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Showing posts from October, 2011

Bill Moyers on a Democracy in Shambles: "Money First, People Second... If At All"

Tax Wall Street to Heal America

Deborah Burger @ Other Words - National Nurses United, America's largest union of RNs, is sounding an alarm.

We've organized rallies in New York, Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, as well as in Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, and Florida, other states and cities. We've held demonstrations at 60 congressional field offices. And we've joined the Occupy Together movement as first aid volunteers in more than a dozen sites, including on Wall Street, where it all started.  Read more.

UNESCO approves Palestinian membership bid

Al Jazeera - The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) voted on Monday to admit Palestine as a member, a move which will likely cause the US government to cut off tens of millions of dollars in annual funding.

The Palestinian bid received 107 "yes" votes during a UNESCO meeting in Paris, with 14 countries voting against and 52 abstaining, enough to satisfy a two-thirds majority of those countries present and voting.  Read more.

Turned Off by Obama, Young Enviros Look to EPA for Salvation

"We were promised a lot of things by President Obama on environment that haven’t been delivered...These are things that we’re going to remember when we go to the polls”
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The National Journal - For Arielle Klagsbrun, the Keystone XL pipeline is President Obama’s last chance.

Klagsbrun went door to door to elect Obama in 2008. On her 18th birthday, she voted for him. “When President Obama was elected, I was probably one of the most excited people in the whole world,” she told National Journal.

Three years later, Klagsbrun isn’t so excited. “It’s just not the same feeling as it was in 2008,” she said.  Read more.

US Double Standard: Gaddafi Bad, Karimov Good

The US shows its hypocrisy by accusing "tyrants" of human rights abuses while not owning up to supporting dictators
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Ted Rail @ Al Jazeera - "After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise," President Obama said last week. The capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi prompted him and other US officials to congratulate the Libyan people on their liberation from a despot accused of terrible violations of human rights, including the 1996 massacre of more than 1200 prison inmates.

The kudos was as much for the US itself as Libya's victorious Transitional National Council. After all, the United States played a decisive role in Gaddafi's death. First President Obama put together the NATO coalition that served as the Benghazi-based rebels' loaned air force. When the bombing campaign was announced in February, Gaddafi's suppression of th…

Former Chief Gitmo Prosecutor: 'Torture Should be Prosecuted'

Ed Vulliamy @ Guardian UK - The former chief prosecutor for the US government at Guantánamo Bay has accused the administration he served of operating a "law-free zone" there, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the order to establish the detention camp on Cuba.

Retired air force colonel Morris Davis resigned in October 2007 in protest against interrogation methods at Guantánamo, and has made his remarks in the lead-up to 13 November, the anniversary of President George W Bush's executive order setting up military commissions to try terrorist suspects.

Davis said that the methods of interrogation used on Guantánamo detainees – which he described as "torture" – were in breach of the US's own statutes on torture, and added: "If torture is a crime, it should be prosecuted."  Read more.

Google Refuses to Remove Police-Brutality Videos

The Atlantic - Google's latest Transparency Report contains this tantalizing bit:    We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests. Good on Google. This report, reflecting the months from January to June of this year, sets an important precedent, one that is surely relevant as videos of violent police behavior from the Occupy protests grow in number and play counts. With this report, Google seems to be indicating that users who post such videos have the company's protection. In places like Egypt and Tunisia, the spread of videos portraying government brutality seems to have galvanized protesters. If Google were to take down such videos, that could ha…

In Colorado, a Power Struggle Towards Moving to Municipally Owned Energy

NY Times News Service - Many Americans these days, from the huddled masses of Occupy Wall Street to the coifed confines of the presidential campaign, are talking about the future of capitalism.

Here, that debate is focused on electricity, specifically whether this city should, in Tuesday’s election, sever its relationship with a corporate utility and move toward a home-ruled, municipally owned one that would be environmentally greener and locally accountable.

Kristin Johnson, a 57-year-old lawyer, summed up her planned vote to oust the company, Xcel Energy, in seven succinct words.

“They don’t have our interest at heart,” she said.  Read more.

