Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2012

What Happened to Canada?

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.
But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state.  Read more.

South Bronx Community Rallies to End "Stop and Frisk"

J. A. Myerson @ Truthout - Through the back of Jamel Mims' black leather baseball cap, a sprig of short, slender dreadlocks sticks out, looking like cooped-up children eager to see what's outside. What's outside today are 100 or so protesters in the South Bronx. Affixed to the right side of Jamel's hat is a button depicting a red line through the words "Stop and Frisk." Such is the name of the New York Police Department's (NYPD) policy of detaining on suspicion, whim or fancy, (and searching the person of) anyone at all. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), "more than 4 million innocent New Yorkers were subjected to police stops and street interrogations from 2004 through 2011." Predictably, "black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD's own reports."

"As we mar…

Pesticides blamed for bee decline

Independent UK - Compelling new evidence from the US government's top bee expert that modern pesticides may be a major cause of collapsing bee populations led to calls yesterday for the chemicals to be banned.

A study published in the current issue of the German science journal Naturwissenschaften, reveals how bees given minute doses of the widely used pesticide imidacloprid became more vulnerable to infections from a deadly parasite, nosema.  Read more.

Torture, and Impunity in US Courts

Al Jazeera - An important question confronting courts in the United States is whether individuals subjected to torture and other abuse in the "war on terror" can obtain a judicial remedy for their mistreatment. A recent decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, concludes that they may not.  Read more.

Climate Change: Extreme heat can cause wheat crops to age faster and reduce yields

Reuters - Scientists and farmers have long known that high heat can hurt some crops and the Stanford University-led study, released on Monday, revealed how the damage is done by tracking rates of wheat ageing, or senescence.

Depending on the sowing date, the grain losses from rapid senescence could reach up to 20 percent, the scientists found in the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.  Read more.

A Competitive Dollar: The Missing Link in President Obama's Manufacturing Agenda

Dean Baker @ Truthout - In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama announced a renewed commitment to manufacturing in the United States. While the commitment to rebuilding the country's manufacturing base is welcome - manufacturing has historically been a source of good-paying jobs for workers without college degrees - he unfortunately left the most important item on the list off the agenda.

President Obama failed to commit himself to restoring the competitiveness of the dollar as part of his agenda for bringing back manufacturing jobs. The value of the dollar really has to be front and central in any effort to restore US competitiveness since it is by far the most important factor determining the relative cost of US goods compared with goods produced elsewhere.  Read more.

The Party of Our Discontent? An Interview With Green Party Candidate Jill Stein

Steve Horn @ Truthout - Discontent with the political system as a whole is rising, as seen clearly through the lens of struggles around the world and right here at home, via the ongoing Occupy movement. Numerous figures have speculated and are continuing to speculate as to what the electoral strategy, if any, will be for the Occupy movement, come the 2012 election cycle.

Some, such as Center for American Progress' Van Jones, have proposed a new...read more.

Occupy Asia: Japanese Nuclear Foes Defy Order to Remove Tents

Japan Times - Antinuclear activists camping out at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry refused to take down their tents Friday despite an order to do so by 5 p.m.

Hundreds of people meanwhile came to see the three tents around the deadline, apparently to show their support for the protesters.

About 10 of the activists have regularly stayed in the tents since September.  Read more.

Philanthropy is the Enemy of Justice

Robert Newman @ Guardian UK - It's strange that at this week's World Economic Forum the designated voice of the world's poor has been Bill Gates, who has pledged £478m to the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, telling Davos that the world economic crisis was no excuse for cutting aid.

It reminds me of that dark hour when Al Gore, despite being a shareholder in Occidental Petroleum, was the voice of climate change action – because Gates does not speak with the voice of the world's poor, of course, but with the voice of its rich. It's a loud voice, but the model of development it proclaims is the wrong one because philanthropy is the enemy of justice.  Read more.

Pakistan Protests US Drones

Times of India - Pakistan's prime minister said today that there was "a trust deficit" between Islamabad and Washington as he criticised the resumption of US drone strikes on his country's tribal belt.

