Paul Kugman @ Krugman & Co - President Obama gets this exactly right: "When some people question why I would challenge [Mitt Romney's] Bain record," he told CBS News on July 13, "the point I've made there in the past is, if you're a head of a large private equity firm or hedge fund, your job is to make money. It's not to create jobs. It's not even to create a successful business — it's to make sure that you're maximizing returns for your investor."
A country is not a company — and it's definitely not a private equity firm. Read more.
Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas—are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance. They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.
There is probably no more inhospitable place to be an intellectual, or a person of color or a member of the LGBT community, than on the campuses of the Big Ten Conference colleges, although the poison of this bizarre American…
Common Dreams - Protesters continued to express outrage in Anaheim, Calif. on Sunday in the ninth consecutive day of protests following two fatal police shootings last week. Police once again exhibited a heavy handed response to the protests, arriving in paramilitary riot gear and blocking protesters outside the gates of Anaheim's Disneyland Resort, leading to nine arrests.
Unrest in Orange County's largest city erupted last week following the killing of unarmed Manuel Diaz, 25, on July 21, and the killing of Joel Acevedo, 21, the following night, both by Anaheim police. Read more.
The Hindu (India) - Thirty-two persons, including six women and three children, were burnt to death when flames engulfed the S11 coach of the Chennai-bound Tamil Nadu Express, close to the railway station here in Andhra Pradesh in the early hours of Monday.
Twenty-seven passengers suffered burns and two of them are stated to be critical. Most of the deceased and the injured belong to Vijayawada, Warangal and Jaipur. Some were working as software professionals in Chennai. All other coaches were intact. Read more.
Paul Bucheit @ Common Dreams - The privatization of public goods and services turns basic human needs into products to buy and sell. That's more than a joke, it's an insult, it's a perversion. It generally benefits only a privileged group of businesspeople and their companies while increasing inequality and undermining the common good.
Various studies have identified the 'benefits' of privatization as profitability and productivity, efficiency, wider share ownership and good investment returns. These are business benefits. More balanced studies consider the effects on average people, who have paid into a long-established societal support system for their schools and emergency services, water and transportation systems, and eventually health care and retirement benefits. These studies have concluded that: Read more.
Margaret Noesek @ Houston Chronicle - It's a birthday that deserves to be celebrated, including here in the Lone Star State. Medicare provides 48 million Americans - about 3 million of them in Texas - with reasonably good access to health care, thereby easing their suffering, prolonging their lives, and reducing financial pressures on them and their families. Before Medicare was enacted in 1965, most retired older people were at risk of financial ruin when they got sick. Medicare changed that picture, and our state and nation are much better for it.
With all the commotion surrounding the Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it would be easy to overlook an important birthday: Today is the 47th anniversary of Medicare, the public health insurance program that covers our nation's seniors and people with severe disabilities. Read more.
Stephan Salisbury @ Tom Dispatch - Welcome to the abattoir -- a nation where a man can walk into a store and buy an assault rifle, a shotgun, a couple of Glocks; where in the comfort of his darkened living room, windows blocked from the sunlight, he can rig a series of bombs unperturbed and buy thousands of rounds of ammo on the Internet; where a movie theater can turn into a killing floor at the midnight hour. Read more.
NY Times - From his computer console here in the Syracuse suburbs, Col. D. Scott Brenton remotely flies a Reaper drone that beams back hundreds of hours of live video of insurgents, his intended targets, going about their daily lives 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. Sometimes he and his team watch the same family compound for weeks. Read more.
Common Dreams - Over the weekend, an op-ed by New York Times editor Bill Keller defending Wikileaks founder Julian Assange surfaced that was, in fact, a hoax so well executed that it fooled even the Time's own technology writer. Read more.
Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas—are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance. They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance. Read more.
Dean Baker @ Truthout- Many people are following the presidential election closely with the idea that the outcome will have a major impact on national policy. However, according to Steven Pearlstein, a veteran Washington Post columnist and reporter, it may not matter who wins the election. In a column last week, Pearlstein told readers that the top executives of some of the country's largest companies are getting together to craft a budget package that they will try to push through Congress and get the president to sign. Read more.
Common Dreams - A new report by the Tax Justice Network released Sunday reveals that between $21 trillion and $31 trillion is currently tucked away in global tax havens by the global super-rich--an amount that far exceeds previous estimates. Through exploiting gaps in global tax rules, the global financial elite are managing to hide "as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together" from taxation, leaving the world's poor to carry the burden of global debt through harsh austerity measures. Read more.
Common Dreams - The drought in the U.S. is intensifying and shows little signs of abating, according the most recent Drought Monitor issued Thursday.
The data from the Drought Monitor show the intensification of the drought over the past week. While the amount of the contiguous U.S. hit by drought remained at near 64%, the area hit by severe or greater drought went from about 42% to 46%. In the past week, the areas suffering extreme or exceptional drought jumped from 13.5% to almost 21%. Read more.
