letter than common for the internet age—it’s serious stuff.
The short version is we want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested.
The full version goes like this:
As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth. Read more.
The Final Call - The war on drugs has failed and international policymakers need to implement reforms now, urged a commission of world leaders during a June 2 press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy outlined its declaration in a report, “War on Drugs.”The decades-old effort has costs taxpayers' millions of dollars, fueled organized crime, stigmatized and criminalized drug users, and cost thousands of lives, the commission concluded.
“Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President (Richard) Nixon launched the US government's global war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, chair of the commission and former president of Brazil. Read more.
New American Media - Ethnic Americans—whether black, Hispanic, Asian or members of other groups— face different and usually more serious health risks than our majority-group compatriots. We face higher rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as greater difficulty in accessing the US healthcare system to get needed technology and medicines.
Although healthcare disparities often result in higher disease rates and lower life expectancies for ethnic groups, you and your family do not have to fall victim to an imperfect healthcare system.
Patients can help level the playing field when they partner with their doctor to take responsibility for their health. The savvy patient— that's you— knows that finding an expert doctor you trust is the first step to evening the odds. Read more.
James Russel @ Truthout - Peace activists won a major victory on Monday, June 20, when the US Conference of Mayors voted to adopt two resolutions that call for a drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the abolition of nuclear weapons. Both resolutions also demand the reprioritization of defense spending, including the $126 billion spent each year in Iraq and Afghanistan, toward the needs of municipalities.
The group, which represents mayors of municipalities with 30,000 or more residents, has not passed such a resolution in 40 years. Read more.
Truthout - The military is the nation's largest and most firmly entrenched entitlement program, one that takes half of every tax dollar. Even if "national security" is considered our No. 1 priority (a dubious choice when the real unemployment rate is over 16 percent), estimates are that the military budget could be cut in half or more and we would still have the most powerful military machine in the world. Our enemies (if any) are now "terrorists," not countries; and what is needed to contain them (if anything) is local policing, not global warfare. Much of our military hardware is just good for "shock and awe," not needed for any "real and present danger."
Military spending is the very essence of "built-in obsolescence": it turns out products that are designed to blow up. Read more.
Jonathan Schell for Tom Dispatch @ Truthout - The Obama administration has come up with a remarkable justification for going to war against Libya without the congressional approval required by the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
American planes are taking off, they are entering Libyan air space, they are locating targets, they are dropping bombs, and the bombs are killing and injuring people and destroying things. It is war. Some say it is a good war and some say it is a bad war, but surely it is a war.
Nonetheless, the Obama administration insists it is not a war. Why? Read more.
McClatchy Newspapers - The Florida Education Associate announced today it has filed a class action lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and other trustess of the state retirement plan for unconstitutionally imposing a 3 percent pay cut on teachers to balance the budget.
The lawsuit was filed in Leon County Circuit Court on behalf of 11 workers from across the state, including two nurses and a social worker in Miami Dade County, a custodian in Madison County, and a social studies teacher in Hillsborough County. The Police Benevolent Association, the largest union of law enforcement in the state, also joined the lawsuit. The workers are asking the court to sequester the more than $1 billion the state saves from reducing teacher pay 3 percent and ending the cost of living increase on their retirement benefits while the case moves through the judicial system. Read more.
Anette Fuentes @ Truthout - The following excerpt is chapter five, "The War on Drugs Goes to School," from the recently published book, "Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse," by Author Annette Fuentes.
Chris Steffner strode to the front of the packed audience, shunning the podium to deliver her sermon Oprah-style with a wireless mic transmitting the Word loud and clear. The pert, petite blonde is principal of Colts Neck High School in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and a true believer in the national movement to randomly drug-test students in order to save them from themselves and the perceived epidemic of youth drug and alcohol abuse. Steffner was among nine presenters at this, the second Regional Drug Testing Summit of 2007, organized by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and held at the Hilton Hotel near Newark International Airport on February 27.