Speaking the day after over 100,000 people massed in Karachi to protest the strikes, Yousuf Raza Gilani said they only served to bolster militants.  Read more.

US Plans for Perpetual War

Renee @ Common Dreams - As an attack on Iran remains temporarily on the backburner and Syria, home to US-identified terrorist group Hamas, moves up the queue as the next target for military intervention, both are part of a larger strategy proposed to newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996.
The "Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" suggested a "new approach to peace' premised on a 'clean break' from the Oslo peace process of the 1990's. Oslo would have withdrawn Israeli troops from the occupied territories while affirming Palestine's right of self-determination. Rather than pursuing a 'comprehensive peace' with the Arab world, Clean Break advocated an aggressive pre-emptive military strategy to destabilize Iraq and eliminate Saddam Hussein. In addition, Clean Break retained the 'right of hot pursuit' anywhere within the occupied territories and encouraged 'seizing the initiative' by "…

When New Obama Chief of Staff Was NYU Executive, School Ceased Recognizing Union

In These Times - Three months into a bitter strike, the Graduate Students Organizing Committee sent an e-mail to supporters.  “Like their refusal to bargain, their threats last fall, and the docking of prospective pay for striking,” the union wrote, “John Sexton and the NYU administration, aided by former Clintonites Jacob Lew and Cheryl Mills, are again hiding behind a right-wing, Republican NLRB.”

Six years, later, Lew and Mills are back in Washington. Mills is Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff at the State Department. Lew reprised his Clinton Administration role as director of the Office of Management and Budget—until last week, when Obama promoted him to White House Chief of Staff.  Read more.

Occupy Protesters and Police Clash in Oakland

Truthout - A march to take over a vacant building by members of the Occupy movement in Oakland, Calif., turned into a violent confrontation with the police on Saturday, leaving three officers injured and about 200 people arrested. 
The clashes began just before 3 p.m. when protesters marched toward the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, the police said, and began to tear down construction barricades.  Read more.

Record Numbers of Incarcerated Mothers Bad News for Women, Children, Communities

Gina McGalliard @ Truthout - It is well known that the United States imprisons a higher percentage of its population than any other industrialized country. And while it is true that the prison population is predominantly male, the number of female prisoners has risen more than 800 percent in the last three decades, outpacing the approximate 400 percent increase in the male prison population during the same time period.And according to the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice report "Hard Hit: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004," in 1977, the United States imprisoned ten out of every 100,000 women , while in 2004 that number had increased to 64 out of 100,000. And because women tend to be caretakers, particularly of children, the effect their incarceration often has on families can be disastrous.  Read more.

Twitter Enables Censorship, Boycotts Begin

Common Dreams - Social media website Twitter announced Thursday that it will begin blocking certain messages (tweets) on a country-to-country basis. Twitter has been known as a vehicle for free speech as well as a source for social and political organizing -- notably during the protests in 2011 from the Egyptian uprising to Occupy Wall Street. Governments will now request Twitter to take down certain 'illegal' tweets, which will be blocked from its citizens but may still be visible by users outside of the censored country. Many have now raised concerns that this will open the door for repressive governmental censorship, in some ways defeating the benefits of Twitter all together.  Read more.

FBI Wants New App to Wiretap the Internet

Common Dreams - The FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center (SOIC) posted a 'Request for Information (RFI)' online last week seeking companies to build a social network monitoring system for the FBI. The 12-page document (.pdf) spells out what the bureau wants from such a system and invites potential contractors to reply by February 10, 2012.  Read more.

Occupy Oakland: An Illustrated History

Susie Cagle @ Truthout - From the beginning, the Oakland Commune set Oakland's occupation apart in its acceptance of the local homeless population.The camp was consistently referred to as not only a political meeting ground and organizing space, but also a replacement for the city's failures in its everyday existence. Some people were living there to make a point, but others were living there because they needed to, and all were welcomed - until the camp was cleared in the early morning of October 25.  Read more.

Gulf Reopens for Drilling as Obama Administration Accused of Low-Balling Effects of Spill

Yana Kunichoff @ Truthout - As the Obama administration announces the launch of its Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, including a plan to lease oil and gas production in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, a scientific integrity complaint alleges that officials "manipulated" scientific data about the effects of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak.  Read more.