Gandhi’s Wings: Occupy Wall Street and the Redistribution of Anxiety

The savvy economist and co-founder of the Move Your Money campaign celebrates the courage of young protesters leading the way to change. It's my home -- last night I dreamt that I grew wings
I found a place where they could hear me when I sing
--"Wings" by Josh Ritter Robert Johnson @ Alternet - Occupy Wall Street is about anxiety, and the courage of young people to fly into conflict on Gandhi's wings. This is the noble legacy of civil disobedience on display at Zuccotti Park. We are seeing that anxiety channeled by courage can transform a society.  Read more.

Thirty Years of Unleashed Greed

Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - It is class warfare.

It was not begun, however, by the tear-gassed, rain-soaked protesters asserting their constitutionally guaranteed right of peaceful assembly. Rather, this war was sparked by the financial overlords who control all of the major levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is they who subverted the American ideal of a nation of stakeholders in control of their economic and political destiny.

Between 1979 and 2007, as the Congressional Budget Office reported this week, the average real income of the top 1 percent grew by an astounding 275 percent.  Read more.

Occupy Oakland Regroups in Frank Ogawa Plaza

David Bacon @ Truthout - Three thousand grassroots people and political activists resume the rally and occupation in Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall...read more.

Liberals Get 'Déjà Vu', say Dems Have Bungled in Debt Talks

Mike Lillis @ The Hill - iberals on and off Capitol Hill agonized Thursday that supercommittee Democrats had bungled early negotiations over a budget deal and put their party in a position to be bested again by Republicans.

By proposing significant cuts to Medicare and Medicaid as an early offering, liberals said the panel Democrats weakened their party’s negotiating position as Republicans, who have ceded no ground on their central anti-tax message, sat back and watched.

"My fear is that this is déjà vu all over again,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), one of the dozens of liberals...read more.

Top Romney Adviser Tied to Christian Militia that Committed Atrocities in Lebanon’s Civil War

Think Progrress - When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romneyannounced his foreign policy advisers earlier this month, one of the names raised some eyebrows among Middle East watchers in Washington: Walid Phares, a self-styled terror expert, who had made the rounds of the burgeoning U.S. anti-Muslim crowd. But an exposé from Mother Jones sheds new light on some of Phares’ older associations with an ideological Lebanese militia implicated in mass slaughter during that country’s civil war.  Read more.

Yemeni Women Set Veils Ablaze in Protest at Saleh Crackdown

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Hundreds of Yemeni women set fire to veils on Wednesday in protest at the government's crackdown on demonstrators, after overnight clashes in the capital and another city left 25 people dead, officials said.

The women spread a black cloth across a main street in Sana'a and threw their full-body veils, known as makrama, on to a pile, sprayed it with oil and set it ablaze. As the flames rose, they chanted: "Who protects Yemeni women from the crimes of the thugs?"   Read more.

Challenging the Old Boys Network in the Vatican

Bill Quigley @ Common Dreams - We never thought it would end up on a hard wooden bench inside a police station in Piazza Cavour. Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois, young Erin Saiz Hannah of Women’s Ordination Conference in the US and Miriam Duignan from Womenpriests.org from the UK were sitting there when my wife and I arrived. They were being detained by the Rome police.

The group wanted to deliver a petition, printed on pink paper, signed by more than 15,000 people who asked the Vatican not to expel Fr. Roy Bourgeois, 72, from the church for saying that women are called to be priests in the church.  Read more.

SPECIAL REPORT: Out-of-State Corporate Money Floods Ohio Battle Over Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill

Truthout - About 60 people gathered at the AFL-CIO office in downtown Columbus, Ohio, to rally and volunteer their time on a sunny Friday evening in early October. They came from a variety of backgrounds: white and black, urban and rural, young and old. Armed with a phone bank and canvassing clipboards, they participated in a campaign to rally Ohio voters to repeal legislation known as Senate Bill 5. If passed, the law would limit collective bargaining rights on issues like staffing levels for Ohio's 360,000 public workers and require some public workers to pay more in pension and health care costs. The volunteers, dressed in T-shirts and jeans, are labor's foot soldiers in a political battle attracting national attention and political spending. It is a bitter clash of class, ideology and political tactics, pitting the public sector against the private sector, and Ohio's labor movement against a web of Republican front groups that refuse to disclose their campaign finances…

CIA Kidnapped, Tortured "the Wrong Guy," Says Former Agency Operative Glenn Carle

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - Rob Richer, the No. 2 ranking official in the CIA's clandestine service, paid a visit to Glenn Carle's office in December 2002 and presented the veteran CIA operative with an urgent proposal.
"I want you to go on a temporary assignment," Carle recalls Richer telling him. "It's important for the agency, it's important for the country and it's important for you. Will you do it?"  Read more.