I’m not here to tell you, ‘You should drug-test your kids.’ That’s your d…
Propublica - President Obama is facing a swell of bipartisan criticism for continuing military engagement in Libya without congressional approval. Even supporters of the Libya intervention have complained that the administration is flouting the law.
So, is it?
Well, the president is certainly sidestepping the controversial law known as the War Powers Act, but in doing so he’s following a well-worn path. Read more.
Slate Magazine - In the past, Democratic candidates have flocked to this convention to meet potential staffers and donors. There are fewer now. The only one I see in person is Norman Solomon, the left-wing author who's now running for Congress if and when Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California retires.
"I'm running against an establishment, Obama Democrat," says Solomon.
His campaign literature points out that he was an Obama delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
"I was," he says. "And I disagree with much of what he's done." Read more
McClatchy News - Facing growing opposition on Capitol Hill, the White House insisted Wednesday that it's within its legal rights to wage war in Libya without explicit authorization from Congress, essentially because no American lives are at risk.
The administration argued that its limited role in the allied air campaign against Libya means it's not really the kind of escalating war that would require approval from Congress or an end to fighting after 60 days under the War Powers Resolution, passed in 1973 in response to the Vietnam War.
Even before the White House could sent its arguments to Capitol Hill, 10 members of the House of Representatives — conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats — filed suit in U.S. District Court Wednesday challenging President Barack Obama's right to wage the war, even if in a supporting role. Read more.
David Sirota @ Truthout - In a breathless story somehow presented as a groundbreaking revelation, The New York Times recently reported that the Pentagon is -- shocker! -- using all sorts of media channels to market itself to the nation's children. Though the Times presents this as a brand-new development, it is nothing of the sort. The armed forces have spent the last three decades carefully constructing a child-focused Military-Entertainment Complex, which has long had the Pentagon subsidizing everything from video games to movies -- most of which glorify militarism to kids.
That said, the Times piece did include one important (if buried) piece of genuine news. Read more.
Truthout - "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming," is the Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week.
Ben Santer is the kind of guy you could never imagine anyone attacking. He’s thoroughly moderate—of moderate height and build, of moderate temperament, of moderate political persuasions. He is also very modest—soft-spoken, almost self-effacing—and from the small size and non-existent décor of his office at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, you might think he was an accountant. If you met him in a room with a lot of other people, you might not even notice him. Read more.
Al Jazeera - "Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.
Japan's 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.
Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed. Read more.
Truthout - Chief District Judge James Ware threw out a motion on Tuesday filed by conservative activists alleging that his predecessor, Judge Vaughn Walker, who overturned California's same-sex marriage ban last year, should have recused himself from the case because he is in a long-term relationship with another man.
"You can't simply assume that a judge who takes an oath to uphold the law and judge fairly is incapable of doing so," Ware said during hearing. Read more.
NY Times - The Wisconsin Supreme Court cleared the way on Tuesday for significant cuts to collective bargaining rights for public workers in the state, undoing a lower court’s decision that Wisconsin’s controversial law had been passed improperly. Read more.
Al Jazeera - Afghanistan has been ranked as the world's most dangerous country for women, with Congo taking a close second position, a Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll has said.
Violence, dismal healthcare and brutal poverty afflicts women in Afghanistan, while in Congo there are horrific levels of rape, the survey conducted by TrustLaw, an arm of Thomson Reuters, said on Wednesday.
Pakistan, India and Somalia ranked third, fourth and fifth...read more.
Reuters - Stone-throwing Greeks clashed with police and tens of thousands of protesters marched on parliament on Wednesday to oppose government efforts to pass new austerity measures for the debt-stricken euro zone state.
Unions representing half the 5-million-strong workforce also launched a nationwide strike, shutting government offices, ports, schools and reducing hospitals to skeleton staff. Read more.
Guardian UK - American officials admit that although Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, recently said Washington did not want any "permanent" bases in Afghanistan, her phrasing allows a variety of possible arrangements.