Activist Primer: The Nitty-Gritty on the Amendment Movement to Defeat Citizens United

Mike Ludwig @ Truthout - Hundreds of protests across the country over the past weekend marked the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's controversial ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The protests also marked the launch of a swelling grassroots movement to amend to challenge the ruling, which unleashed unlimited independent campaign spending and gave rise to the now-infamous super PACs.
Resolutions opposing Citizens United have passed in city halls across the country.  Read more.

Is Schneiderman Selling Out?

Yves Smith @ Naked Capitalism - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been celebrated as the progressive Great White Hope. But the danger of assuming leadership is that that individual becomes a target both of attacks and of seduction. And while I’d like to think better of Schneiderman, an announcement earlier this evening has strong hallmarks of Schneiderman falling prey to the combined pressures and blandishments of the Administration and its allies.  Read more.

The Corporate State Will Be Broken

Chris Hedges, Truthdig | OpEd @ Truthout - I spent Friday morning sitting on a wooden bench in a fourth-floor courtroom in the New York Criminal Court in Manhattan. I was waiting to be sentenced for “disturbing the peace” and “refusing to obey a lawful order” during an Occupy demonstration in front of Goldman Sachs in November.  Read more.

Remembering Etta James

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - My encounter with the music of Etta James constituted something of a rite of passage. I was a white, working-class kid who went to Catholic Youth Organization dances on Friday nights with small dreams, hoping to escape the boredom and sometimes explosive violence in my working-class neighborhood and find an outlet for the erupting and confusing desires that dominated the lives of young boys. The music was generally tame, and almost entirely white. Instead of Little Richard we got Pat Boone; instead of Little Anthony and the Imperials, we got the Beach Boys. When things got risky, we might have heard Carl Perkins or Elvis Presley.  Of course, the CYO was in a solidly white, working class neighborhood that listened to white singers who often stole the music of African American performers and stripped it of any passion, desire, sexuality, or integrity.  Read more.

Two Years After "Citizens United," Amending the Constitution is Essential

Brenden Fischer @ PRwatch - January 21 marks the second anniversary of Citizens United v. F.E.C., where a narrow majority of the U.S. Supreme Court asserted that the Constitution prevents Congress from limiting the amount of money that can be spent influencing our elections. The Center for Media and Democracy is working with a constellation of groups in support of amending the Constitution to reverse the decision and address the distortion of the democratic process.  Read more.

Citizens United: A Tsunami of Secret Corporate Campaign Cash is Drowning Our Democracy

Campaign for America's Future - Today is the two-year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court that allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

Since then, our democracy has been drowning in a tsunami of corporate special interest money. Our government is under the thumb of the Koch brothers and other corporate moguls instead of the hands of the people.  Read more.

Lynching the Dream

William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout - This past Monday, this nation celebrated the memory of one of our greatest minds, one of our tallest souls, one of our lost children. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrates the memory of our American Gandhi, a man who dedicated his life - and, in Memphis, gave his life - to the idea that is America: all are created equal.
To be sure, the "Negro" was counted only as 3/5ths of a man in the document that first established the ridiculous experiment that became America, and women were counted not at all, but more than two hundred years have passed since that original ink was put to paper.  Read more.

Blackout Strike: Anonymous Calls for Street Protests; Lawmakers Drop Support of SOPA and PIPA

Truthout - Wikipedia. Reddit. Wordpress. Wired magazine. All of these sites and thousands of others are participating in a one-day blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills proposed in Congress.
Browser super power Google is operating, but its logo is blacked out. If you visit the nonpartisan legislation tracker OpenCongres.org today, the only bills you can read about are SOPA and PIPA.  Read more.

In Fight Over Piracy Bills, New Economy Rises Against Old

NY Times - When the powerful world of old media mobilized to win passage of an online antipiracy bill, it marshaled the reliable giants of K Street — the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Recording Industry Association of America and, of course, the motion picture lobby, with its new chairman, former Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and an insider’s insider. Read more.

