Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2012

Struggle, Loss, Ruin in Sandy's Wake

Common Dreams - As Hurricane Sandy moves northwest, slowly losing strength, much of the US eastern seaboard is still reeling from the effects of the record setting superstorm that experts say will take months to recover from.

"The biggest problem is not the first few days but the coming months," said Alan Rubin, an expert in natural disaster recovery.  Read more.

Greg Palast: Easy Ways to Steal an Election

Why Chavez Won Again

Danny Glover @ Foreign Policy In Focus - I had the privilege of traveling to Venezuela and witnessing the country's October 7 presidential election and watching the South American country's extraordinarily active and engaged citizenry in action. An impressive 81 percent of the electorate participated in a transparent and secure electoral process that former president Jimmy Carter reportedly referred to as the best in the world.  Read more.

Survival and Dignity in an Afghan Winter

Kathy Kelly @ Common Dreams - There were many such casualties, the New York Times reports, in the deadly January of 2012, Afghanistan's coldest January in 20 years.  The United Nations notes that, in camps around Kabul, as many as 35,000 refugees from the fighting had only tents and mud huts to protect them from the cold.  In those camps alone, 26 Afghan children froze to death this past winter, with nationwide casualties in triple digits.  Read more.

The Great Betrayal – and the Cynicism of Calling it a Grand Bargain

William Black @ Naked Capitalism - Robert Kuttner has written much of the column I intended to write on this subject, so I will point you to his excellent column and add a few thoughts.

Kuttner wrote to warn that Obama intends to seek a "grand bargain" causing the U.S. to adopt the type of austerity program that threw the Eurozone back into a gratuitous recession.  Read more.

Industrial 'Ocean Grabbing' Causes Untold Damage, Food-Insecurity: UN

Common Dreams - Large-scale industrial fishing fleets are draining resources from the world's oceans and have greatly threatened food security across the world through "ocean grabbing," or wasteful practices such as industrial-trawling, according to a new report by the United Nations' special rapporteur on food Olivier de Schutter.  Read more.

US Detention of Imran Khan Part of Trend to Harass Anti-Drone Advocates

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - Imran Khan is, according to numerous polls, the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be that country's next Prime Minister. He is also a vehement critic of US drone attacks on his country, vowing to order them shot down if he is Prime Minister and leading an anti-drone protest march last month.  Read more.

Marijuana on the Ballot 2012

Common Dreams - On November 6, three states—Colorado, Washington and Oregon—will put to vote the question of whether to legalize marijuana. Beginning in the 1970s many states, counties, and cities have attempted to decriminalize marijuana with efforts ranging from reducing penalties for cannabis-related offenses to removing all penalties related to cannabis, including sale and cultivation. On November 3, 2004, the city of Oakland, Calif. passed a proposition becoming the first place to fully decriminalize cannabis to allow the licensing, taxing, and regulation of cannabis sales if state law is amended to allow so.  Read more.

The Supreme Court and the Death of Progress

Thom Hartman and Sam Sacks @ Truthout - Ten years from now we will all look back at this upcoming election and we'll realize that it was here that the Progressive wave of reform that surged forward at the turn of the 20th Century - and made life better for billions of people in this nation over the last 100 years - finally broke and receded backward into the abyss.  Read more.

The Happy Hero: An Interview With Paul Buhle About Robin Hood

Leslie Thatcher @ Truthout - Retired Madison University Professor, Truthout contributing author and producer of nonfiction comics Paul Buhle talked to Truthout by email recently concerning his 2011 book, "Robin Hood: People's Outlaw and Forest Hero," illustrated by Chris Hitchinson, Gary Dumm and Sharon Rudahl, published by PM Press, Oakland, CA. 107 pages.  Read more.

How Wall Street Won the Election Long Before the First Vote Was Cast

Naomi Prins @ Alternet - Four debates later, and it's clear that Big Finance will continue to drive our economy.

Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy.  Read more.