"There are US troops in various countries for some considerable lengths of time which are not there permanently," a US official told the Guardian.
British troops, Nato officials say, will also remain in Afghanistan long past the end of 2014, largely in training or mentoring roles. Read more.
Robert Reich - Today the President met with business leaders on his “jobs and competitiveness council,” who suggested more public-private partnerships to train workers, less government red-tape in obtaining permits, and more jobs in travel and tourism, among other things. The President then toured a manufacturing plant in North Carolina, and made an eloquent speech about the need for more jobs.
Doesn’t the White House get it? The President has to have a bold jobs plan, with specifics. Read more.
Art Levine @ Truthout - It's been less than two weeks since a guerilla campaign by local activists managed to restore about 20 percent of $131 million in budget cuts targeting Washington, DC's, neediest residents - with little help from the mainstream media, which essentially ignored a looming shutdown of the city's shelter, poor and disabled aid services that could have thrown thousands into the street. The city's reluctant Democratic leadership only bowed at the last minute to under-the-radar pressure to reverse some of the most obvious, draconian cuts with $27 million in restorations, especially services to the homeless. Read more.
Sidney Morning Herald - This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled funding for reconstruction in postwar Iraq.
But despite years of investigations, US defense officials still cannot say what happened to $US6.6 billion ($6.3 billion/Australian) of the cash. Federal auditors are now suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error.
After the US-led invasion in March 2003, the Bush administration flooded Iraq with so much cash that a new unit of measurement was born. Read more.
Daniel Ellsberg @ Guardian UK - While we go on waging unwinnable wars on false premises, the Pentagon papers tell us we must not wait 40 years for the truth
The declassification and online release Monday of the full original version of the Pentagon Papers – the 7,000-page top secret Pentagon study of US decision-making in Vietnam 1945-67 – comes 40 years after I gave it to 19 newspapers and to Senator Mike Gravel (minus volumes on negotiations, which I had given only to the Senate foreign relations committee). Gravel entered what I had given him in the congressional record and later published nearly all of it with Beacon Press. Together with the newspaper coverage and a government printing office (GPO) edition that was heavily redacted but overlapped the Senator Gravel edition, most of the material has been available to the public and scholars since 1971. (The negotiation volumes were declassified some years ago; the Senate, if not the Pentagon, should have released them no later than…
NY Times - A few weeks before announcing his re-election campaign, President Obama convened two dozen Wall Street executives, many of them longtime donors, in the White House’s Blue Room.
The guests were asked for their thoughts on how to speed the economic recovery, then the president opened the floor for over an hour on hot issues like hedge fund regulation and the deficit.
Mr. Obama, who enraged many financial industry executives a year and a half ago by labeling them “fat cats” and criticizing their bonuses, followed up the meeting with phone calls to those who could not attend. Read more.
Sharable.net - In the wake of the financial crisis that the U.S. is still clawing its way out of, a handful of ideas have begun to surface that might actually shore up our still-floundering economy and, potentially, avert future devastation. (No, not the eminently gutless Dodd-Frank bill.) Rather, public banks — also known as state banks or partnership banks — provide a path for the people to harness some economic power of their own in order to build a broad-based, ground-level prosperity which is rooted in their community.
John David, of the Public Banking Institute, recently outlined the basic public banking model for Shareable in great and accessible detail. As evidence of the almost 100 years of success of the Bank of North Dakota (BND), David writes, “Currently, North Dakota ― in part due to the BND’s beneficent influence ― has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation (just over 4%), has no debt to service, has a $1.1 billion surplus, has experienced no bank failures in the sta…
Der Spiegel - For weeks, hundreds of young people have been camping out in central Madrid. And others across Europe have now begun following their example. Protests in Lisbon, Paris, Athens and elsewhere show that Europe's lost generation has finally found its voice.
