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Showing posts from April, 2012

Dog-Training the Press Corps

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - This weekend, the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner was held, and it is — as Gawker‘s Hamilton Nolan explained in the best analysis ever of that event — the purest expression of the total blending of political power, media subservience, and vapid celebrity in one toxic, repulsive, and destructive package. It’s imperial rot — the Versailles virus — in its most virulent form. Of course, Stephen Colbert, in the best political speech of the last decade, used his appearance at that banquet in 2006 to clearly set forth the rules by which they function:  Read more.

Jeremy Scahill: US Has Become 'Nation of Assassins'

Noam Chomsky's "Occupy"

Foreign Policy In Focus - Noam Chomsky has seen a lot of social movements. He cut his teeth on the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He participated in the anti-intervention struggles of the 1980s as well as in the World Social Forums that began in the 1990s. Now in his 80s, Chomsky has hardly slowed down with his schedule of writing and speaking and agitating. And he is certainly not one to watch the new Occupy movement from the sidelines.  Read more.

FCC weighs putting political ad data online; broadcasters balk

LA Times - This month, just before the Pennsylvania primary, Mitt Romney's campaign bought a 30-second commercial on CBS-owned KYW-TV Philadelphia that ran during the station's late local news. The ad cost $1,800.

That's hardly confidential information. The details of such political advertising purchases are available to anybody willing to schlep to their local television station and ask to see the public files.

But now the Federal Communications Commission wants to take that same material, which is required by law to be made available to the public, out of a dusty filing cabinet and onto the Internet. On Friday, the FCC will vote on whether to make that a new rule.  Read more.

The Weight

William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout - It is brutally hard to be a Christian in America these days.

Yeah, I said it. It's true.

I'm a Christian. I was born and baptized, and then given First Confession and First Communion wearing my little white suit with the little gold buckles on my little white shoes. I learned the Bible at my grandmother's knee - her way of teaching me to read - and went out into the world thinking do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you and that-which-you-do-to-the-least-of-my-brothers-you-do-unto-me was the proper way of things.  Read more.

The NSA Is Watching You

Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - Three targeted Americans: A career government intelligence official, a filmmaker and a hacker. None of these U.S. citizens was charged with a crime, but they have been tracked, surveilled, detained—sometimes at gunpoint—and interrogated, with no access to a lawyer. Each remains resolute in standing up to the increasing government crackdown on dissent.  Read more.

CeCe McDonald: Transgender African-American Woman Faces Controversial Murder Trial

Democracy Now - A transgender African-American woman is facing trial for murder after an incident outside a Minneapolis bar where she was reportedly harassed and then physically attacked. CeCe McDonald, who is 23 years old, is scheduled to stand trial later this month for second-degree murder. But supporters say McDonald was the victim on June 5, 2011, after two women and a man, all of them Caucasian, began harassing her and her friends outside a bar, calling them racial and homophobic slurs.  Read more.

White House approves broader Yemen drone campaign

Washington Post - The United States has begun launching drone strikes against suspected al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen under new authority approved by President Obama that allows the CIA and the military to fire even when the identity of those who could be killed is not known, U.S. officials said.

The policy shift marks a significant expansion of the clandestine drone war against an al-Qaeda affiliate that has seized large ­pieces of territory in Yemen and is linked to a series of terrorist plots against the United States.  Read more.

Yet Another Big Lie: Mortgage Fraud Investigation Not Staffed

Yves Smith @ Naket Capitalism - The Administration has managed the impressive task of operating in a more cynical fashion than even its worst critics predicted.

Remember the widely ballyhooed mortgage fraud investigation, announced at the State of the Union address? This was the shiny toy that succeeded in getting New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman to abandon his opposition to the mortgage settlement. Schneiderman had been the defacto leader of the dissenters by virtue both of being the first to stand against the effort and by having the Martin Act. Suborning Schneiderman put the objecting state attorneys general in disarray and enabled the Administration to push this toxic deal over the finish line.

It was pretty obvious Schneiderman had been had.  Read more.

Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart After Top-Level Struggle

NY Times News Service @ Truthout - In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company's largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.

The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico.  Read more.

Can There Be "Good" Corporations?

Majorie Kelly @ Yes! Magazine - Our economic system is profoundly broken. To anyone paying attention, that much is clear. But what’s less clear is this: Our approach to fixing the economy is broken as well. The whole notion of “fighting corporate power” arises from an underlying belief that there is no alternative to capitalism as we know it. Starting from the insight that capitalism has become virtually a universal economy, we conclude that our best hope is to regulate corporations and work for countervailing powers like unions. But then we’ve lost before we begin. We’ve defined ourselves as marginal and powerless.