Revealed: The FBI's Secretive Practice of "Blackballing" Files

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - Have you ever filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI and received a written response from the agency stating that it could not locate records responsive to your request?

If so, there's a chance the FBI may have found some documents, but for unknown reasons, the agency's FOIA analysts determined it was not responsive and "blackballed" the file, crucial information the FBI withholds from a requester when it issues a "no records" response.  Read more.

Occupy the Neighborhood: How Counties Can Use Land Banks and Eminent Domain

Ellen Brown @ Truthout -An electronic database called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) has created defects in the chain of title to over half the homes in America. Counties have been cheated out of millions of dollars in recording fees, and their title records are in hopeless disarray. Meanwhile, foreclosed and abandoned homes are blighting neighborhoods. Straightening out the records and restoring the homes to occupancy is clearly in the public interest, and the burden is on local government to do it. But how? New legal developments are presenting some innovative alternatives.  Read more.

US slides from #1 to #27 on social justice

Jim Hightower @ Other Words - A foundation in Germany has analyzed the social justice records of all 31 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranking each nation in such categories as health care, income inequality, pre-school education, and child poverty. The overall performance by the United States — which boasts of being an egalitarian society — outranks only Greece, Chile, Mexico, and Turkey. Actually, three of those countries performed better than ours in the education of pre-schoolers, and Greece did better than the United States on the prevention of poverty. Read more.

Why I’m Suing Barack Obama

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.
The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.  Read more.

Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline

“Every man in my family has been locked up. Most days I feel like it doesn’t matter what I do, how hard I try - that’s my fate, too.”
-11th-grade African American student, Berkeley, California
Rethinking Schools - This young man isn’t being cynical or melodramatic; he’s articulating a terrifying reality for many of the children and youth sitting in our classrooms—a reality that is often invisible or misunderstood. Some have seen the growing numbers of security guards and police in our schools as unfortunate but necessary responses to the behavior of children from poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods. But what if something more ominous is happening? What if many of our students—particularly our African American, Latina/o, Native American, and Southeast Asian children—are being channeled toward prison and a lifetime of second-class status?  Read more.

France Steps Forward With Robin Hood Tax

Inter Press Service - The decision by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to push ahead with a financial transactions tax (FTT) may be a political ploy ahead of elections, but it has the approval of many non-governmental organisations, even as support lags elsewhere.

"If France is setting an example, we support this as a principle," said Matt Davies, head of international policy and advocacy for international movement ATD Fourth World, a French-based organisation that works to eradicate extreme poverty.

"I think there’s a consensus in society that there should be a far greater accountability by the financial sector," he told IPS in an interview. "What’s important is that the money that’s brought in by the FTT should go towards combating poverty, but we’re slightly sceptical in some ways because we often see that money destined for development doesn’t reach the poorest people."  Read more.

Who Knew There Was So Much Poverty? The Poor, That's Who

Donna Smith @ Common Dreams - Last evening, Tavis Smiley hosted a program that was broadcast live on C-SPAN live and that focused for two-and-a-half hours on the issue of poverty in America.  It was terrific.  The energy and commitment of the experts assembled to investigate and help alleviate poverty made the conversation rich beyond anything I’ve seen in ages.  Each panelist came at the topic from a different perspective.  That added to the richness of the discussion about being poor in America.

Good stuff, Michael Moore, Cornell West, Barbara Ehrenreich, Suze Orman, Majora Carter, Roger A. Clay, Jr, and all who participated as panelists or who helped pull this together.  If you didn’t see this show, Remaking America, from Poverty to Prosperity, you can watch it in C-SPAN’s archives.  And you can find out more at Smiley’s website.  Read more.

We're Not Broke

Allison Kilkenney @ The Nation - Back in February 2011, I started reporting on a movement called US Uncut that formed in opposition to the practice of tax-dodging. As it turns out, corporate tax evasion is a huge, huge problem. In fact, the United States loses an estimated $100 billion in revenue every year as multinational corporations hoard their cash overseas in havens.

