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Showing posts from January, 2013

Judge Orders Government to Immediately Suspend Secret Censor’s Ability to Interrupt Military Commission

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - A military judge on Thursday ordered the government to immediately suspend a third party's ability to kill the audio feed during military commission proceedings for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other defendants accused of planning the 9/11 attacks.  Read more.

Mass Killings: Why American Men Are "Going Postal"

Harriet Fraad @ Truthout - Twenty-seven people were shot to death in lovely suburban Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Newtown was the most dramatic of the mass shootings of 2012, a year in which 151 Americans were victims of the phenomenon.

A mass shooting is defined as a one in which at least four people were indiscriminately shot and injured or killed in a public place.

Why destroy the lives of strangers? Where does such murderous rage come from?  Read more.

Obama's Non-Closing of Gitmo

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - The New York Times' Charlie Savage reported yesterday that the State Department "reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and will not replace him". That move obviously confirms what has long been assumed: that the camp will remain open indefinitely and Obama's flamboyant first-day-in-office vow will go unfulfilled.  Read more.

Immigration Reform Must Begin With Moratorium on Deportations

Jeff Biggers @ Common Dreams - As President Obama unveiled his immigration reform plan in Las Vegas yesterday, admonishing the U.S. Congress to not get "bogged down" in endless debate, the shackled Operation Streamline shuffle of undocumented immigrants caught up in our federal immigrant enforcement system continued in full force.  Read more.

Hurricane Sandy in the Age of Disposability and Neoliberal Terror

Henry A. Giroux - In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, shocking images of dead bodies floating in the flood waters of New Orleans appeared on national TV against a sound track of desperate cries for help by thousands of poor, black, brown, elderly and sick people. These disturbing pictures revealed a vulnerable and destitute segment of the nation's citizenry that conservatives not only refused to see as such, but had spent the better part of three decades demonizing.  Read more.

As Predicted, Austerity Policies Send US Economy Downward

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Progressives economists who spent much of the last four years warning against the implementation of austerity policies in the US did not share in the surprise expressed by many lawmakers and mainstream pundits when new GDP data released Wednesday showed Q4 growth trending the economy back towards official recession.  Read more.

Forced Contraception of Jewish Ethopian Women Is Tip of Global Iceberg

Guardian UK - Should gynaecologists need to be told not to give women contraceptive injections without establishing fully informed consent? Of course not. But that is what has happened in Israel after it was revealed in a report by a women's rights organisation that Ethiopian women have been given injections of Depo-Provera without sufficient understanding of the purpose or side effects of the drug. Some Ethiopian women in transit camps were refused entry to the country if they refused the injection.  Read more.

Dutch Court Delivers Blow to Nigerians with Shell Oil Acquittals

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - In a blow to environmental and human rights campaigners in Nigeria, a Dutch court has thrown most of a lawsuit brought by local farmers and residents against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell for vast pollution related to the company's extraction and refinery processes in the Niger Delta.  Read more.

City of Oakland Battles Obama Administration Over Medical Marijuana

Americans For Safe Access (PRESS RELEASE) @ Common Dreams - The Obama Administration will argue for the dismissal of a lawsuit Thursday brought by the City of Oakland in an effort to halt the forfeiture of property currently being used by Harborside Health Center, one of the most respected and popular medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Lawyers for Morrison Foerster, the law firm representing the city in this action, claim that the Obama Justice Department is acting contrary to its stated policy on medical marijuana and that the government cannot seize Harborside's property because of an expired federal statute of limitations.  Read more.

A Fifth of Global Investing Considered “Sustainable”, Industry Reports

Inter Press Service - Nearly 22 percent of professionally managed assets around the world can be considered sustainable or responsible, according to a finance industry assessment, the first comprehensive look at the subject.
That amounts to at least 13.6 trillion dollars of investments that claim to incorporate concerns over environmental, social or governance issues into their selection or management processes. Still, critics warn that a lack of industry guidelines on how to define terms such as “sustainable” remains a major obstacle in leveraging private investment for the good of both human communities and environmental systems.  Read more.

On doping, Lance Amstrong says "criticism is petty bullshit"

Guardian UK - Lance Armstrong has attacked the hypocrisy and "petty bullshit" surrounding cycling's doping scandal, saying he feels he has been made a fall-guy for the entire sport.

Armstrong, speaking for the first time since the controversial Oprah interview in which he admitted doping throughout his career, insisted no previous generation of cyclists was "exempt or clean".  Read more.

Timothy Geithner Saved Wall Street, Not the Economy

Dean Baker @ Truthout - The accolades for Timothy Geithner came on so thick and heavy in the last week that it’s necessary for those of us in the reality-based community to bring the discussion back to earth. The basic facts of the matter are very straightforward. Timothy Geithner and the bailout he helped engineer saved the Wall Street banks. He did not save the economy.  Read more.