Jeffrey St. Clair & Joshua Frank for AK Press @ Truthout (Book Excerpt) - Obama's most grievous political wounds were self-inflicted, starting even before his election when he rushed back to Washington to help rescue Bush's Wall Street bailout. This was perhaps the first real indication that the luminous campaign speeches about generational and systemic change masked the servile psyche of a man who was desperately yearning to be embraced by the nation's political and financial elites. Read more.
Paul Krugman @ Truthout - Paul Krugman @ Truthout - Last fall, when the first wave of speculative attacks on the euro system was under way, I noted the peculiar safe-haven status of Denmark, which was able to borrow at much lower rates than seemingly comparable euro countries like Finland, even though Denmark's currency is pegged to the euro. Read more.
Jason Leopold @ Truthout - It's hard to believe that November will mark the twentieth anniversary of the release of one of the greatest albums of all time: the self-titled debut by Rage Against the Machine, the Los Angeles-based quartet that fused the radical politics of Detroit's MC5 with elements of rock, rap, thrash, punk, heavy metal and Parliament-era funk and went on to become one of the most influential and commercially successful bands of the 1990s. Read more.
Michael Moore @ Common Dreams - Since Cain went nuts and whacked Abel, there have always been those humans who, for one reason or another, go temporarily or permanently insane and commit unspeakable acts of violence. There was the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who during the first century A.D. enjoyed throwing victims off a cliff on the Mediterranean island of Capri. Gilles de Rais, a French knight and ally of Joan of Arc during the middle ages, went cuckoo-for-Cocoa Puffs one day and ended up murdering hundreds of children. Just a few decades later Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula, was killing people in Transylvania in numberless horrifying ways.
In modern times, nearly every nation has had a psychopath or two commit a mass murder, regardless of how strict their gun laws are – the crazed white supremacist in Norway one year ago Sunday, the schoolyard butcher in Dunblane, Scotland, the École Polytechnique killer in Montreal, the mass murderer in Erfurt, Germany … the list seems …
Jodi Jacobson @ RH Reality Check - As reported in the StarTribune Nation, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found yesterday by a vote of 7 to 4 that South Dakota can require doctors to warn women that they face an increased risk of suicide if they have an abortion. Read more.
Henry Giroux @ Truthout - The current reporting about the recent tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, is very discouraging. The media response to the alleged murderous rampage by James Holmes largely focuses on the guns he used, the easy availability of the ammunition he stockpiled, the booby trapping of his apartment and the ways in which he meticulously prepared for the carnage he allegedly produced. This is a similar script we saw unfold after the massacres at Columbine high school; Virginia Tech; Fort Hood; the supermarket in Tucson, Arizona; and the more recent gang shootings in Chicago. Immediately following such events, there is the expected call for gun control, new legislation to limit the sale of assault rifles and a justifiable critique of the pernicious policies of the National Rifle Association. One consequence is that the American public is being inundated with figures about gun violence ranging from the fact that more than 84 people are killed daily with guns to the sho…
David Bacon @ Truthout - For over two decades in many parts of Mexico, large corporations - mostly foreign-owned but usually with wealthy Mexican partners - have developed huge projects in rural areas. Called mega-projects, the mines and resource extraction efforts take advantage of economic reforms and trade treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Emphasizing foreign investment, even at the cost of environmental destruction and the displacement of people, has been the development policy of Mexican administrations since the 1970s. When the National Action Party (PAN) defeated the old governing Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI) in 2000, this economic development model did not change. In fact, the PAN simply took over the administration of this development policy and even accelerated it, while in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies the two parties cooperated to advance its goals. Read more.
JA Myerson @ Truthout - Last week, a San Francisco police officer shot 32-year-old Pralith Pralourng to death on Pralourng's lunch break. Pralourng, an Oakland man of Thai descent, was suspected of having slashed a friend of his with a box cutter at their job in a chocolate factory on the San Francisco peer. When the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) caught up with Pralourng, we don't exactly know what happened, but the latter wound up with two smoking holes in his chest, and the cop who fired the bullets that put them there was suspended with pay. Read more.
Christian Science Monitor -
Amelia Earhart, the famed aviatrix is best remembered for the mystery
surrounding her 1937 disappearance – and by the way, Google is honoring
her today with a birthday doodle. But Earhart’s views about gender
equality are arguably as noteworthy as her flight records.
started challenging gender stereotypes early in her life. According to
ameliaearhart.com, the official website produced by her family, Earhart,
who grew up in Atchison, Kans., was a tomboy who loved climbing trees,
hunting rats with a .22 rifle, and “belly-slamming” her sled to start it
downhill. Read more.
Reuters - Ghana's President John Atta Mills, who won
international praise as leader of a stable model democracy in Africa,
died suddenly on Tuesday and will be succeeded by his vice-president in
the West African oil, gold and cocoa producer, officials said.