It’s true that no one movement or cause is solely responsible for the birth of Occupy Wall Street, and protesters list an impressive spectrum of issues and events that inspired them to get involved in OWS, ranging from the Arab Spring to tuition debt to the corrupt political system. However, US Uncut was definitely at the forefront of framing the “99 percent” narrative seized upon by Occupy. Except, back then, US Uncut referred to America’s woes as being “The Corporations versus Everyone Else.”

Quite simply, major companies (GE, Apple, FedEx) were robbing the country blind during a time when the 99 percent were being …

The 'Invented People' Stand Little Chance

Robert Fisk @ Independent UK - Thank goodness we don't have to hear Newt Gingrich for a while.

His statement that the Palestinians were an "invented people" marked about the lowest point in the Republican-Christian Right-Likudist/Israel relationship. So deep has this pact now become that you can deny the existence of an entire people if you want to become US president. It's time, surely, to take a look at this extraordinary movement, to remind ourselves – since US "statesmen" cannot – just what its implications really are.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly in New York on 23 September, few noticed a quite remarkable reference in his speech. In refusing Newt's "invented" people's request for statehood, he made an extremely unpleasant remark about "the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam". But far more disturbing was this:  Read more.

Amid Fuel Price Crisis, Nigeria Goes on Strike

Michele Chen @ In These Times - Nigeria is a giant on the African continent, a maturing democracy and a major hub for culture and trade. It also contains about one sixth of Africa’s population, many of whom live in abject poverty. So when the government decided to "save" funds by removing a critical fuel subsidy, it lit a tinderbox of populist outrage.  Read more.

Everything You Need to Know About Wall Street, in One Brief Tale

Matt Taibbi @ Rolling Stone - If there was ever a news story that crystallized the moral dementia of modern Wall Street in one little vignette, this is it.

Newspapers in Colorado today are reporting that the elegant Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado,  will be closed to the public from today through Monday at noon.

Why? Because a local squire has apparently decided to rent out all 94 rooms of the hotel for three-plus days for his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.

The hotel’s general manager, Tony DiLucia, would say only that the party was being thrown by a "nice family," but newspapers are now reporting that the Daddy of the lucky little gal is one Jeffrey Verschleiser, currently an executive with Goldman, Sachs.  Read more.

Report: US Preparing for an Israeli Strike on Iran

Common Dreams - Iran is looking at "punishing" those behind the assassination of one of its nuclear scientists, a senior military official said, pointing the finger at the United States, Israel and Britain.

"We consider committing a terrorist act of killing a scientist to be a threat to the nation... We are looking at punishing those who were behind the scenes of the martyrdom (assassination) of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan," the deputy chief of Iran's joint armed forces, Masoud Jazayeri, was quoted as saying by several media.

Iran's response will be "tormenting" for those responsible, he said, adding: "The enemies of the Iranian nation, such as the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime, should be made accountable for their actions."  Read more.

In New Hampshire, Occupiers Live Free or "Die-In"

J.A. Myerson @ Truthout - "Live free or die," the man instructed, and they all promptly died.

This was Monday's "Die-in," an Occupy New Hampshire event in the parking lot of the campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama. The death certificate lists the name of deceased as "democracy, freedom, liberty and the 99%." Cause: "The influence of Wall Street money." The protesters were demanding the campaign staff explain, among other things, President Obama's heavy reliance on corporate cash to fund his re-election effort. The campaign explained by calling the cops to break up the protest.  Read more.

Nigeria's Oil Disasters Met by Silence

Michael Keating @ Guardian UK - In 2010 the world watched in horror as the Gulf of Mexico filled with 5m barrels of oil from an undersea leak caused by the careless handling of equipment on the part of BP and its partner Halliburton. Shocking images of uncontrolled spillage erupting from the ocean floor traveled around the world for weeks, sparking a media frenzy, a range of stern governmental responses and a huge amount of public outrage. BP has spent millions on the clean-up and millions more on a public relations campaign, all in an effort to repair the damage it caused to the Gulf but also to its image and, perhaps more importantly for BP, to its share price.  Read more.