The New Extremism and Politics of Distraction in the Age of Austerity

Henry A. Giroux @ Truthout - The debate in both Washington and the mainstream media over austerity measures, the alleged fiscal cliff and the looming debt crisis not only function to render anti-democratic pressures invisible, but also produce what the late sociologist C. Wright Mills once called "a politics of organized irresponsibility."1 For Mills, authoritarian politics developed, in part, by making the operations of power invisible while weaving a network of lies and deceptions through what might be called a politics of disconnect.  Read more.

Do You Give As Much Thought to Restaurant Workers as You Do to Your Organic Chicken?

Amy B. Dean @ Truthout - There's little question that the vast majority of restaurant workers in the United States could use a union. On the whole, their jobs offer low pay and few benefits and employees have little job security. Yet they are also a very difficult group to organize: turnover in the industry is high, the workforce is largely an immigrant one, and employers effectively use threats of deportation and other retaliation against those who speak up.  Read more.

New York State Museum exhibits Gordon Parks photography celebrating his 100th birthday

Art Daily - A new exhibition celebrating the 100th birthday of world-renowned photographer Gordon Parks opened on January 26, 2013 at the New York State Museum. Gordon Parks: 100 Moments showcases six decades of Parks’ photographs, including numerous never-before-seen images and Parks’ most famous photo, “American Gothic, Washington, D.C”.  Read more.

Brazil to give $25 monthly culture stipend to workers to go to movies, read books or visit museums

Art Daily - Despite the economic crisis, Brazil announced Thursday it planned to give workers here a 50-real ($25) monthly stipend for cultural expenses like movies, books or museums. "In all developed countries, culture plays a key role in the economy," Culture Minister Marta Suplicy said in an interview on national television.  Read more.

What's Wrong with the "Right to Work"?

Salvatores Babones @ Truthout - In 2012, Indiana and Michigan joined the ranks of the "right to work" states. They joined 22 other mostly southern and western states. All 11 southern states are "right to work."

Unfortunately, living in a "right to work" state doesn't mean that you have a right to work.  Read more.

Finally: The UN Will Investigate Drone Strikes

Kevin Mathews @ Care2 - The United Nations is set to investigate drone strikes, reports the New York Times. The technologically advanced killing machines have become a staple for developed nations, particularly the United States. However, the lack of oversight and accountability with drone usage has critics wondering whether the robots are successfully combatting the war on terror or merely spreading terror further.  Read more.

White Power to the Rescue

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - On a windy afternoon a few days ago I went to a depressed section of North Memphis to visit an old clapboard house that was once owned by a German immigrant named Jacob Burkle. Oral history—and oral history is all anyone has in this case since no written documents survive—holds that Burkle used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War.  Read more.

Aaron Tobey: Man With 4th Amendment Written on Chest Wins Trial Over Airport Arrest

David Kravets @ Wired Magazine - A Virginia man who wrote an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripped to his shorts at an airport security screening area won a trial Friday in his lawsuit seeking $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.  Read more.

As Federal Prosecutors Cash In, Big Bankers Go Unpunished

Richard Eskow @ Campaign for America's Future - We needed heroes after the financial crisis. Instead we got bureaucrats, compromisers, and perhaps something much worse. Federal law enforcement officials, our “thin gray line” against banker crime, were charged with restoring the balance of justice and reducing the threat of future crises. Seems they had other things on their minds.  Read more.

The President of Perpetual War

David Sirota @ Truthdig - Four years into his presidency, Barack Obama’s political formula should be obvious. He gives fabulous speeches teeming with popular liberal ideas, often refuses to take the actions necessary to realize those ideas and then banks on most voters, activists, reporters and pundits never bothering to notice - or care about - his sleight of hand.  Read more.

Dozens Dead After 21 Convicted in Egyptian Soccer Trial Riots

Jacob Chamberlain @ Common Dreams - At least 30 people have been killed in the Egyptian city of Port Said Saturday in clashes that erupted over the sentencing of 21 people to death regarding last year's deadly soccer stadium riot. The fighting follows a day of deadly protests that marked the second anniversary of the country's unresolved revolution.  Read more.

Anonymous takes down US Sentencing Commission website

Guardian UK - Hacktivist group Anonymous said Saturday it had hijacked the website of the US Sentencing Commission in a brazen act of cyber-revenge for the death of internet freedom advocate Aaron Swartz.

Swartz killed himself just over two weeks ago as he faced trial for hacking an online collection of academic journals linked to MIT with the intent of releasing millions of research papers on to the internet.  Read more.

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou given more than two years in prison

Guardian UK - The former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced Friday to more than two years in prison, by a federal judge who rejected arguments that he was acting as a whistleblower when he leaked a covert officer's name to a reporter. A plea deal required the judge to impose a sentence of two and a half years. US district judge Leonie Brinkema said she would have given Kiriakou much more time if she could.  Read more.

Summit of the Peoples Demands Solidarity and Sovereignty

Inter Press Service - More than 400 social organisations from Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean will gather on Jan. 25-27 at a Summit of the Peoples called as an alternative to the bi-regional meeting of heads of state and government to be held at the same time in the Chilean capital.