NPR's gelatinous spine

Richard Schiffman @ Common Dreams - The timing could not have been worse for the latest in a series of controversies to hit the nation’s scandal-prone public radio network. But the fact that it was pledge week didn’t prevent NPR from caving in to conservative pressure and canceling their distribution of “The World of Opera,” last Friday after it was revealed that host, Lisa Simeone, had taken part in Occupy DC, a spinoff of Occupy Wall Street movement, a protest against corporate greed which is spreading to cities nationwide. Simeone, an independent producer, was also sacked from the public radio documentary series “Sound Print” for her political activities.

In justifying their actions, NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm stated that it is a conflict of interest for a journalist associated with NPR to take a role in a political protest movement...read more.

Immunity and Impunity in Elite America

Glenn Greenwald @ Tom Dispatch - As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow, it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all, severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States. In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is part of the design of the American founding -- indeed, an integral part of it.

Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and is at its highest level since the Great Depression.  This is not, however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates for three decades.  As journalist Tim Noah described the process:  Read more.

Bodies of 53 'Executed' Gaddafi Loyalists Discovered

Independent UK - While international focus has been on the killings of Muammar Gaddafi and his son Muatassim and the display of their corpses, little is known about the fate of those who were with the Libyan dictator in his last refuge, his home town of Sirte. The discovery of the 53 corpses at the Mahari hotel, and another ten dumped in a nearby reservoir reveal a glimpse of the bloodletting.

It has not been possible to ascertain who was responsible for the dead in the reservoir. But the hotel had been in the hands of the rebels...read more.

FBI Finally Votes to Expand Definition of Rape

Ms. Magazine (blog) - The “Rape is Rape” campaign, demanding that all rapes be counted in the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR), took a huge step forward yesterday at a crucial meeting of law enforcement officials.

The Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) voted unanimously to expand its definition of rape...read more.

Without Credit Card Donations, WikiLeaks Facing Funding Crisis

McClatchy Newspapers - WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website that has been at the center of some of the world's most controversial news for the past 18 months, is facing dire economic times, largely, the website says, because Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have refused for more than 10 months to process donations made on its behalf.

The total financial cost of what WikiLeaks calls a blockade is uncertain...read more.

The Abandoned Class

Robert C. Koehler @ Common Dreams - Will Occupy Wall Street hold together long enough to cut to the deep chase?

Will it find a voice to articulate not merely the pain of the struggling middle class but the endemic unfairness and racism of inescapable poverty? “Everyone is important,” read the sign of an elderly protester. My God, what if it were true? What if we could see, in the desperate thrashing of the abandoned class, everyone’s future, that of the 99 percent and that of the 1 percent?

Let the Occupy movement become such a merging of voices that it reaches and changes the rigged game of American democracy and puts the collective failure of the system, in all its manifestations — from environmental collapse to our doomed wars and the hubris of empire to the violence in our streets — at the forefront of our media and our consciousness. Let the movement be the first tremor of a new awareness that dehumanizes no one.  Read more.

Justice for Casey Sheehan and Hundreds of Thousands of Others

Cindy Sheehan @ Common Dreams - It was with great sorrow and fear that my family watched the insane and inexplicable rush of our nation to invade two countries that had absolutely nothing to do with the events on September 11, 2001.

It was with greater sorrow and fear that my family watched one of our indispensable members, Casey, march off to one of those immoral occupations in Iraq.

Our lives were shattered when he came home in a cardboard box...read more.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Fraudulent Defense Contractors Paid $1 Trillion

Buzzflash - Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders (I-Vt.) called the report "shocking." He said aggressive steps must be taken to ensure taxpayer dollars aren't wasted.

"The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," said Sanders. "With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt...read more.

A Slap On The Wrist: Citigroup Settles for $285 Million; No Wall Street Executive Jailed Yet

McClatchy Newspapers - Global banking giant Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle charges that it misled investors about a complex financial instrument tied to the now-crippled housing market, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday.