Israeli Women to Super-Extremists: Don't Stop Me

No Longer a Party of Lincoln: The Racial Politics of the New GOP

John Nichols @ The Nation - The Republican Party, founded by militant abolitionists and the political home through much of its history for committed foes of segregation and discrimination, has since the late 1960s been degenerating toward the crude politics of Southern strategies and what former Republican National Committee chairman Lee Atwater referred to as the “coded” language of complaints about “forced busing,” legal-services programs, welfare and food stamps. But the 2012 campaign has seen this degeneration accelerate, as the candidates have repeatedly played on stereotypes about race, class and “entitlements.”

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told a crowd of supporters: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”  Read more.

If Corporations Are People, Then...

SeaCoast Online (New Hampshire) - Pondering corporate personhood can make your head swim. Based on the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, corporations now have unlimited free speech rights, the same as human beings do. What has been bothering me is that in certain areas, humans have a few more rules to follow than corporations. If you are a man, you have more rules still. Take the Selective Service, for example. If you are a guy, you have to register by age 18 or you are not eligible to receive government training, a government job or eligibility for a student loan. Perhaps all male corporations should sign up with the Selective Service to be eligible for government contracts, research grants or guaranteed loans.  Read more.

Occupy US Healthcare

Mary O'Brien @ Common Dreams - After wincing a bit from the free flu shot, my young patient turned to me and said, “What you’re doing here is awesome – it’s so hard get health care!”

“Here” happened to be New York City’s Zuccotti Park in mid-November, the epicenter of Occupy Wall Street, just days before the encampment was broken up by hundreds of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s armor-clad police in the dead of night. But it could have been anywhere in the United States.  Read more.

Occupy Wall Street: Why Now? What's Next?

The Nation - Naomi Klein is a journalist, activist and author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo. She writes a syndicated column for The Nation and The Guardian. Yotam Marom is a political organizer, educator, and writer based in New York. He has been active in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and is a member of the Organization for a Free Society. This conversation was recorded in New York City.  Read more.

Occupy the New Hampshire Primary: Granny D's Last Speech

Tumultuous Times for Democracy Compelled Moyers' Return to TV

Common Dreams - After a nearly two year hiatus, journalist Bill Moyers will return to television this weekend with a new show called Moyers & Company.  His previous show, Bill Moyers' Journal, ended in 2010.

According to the show's new website at BillMoyers.com, the show will be focused on the role of democracy in society and stipulates it will "be a political series, but not a partisan one."

The New York Times profiled the septuagenarian journalist over the weekend and gave a sense of the show's scope as well as a sampling of the guest list:  Read more.

Ten Years of Guantanamo: One of the Prison's First Detainees Breaks His Silence

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - David Hicks was the Australian drifter who, years before 9/11, converted to Islam, changed his name to Muhammed Dawood and ended up at training camps in Afghanistan the US government claimed was linked to al-Qaeda.
Hicks was picked up at a taxi stand by the Northern Alliance in November 2001 and sold to US forces for about $1,500. Hicks was detainee 002, the second person processed into Guantanamo on January 11, 2002, the day the facility opened. He is one of the small group of detainees who challenged President George W. Bush’s November 13, 2001 executive order authorizing indefinite detention, which led to a landmark 2004 Supreme Court case, Rasul v. Bush, in which the High-Court said detainees have access to federal courts to challenge their imprisonment at Guantanamo.  Read more.

Iraqi Torture Scandal Touches Highest Levels of NATO

Jeffrey Kaye @ Truthout - A scandal unfolding in Denmark over the transfer of Iraqi prisoners by Danish forces to Iraq authorities, even as they knew they would be tortured, threatens to implicate the current Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen, formerly prime minister of Denmark from 2001-2009.

The defense ministry in the government of former Prime Minister Rasmussen is charged with withholding its knowledge of Iraqi torture from legislators when a copy of a 2004 inspection at Al Makil prison in Basra was sent to Parliament.

According to an article last month in the Danish paper Politiken, portions of the report describing prisoner abuse were "blacked out," with the reason given that such "information could harm Danish-Iraq cooperation."  Read more.

Coal Miners Pay in Blood for China's Economic Miracle

Richard Schiffman @ Common Dreams - There is a saying in China about the coal miners who go underground into the bowels of the earth to earn their living -- that they only become human again when they come back to the surface.