Any real revolution in Paris has to include the storming of the Bastille. Which explains why 200 young demonstrators are sitting in the shade of the trees at Place de la Bastille on this Thursday evening, wondering how to go about staging such a revolution. Read more.
Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - When the war in Libya began, the U.S. government convinced a large number of war supporters that we were there to achieve the very limited goal of creating a no-fly zone in Benghazi to protect civilians from air attacks, while President Obama specifically vowed that "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." This no-fly zone was created in the first week, yet now, almost three months later, the war drags on without any end in sight, and NATO is no longer even hiding what has long been obvious: that its real goal is exactly the one Obama vowed would not be pursued -- regime change through the use of military force. We're in Libya to forcibly remove Gaddafi from power and replace him with a regime that we like better, i.e., one that is more accommodating to the interests of the West. That's not even a debatable proposition at this point. Read more.
Globe & Mail (Canada) - If a depression by any other name would feel as bleak, what do you call the current state of the U.S. economy? A number of influential American economists are no longer mincing words: They argue that deficit-obsessed politicians in Washington are setting the United States up for a repeat of the 1930s. Read more.
Brad Blog - It took two tries, but Carolyn Goodman, candidate for Mayor of Las Vegas and wife of current Mayor Oscar Goodman, was finally able to vote for herself today on Nevada's illegally-certified, 100% unverifiable Sequoia AVC Edge touch-screen voting machines. At least she thinks she did. Whether her vote will actually be counted for her is something that nobody can ever know...
When Goodman pushed the button next to her name on a voting machine at the Public Administration Building downtown, [Chris] Giunchigliani's name popped up. Read more.
Nadia Prupis @ Truthout - Local journalism has not been able to keep up with a changing media landscape, leading to a significant drop in quality in-depth reporting, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) study found.
The long-awaited "Future of the Media" report, in the works since 2009 and now titled "Information Needs of Communities," was released Thursday...read more.
Rick Ott - Recently Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer overseeing the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility to "make it right" for people harmed by the British Petroleum oil blowout disaster, told a Louisiana House and Senate committee that he had not seen any claims, or any scientific evidence, linking BP's oil and dispersant release to chemical illnesses. Feinberg also stated that chemical illnesses take years to show up -- conveniently well after his tenure with the compensation fund.
Instead of tossing the media a juicy bone, Feinberg tossed a red herring. He is wrong at worst, or intentionally misleading at best, on all points. Read more.
James Russell @ Truthout - Deep in coal country, a revolution is brewing. In rural West Virginia, nearly 500 people have been marching since Monday, June 6, to fight against mountaintop removal, for a new clean economy and to remember the battle at Blair Mountain, the largest armed labor battle in United States history that was fought at its base more than 90 years ago.
Dubbed Appalachia Rising: The March on Blair Mountain, the marchers are retracing the steps of the original march that preceded the 1921 battle that pitted union organizers against mercenaries hired by coal companies to fight unionization in southern West Virginia counties. Read more.
IPS @ Common Dreams - Two days ago, on Jun. 7, Ana Fabricia Cordoba was killed in the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Medellin, Colombia. A community leader with the women's organization Ruta de Pacifica de Mujeres working with displaced workers, Cordoba had been receiving death threats, which she reported to the police and national government.
Her pleas were met with silence and finally with bullets.
Cordoba's untimely death coincides with renewed efforts by free-trade advocates in Washington to pressure the United States Congress to pass the long-debated U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a deal brokered in 2006 by then-U.S. President George W. Bush that is now inching closer to ratification by U.S. President Barack Obama and Colombia's recently elected Juan Manual Santos. Read more.
Baltimore Sun - Former National Security Agency employee Thomas Drake accepted a plea deal Thursday that cleared him of espionage charges stemming from an alleged leak of classified information to a Baltimore Sun reporter who wrote about waste and mismanagement at the intelligence-gathering operation at Fort Meade.