Mills was 68. The unexpected death of the leader of the world's No. 2
cocoa grower comes months before he was due to stand for re-election in
Ghana, also a major African gold producer, started pumping oil in 2010
and posted double-digit growth in 2011, burnishing its image as an
increasingly attractive investment destination on the continent. It was
praised for its healthy democracy. Read more.
Dallas Darling @ The Palestine Chronicle - If Yasser Arafat, former co-founder of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), died from a lethal radioactive substance known as polonium, not only was it a clear case of political assassination by means of nuclear terrorism, but when he came bearing an olive branch and offered peace to Israel he only got poison.
After many years of leading the struggle for Palestinian statehood, in 1974 PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat addressed the United Nations saying: "Today I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter's gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand." Read more.
John Nichols @ The Nation - Alexander Cockburn and I met in the 1980s, when we shared places on a panel in Detroit, where the topic was the latest murders of Catholic priests by Latin American death squads. Alex was talking about the horrors of US foreign policy. I was talking about the horrors of US media coverage of US foreign policy. We were sufficiently in sync that our mutual friend, brilliant music writer and thinker Dave Marsh, came up at the end of the evening and. presuming that we were comrades long-standing, told us we really should take the show on the road. Read more.
Mark Weisbrot @ The Nation - Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, remains trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 19 June, as he awaits the government of Ecuador's decision on whether to grant him political asylum. It is interesting, if rather aggravating, to see how people who are supposed to be concerned with human rights and freedom of expression have reacted to this story. Read more.
Dean Baker @ Truthout - There are some policies that are pretty much no-brainers. We all agree that the Food and Drug Administration should keep dangerous drugs off the market. We all agree that the government should provide police and fire protection. And, we pretty much all agree that workers should be able to count on at least some minimal pay for a day's work.
The minimum wage is non-controversial. The vast majority of people across the political spectrum support the minimum wage. In fact, one of the big accomplishments of the Gingrich Congress in 1996 was a 22 percent increase in the minimum wage. The only real issue is how high it should be. There are good reasons for believing that the minimum wage should be considerably higher than it is today. Read more.
George Zornick @ The Nation - If you’ve ever had a conversation about the minimum wage with friends and family, you invariably hear an argument about how raising it would hurt small businesses.
There is compelling academic research that increasing the minimum wage doesn’t dramatically impact employment levels, but a new study underscores another important point—most people earning minimum wage work for large, profitable corporations. Read more.
Bill Moyers @ Moyers & Company - There are forgotten corners of this country where Americans are trapped in endless cycles of poverty, powerlessness, and despair as a direct result of capitalistic greed. Journalist Chris Hedges calls these places "sacrifice zones," and joins Bill this week on Moyers & Company to explore how areas like Camden, New Jersey; Immokalee, Florida; and parts of West Virginia suffer while the corporations that plundered them thrive.
These are areas that have been destroyed for quarterly profit. We're talking about environmentally destroyed, communities destroyed, human beings destroyed, families destroyed," Hedges tells Bill.
"It's the willingness on the part of people who seek personal enrichment to destroy other human beings... And because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from creating essentially a corporate oligarchic state.&quo…
AlterNet - So far, there’s not a whole lot known about James Eagan Holmes, the 24-year old whom police say fatally shot 12 people and injured dozens more in a suburban Denver movie theater during the premiere of the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” As the nation grieves for the families of the victims, questions about the alleged perpetrator are swirling. Read more.
Making Contact - The Olympic Games have grown into a multibillion dollar industry. But with that growth comes concerns about the negative effects of the event on the people and places where the Games take place. On this edition, we ask who wins, and who loses, when the Olympics come to town? We take you to Vancouver, London, and Denver — the only city to ever turn down the Olympics. Read more.
Jason Leopold @ Truthout - Nearly four years after changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) went into effect, the FBI, in response to a lawsuit in which I am a co-plaintiff, said the bureau would now begin to abide by a little-known provision in the law that requires all government agencies, when asked, to provide estimated dates of completion to records requesters.
Last February, the Arlington, Virginia-based public interest law firm National Security Counselors, and I sued the FBI and other government agencies for refusing to provide us with estimated dates of completion on our FOIA requests. Read more.
NY Times - Anticipation built in the packed, darkened movie theater. Life and its cares began to recede. Then, just after midnight on Friday, fantasy became nightmare, and a place of escape became a trap, when a man strode to the front in a multiplex near Denver and opened fire. At least 12 people were killed and 59 wounded, with witnesses describing a scene of claustrophobia, panic and blood. Minutes later, the police arrested James Holmes, 24, in the theater’s parking lot. Read more.
Ray McGovern @ Consortium News - Controversy generated by recent reporting by Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane of the New York Times about Food and Drug Administration spying on its doctors and scientists focuses on the blatant invasions of privacy, with Sen. Charles Grassley, R- Iowa, complaining of "Gestapo" tactics. But what about us?