After watching NYU Journalism School graduate Yuanchen Liu's stark and unflinching debut documentary, To the Light at the recent Margaret Mead Festival at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, it is not hard to see why China's miners feel that they have left the human world behind when they descend into their cramped coal tunnels for shifts of backbreaking labor that can last seven hours at a stretch.

The visually lyrical and heartbreaking film, which won the Mead's prestigious award this year for best in show, follows three miners both below and above the ground, and documents the price that they and their families have paid for their participation in what is arguably the world's deadliest profession.  Read more.

Obama's Pentagon Strategy: A Leaner, More Efficient Empire

Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis @ Common Dreams - In an age when U.S. power can be projected through private mercenary armies and unmanned Predator drones, the U.S. military need no longer rely on massive, conventional ground forces to pursue its imperial agenda, a fact President Barack Obama is now acknowledging. But make no mistake: while the tactics may be changing, the U.S. taxpayer -- and poor foreigners abroad -- will still be saddled with overblown military budgets and militaristic policies.  Read more.

The end of the US military occupation does not mean Iraqis have full control of their oil

Al Jazeera - On November 27, 38 months after Royal Dutch Shell announced its pursuit of a massive gas deal in southern Iraq, the oil giant had its contract signed for a $17bn flared gas deal.

Three days later, the US-based energy firm Emerson submitted a bid for a contract to operate at Iraq's giant Zubair oil field, which reportedly holds some eight million barrels of oil.  Read more.

Obama and Netanyahu's Push for Attack on Iran

Recognizing the "Unpeople"

Noam Choamsky @ Truthout - On June 15, three months after the NATO bombing of Libya began, the African Union presented to the U.N. Security Council the African position on the attack – in reality, bombing by their traditional imperial aggressors: France and Britain, joined by the U.S., which initially coordinated the assault, and marginally some other nations.
It should be recalled that there were two interventions. The first, under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, adopted on March 17, called for a no-fly zone, a cease-fire and measures to protect civilians. After a few moments, that intervention was cast aside as the imperial triumvirate joined the rebel army, serving as its air force.

At the outset of the bombing, the A.U. called for efforts at diplomacy and negotiations to try to head off a likely humanitarian catastrophe in Libya. Within the month, the A.U. was joined by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and others, including the major reg…

US Political News Is a Fool’s Game

Danny Schechter @ Consortium News - “Game On” was Rick Santorum’s first comment after his “surge” was considered successful with a mere 30,000 votes in Ioway. He inadvertently gave the game away by calling it a game — which is what it is.

Only this game is not just about politics but about the media. Pseudo-events like this are what the media lives for: it provides something for them to do, and to feel important while doing it. It creates airtime for endless punditry, and a spectacle to liven up a dull Iowa winter.  Read more.

Arms Dealer Obama Will Win by Default

Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - Barack Obama will be re-elected not as a vindication of his policies but because the Republicans are incapable of providing a reasonable challenge to his flawed performance. On the central issue of our time—reining in the greed of the multinational corporations, led by the financial sector and the defense industry—a Republican presidential victor, with the possible exception of the now-sidelined Ron Paul, would do far less to challenge the kleptocracy of corporate-dominated governance.  Read more.

Universities Gone Wild: Big Money, Big Sports and Scandalous Abuse at Penn State

Truthout - Too many universities are now beholden to big business, big sports and big military contracts. And it is within this new set of contexts that we must read the Penn State scandal. Much media attention has been drawn to the fact that Penn State pulls in tens of millions of dollars in football revenue, but nothing has been said of the fact that it also receives millions from Defense Department contracts and grants, ranking sixth among universities and colleges receiving funds for military research.  Read more.

Nordic Whoring: US Workers Get Cheap

David Macaray @ Common Dreams - Sociologists tell us that the reason an otherwise happily married man will seek the services of a prostitute is because he knows she will do things his wife would never consent to do.  Whether or not that explanation is accurate, the same perception appears to be Sweden’s reason for embracing the American worker.  Judging from their recent actions, Swedish companies are convinced they can get American workers to do things their own citizens would never do.