Paying Taxes to Your Boss: A Step Toward 21st Century Feudalism

Tim Price @ Next New Deal - Though a lot of Americans really (really, really) hate paying taxes, most of us can at least justify it as our contribution to some greater good, whether it’s the broad range of social programs favored by progressives or a libertarian night watchman state. But what if the government instead told us, “We don’t want your money, but we would like to make friends with some rich guys, so just give it to them and let them have fun with it”? That could soon be the law of the land in Pennsylvania, where the state legislature has passed a bill that would, as Philadelphia City Paper blogger Daniel Denvir describes it, “allow companies that hire at least 250 new workers in the state to keep 95-percent of the workers' withheld income tax.” These workers will essentially be paying their employers for the privilege of having a job.  Read more.

Candidates Flee East Coast as Frankenstorm Takes Revenge for their Ignoring Climate Change

Juan Cole @ Informed Comment - Mitt Romney and Joe Biden have canceled campaign events planned for this weekend at Virginia Beach as a massive storm bears down on the east coast of the US. The candidates are fleeing from the East Coast, even though they won’t talk about the key environmental issue of our time.  Read more.

Capitol Hill’s Rabid, Ravaging Republicans

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Has there ever been a more crazed, cruel, anti-people, corporate-indentured, militaristic and monetized Republican Party in its 154-year history? An about-to-be-released list of some of the actual brutish votes by the House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor, will soon be available to you from the House Democratic Caucus.  Read more.

Chevron Gives $2.5 Million to Conservative Super PAC

Center For Public Integrity - The dearth of large contributions being made by big corporations to super PACs so far this election has ended.

Chevron Corp., ranked No. 3 on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies, made a $2.5 million contribution on Oct. 7 to the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the House and Senate.  Read more.

Lies of Plutocracy: Exploding Five Myths that Dehumanize the Poor

Jeff Nall @ Truthout - If you believe that poverty is the domain of the comfortably poor, black, unemployed, unmotivated and uneducated among us, you have been sadly misled. Prepare to be astonished by numbers that tell a very different story.

You're in the grocery store checkout aisle. Time to cash out. You pull out your food-stamp EBT card. You're overcome with a sense shame one feels for being broke in a world that measures self-worth according to net-worth.  Read more.

Paul Wellstone's Legacy

In These Times - Shortly before he died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002, Paul Wellstone explained why he was in the Senate: "I don't represent the big oil companies, the big pharmaceuticals, or the big insurance industry. They already have great representation in Washington. It's the rest of the people that need representation."  Read more.

Paul Wellstone, We Miss You

Institute For Policy Studies - Ten years ago today, the two of us were an hour into the first big coalition meeting to oppose the impending U.S. war against Iraq, surrounded by dozens of leaders of a wide array of movements: peace, civil rights, women's rights, environmentalists, labor, social justice, and many others. Then, we noticed some people walking to the back of the room and returning with tears streaking down their faces.  Read more.

With Beyond Silver Gelatin, collage art goes digital

The Guardian (Nigeria) - FOUR years after U.S.-based photographer, Dr. Olusegun Fayemi showed some images of digitalised technique in Lagos, his attempt to blur the line between painting and photography comes stronger in collage form.

Currently on as Beyond Silver Gelatin: Mixed Media Photography at Quintessence Gallery Falomo, Lagos, the new works of Fayemi could have passed as collage paintings.  Read more.

WikiLeaks Reveals 'Systematized Human Rights Abuses' at US Detention Facilities

Common Dreams - Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks released a new series of secret files from the US government Wednesday pertaining to treatment of foreign prisoners at military prisons such as Guantánamo Bay, including guidelines for military officials that reveal vast institutionalized human rights abuses.  Read more.

Obama Moves to Make the 'War on Terror' Permanent

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - A primary reason for opposing the acquisition of abusive powers and civil liberties erosions is that they virtually always become permanent, vested not only in current leaders one may love and trust but also future officials who seem more menacing and less benign.

The Washington Post has a crucial and disturbing story this morning by Greg Miller about the concerted efforts by the Obama administration to fully institutionalize – to make officially permanent – the most extremist powers it has exercised in the name of the war on terror.  Read more.