The announcement was unlikely to satisfy critics of Wall Street and Washington's bailout of its banks who've waited years for any major Wall Street executive to be jailed for practices that led to the global financial meltdown in 2008, which still roils the U.S. economy.  Read more.

OWS ‘Angry Mob’ Suddenly Respectable

The Toronto Star - The big flaw in the Occupy Wall Street movement ever since it began some three weeks ago has been that the actual proposals for action demanded by its members have largely been incoherent, confused and self-contradictory.

This is still true. Suddenly, though, this defect has lost its potency. Almost overnight, the movement has begun to gain respect, even from its opponents.  Read more.

Biggest Challenge for Occupy Wall Street Will Be to Prevent Police Infiltrators From Provoking Violence

Mark Karlin @ Buzzflash - A recent article in the New York Observer highlights the ongoing challenge Occupy Wall Street faces in preventing the New York Police Department (NYPD) and perhaps FBI infiltrators from creating acts of violence that will turn the nation against the movement.

Mayor Bloomberg and the FBI know that nothing will change the mood of support for Occupy Wall Street faster than having them portrayed as a "violent mob." So, there have been ongoing incidents of what appear to be provocations...read more.

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Bank of America Slapped With a Subpoena, and More (VIDEO)

Thom Hartmann - In today's On the News segment: Young people hit hardest by worldwide economic crash; Senate vote scheduled for Friday on just one part of the Jobs Act that gives $35 billion in aid to states to hire teachers, firefighters and cops; Occupy Wall Street is finally getting the media's attention; Bank of America slapped with a subpoena this week; and more.

Obama’s Free-Trade Victory Signals Economic Ignorance

In These Times - By orchestrating the passage of three NAFTA-style investor-rights agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, which passed Congress last week, President Barack Obama is promoting the loss of more U.S. jobs to low-wage sites overseas. He's also protecting Panama’s status as a tax haven for U.S. corporations and money-laundering center for drug traffickers, leaving untouched the Colombian elite’s murderous war against unionists and opening up U.S. laws and regulations to challenges from foreign corporations.  Read more.

Greek Union Warns of Austerity "Death Spiral"

Reuters @ Common Dreams - Greece risks sliding into a "death spiral" if the government continues to slash salaries and lay off workers instead of cracking down on tax evasion and raising money from the rich, the head of the biggest public sector union said Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of a 48-hour general strike called to protest tough new austerity measures, due to be approved this week, Costas Tsikrikas, head of the 500,000-strong ADEDY union, accused Prime Minister George Papandreou's Socialist government of blindly pursuing austerity measures that would plunge Greece deeper into recession.  Read more.

Under Obama US Troop Deaths in Afghan War Twice That Under Bush

Megan Iorio @ Just Foreign Policy - This weekend marked a new milestone for the war in Afghanistan: the total number of US troops killed in the war has doubled since President Obama took office, according to icasualties.org and our US Troops in Afghanistan: Obama vs Bush web counter. That means that two-thirds of the total US troop deaths have occurred in the last two years and eight months, which accounts for roughly a third of the duration of the war to date.  Read more.

US Government Supports Protesters Abroad and Jails Them at Home

Mark Karlin @ Buzzflash - In a riveting unmasking of hypocrisy, a YouTube video has appeared that masterfully shows the blatant hypocrisy of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in applying one standard for attacks on protesters overseas - and quite another in the US.
While Obama has given some lip service to the Occupy Wall Street movement, he has qualified that with an upholding of the status quo of a financial sector that cratered the US economy. And he has said nothing about the police brutality in attempts, particularly in New York, to suppress the "right of redress" protests.  Read more.

Kenya sends in troops to Somalia

Independent UK - Kenya has declared war on a Somali Islamist group and its army yesterday crossed into southern Somalia to pursue al-Shabaab, which it blames for a series of kidnappings inside its territory.

Kenyan tanks, troops, trucks and air support were seen inside its northern neighbour a day after the country's Internal Security Minister labelled al-Shabaab "the enemy" vowed to set up a "buffer zone" north of its border. There were also reports of US drone attacks on suspected militant training camps in Ras Kamboni, a coastal forest near the border with Kenya.  Read more.