Drake, who was scheduled for trial in federal court in Baltimore on Monday, instead is to plead guilty today to a misdemeanor charge that he exceeded the authorized use of a computer. The government dropped 10 more serious felony charges that could have sent him to prison for as long as 35 years, and he is now expected to serve no prison time. Read more.
George Soros - The campaign to ensure that companies engaged in extractive activities disclose all of their payments in their host countries is gaining momentum – and France is leading the effort. President Nicolas Sarkozy should be applauded for supporting a new initiative promoting strict transparency standards for petroleum, gas, and mining companies listed on European stock exchanges.
France, at the heart of the European Union and President of both the G-8 and G-20 this year, is in an exceptional position to encourage such a regulatory move. Read more.
NPR - Americans sweltered, sweated and tried to beat the heat Thursday that has blanketed much of the nation from Louisiana to New York.
Temperatures in the Midwest and along the East Coast threatened to rewrite the record books as the killer heat wave entered its third day. But forecasters said showers were likely to bring relief to some places by the weekend. Read more.
John Nichols @ The Nation - AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent his strongest signal yet about the labor movement’s frustration with the dysfunctional politics of the moment—where Republicans go to extremes on behalf of big banks and multinational corporations, Democrats compromise and working families are left out of the equation. Read more.
Zaid Jilani @ Think Progress - Today marks the 10th anniversary of former President George W. Bush signing into law his 2001 tax cuts (he passed a second round in 2003). While doing so, Bush promised prosperity and growth, but the nation got neither. Read more.
Dick Meister - Imagine trying to live on pay of $7.25 an hour. Even if you managed to work full eight-hour days, you'd be making only about $58 a day, $230 a week, or a measly $12,000 a year. And out of that would come taxes and other deductions.
According to the standards of the federal government, you'd be living in poverty. Yet $7.25 an hour is the federal minimum wage set by Congress.State legislatures can and do set state minimums higher than the federal rate, but never lower, much as some would like to.
Far too many workers have no choice but to take minimum wage jobs, no choice that is, but to live in poverty. Read more.
Glen Ford @ BAR - Obama engineered by far the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind, funneling at least $12 trillion to Wall Street. At the height of his popularity, still riding the crests of post-election euphoria, and under no real pressure from a demoralized Republican Party, Obama eagerly placed Social Security and other entitlements “on the table” for chopping. He endorsed the corporate/Republican line that deficits were the nation’s biggest problem, effectively sentencing the unemployed to damnation and inviting the austerity reign of terror that has descended. And these are just the highlights of Obama’s tenure. Read more.
Alternet - The U.S. economy continues to stagnate. It’s growing at the rate of 1.8 percent, which is barely growing at all. Consumer spending is down. Home prices are down. Jobs and wages are going nowhere.
It’s vital that we understand the truth about the American economy.
How did we go from the Great Depression to 30 years of Great Prosperity? And from there, to 30 years of stagnant incomes and widening inequality, culminating in the Great Recession? And from the Great Recession into such an anemic recovery? Read more.
Tom Gallagher @ Common Dreams - “America can be a superpower or a welfare state, but not both.” So says the Wall Street Journal in its editorial on “The Gates Farewell Warning.” Although you probably won’t have to read the article to know which side the paper came down on, we shouldn’t miss the significance of the newspaper of record of the world of capital acknowledging that a choice has to be made. After all, many people on the other side of the fence have been arguing that point for some time and largely been ignored. Read more.
Common Dreams - After the huge wave of protests throughout February and March, the focus of activists in Wisconsin moved to the impending recall elections this summer. The winter actions erupted as a result of an anti-union bill which threatened to remove essentially all collective bargaining rights for public employees as well as hamstring unions by requiring the almost impossible tasks of annual recertification and individual opt-in dues collecting. In response, besides assembling in numbers reaching nearly one-hundred thousand, Wisconsin citizens amassed signatures on petitions to facilitate the recall of numerous state senators who had voted for Governor Walker’s duplicitous legislation. Read more.