McGovern: He Never Sold His Soul

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - In the summer of 1972, when I was 15, I persuaded my parents to let me ride my bike down to the local George McGovern headquarters every morning to work on his campaign. McGovern, who died early Sunday morning in South Dakota at the age of 90, embodied the core values I had been taught to cherish. My father, a World War II veteran like McGovern, had taken my younger sister and me to protests in support of the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War. He taught us to stand up for human decency and honesty, no matter the cost. He told us that the definitions of business and politics, the categories of winners and losers, of the powerful and the powerless, of the rich and the poor, are meaningless if the price for admission requires that you sell your soul. And he told us something that the whole country, many years later, now knows: that George McGovern was a good man.  Read more.

George McGovern: Touchstone of Liberalism

John Nichols @ The Nation - For the better part of his American century, George McGovern's was America's most prominent advocate for peace with the world and justice at home, a progressive internationalist and prairie populist from the Cold War era when he grabbed a South Dakota congressional seat from Dwight Eisenhower's Republicans to the Obama era when he prodded a young president from his own Democratic Party to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.  Read more.

Employees of Romney Family's Secret Bank Tied to Fraud, Money Laundering and Drug Cartels

Gerry Bello and bob Fitrakis @ The Free Press - As previously reported in by the Columbus Free Press, the Romney family, namely Mitt, Ann, G Scott and Tagg Romney, along with Mitt's "6th son" and campaign finance chair have a secretive private equity firm called Solamere Capital Partners. This firms ties to Romney's campaign and bundlers is already well documented, along with its connection to the manufacture and distribution of voting machines. What is not as well documented is a subsidiary of that private equity firm hiring employees of a failed firm tied to a Ponzi scheme that has a long history of money laundering for Latin American drug cartels and to the Iran-Contra scandal.  Read more.

Men tell of sexual abuse by scoutmaster decades ago

LA Times - Even after 36 years, Carl Maxwell Jr.'s thoughts leap to the rustic house at the edge of the golf course, and what happened there.

"It is so old, but it is so fresh," Maxwell said, recalling the many nights that members of Troop 222 spent at the home of their scoutmaster, Rodger L. Beatty.

He remembers the mattresses that covered the floor in the front room, the queasy anticipation that would set in among the five boys after Beatty said good night and went to his room.  Read more.

American Bombing of Iraq Left Legacy of Deformed Babies

Haroon Siddiqui @ Toronto Star - Remember Falluja? That city in central Iraq was the scene of two furious attacks in 2004 by American Marines. That spring, they went on a bombing, shooting rampage to avenge the murder and mutilation of four American mercenaries. Instead of targeting the estimated 2,000 insurgents, the Marines almost leveled the city of 300,000, without conquering it. Seven months later, they attacked again with artillery and bombs in what was described as the bloodiest urban warfare involving Americans since the Vietnam War.  Read more.

Over 100,000 March in London for 'A Future That Works'

Common Dreams - Firefighters, nurses and teachers marched alongside unemployed teens, anti-war activists and other activists today in a massive protest for 'A Future That Works' and against the Government's austerity measures.

Over 100,000 marched in a boisterous anti-austerity demonstration in London, with similar protests underway in Glasgow and Belfast.  Read more.

Proposition 36 Promises an End to California's Punitive 3 Strikes Law

Guardian UK - On 6 November, Californians will get a chance to vote on Proposition 36, which would reform some elements of its highly controversial "three strikes" law and bring it in line with other states by closing a loophole that has allowed thousands of low level offenders to be locked up for life. As the law currently stands, anyone convicted of a third strike offense – something as minor as stealing a slice of pizza or possessing a joint of marijuana – will be sentenced to life in prison. Prop 36 would change that to ensure that only people convicted of a serious, or violent, third strike will feel the full force of the law.  Read more.

Food, beverage industry pays for seat at health-policy table

Reuters - As the world's foremost health agency, the World Health Organization bills itself as an impartial advocate working on behalf of 194 member nations.