US Officials Peddle False Intel to Support Terror Plot Claims

Gareth Porter @ Inter Press Service - Officials of the Barack Obama administration have aggressively leaked information supposedly based on classified intelligence in recent days to bolster its allegation that two higher- ranking officials from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were involved in a plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in Washington, D.C.

The media stories generated by the leaks helped divert press attention from the fact that there is no verifiable evidence of any official Iranian involvement in the alleged assassination plan, contrary to the broad claim being made by the administration.  Read more.

Torture in California sanctioned by state

Victoria Law @ Truthout - Imagine a concrete room no more than eight by ten feet. It has no windows, only a perforated steel door facing a solid concrete wall. Fluorescent lights stay on 24 hours a day.

Now imagine being locked in that room.

This is the reality for 1,111 people locked in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California's Pelican Bay State Prison. The SHU comprises half of the prison. It is explicitly designed to keep prisoners in long-term solitary confinement under conditions of extreme sensory deprivation. Men are locked into their cells for at least 22 hours a day. Food is delivered twice a day through a slot in the cell door. They are allowed five hours a week of exercise in a cement yard the length of three cells with a roof only partially open to the sky.  Read more.

Forgiving Student Loans: A Stimulus Measure to Revitalize the Middle Class

Triple Pundit - How would your life change if, all of a sudden, you no longer had to re-pay your student loan debt? What would you do with that extra $250-$1,000 of your paycheck every single month? If Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-MI) has his way, this question might not be rhetorical anymore. Student loan debt forgiveness could be the stimulus measure that breaks us free of this long recession.  Read more.

Occupy Wallstreet: A movement too big to fail

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Read more.

Across the World, the Indignant Rise Up Against Corporate Greed and Cuts

Independent UK - Protests against corporate greed, executive excess and public austerity began to gel into the beginnings of a worldwide movement yesterday as tens of thousands marched in scores of cities. The "Occupy Wall Street" protest, which started in Canada and spread to the US, and the long-running Spanish "Indignant" and Greek anti-cuts demonstrations coalesced on a day that saw marches or occupations in 82 countries.  Read more.

If a Republican Were President ...

Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - If a Republican were president, there would be millions of properly coiffed middle-class Democrats and independents at those Occupy Wall Street marches, and no questions asked as to what they really want. With 25 million Americans unable to find full-time work, 50 million whose homeownership dream has turned into the nightmare of foreclosure, and an all-time high of 46.2 million -- including 22 percent of our children -- living in poverty, the call to throw the bums out would be compelling.  Read more.

Occupy San Francisco Protesters Shut Down Wells Fargo Building

SF Gate - Shortly after 8 a.m., police led away 11 protesters in handcuffs and gave them citations. Many were released and rejoined the demonstration before protesters dispersed around noon.

Max Bell Alper, an organizer with Unite Here Local 2850, was one of those cited. "My parents owned their home for 25 years, and they lost it," he said. "They moved in with my uncle, and his home was foreclosed on as well. Right now, my grandma's home is facing foreclosure.  Read more.

The Public Option in Banking

Ellen Brown @ Truthout - Publicly owned banks were instrumental in funding Germany's "economic miracle" after the devastation of World War II. Although the German public banks have been targeted in the last decade for takedown by their private competitors, the model remains a viable alternative to the private profiteering being protested on Wall Street today.

One of the demands voiced by protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement is for a "public option" in banking. What that means was explained by Dr. Michael Hudson, professor of economics at the University of Missouri in Kansas City...read more.

Squattersville For Recession Refugees: Welcome to Slab City

Salon.com - How George Carranco wound up in Slab City, a squattersville at the end of the earth, is a story for these hard times.

Carranco, an ex-Marine and jack-of-all-trades, lost his job at a factory in San Diego when it shut down, lost his apartment when he couldn’t pay the rent, lost his temporary home when the city towed his van, and lost the van for good when the parking fees climbed to unattainable heights. More than a thousand dollars — might as well have been a million.

Three years of bad breaks later, Carranco had had enough. He revived an ’83 Dodge camper that he picked up for free and, with his girlfriend and five Chihuahuas, headed east, 155 miles from San Diego, to where the roads give up and the desert takes over.  Read more.