Guardian UK - The underground world of computer hackers has been so thoroughly infiltrated in the US by the FBI and secret service that it is now riddled with paranoia and mistrust, with an estimated one in four hackers secretly informing on their peers, a Guardian investigation has established.
Cyber policing units have had such success in forcing online criminals to co-operate with their investigations through the threat of long prison sentences that they have managed to create an army of informants deep inside the hacking community. Read more.
Lester Grinspoon @ Alternet - In 1967, because of my concern about the rapidly growing use of the dangerous drug marijuana, I began my studies of the scientific and medical literature with the goal of providing a reasonably objective summary of the data which underlay its prohibition. Much to my surprise, I found no credible scientific basis for the justification of the prohibition. The assertion that it is a very toxic drug is based on old and new myths. In fact, one of the many exceptional features of this drug is its remarkably limited toxicity. Compared to aspirin, which people are free to purchase and use without the advice or prescription of a physician, cannabis is much safer: there are well over 1000 deaths annually from aspirin in this country alone, whereas there has never been a death anywhere from marijuana. In fact, when cannabis regains its place in the US Pharmacopeia, a status it lost after the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, it will be seen as one of th…
Alternet - Will this bleak economy become “the new normal,” consigning millions to an emerging American underclass?
Corporate America appears to be prospering with far fewer workers than it employed before the crash. Wages are down, the stock market is up and firms are expanding their operations overseas. Meanwhile, Congress is suffering from the delusion that our greatest problem is the deficit, rather than the extreme economic insecurity so many Americans are suffering from today. And that focus will only exacerbate the crisis on “Main Street.” Read more.
James Russell @ Truthout - Activists from across the country converged outside of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on Saturday to oppose the detainment and demand the release, of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old accused by the federal government of sharing previously undisclosed documents to whistleblower web site WikiLeaks.
The event is the first large-scale protest to be held outside of the base since he was transferred there from the US Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, on April 20. The day-long rally, march and protest featured a variety of speakers, including GI resisters, anti-war activists and veterans, as well as members of the Bradley Manning Support Network...read more.
New America Media - Under the auspices of the drug war, the United States is returning to its historical pattern of using Central America and the Caribbean for its own military and strategic purposes.
Even as a growing chorus of voices throughout Latin America argue that military responses to drug trafficking are ineffective against the narcotics trade and exacerbate existing human rights abuses and official corruption, the U.S. military presence in the region is growing. Read more.
"There is a price to pay for speaking the truth. There is a bigger price for living a lie."
-Dr. Cornel West
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Max Eternity @ Truthout - Can America's collective economics inform who we are as a people, whereby - through obsessive bean-counting - we sculpt our destiny, tacitly sanctioning the stripping of basic dignity from fellow citizens, the erosion of civil liberties, the evisceration of public education policies, of the arts and humanities, bankrupting entire communities, tarnishing longstanding values of the populace and its self-image, thus ultimately destroying all that was once valuable to society? Read more.
Truthout - Earlier this week, The Nation magazine and the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté announced a partnership whereby they would work together to publish findings from 1,918 U.S. embassy cables — dated between 2003 and 2010 — from Haiti.
The U.S. embassy at the time noted that Haiti would save a hundred million U.S. dollars a year under the terms of the PetroCaribe deal; the saved dollars would then be earmarked for development in schools, health care, and infrastructure. Yet, under the charge of ambassador Janet Sanderson, the embassy immediately set out to sabotage the deal. Read more.
Truthout - Under US capitalism, the arts are commercialized. Artists have some access to grants from government and nonprofit institutions, but most creative people having significant talent who want to spend their full time on their art find it difficult or impossible to make a living at it. A very few artists, musicians, and other creative people become rich and famous, but the great majority have to support themselves by relying on other jobs. For example, anyone who wishes to pursue a career as a classical musician faces daunting odds, given the small number of orchestra positions that pay a living wage in the US - odds that persuade most talented, young musicians that it is not a viable career. Read more.