Its mission as the public health arm of the United Nations ranges from stanching communicable diseases such as malaria and AIDS to battling what the U.N. considers the latest "global epidemic": chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart disease caused primarily by unhealthy diets.

But to fight those diseases in Mexico, the nation with the world's highest rate of obese and overweight adults, a Reuters investigation found that WHO's regional office has turned to the very companies whose sugary drinks and salty foods are linked to many of the maladies it's trying to prevent.  Read more.

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down DOMA: Defense of Marriage Act

Ian Millhiser @ ThinkProgress - Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs is a very conservative judge. He joined a court decision effectively declaring corporations immune to international human rights law — even when they “trade in or exploit slaves, employ mercenary armies to do dirty work for despots, perform genocides or operate torture prisons for a despot’s political opponents, or engage in piracy.” And he once gave a speech to the conservative Federalist Society decrying the “anti-social effects” of attorneys providing free legal services to the less fortunate.  Read more.

Dark Days: Life in Crack City

Michael A. Gonzales @ The Weeklings - It was a chilly spring night in 1984 and I was returning uptown from my cashier job at Miss Brooks, a fast food coffee shop located near Rockefeller Center. Working from four to midnight, after closing a few of the staff usually went out for drinks. By two a.m., I'd downed one more pint before walking over to Columbus Circle with the short order cook Xavier.  Read more.

Scenes of 'Dust Bowl Days' Return As Oklahoma Storm Causes Highway Pileup

Common Dreams - Dramatic video footage and eye witness accounts from Oklahoma on Thursday tell the story of a scene right out of the Depression-era 'Dust Bowl days' as a massive wind-swept cloud of 'reddish-brown' dirt made visibility impossible on a stretch of Interstate-35 between Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Mo.  Read more.

Sold Into "a Piece of Hell:" A Death of Innocence at Gitmo

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - Sold for a $5,000 bounty, Adnan Latif was among the first prisoners detained at Guantanamo. A federal judge and two presidential administrations said he didn't belong there. A decade later he left in a box - and no one will say why.

"Ya Baba! Ya Baba!" Ezzi Deen shouted in Arabic.

The 14-year-old boy was crying out for his father. He last uttered those words as a toddler. Ezzi Deen never received a response then, either.  Read more.

The Nobel Peace Prize for War

Michael Parenti @ Common Dreams - Those who own the wealth of nations take care to downplay the immensity of their holdings while emphasizing the supposedly benign features of the socio-economic order over which they preside. With its regiments of lawmakers and opinion-makers, the ruling hierarchs produce a never-ending cavalcade of symbols, images, and narratives to disguise and legitimate the system of exploitative social relations existing between the 1% and the 99%.  Read more.

Truthout Files FOIA Lawsuit Against Department of Justice/FBI for Occupy Wall Street Documents

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - On October 6, Truthout filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the FBI's failure to release documents we have sought pertaining to Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

The complaint was filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia. In addition to Truthout, Washington, DC-based attorney Jeffrey Light is also named as a plaintiff.  Read more.

Why I'm Standing Up to TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline in East Texas

Daryl Hannah @ Guardian UK - On 4 October 2012, in rural east Texas, a 78-year-old great-grandmother, Eleanor Fairchild, was arrested for trespassing on her own property … and I was arrested standing beside her, as we held our ground in the path of earth-moving excavators constructing TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

Seems there's showdown in Texas – but, in fact, it's a battle being waged all over the United States. It's being fought by ordinary citizens of all colors, economic strata and political persuasions – against the world's wealthiest multinational corporations, misinformation and deeply embedded fears. While I'm not a fan of war terminology, in these struggles, war analogies seem to highlight both the crisis at hand and perhaps the solution we seek.  Read more.

Green Party Ticket Arrested at Presidential Debate

Allison Kilkenny @ The Nation - In addition to being entirely shut out of this year's presidential debates, Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, were arrested for "blocking traffic" as they attempted to enter the debate at Hofstra University. The women were detained despite the fact that, in the video of the arrests, the police are much more of an impediment on traffic than the two candidates.  Read more.