There is another approach. It’s bubbling up all around us in the form of economic alternatives like cooperatives, employee-owned firms, social enterprises, and community land trusts. We don’t recognize that these represent a coherent, workable alternative to capitalism, for two reasons.  Read more.

Bullied Primghar teen couldn't see past his pain, committed suicide

Des Moines Register - Fourteen-year-old Kenneth James Weishuhn Jr. revealed to his family and fellow students a month ago that he was gay.

What followed were weeks of relentless bullying, on Facebook and in the halls of South O’Brien Community School in nearby Paullina — shouts of “Queer!” and far worse, family and friends say. The district superintendent and principal confirm one bullying incident at school.

Over the weekend, Weishuhn took his own life.  Read more.

Newest Michigan museum showcases racist artifacts

Yahoo News! - The objects displayed in Michigan's newest museum range from the ordinary, such as simple ashtrays and fishing lures, to the grotesque — a full-size replica of a lynching tree. But all are united by a common theme: They are steeped in racism so intense that it makes visitors cringe.

That's the idea behind the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, which says it has amassed the nation's largest public collection of artifacts spanning the segregation era, from Reconstruction until the civil rights movement, and beyond.

The museum in a gleaming new exhibit hall at Ferris State University "is all about teaching, not a shrine to racism," said David Pilgrim, the founder and curator who started building the collection as a teenager.

Pilgrim, who is black, makes no apologies for the provocative exhibits. The goal of the $1.3 million gallery, he explained, is "to get people to think deeply."  Read more.

Drilling in deep Gulf getting busy again

Houston Chronicle - Drilling in the deep Gulf of Mexico is becoming robust two years after the oil spill that prompted a six-month moratorium on deep-water exploration, but more of the work now is left to large companies.

Triple-digit oil prices are driving the activity, making it worthwhile to go forward even given the cost, risk and heightened government scrutiny of working in waters often a mile deep or more.  Read more.

Under Nondisclosure Agreements, Companies Like the Washington Post Will Continue to Silence Whistleblowers

Danny Weil @ Truthout - By its own admission, The Washington Post Company (WaPo) has been the subject of 16 whistleblower lawsuits claiming fraudulent business practices at their subsidiary Kaplan University over the past several years.

Over the past 12 months, WaPo has settled at least three of these lawsuits, as well as a claim that they misled students in North Carolina at a dental school. In each case, WaPo has admitted to no wrongdoing, but has provided a financial settlement agreement containing a "nondisclosure" agreement muzzling claimants into silence.  Read more.

Community Radio Poised for a Big Comeback as Activists Free the Airwaves

Mike Ludwig @ Truthout - For several years, Luis Avila produced an acclaimed youth radio show in the Phoenix, Arizona, area that tackled everything from Latino-American culture to immigration reform, teen pregnancy and the fight to ensure undocumented students can receive college scholarships. Avila's show, "El Break," went off the air three years ago after the station that hosted Avila and his friends as guests ran out of money and was sold. After unsuccessfully looking for another host station, Avila and a coalition of immigrant rights groups decided to work toward launching their own community radio station to put "El Break" back on the air and provide more programs to serve their community, but federal regulators have not approved any lower-power FM radio stations - the non-commercial kind used exclusively by nonprofit groups and governments to serve a local area - in more than a ten years. But that's all about to change.  Read more.

Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming People Among First, Most Affected by War on Terror's Biometrics Craze

Truthout - When Zev Al-Walid walks through an airport security scanner, he more or less willingly parts with his belt, his shoes and his pocket change, just like any other traveler. But by the time Walid - a man who was designated female at birth and later transitioned - is ready to reclaim his personal items, there's often an extra hurdle blocking the path to his gate.
Walid, who travels frequently to the United States and countries around the world from his home in Western Europe, remembers a particularly bad trip through a US airport's backscatter scanner machine.
"I wasn't really privy to what the picture looked like or anything," said Walid. "I could just hear the guy, in front of me, talking on the radio, presumably to the person looking at the image. And he was like, 'Yeah. No. He's right here. I'm telling you, he's a man. I'm looking right at him.'"
"I felt physically ill after that," said Walid.  Read more.