What about the thousands of patients exposed to unnecessarily dangerous levels of radiation during mammogram screening and colonoscopies by General Electric medical imaging devices. Read more.
Elizabeth Warren @ The Washington Post - Washington Post - The Libor scandal is more than just the latest financial deception to come to light. It exposes a fraud that runs to the heart of our financial system.
The London interbank offered rate is a benchmark for a range of interest rates, and the misdeeds making headlines have to do with how those rates are set. If insiders can manipulate the basic measurement of a loan — the interest rate — there is rot at the core of the financial system. Read more.
Howard Zinn (Book Excerpt)@ Truthout - June 1980: Think a bit about the history of these past twenty-five years in the United States—the years of the black revolt and the movements of women, prisoners, native Americans; the years of the great campaign against the Indochina war and the illumination of Watergate. It was in these twenty- five years that the Establishment began to lose control of the minds and the loyalties of the American people. And since about 1975, the Establishment has been working steadily, with some desperation, to reassert that control. Read more.
NY Times - The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that baby bottles and children's drinking cups could no longer contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an estrogen-mimicking industrial chemical used in some plastic bottles and food packaging.
Manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, and the F.D.A. said that its decision was a response to a request by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry's main trade association, that rules allowing BPA in those products be phased out, in part to boost consumer confidence. Read more.
Business Insider - The U.S. government has been collecting data on nearly every U.S. citizen and assembling webs of their relationships, National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney told the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference last week. Binney worked for the Defense Department's foreign signals intelligence agency for 32 years before resigning in late 2001 because he "could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution," according to a statement he made in court records. Read more.
Business Insider - The Japanese government's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded, in a 641-page report released Thursday, that the March 11, 2011 nuclear incident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant was a "profoundly man-made disaster." Read more.
Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Ask yourself when was the last time you saw any of those tiny ads on Google and Facebook and rushed to buy the products or services. For that matter, ask yourself whether any radio or television advertisements prompted you to go out and buy the product. Read more.
Rose Ann DeMoro @ Common Dreams - Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, former insurance company executive Wendell Potter’s appeal to single payer advocates to “bury the hatchet,” recently published in The Nation, is both misdirected and shortsighted.
Potter argues that insurance industry pirates will exploit left critiques of the ACA to subvert implementation of the law. He calls on proponents of more comprehensive reform to forgive and forget, embracing the massive concessions made by the Obama administration and its liberal allies.
But there are some gaping holes in this thinking. Read more.
Dean Baker @ Guardian UK - The people who have been the winners in the massive upward redistribution of income over the last three decades have a happy story that they like to tell themselves and the rest of us: technology did it. The reason why this is a happy story is that technology develops to a large extent beyond our control.
None of us can decide exactly what direction innovations in computers, automation, or medicine will take. Scientists and engineers in these areas follow their leads and innovate where they can. If the outcome of these innovations is an economy that is more unequal, that may be unfortunate, but you can't get mad at the technology. This is why the beneficiaries of growing inequality are always happy to tell us that the problem is technology. Read more.
Michele Chen @ Culture Strike - Douglas Kesse, a Ghanaian asylum seeker who recently landed in Greece, was bewildered by how he was received in the cradle of Western Civilization. Reflecting on the epidemic of anti-immigrant attacks, he told human rights investigators, ”As human beings, we shouldn’t be treated like this…. I am not an animal to be chased with sticks.” Read more.
Common Dreams - The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alongside family members of three US citizens who were killed in US drone strikes last year filed a lawsuit Wednesday against senior CIA and military officials. The lawsuit contends that the authorization of drone strikes which lead to the death of the three US citizens violated the US Constitution and international law. Read more.
Common Dreams - The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alongside family members of three US citizens who were killed in US drone strikes last year filed a lawsuit Wednesday against senior CIA and military officials. The lawsuit contends that the authorization of drone strikes which lead to the death of the three US citizens violated the US Constitution and international law. Read more.
LA Times - Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a draft United Nations resolution that could have led to sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, faced with a 16-month uprising that has cost thousands of lives.
It was the third time that the two nations, both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, had rejected council action against Syria’s leadership. The vote was 11 to 2. Read more.
Business Insider - Of more than 38,000 children tested from the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, 36 percent have abnormal growths – cysts or nodules – on their thyroids a year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, as reported by ENENews. The shocking numbers come from the thyroid examination section of the "Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey," published by Fukushima Radioactive Contamination Symptoms Research (FRCSR) and translated by the blog Fukushima Voice. Read more.
Robert Jensen @ Truthout - In 2005, I preached on the ecological crisis in a sermon I titled "Hope is for the Weak: The Challenge of a Broken World." Looking back, I realize that I had been far too upbeat and optimistic, probably trying too hard to be liked. Today I want to correct that.
Hence, my updated title: "Hope is for the Lazy: The Challenge of Our Dead World." Let's start with two of the three important changes.