Arlen Specter, Longtime GOP Senate Moderate, Dies at 82

NY Times News Service @ Truthout - Arlen Specter, the irascible senator from Pennsylvania who was at the center of many of the Senate’s most divisive legal battles — from the Supreme Court nominations of Robert H. Bork and Clarence Thomas to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton — only to lose his seat in 2010 after quitting the Republican Party to become a Democrat, died Sunday morning at his home in Pennsylvania.  Read more.

Microbuses set ablaze near Tahrir, Brotherhood members chased from square

Egypt Independent - An anti-Brotherhood vibe prevailed in Tahrir Square on Friday evening, following clashes between members of the group and other protesters throughout the day.

Protesters in the square appear to have driven out the Muslim Brotherhood youth with whom they had been fighting throughout the day, eyewitnesses reported.

As protesters chased the Brotherhood members from the square, they chanted, "We will continue the path as free revolutionaries, we will continue the path as free revolutionaries."  Read more.

Paul Wellstone: 10 Years After His Death, He Still Sets the Bar for a Politics of Conviction

Peter Dreier @ In These Times - Shortly before he died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002, Paul Wellstone explained why he was in the Senate: “I don’t represent the big oil companies, the big pharmaceuticals, or the big insurance industry. They already have great representation in Washington. It’s the rest of the people that need representation.”  Read more.

"Is This a Joke?" Critics Slam Decision to Award EU Nobel Peace Prize

Common Dreams - Three years after awarding the world's most recognized international peace prize to Barack Obama, the sitting president of the United States—who at the time was commanding the operations of two foreign wars and overseeing the largest military and intelligence apparatus in the history of the world—the Nobel Committee's announcement in Oslo on Friday that it was awarding the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union was met with befuddlement by many.  Read more.

The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Policy

Ghost of the New Deal Haunts Democrats' Agenda, but It's Time to Summon FDR

Richard D. Wolff @ Truthout - While Bush's absence was obvious at the 2012 Republican convention, so was another president's absence at the Democratic convention. Romney banished Bush because his last year, 2008, linked Republicans in office with economic crisis and big bank bailouts: not a vote-getting association. The Democrats banished President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but for a different reason, and in a different way. They feared reminding people of what FDR did the last time US capitalism crashed. Obama and most Democrats are so dependent on contributions and support from business and the rich that they dare not discuss, let alone implement, Roosevelt-type policies. Obama's convention speech passingly referred to FDR's "bold, persistent experimentation." Obama said nothing about what FDR actually did in the last great collapse of capitalism, nothing about his policies' achievements or their shortcomings.  Read more.

Big Coal Wins Latest Battle to Blast Historic Blair Mountain

Appalachian Voices - In a jaw-dropping display of contempt and disregard for the communities and landscapes where they mine coal, three coal companies back in 2009 challenged the listing of West Virginia’s Blair Mountain on the National Register of Historic Places. The companies, including mining behemoths Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, opposed the listing of Blair Mountain as a historic site because it could interfere with their plans to conduct mountaintop removal mining operations on the Spruce Fork Ridge battlefield, site of the “largest organized armed uprising in American labor history,” and the most important historic landmark in Central Appalachia.  Read more.

Lakota: The Revitalization of Language and the Persistence of Spirit

jason Coppola @ Truthout - New programs to teach and restore the lost language and cultural heritage of the Lakota Sioux offers hope for the children who live on reservations where dire poverty, suicide, unemployment and substance abuse have become a way of life.

For more than a century the Lakota language endured a deliberate and systematic attempt to eradicate it.

As a tool of colonization, the killing of language was a means of severing indigenous people's ties to their culture, history and spirituality.  Read more.

Coal Workers Say Murray Energy "Coerces" Them to Make GOP Donations

Think Progress - “You’ve got a great boss,” Mitt Romney proclaimed to a crowd of coal miners at a campaign rally in August.

He was referring to Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, one of the largest coal mining operators in the country.

For Romney, that statement was particularly true. According to accounts from multiple coal miners, employees were forced to attend the event without pay.  Read more.