Countrywide Loan Underwriter Found Herself in "Dangerous Territory"

iWatchNews - After she lost her job in the fall of 2007, Cassandra Daniels had a word with a trio of her managers. As she recalls it, she told them she was praying that, someday, they’d learn to use their positions of power “to uplift your staff instead of destroying people.”

She cleaned out her desk and taped a handwritten sign to her computer screen, quoting one of her favorite gospel songs: “GIANTS DO FALL.”

That marked the end of Daniels’ tumultuous relationship with Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation’s largest home lender during the mortgage boom.

For Daniels, her four years as a loan underwriter inside Countrywide’s mortgage-production machine were a blur of 12- and 14-hour workdays and frequent clashes with managers and salespeople regarding loans she believed were tainted by fraud.  Read more.

Guantanamo: A Cold Sore on the Face of America

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard @ Truthout - Recently, the Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, traveled to the United States and, in a meeting with Vice President Biden, once again asserted Kuwait's interest in seeing its two remaining citizens (Fayiz Al-Kandari and Fawzi Al-Odah) returned from America's island prison in Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). While I applaud the prime minister addressing this issue, virtually identical appeals from Kuwait have fallen upon deaf ears for more than a decade.  Read more.

US Got Secret Order to Snoop on WikiLeaks

MSNBC - The U.S. government obtained secret court orders to force Google Inc and a small Internet provider to hand over information from email accounts of a WikiLeaks volunteer, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The U.S. request included email addresses of people that Jacob Appelbaum, a volunteer for the campaigning website, had corresponded with in the past two years...read more.
Andrew M. Manis @ Macon Telegraph (Georgia) - Fred Shuttlesworth died this past Wednesday morning. Even if you’ve never heard of him, if you are an American, that news means more to you than you might imagine. Separated by a few years, Shuttlesworth and I both grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Separated by race, he negotiated the black side of the color line in the town known as “Bombingham,” while I lived on the other side of the line, in what the white folk called the “city of churches.” That our hometown had such an ironic pair of nicknames was a fact I didn’t know growing up and wouldn’t have understood even if I had. After 30 years of studying race and religion in America, I am still trying to understand such ironies.  Read more.

Happy 71st John! Imagine Peace Tower lights up

Common Dreams - Imagine Peace Tower will be relit by Yoko Ono on October 9th 2011 in memory of John Lennon. He would have been 71 today (Sunday). The tower will be lit at 8pm Reykjavik time and the event will stream live on the internet.
The site at Viðey, Reykjavík, Iceland was chosen because Iceland is regarded by Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono as an eco-friendly and peaceful nation.  Read more.

New Zealand Oil Spill: Conservationists Warn of Wildlife 'Tragedy'

Guardian UK - Conservationists have warned of an impending wildlife "tragedy" caused by an oil spill off the east coast of New Zealand, with populations of penguins, whales, seals and seabirds set to be hardest hit.
A severe weather warning for the Bay of Plenty area on Monday has heightened fears that the stricken cargo vessel Rena, which is carrying 1,700 tonnes of fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel, will start to break up, with grim consequences for the local marine wildlife.  Read more.

The Billionaires Who Would Pick Our President

Greg Palast @ Truthout - Hedge fund magnate Paul Singer likes to breakfast on decayed carcasses. What he chews down is sickening, but just as nausea-inducing are his new tablemates: billionaires Ken Langone and the Koch Brothers, Charles and David.

Singer has called together the billionaire boys' club for the purpose of picking our next president for us. The old-fashioned way of choosing presidents - democracy and counting ballots and all that - has never been a favorite of this pack. I can tell you that from my investigations of each of these gentlemen for The Guardian. When the Statue of Liberty has nightmares, she dreams that these guys will combine to seize America via a cash-and-carry coup d'état.  Read more.

"American Autumn" Opens in Beauty

Leslie Thatcher @ Truthout - October 6, 2011, was a perfect autumn day in our nation's capital: bright and clement. And at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, from early this morning, people gathered from across the US and places beyond to "stop the machine" and demand that human need, not corporate greed, guide the direction of this country. The October 2011 movement - planned six months ago - is separate from, but wholly synergistic with the "Occupy Washington" movement in nearby McPherson Park.  Read more.