First, to be a hope-monger or a hope-peddler today is not just a sign of weakness but also of laziness, and sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. Don't forget that, as good Christians, we try to avoid those. Read more.
NY Times - The Federal Reserve Bank of New York learned in April 2008, as the financial crisis was brewing, that at least one bank was reporting false interest rates.
At the time, a Barclays employee told a New York Fed official that “we know that we’re not posting um, an honest” rate, according to documents released by the regulator on Friday. The employee indicated that other big banks made similarly bogus reports, saying that the British institution wanted to “fit in with the rest of the crowd.”
Although the New York Fed conferred with Britain and American regulators about the problems and recommended reforms, it failed to stop the illegal activity, which persisted through 2009. Read more.
Common Dreams - WikiLeaks declared a 'significant victory' Thursday afternoon in its legal campaign against the financial blockade imposed by Visa and MasterCard after an Icelandic court ordered their local partner to resume processing credit card donations to the WikiLeaks site. Read more.
Common Dreams - Problems with the steam generators and miles of tubing at the San Onofre nuclear plant are the most severe found in comparable generators in the US and much more severe than previously reported, according to a new report. Read more.
NY Times News Service @ Truthout - A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama, previously undisclosed records show. Read more.
JA Myerson @ Truthout - In Oakland, 13.7 percent are unemployed, as of last count (May 2012), and several dozen of those roughly 54,000 people met up Wednesday at Ogawa Plaza (renamed by Occupy Oakland for Oscar Grant, who was shot to death in 2009 by the transit cop at whose feet he lay under arrest), to launch the Union of Unemployed Workers.
"In the 1930s, there were unemployed councils," David Welsh, a retired letter carrier and organizer of the Union project...read more.
Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Cultures that endure carve out a protected space for those who question and challenge national myths. Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, actors, directors and renegades must be tolerated if a culture is to be pulled back from disaster. Members of this intellectual and artistic class, who are usually not welcome in the stultifying halls of academia where mediocrity is triumphant, serve as prophets. They are dismissed, or labeled by the power elites as subversive, because they do not embrace collective self-worship. They force us to confront unexamined assumptions, ones that, if not challenged, lead to destruction. They expose the ruling elites as hollow and corrupt. They articulate the senselessness of a system built on the ideology of endless growth, ceaseless exploitation and constant expansion. They warn us about the poison of careerism and the futility of the search for happiness in the accumulation of wealth…
Richard Schiffman @ Truthout - "I'm just a rancher who ended up governor of Montana," Brian Schweitzer is fond of saying. In a world where even Mitt Romney paints himself as a populist with humble roots, one might reasonably be skeptical of Schweitzer's self-portrait. The governor of the Big Sky State, however, appears to be the real deal - a plainspoken 51-year-old farmer and irrigation engineer, who had never held public office before he ran for the highest post in Montana eight years ago.
At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Schweitzer may rival New Jersey's Chris Christie as the nation's most physically imposing head of a state. He is also arguably the most accessible, keeping his door in the Capitol building in Helena open to ordinary Montanans, who reportedly show up without appointments to chat with the governor. Read more.
Nick Turse @ TomDispatch - They call it the New Spice Route, an homage to the medieval trade network that connected Europe, Africa, and Asia, even if today’s “spice road” has nothing to do with cinnamon, cloves, or silks. Instead, it’s a superpower’s superhighway, on which trucks and ships shuttle fuel, food, and military equipment through a growing maritime and ground transportation infrastructure to a network of supply depots, tiny camps, and airfields meant to service a fast-growing U.S. military presence in Africa. Read more.
Jeffery Kaye and Jason Leopold @ Truthout - etainees in custody of the US military were interrogated while drugged with powerful antipsychotic and other medications that "could impair an individual's ability to provide accurate information," according to a declassified Department of Defense (DoD) inspector general's report that probed the alleged use of "mind altering drugs" during interrogations.
In addition, detainees were subjected to "chemical restraints," hydrated with intravenous (IV) fluids while they were being interrogated and, in what appears to be a form of psychological manipulation, the inspector general's probe confirmed at least one detainee - convicted "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla - was the subject of a "deliberate ruse" in which his interrogator led him to believe he was given an injection of "truth serum." Read more.
Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - Yesterday morning, The Huffington Post published a post by Hossein Abedini, who was identified in the byline as a “Member of Parliament in exile of Iranian Resistance.” His extended HuffPost bio says that he “belongs to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran” (NCRI). The NCRI is the political arm of the Mujahideen-e Khalq, (MeK), the Iranian dissident group (and longtime Saddam ally) that has been formally designated by the U.S. State Department since 1997 as a Terrorist organization, yet has been paying large sums of money to a bipartisan cast of former U.S. officials to advocate on its behalf (the in-hiding President of the NCRI, Massoud Rajavi, is, along with his wife Maryam Rajavi, MeK’s leader). Abedini, the HuffPost poster, has been identified as a MeK spokesman in news reports, and has identified himself the same way when, for instance, writing letters to NBC News objecting to negative reports about the group. Re…
Common Dreams - Hundreds of animal rights activists gathered outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday to protest what they say is Ringley Bros. Circus' continued mistreatment and abuse of elephants and other animals used in the company's traveling show.