UN changes stats for malnutrition

Common Dreams - The United Nations on Tuesday revised its estimates of the number of chronically malnourished people in the world from 1 billion to nearly 870 million, according to a report from the UN News Centre.

The new figure is due to "a new measurement methodology," Eric Reguly of The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday. Factors include new thresholds for caloric undernourishment and "episodic" malnourishment.  Read more.

Election Year Garbage

 "Whatever is awful about the US political process is magnified in the election season, and increases each day until it's mercifully over"
Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK
- These episodes, all from the last 24 hours, demonstrate why I cannot wait for the election to be over:  Read more.

GOP Congressman: Evolution a Lie 'Straight From Hell'

Chávez Victory Affirms Left Still Thriving in Latin America

Common Dreams - Capturing an estimated 54 percent of the vote in national elections, President Hugo Chavez has won re-election in Venezuela, according to an announcement by the nation's official electoral council.

National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena said Monday that with most votes counted, Chavez handily defeated challenger challenger Henrique Caprile and will now serve another six years as President.  Read more.

‘There will be no more professional writers in the future’

John Barber @ Globe And Mail (Canada) - Ewan Morrison is an established British writer with a credit-choked resume and a new book out, Tales from the Mall, that the literary editor of the venerable Guardian newspaper hailed as “a really important step towards a literature of the 21st century.”

By his own account, Morrison is also being driven out of business by the ominously feudal economics of 21st-century literature, “pushed into the position where I have to join the digital masses,” he says, the cash advances he once received from publishers slashed so deep he is virtually working for free.  Read more.

Reflections on "Columbus" Day

Johnny Barber @ Truthout - On seeing the Arawak people Columbus wrote in his journal, "At daybreak great multitudes of men came to the shore, all young and of fine shapes, and very handsome. Their eyes are large and very beautiful." In the same entry he wrote, "It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion." Columbus kidnapped up to 25 people, although only seven or eight survived the journey back to Spain. By 1496, it is estimated that one third of the population had been killed or taken as slaves. In 1592, fewer than 200 Indigenous people remained. By 1555, none survived.  Read more.

The US Presidential Debates' Illusion of Political Choice

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - Wednesday night's debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney underscored a core truth about America's presidential election season: the vast majority of the most consequential policy questions are completely excluded from the process. This fact is squarely at odds with a primary claim made about the two parties – that they represent radically different political philosophies – and illustrates how narrow the range of acceptable mainstream political debate is in the country.  Read more.

Anti-Drone Rally Held Despite Military Blockade

Common Dreams - Thousands of anti-drone protesters rallied in Pakistan Sunday, calling for an end to the deadly US strikes that have plagued the country with civilian causalities. As a large caravan and march lead by Pakistani politician Imran Khan headed for South Waziristan, site of countless drone attacks, Pakistan's military blocked roadways and access to the region, forcing the protesters to hold an impromptu rally outside of the tribal belt.  Read more.

Chávez Wins New Term in Venezuela

NY Times - Voters lined up in Caracas on Sunday to choose between President Hugo Chávez and Henrique Capriles Radonski. More Photos »

Though his margin of victory was much narrower than in past elections, he still won handily. With 90 percent of the votes tallied, Mr. Chávez received 54 percent, to 45 percent for his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski, the national election council said. Fireworks erupted in Caracas after the news, and Chávez supporters celebrated in the streets.  Read more.

PTSD Counselors Forced to Attend Anti-Union Meetings on Army Base

Mike Elk @ In These Times - In 2010, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes labeled Fort Lewis-McChord, a joint Army and Air Force base in Washington state, “the most troubled base in the military” due to its inability to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or address mental health problems. Fort Lewis-McChord has one of the highest suicide rates of army bases across the country, and last year had the highest number of total suicides with 16. It was where Sergeant Robert Bales was stationed right before he was shipped to Afghanistan and massacred 16 Afghan civilians--including nine children--last March. And it was where the soldiers who formed a "kill team" that murdered civilians in Afghanistan in 2010 had previously been stationed.  Read more.