A President Who Doesn't Even Try

Ted Rail @ Common Dreams - The President's progressive critics blame him for continuing and expanding upon his Republican predecessor's policies. His supporters point to the obstructionist, Republican-controlled Congress. What can Obama do? He's being stymied at every turn.  Read more.

Union Activists Are Being Murdered

David Mcacaray @ Common Dreams - Make no mistake.  We had some ugly anti-labor mischief of our own during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where union organizers, political radicals, suspected anarchists and Bolsheviks were blackballed, beaten, imprisoned, deported, murdered, and state-executed—all in the name of “law and order.”  But while many of these men (and women, too….they deported Emma Goldman to Russia) were clearly railroaded, at least the high-profile figures were given the semblance of a jury trial.  Read more.

Jeremy Scahill: Who Approves the Drones?

How the Goldman Vampire Squid Just Captured Europe

Ellen Brown @ Truthout - The Goldman Sachs coup that failed in America has nearly succeeded in Europe - a permanent, irrevocable, unchallengeable bailout for the banks underwritten by the taxpayers.
In September 2008, Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, managed to extort a $700 billion bank bailout from Congress. But to pull it off, he had to fall on his knees and threaten the collapse of the entire global financial system and the imposition of martial law; and the bailout was a one-time affair. Paulson's plea for a permanent bailout fund - the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP - was opposed by Congress and ultimately rejected.  Read more.

Did Climate Change Activism Lead to Coup of Island President?

Common Dreams - Mohamed Nasheed, the president of the Maldives who was ousted in a military coup in February, today suggested that his ouster was carried out by forces acting as a 'facade' for the former dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and that recognition of the new government by certain powers in the international community indicates that his outspoken activism on the issue of 'climate change' has been a significant factor. Read more.

The "Suicidal State" and the War on Youth

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - In spite of being discredited by the economic recession of 2008, market fundamentalism has once again assumed primacy as a dominant force for producing unprecedented inequalities in wealth and income, runaway environmental devastation, egregious amounts of human suffering and what Alex Honneth has called an "abyss of failed sociality."(1) The Gilded Age is back with big profits for the ultra-rich and large financial institutions and increasing impoverishment and misery for the middle and working class. Political illiteracy and religious fundamentalism have cornered the market on populist rage providing support for a country in which, as Robert Reich points out, "the very richest people get all the economic gains [and] routinely bribe politicians" to cut their taxes and establish policies that eliminate public goods such as schools, social protections, health care and important infrastructures.(2)

It gets worse. Everywhere we look, the power…

America's Prescription Drug Addiction Suggests a Sick Nation

Guardian UK - We Americans really like to pop pills. The Associated Press has just reported that we're increasingly strung out on prescription opioids, with sales ballooning from 2000 to 2010. In some parts of the US, receipts for oxycodone-based products – such as OxyContin, Percoset, and Percodan – surged sixteenfold; hydrocodone-based products such as Vicodin continue to gain solid ground in Appalachia and Middle America.  Read more.

Liberals betray Bradley Manning

Charles Davis @ Salon - More than three years into the presidency of Barack Obama, it’s almost a cliché now to ask: What if George W. Bush did it? From dramatically escalating the war in Afghanistan to institutionalizing the practice of indefinite imprisonment, Obama has dashed hopes he would offer a change from the Bush’s national security policies – but he hasn’t faced a whole lot of resistance from liberals who once decried those policies as an affront to American values.  Read more.

Debunking Van Jones' Claim

Rose Aguilar @ Uprsing Radio - Van Jones, the long-time racial and social justice activist who served as the green jobs adviser in the White House in 2009, is currently doing a media tour for his new book, “Rebuilding the Dream.”

In the book, he reflects on his journey from grassroots outsider to White House insider and reveals why he chose to resign from his post after being attacked by the now former Fox News talking head Glenn Beck.

He argues that the White House misunderstood the grassroots and the grassroots misunderstood what the White House could and couldn’t do.  Read more.

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange: Press Complaints Comission stood by as I was libelled by media

Guardian UK - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has launched an attack on the Press Complaints Commission, claiming he has been subjected to inaccurate and negative media coverage "possibly on a scale not seen since the abuse of the McCanns".

He says the soon-to-be-extinct complaints body stood idly by as he "suffered extensive libels" in the coverage of his battle with Swedish authorities over sexual assault allegations.  Read more.

Black in White Plains: The Police Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - “My name is Kenneth Chamberlain. This is my sworn testimony. White Plains police are going to come in here and kill me.”

And that’s just what they did.