Early evidence of this perception was seen in the draconian measures instituted at Sweden’s IKEA manufacturing plant in Danville, Virginia.  After getting the local community to pony up more than $12 million in tax breaks and other subsidies (as an inducement for IKEA to locate its factory in this job-starved region of Virginia), it didn’t take long for the company to show its true colors.  Read more.
Roll Call - Just shy of two years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, a Montana legal challenge has set the stage for the high court to revisit its landmark decision to deregulate corporate political spending.

The Montana Supreme Court last week rejected a constitutional challenge to the state’s century-old prohibition on independent corporate campaign expenditures. That Montana statute was technically nullified when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out federal limits on independent corporate and union political spending in 2010.  Read more.

Montana State Supreme Court: Citizens United Not Welcome Here

Sam Ferguson @ Truthout - In a rebuke to the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Montana has held that Citizens United does not apply to Montana campaign finance law.
Last Friday, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a 1912 voter initiative - the Corrupt Practices Act - that prohibits corporations from making contributions to or expenditures on behalf of state political candidates and political parties.  Read more.

US Primaries Promise Little – and 2012 Could Deliver Even Less

Guardian UK - 'They are in a terminal panic," said Pat Buchanan in February 1996 of the Republican establishment, as his insurgent campaign against Senate leader Bob Dole gathered pace. "All the knights and barons will be riding into the castle pulling up the drawbridge in a minute. All the peasants are coming with pitchforks. We're going to take this over the top." By March his campaign was suspended. By November he was supporting Dole.  Read more.

End of the Pro-Democracy Pretense

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - Media coverage of the Arab Spring somehow depicted the U.S. as sympathetic to and supportive of the democratic protesters notwithstanding the nation’s decades-long financial and military support for most of the targeted despots. That’s because a central staple of American domestic propaganda about its foreign policy is that the nation is “pro-democracy” — that’s the banner under which Americans wars are typically prettified — even though “democracy” in this regard really means “a government which serves American interests regardless of how their power is acquired,” while “despot” means “a government which defies American orders even if they’re democratically elected.” It’s always preferable when pretenses of this sort are dropped — the ugly truth is better than pretty lies — and the events in the Arab world have forced the explicit relinquishment of this pro-democracy conceit.  Read more.

Protect Your Cell Phone from Prying Eyes in 2012

Technorati - Cell phone monitoring is a big issue, and scandals like News of the World and CarrierIQ reveal how pervasive the issue is, and how easily it is for people and companies to monitor cell phones. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange warned cell phone users of this problem earlier this month when he released details of companies that are selling information they obtain through cell phone monitoring. According to Assange, more than 150 companies around the world have the ability to use cell phones as tracking devices to intercept messages and to listen to calls.  Read more.

Somalians Caught in Crossfire as US Bank Withdraws Cash Lifeline

Independent UK - There were urgent warnings yesterday that a decision by a large American bank to stop allowing money transfers from Somali-Americans to relatives and friends in Somalia – a vital lifeline for much of its famine-struck population – could lead to a worsening of the already dire humanitarian crisis there.  Read more.

Populism Isn't Dead, It's Marching: What 19th Century Farmers Can Teach Occupiers About How to Keep Going

Ashley Sanders @ War Is A Crime - Not so long ago, Americans witnessed the beginning of a mass democratic uprising. Thousands of average people, disgusted by greedy elites and corporate control of government, launched a movement that spread to almost every state in the nation. They did it to reject debt. They did it to fight foreclosures. They did it to topple a world where the 1 percent determined life for the other 99. And they did all of it against incredible odds, with a self-respect that stymied critics.

The year? 1877. The people? Dirt-poor farmers who would come to be known as Populists.  Read more.

Warning: 'Fracking' rock to extract gas causes earthquakes. But how big?

Daily Kos - Scientists aren't willing yet to say if there is a connection between a series of nine small earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio, and hydraulic fracturing. That's the technique nicknamed "fracking," which injects millions of gallons of water under pressure to break up rock and get at fossil fuels, especially natural gas.  Read more.