'Kids would run screaming from the big top if they knew how baby elephants are violently forced to perform difficult, confusing, and sometimes painful tricks,' said Delcianna Winders...read more.
In These Times - After reading an exclusive report that appeared at Working In These Times, the Department of Labor has opened an investigation into captive-audience anti-union meetings held on an army base in Fort Lewis, Washington. Ayofemi Kirby, spokeswoman for Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 286 union organizer Jeff Alexander both say their respective offices were contacted by a Department of Labor agent looking into whether General Dynamics violated the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act during a recent union election held at Fort Lewis. The DoL's Office of Labor-Management Standards would neither confirm nor deny that the investigation was taking place. Read more.
ProPublica - New research has concluded that salty, mineral-rich fluids deep beneath Pennsylvania's natural gas fields are likely seeping upward thousands of feet into drinking water supplies.
Though the fluids were natural and not the byproduct of drilling or hydraulic fracturing, the finding further stokes the red-hot controversy over fracking in the Marcellus Shale, suggesting that drilling waste and chemicals could migrate in ways previously thought to be impossible. Read more.
Common Dreams - After more than 90 days on hunger strike and three years in Israeli custody without charge or trial, Palestinian soccer player Mahmoud al-Sarsak was released on Tuesday and returned to his home in the Gaza strip. Read more.
Common Dreams - In a bid to ensure massive profits for western pharmaceutical corporations, the Obama administration has been working to push through international drug pricing policies which would ensure that sick patients in developing countries around the world will be paying exorbitant prices for much needed medicine far into the future...read more.
Eric Margolis - The ghost of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is rising from his grave to haunt Israel and the Americans.
A devastating investigation by Qatar’s al-Jazeera has found mounting evidence that Arafat’s death in 2004 was caused by the poisonous radioactive substance Polonium 210. Arafat’s widow, Suha, is now calling for his body to be exhumed and sent to the Swiss scientific institute in Lausanne that recently discovered traces of Polonium in Arafat’s clothing and personal effects. Read more.
Common Dreams - The U.S. just recorded the warmest first half-year on record, according to statistics released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The national temperature of 52.9°F was 4.5°F above the 20th century average for the January-June period. Most of the contiguous U.S. was record and near-record warm for the six-month period. Read more.
Marian Wright Edelman @ Common Dreams - A black boy born in 2001 has a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy a one in six chance of the same fate. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world: 7.1 million adult residents -- one in 33 -- are under some form of correctional supervision including prison, jail, probation, or parole. Michelle Alexander writes in her bestselling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness that there are more adult African Americans under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. In 2011, our state and federal prison population exceeded that of the top 35 European nations combined. Something’s very wrong with this picture. Read more.
Truthout - Earlier this year, a massive Internet blackout strike and millions of signatures on online petitions put pressure on Congress and defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), two bills that would have allowed the government and big media conglomerates to censor the web in the name of protecting copyrighted material. Read more.
Columbia Journalism Review - In May, CJR invited Brian Farnham, the founding editor of Patch, to write about a digital news service called Journatic, which had just signed up to take over the Chicago Tribune’s suburban coverage. Farnham weighed in on the chances of Journatic rewriting the hyperlocal news industry’s floundering business model and ended with a challenge: “If Journatic thinks it’s got that model, let them prove it. Or die trying.” Read more.
Ryan Smith @ Guardian UK - HBO's new late-night series The Newsroom is set in the busy backstage of a CNN-like cable news TV show, but had the creators of the premium cable show really wanted to expose the most shocking behind-the-scenes realities of modern journalism, they'd instead have had to cast actor Jeff Daniels as a reporter for a company named Journatic. Read more.
Common Dreams - Tens of thousands of students, unionists, leftists and angered citizens marched in Mexico's capital on Saturday to protest Enrique Pena Nieto's apparent win in the country's presidential election, accusing his PRI party of vote-rigging, fraud, and corruption. Read more.
Gregg Levine @ Capitoilette - The massive disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility that began with the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami could have been prevented and was likely made worse by the response of government officials and plant owners, so says a lengthy report released today by the Japanese Diet (their parliament).
The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Committee [PDF] harshly criticizes the Japanese nuclear industry for avoiding safety upgrades and disaster plans that could have mitigated much of what went wrong after a massive quake struck the northeast of Japan last year. The account also includes direct evidence that Japanese regulatory agencies conspired with TEPCO (Fukushima’s owner-operator) to help them forestall improvements and evade scrutiny: Read more.
NY Times @ Truthout - Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.
When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed — charged an additional fee for each day behind bars. Read more.