Living with Death by Drone

Jennifer Gibson  @ LA Times - Last week, Stanford University and New York University released a major study about the use of drones in the ever-evolving but never-ending war on terror. Unfortunately, many commentators missed the report's key message: Drones are terrorizing an entire civilian population.

I was one of the researchers for the study, and spent weeks in Pakistan interviewing more than 60 people from North Waziristan. Many were survivors of strikes. Others had lost loved ones and family members. All of them live under the constant threat of annihilation.  Read more.

Honduras ‘Model City’ Plan in the Spotlight

Council on Hemispheric Campaigns - The New York Times has a piece on Paul Romer, a US economist who developed the idea of the “charter city,” separate from the rest of the country, which would be administered by foreign governments, comparable to Hong Kong. The Economist has compared the plan to “internal start-ups — quasi-independent city-states that begin with a clean slate and are then overseen by outside experts.”  Read more.

For Obama, No More Excuses

Bob Herbert @ Demos - It's time to stop making excuses for Barack Obama. With so much at stake in this election, his performance at the debate on Wednesday night was indefensible.

Ever since he was elected, there have been reasons offered, either publicly or privately, for why Obama has been unable to fully engage some of the nation's most important challenges. Despite the rampant increase in poverty in the worst downturn since the Depression, Obama supporters whispered that he couldn't do more for the poor and couldn't speak out more forcefully on their behalf because that would not be politically advantageous. So nearly all of his economic initiatives had to be couched in language that referred to the middle class, even though the poor were being hurt far worse. LBJ could launch a war on poverty but not Barack Obama.  Read more.

America's Duopoly of Money in Politics and Manipulation of Public Opinion

Charles Ferguson @ Guardian UK - Presidential campaigns aren't where you look for honest, serious discussion of economic policy. Usually, the candidates confine themselves to slogans; sometimes, as with George W Bush, we also get a moron. But in this election, something very different is going on. For the first time, we are explicitly seeing the effects of America's new political duopoly.  Read more.

No to NY Fracking: 'Will Not Compromise On the Health of Our Families'

Sandra Steingraber and Kathleen Nolan @ EcoWatch - Four years of study and thousands of pages have been devoted to the study of fracking’s impact on New York’s environment, but no such analysis has been carried out for public health. A thorough investigation of fracking’s impact on human health is desperately needed. Still unanswered are three fundamental questions: Will fracking sicken and kill more New Yorkers than it employs? Will the sick and dying have any recourse—other than fleeing their homes and jobs—to protect themselves? And how much will that morbidity and mortality cost? New Yorkers Against Fracking joins the call for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to determine what high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing would mean for the health of New Yorkers. Designed in accord with national and international health guidelines and inclusive of public participation, a comprehensive HIA is the widely accepted standard for prospective health studies. This HIA should i…

Same Love: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis make compelling LGBTQ music video

A Nationally-Televised Presidential Fail

William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout - It is never a pleasant experience to lead an article with a Chris Matthews quote, but in this instance, it suits the moment. Something like 60 million people tuned in Wednesday night to watch President Obama and Governor Romney face each other in the first debate of the election. What they got, in the end, was a mess.  Read more.

Assange Speaks to UN

Christian Science Monitor - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking via a choppy video feed from his virtual house arrest in London, lashed out at US President Barack Obama on Wednesday for supporting freedom of speech in the Middle East while simultaneously "persecuting" his organization for leaking diplomatic cables.  Read more.

On Media Bias in Venezuela

Mark weisbrot @ The Americas Blog - Everywhere you look, there are people who are taking seriously the claim that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has a big media advantage over the opposition in the upcoming elections.  The Committee to Protect Journalists, in their latest report [PDF] on Venezuela, states that “a vast state media presence echoes the government’s positions,” and refers to the government as having a “media empire.”  Read more.

Back to $chool: College Is the Past, Prison Is the Future

Andy Kroll @ Tom Dispatch - It was the greatest education system the world had ever seen. They built it into the eucalyptus-dotted Berkeley hills and under the bright lights of Los Angeles, down in the valley in Fresno and in the shadows of the San Bernardino Mountains. Hundreds of college campuses, large and small, two-year and four-year, stretching from California's emerald forests in the north to the heat-scorched Inland Empire in the south. Each had its own DNA, but common to all was this: they promised a “public” education, accessible and affordable, to those with means and those without, a door with a welcome mat into the ivory tower, an invitation to a better life.