In the early hours of Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, U.S. Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. accidentally hit his LifeAid medical-alert pendant, presumably while sleeping. The 68-year-old retired corrections officer had a heart condition, but wasn’t in need of help that dawn. Within two hours, the White Plains, N.Y., police department broke down his apartment door and shot him dead. Chamberlain was African-American. As with Trayvon Martin, the black teen recently killed in Florida, there are recordings of the events, recordings that include a racial slur directed at the victim.  Read more.

Strip-Searches: Obama Wants You to Bend Over (Or Squat) and Spread ‘Em

Glen Ford @ BAR - Humiliation is the law of the land. When you fall into the clutches of the police, for any reason, or no good reason at all, you can be compelled to bare your private parts before being placed in the general jail population. Five of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled that Constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable searches end at the jailhouse door, even if there is no reason to suspect that the person under arrest is in possession of anything that could be called contraband.

The decision throws out laws against unreasonable strip searches in at least ten states, and overrides federal law enforcement regulations against intrusive searches.  Read more.

Welcome to Poverty

California Students Pepper-Sprayed While Protesting Tuition Hikes Caused by Budget Cuts

Think Progress - Santa Monica College, a public community college in California, has been so strained by cuts to state education funding that it has had to turn away students, increase tuition, and charge higher fees for classes. The school recently announced a plan to raise prices on its most popular courses, creating an unequal, two-track cost system and raising problems for cash-strapped students who are already struggling to keep up with rising tuition rates.  Read more.

Greek Suicide Seen as an Act of Fortitude as Much as One of Despair

Guardian UK - A picture of the man who has come to embody the inequities of Greece's financial crisis has begun to emerge, with friends and neighbors shedding light on the life of the elderly pensioner who killed himself in Athens on Wednesday.

Named as Dimitris Christoulas by the Greek media, the retired pharmacist was described as decent, law-abiding, meticulous and dignified.  Read more.

The memo Bush tried to destroy

Jordan Michael Smith @ Salon - In February of 2006, Philip Zelikow, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, authored a memo opposing the Bush administration’s torture practices (though he employed the infamous obfuscation of “enhanced interrogation techniques”). The White House tried to collect and destroy all copies of the memo, but one survived in the State Department’s bowels and was declassified yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive.

The memo argues that the Convention Against Torture, and the Constitution’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, do indeed apply to the CIA’s use of “waterboard[ing], walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement.”  Read more.

The Fashion Industry's Perfect Storm: Collapsing Workers and Hyperactive Buyers

Anne Elizabeth Moore - About a year ago, record numbers of garment laborers in factories across Cambodia - which exports 70 percent of the garments manufactured there to the US - were reported to be suddenly and mysteriously falling to the ground, unconscious. Hundreds at a time - sometimes less, although sometimes more. Workers at many scenes reported foul smells, difficulty breathing. Halting investigations took place at select plants by various parties involved: government officials; labor unions; human rights groups; business associations; monitoring organizations; and, weirdly, the international big-name brands that sell the clothes being made. A consortium of factors was considered: hypoglycemia, the direct result of workers not eating enough; minor factory infractions that managers promised to address immediately; a common cold outbreak emanating from Canada; overwork; mass hysteria; workers partying too hard over the weekend; and spiritual possession. In the end, no single cau…

Black Cop Shot 28 Times by White Cops Charged With Attempted Murder. Really.

Abby Zimet @ Common Dreams - An incredible - and grossly under-reported - story out of Chicago, where Howard Morgan, a black 60-year-old former police officer working railroad security, was stopped for an alleged traffic violation, shot 28 times (21 in the back) by four white former colleagues, and inexplicably survived, only to be charged - and tried twice by a prosecutor who argued, "Every bullet he got, he earned" - with trying to kill them. His sentencing is Thursday; he faces up to 80 years in prison.  Read more.

Pregnancy, Sexual Congress and the (In)Visibility of Men

Ellen Brown @ Truthout - Now you see men. Now you don't.

When it comes to being an expert on birth control and women's sexuality, men are apparently the experts, the go-to guys. Men are twice as likely as women to be pundits on birth control on cable news, and men were the sole panelists when birth control was discussed in   Read more.

Christian College Rampage: Oakland shooting suspect charged with murder

CBS News - Prosecutors have filed seven murder charges against the man accused of a fatal shooting rampage at a California Christian college.

Forty-three-year-old One Goh also was charged Wednesday with three counts of attempted murder.

He also faces a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders that could make him eligible for the death penalty.  Read more.