NY Times - Andy Griffith, an actor whose folksy Southern manner charmed audiences for more than 50 years on Broadway, in movies, on albums and especially on television — most notably as the small-town sheriff on the long-running situation comedy that bore his name — died on Tuesday at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. He was 86. Read more.
Bill Zimmerman @ Truthout - A tsunami of citizen activism, initiated by Occupy Wall Street, is poised to wash over American society. The coming battle to correct the grotesquely unequal distribution of wealth and power in this country is likely to have an even more profound impact on our society than what occurred in the 1960s. Read more.
Driving.ca - Italian car designer Sergio Pininfarina died this week, leaving a legacy of classic Ferraris and other great sports cars. Here are a few of the cars produced by Pininfarina and his design firm of the same name. Read more.
Truthout - Will the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launch an investigation into the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate-backed "nonpartisan" "stealth business lobbyist" group that has been accused of flouting civil and criminal tax laws? Read more.
Reuters - In its first major raft of economic measures since Francois Hollande was elected president in May promising to avoid the painful austerity seen elsewhere in Europe, the government targeted companies and the rich with tax hikes.
An extraordinary levy of 2.3 billion euros ($2.90 billion) on wealthy households and 1.1 billion euros in one-off taxes on large banks and energy firms were central parts of an amended 2012 budget presented to parliament. Read more.
Toward Freedom - One generally overlooked feature of the Guatemalan government and military's 36-year (1960-96) genocidal counterinsurgency campaign against the country's Mayan population is the strategy of targeting women with violence.
Rape, mutilation, sexual slavery, forced abortion, and sterilizations were just some of the sadistic tools used in a systematic practice of state-sponsored terror to crush the surviving population into submission through fear and shame via the suffering of their mothers, sisters, and daughters. Read more.
McClatchy Newspapers - Last week, lawmakers in Congress approved a bill that keeps highway and transit spending at current levels for the next two years, but there was a catch: They came up nearly $20 billion short. Rather than cut spending or raise taxes to make up the difference, they tapped the U.S. Treasury, something they'd done three times already.
Transportation and budget experts say lawmakers can't have it both ways: The once-self-sustaining mechanism for highway spending no longer works the way it was intended. Read more.
Christine Shearer @ Truthout - In 2010, the documentary film "Gasland" exploded onto the public consciousness, exposing many people to the next wave of energy extraction: fracking. The practice was taking place across swaths of the United States overlying shale rock formations, as companies had found a new way to access the natural gas and oil below, blasting millions of gallons of water and hundreds of gallons of chemicals to break up the rock and allow the fuels to reach the surface. The industry assured property owners and city governments that the practice was controllable and safe. Yet "Gasland" showed many communities transformed into industrial zones, their water leaching explosive methane. Read more.
The Daily Censored - Charles Blow has offered a recent video of a disturbing account of bullying on a bus captured on video and posted to YouTube: "The video shows Karen Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother and bus monitor in upstate New York, being relentlessly tormented by a group of young boys."
"But what, if anything, does this say about society at large?" asks Blow, adding: Read more.
LA Times - California lawmakers have passed legislation that would provide homeowners with some of the nation's strongest protections from foreclosure and such aggressive bank practices as seizing a home while the owner is negotiating to lower mortgage payments.
After years of distress in the housing and mortgage markets, during which lenders seized nearly a million California houses, legislators Monday sent a pair of Assembly and Senate bills to Gov. Jerry Brown designed to help financially troubled borrowers stay in their homes. Read more.
Reuters - Barclays Plc Chief Executive Bob Diamond quit on Tuesday under a barrage of fire from politicians, the highest-profile casualty of an interest rate-rigging scandal that spans more than a dozen major banks across the world.
"The external pressure placed on Barclays has reached a level that risks damaging the franchise - I cannot let that happen," said Diamond, 61.
His resignation was a sudden reversal, hours after he said it was down to him to clear up the mess at Britain's third-largest bank, fined nearly half a billion dollars for its part in manipulating a global benchmark interest rate. Read more.
Reuters - More than 1.4 million people from Illinois to Virginia remained without power Tuesday morning after the weekend's violent storms, and a heat wave continued to bake much of the region, the regional power companies said. Read more.
Natasha Leonard @ Truthout - While media pundits sound out death knells for Occupy, many committed participants are now facing harsh consequences for their involvement. Mark Adams, a long-term fixture in New York's Occupy Wall Street community, woke up this morning in Riker's Island prison, where last week he began a 45-day sentence and earned the unenviable title as Occupy's first sentenced political prisoner. Read more.
Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Native Americans’ resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront how we will respond.
The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the “expanding” wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end…
John Pilger @ Truthout - Australia is the world's first murdochracy. US citizen Rupert Murdoch controls 70 percent of the metropolitan press. He has monopolies in state capitals and provincial centers. The only national newspaper is his. He is a dominant force online and in pay-TV and publishing. Known fearfully as "Rupert," he is the Chief Mate.