Then California bled that system dry. Over three decades, voters starved their state -- and so their colleges and universities -- of cash. Politicians siphoned away what money remained and spent it more on imprisoning people, not educating them. College administrators grappled with shriveling state support by jack…

The Betrayal of America's Middle Class Was a Choice, Not an Accident

Truthout - Trade policy, tax cuts and other incentives that have been implemented in Washington since the Reagan era have allowed corporations to score record profits at the expense of the American workforce. Donald Barlett and James Steele, recipients of two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Magazine Awards, powerfully advanced this thesis in their 1992 bestseller, "America: What Went Wrong?"  Read more.

The True Reason US Fears Iranian Nukes: They Can Deter US Attacks

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - In the Washington Post today, Richard Cohen expresses surprise that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "starting to make some sense" and "wax rationally". Cohen specifically cites this statement from the Iranian president last week:
"Let's even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?"
Cohen's surprise notwithstanding, numerous Iranian leaders, including Ahmadinejad, have long made the same point. And it's a point so obvious it should not even need to be made. No rational person takes seriously the claim that Iran, even if it did obtain a nuclear weapon, would commit instant and guaranteed national suicide by using it to attack a nation that has a huge nuclear stockpile, which happens to include both the US and Israel. One can locate nothing in the actions of Iran's regime that even suggests…

'Intimidation, Threats, and Lawyers': The Great American Gas Fracking 'Land Grab'

Common Dreams - Introducing a couple from Texas who, despite their objection, had the natural gas sucked out from beneath their property by the Chesapeake Energy Corporation without paying a dime in compesation, an investigative report by Reuters recounts how the gas giant has embarked on an aggressive nationwide "landgrab" with a series of legal maneuvers and industrial fracking equipment in tow.  Read more.

Jerry Brown Vetoes Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights

Shiela Bapat @ RH Reality Check - In his veto message, available here, Gov. Brown suggests that the legislature and/or activists investigate the costs that domestic worker protections could place on disabled or elderly people and their families before a bill is signed. NDWA anticipated partnering with the Governor’s office in ironing out these issues after the bill was signed and sent to the Department of Industrial Relations to promulgate regulations.  Read more.

Why Don't Americans Care About Democracy at Home?

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - Four decades of neoliberal policies have given way to an economic Darwinism that promotes a politics of cruelty. And its much vaunted ideology is taking over the United States.[1] As a theater of cruelty and mode of public pedagogy, economic Darwinism undermines all forms of solidarity capable of challenging market-driven values and social relations. At the same time, economic Darwinism promotes the virtues of an unbridled individualism that is almost pathological in its disdain for community, social responsibility, public values and the public good. As the welfare state is dismantled and spending is cut to the point where government becomes unrecognizable - except to promote policies that benefit the rich, corporations and the defense industry - the already weakened federal and state governments are increasingly replaced by the harsh realities of the punishing state and what João Biehl has called proliferating "zones of social abandonment" and &quo…

Organic Farming: Resilience in the Time of Drought

Common Dreams - While the historic drought that has plagued the Midwest for months wreaks havoc upon many conventional farmers' soil, organic farmers are saying it is not conventional farming or genetically modified crops that will save agriculture from the effects of climate change. Rather, organic farming is the best way forward to be resilient in the age of climate change.  Read more.

Anti-Drone Protesters Gather for Weekend March into Waziristan

Common Dreams - Anti-drone protesters from across the Pakistan and around the world are gathering in Islamabad this week in preparation for a weekend march into the tribal areas of South Waziristan.

Ignoring a travel warning issued by the U.S. State Department for Pakistan, a delegation of 30 US activists and parents of U.S. Army soldiers has arrived in Islamabad, where they plan to join the October 6 and 7th march and rally.  Read more.