The "Getting" of Assange and the Smearing of a Revolution

John Pilger @ Truthout - The High Court in London will soon decide whether Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct. At the appeal hearing in July, Ben Emmerson, Queen's counsel for the defense, described the whole saga as "crazy." Sweden's chief prosecutor had dismissed the original arrest warrant, saying there was no case for Assange to answer.

Both the women involved said they had consented to have sex. On the facts alleged, no crime would have been committed in Britain.

However, it is not the Swedish judicial system that presents a "grave danger" to Assange, say his lawyers, but a legal device known as a Temporary Surrender, under which he can be sent on from Sweden to the United States secretly and quickly.  Read more.

Execution by President Obama's secret WH committee

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - So a panel operating out of the White House — that meets in total secrecy, with no known law or rules governing what it can do or how it operates — is empowered to place American citizens on a list to be killed by the CIA, which (by some process nobody knows) eventually makes its way to the President, who is the final Decider.  It is difficult to describe the level of warped authoritarianism necessary to cause someone to lend their support to a twisted Star Chamber like that; I genuinely wonder whether the Good Democrats doing so actually first convince themselves that if this were the Bush White House’s hit list, or if it becomes Rick Perry’s, they would be supportive just the same.  Seriously: if you’re willing to endorse having White House functionaries meet in secret — with no known guidelines, no oversight, no transparency — and compile lists of American citizens to be killed by the CIA without due process, what aren’t you willing to support?  Read more.
Matt Taibbi @ Rolling Stone - Amidst all the bad news coming out of Wall Street and the economy, here’s something good: California has backed out of the talks for the long-awaited foreclosure settlement, now making it far from likely that the so-called “Attorneys General” deal will happen anytime soon.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris sent a letter to state and federal regulators explaining that she pulled out because the proposed settlement amount for banks guilty of bad securitization practices leading up to the mortgage crisis – said to be in the $20 billion range – was too small. From Business Week:  Read more.

Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc. dies at the age of 56

Washington Post - Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc., passed away on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at the age of 56.

Born on February 24th, 1955 in San Francisco, Steven Paul Jobs was adopted as an infant by Paul and Clara (née Hagopian) Jobs. While attending Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, Jobs began working at Hewlett-Packard where he met Steve Wozniak.  Read more.

Protests Against Wall Street Spread Across US

Chris Hawley @ SF Gate - Protests against Wall Street entered their 18th day Tuesday as demonstrators across the country show their anger over the wobbly economy and what they see as corporate greed by marching on Federal Reserve banks and camping out in parks from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine.

Demonstrations are expected to continue throughout the week as more groups hold organizational meetings and air their concerns on websites and through streaming video.

In Manhattan on Monday, hundreds of protesters dressed as corporate zombies in white face paint lurched past the New York Stock Exchange clutching fistfuls of fake money.  Read more.

Secret Docs Show Foreclosure Watchdog Doesn’t Bark or Bite

ProPublica - Why has the administration’s flagship foreclosure prevention program been so ineffective in helping struggling homeowners get loan modifications and stay in their homes? One reason: The government’s supervision of the program has apparently ranged from nonexistent to weak.

Documents obtained by ProPublica — government audit reports of GMAC, the country’s fifth-largest mortgage servicer — provide the first detailed look at the program’s oversight. They show that the company operated with almost no oversight for the program’s first eight months. When auditors did finally conduct a major review more than a year into the program, they found that GMAC had seriously mishandled many loan modifications — miscalculating homeowner income in more than 80 percent of audited cases, for example. Yet, GMAC suffered no penalty. GMAC itself said it hasn’t reversed a single foreclosure as a result of a government audit.  Read more.

Green Group says TransCanada, State Dept. Emails Show 'Pro-Pipeline Bias'

The Hill - Internal emails released Monday show a sometimes friendly relationship between a State Department official and a top lobbyist for TransCanada Corp., the company seeking federal approval to build a major Canada-U.S. oil pipeline.

The environmental group Friends of the Earth, which obtained the emails under a Freedom of Information Act request, said the documents are “deeply disturbing” and indicate “pro-pipeline bias and complicity at the State Department,” the federal agency that is heading up a review of TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline.  Read more.