But Murdoch's dominance is not as it is often presented. Although he is now one of the West's accredited demons, thanks to his phone-hackers, he is but part of a media system that will not change when his empire is broken up. The political extremism that is the concentration of the world's wealth in few hands and the accelerating impoverishment of the majority will ensure this. A Melbourne journalist, Paul Chadwick, one of the few to rebel against Murdoch, described the media climate as "akin to a small group of generals who sit above the main institutions ... a junta in all but name." Read more.
The Independent - As Julian Assange evades arrest by taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge to escape extradition to Sweden, and possibly the US, British commentators have targeted him with shrill abuse. They almost froth with rage as they cite petty examples of his supposed gaucheness, egotism and appearance, as if these were criminal faults.
These criticisms tell one more about the conventionality and herd instinct of British opinion-makers than they do about Assange. Ignored, in all this, is his achievement as founder of WikiLeaks in publishing US government cables giving people across the world insight into how their governments really behave. Such public knowledge is the core of democracy because voters must be accurately informed if they are to be able to chose representatives to carry out their wishes.
Thanks to WikiLeaks, more information has become available about what the US and allied states are doing and thinking than ever before. Read more.
Ellen Brown @ Common Dreams - On Friday, June 29th, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acquiesced to changes to a permanent Eurozone bailout fund—“before the ink was dry,” as critics complained. Besides easing the conditions under which bailouts would be given, the concessions included an agreement that funds intended for indebted governments could be funneled directly to stressed banks. Read more.
The Independent - The Barclays Libor scandal may have shocked the British public, but Joseph Stiglitz saw it coming decades ago. And he's convinced that jailing bankers is the best way to curb market abuses. A towering genius of economics, Stiglitz wrote a series of papers in the 1970s and 1980s explaining how when some individuals have access to privileged knowledge that others don't, free markets yield bad outcomes for wider society. That insight (known as the theory of "asymmetric information") won Stiglitz the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001. Read more.
Common Dreams - Agribusiness behemoths including Monsanto and Cargill are set to cash in big from industrial fish farming or “aquaculture” as the soy industry spreads its reign to the seas, a new report from environmental and consumer watchdogs shows.
The new report, “Factory-Fed Fish: How the Soy Industry is Expanding Into the Sea” from Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe, shows how the use of soy as feed in aquaculture -- branded as "sustainable" -- is an environmental disaster, harming fish both wild and farmed as it pollutes the oceans and brings unknown effects to consumers eating the soy-fed fish. Read more.
Common Dreams - US weapons manufacturers who sell drone aircraft to the US government are concerned that their pilot-less surveillance and attack planes sales have plateaued and now, with the help of lobbyists and industry-friendly members of Congress, are hoping that they can remove export restrictions that will allow them to sell theses weapons to foreign governments eager for the remote technology. Read more.
NY Times - The British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for illegally promoting the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin and for failing to report safety data about the diabetes drug Avandia, federal prosecutors announced Monday. Read more.
NY Times - Marcus Agius, the chairman of Barclays, resigned on Monday, less than a week after the big British bank agreed to pay $450 million to settle accusations that it had tried to manipulate key interest rates to benefit its own bottom line.
The resignation comes as Barclays tries to limit fallout from the case, which is part of a broad investigation into how big banks set certain rates that affect borrowing costs for consumers and companies. Since striking a deal with American and British authorities last Wednesday, the Barclays management team has faced increasing pressure from politicians and shareholders to take action. Read more.
Common Dreams - Tens of thousands of protestors filled the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday as Chinese President Hu Jintao swore in Hong Kong’s new leader Leung Chun-ying, 57, now Hong Kong’s third 'chief executive'. Read more.
Common Dreams - Voters in Mexico headed to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president. The tumultuous campaign season has seen a massive student uprising in protest of candidate Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Read more.
Brentin Mock @ Color Lines - LaVon Bracy, 63, understands the stakes in Florida’s current voting rights battle all too well. Her father, the Rev. Thomas Wright, is a civil rights luminary and former NAACP president who spent much of the 1960s fighting segregation, often under threat of death. When his chapter of the NAACP sued Alachua County Public Schools to desegregate, a teenage Bracy sacrificed her senior year to help integrate a white school. She has no fond prom memories; instead she remembers the people spitting in her face, the regular chants of “nigger” that greeted her, and the beating she took from a group of white male students, who went unpunished. Read more.
Michelle Chen @ In These Times - After Hurricane Katrina washed over New Orleans, many survivors had virtually nothing left to lose. But the city's teachers were then hit by the storm’s ripple effect: the loss of thousands of jobs in the tattered school system. Recently, a civil district court ruled that the state had effectively robbed thousands of school employees of funds that were supposed to help tide them over as the city recovered.
After Katrina, the New York Times reports, most New Orleans schools were taken over by the state’s Recovery School District, which absorbed a stream of federal aid while the local school board was left impoverished: Read more.