Convened under the slogan “For social justice, international solidarity and sovereignty of the peoples”, the aim of the meeting...read more.

UNESCO Warns Australia Over Destruction of Great Barrier Reef

Beth Brogan @ Common Dreams - UNESCO's World Heritage Committee issued a "scathing" report about the state of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, warning that unless measures are taken to protect the reef from proposed large-scale coal and gas projects, the reef's status as a World Heritage Site could be stripped within months.  Read more.

When Trees Die, People Die

Lindsay Abrams @ The Atlantic - The blight was first detected in June 2002, when the trees in Canton, Michigan, got sick. The culprit, the emerald ash borer, had arrived from overseas, and it rapidly spread -- a literal bug -- across state and national lines to Ohio, Minnesota, Ontario. It popped up in more distant, seemingly random locations as infested trees were unwittingly shipped beyond the Midwest.

Within four years of first becoming infested, the ash trees die -- over 100 million since the plague began. In some cases, their death has an immediate impact, as they fall on cars, houses, and people. In the long term, their disappearance means parks and neighborhoods, once tree-lined, are now bare.  Read more.

North Korea plans nuclear test and says rocket programme is targeted at US

Guardian UK - North Korea has responded to tighter UN sanctions with a threat to conduct another nuclear test the regime said would target its greatest enemy, the US.

The country's powerful national defence commission poured scorn on Tuesday's UN security council resolution condemning the launch last month of a long-range rocket, and the decision to expand sanctions against the already impoverished state.  Read more.

What Would a Down-to-Earth Economy Look Like?

David Korten @ YES! Magazine - With proper care and respect, Earth can provide a high quality of life for all people in perpetuity. Yet we devastate productive lands and waters for a quick profit, a few temporary jobs, or a one-time resource fix.

Our current expansion of tar sands oil extraction, deep-sea oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction, and mountaintop-removal coal mining are but examples of this insanity. These highly profitable choices deepen our economic dependence on rapidly diminishing, nonrenewable fossil-energy reserves, disrupt the generative capacity of Earth’s living systems, and accelerate climate disruption.  Read more.

Judge ruules Bradley Manning cannot defend himself - truncated defense to be allowed

Guardian UK - Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of being behind the largest leak of state secrets in America's history, has been denied the chance to make a whistleblower defence in his upcoming court martial in which he faces possible life in military custody with no chance of parole.

The judge presiding over Manning's prosecution by the US government for allegedly transmitting confidential material to WikiLeaks ruled in a pre-trial hearing that Manning will largely be barred from presenting evidence about his motives in leaking the documents and videos.  Read more.

Boycott of Standardized Tests Spreads as Seattle Teachers Revolt

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Opponents of the nation's relentless push for standardized testing in public schools have new champions in Seattle this week as teachers at one high school and now another have refused to issue such exams to their students, calling them a waste of "time and money" amid "dwindling school resources."  Read more.

7 men gang rape bus passenger in India

CNN - In an incident eerily similar to a sexual assault that sent shock waves worldwide, Indian police say a woman was gang-raped over the weekend by seven men after she boarded a bus at night.

Police arrested six suspects, including the bus driver, after the alleged Friday night attack in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.  Read more.

In Haiti, Aid Dollars Corroded Social Fabric

Inter Press Service - A World Bank-funded community development project in Haiti appears to have inadvertantly harmed or even dissolved some of the grassroots organisations it was designed to strengthen.

As World Bank economists Ghazali Mansuri and Vijayendra Rao note in their work (See Sidebar 2, Criticism for CDD, and research here, here and here), the people and organisations that tend to benefit the most from “community driven development” or CDD projects in poor countries are those who already enjoy privilege and power at the local level.  Read more.

A Guantanamo Prisoner Is Buried as New Details About His Death Begin to Surface

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - The US military aircraft carrying the cargo is only used for missions like this.

Muhammed Farhan Latif and other members of his family waited at a gatehouse at Al-Dailami Air Base in Sana'a, Yemen's capital, for the plane to arrive from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. It touched down at around 9 PM on Saturday, December 15.  Read more.

Why are Bob Woodward's WH sources - or Woodward himself - not on trial next to Bradley Manning?

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - There  are numerous travesties defining the ongoing prosecution of accused whistleblower Bradley Manning, but none more dangerous than the accusation that by leaking classified information, he "aided and abetted the enemy" (al-Qaida) - a capital offense. Not even the government claims he intended to help al-Qaida. The theory is that, even though it was not his intent, the information Manning disclosed may end up being of value to the terrorist organization: a claim that applies to virtually every leak of classified information to any media organization, thus transforming standard whistle-blowing into the equivalent of treason.  Read more.

'Injustice and Illegality' Continue as Guantanamo Enters Year 12

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - Demonstrations across the nation on Friday are marking the somber, 11th anniversary of the opening of the US-controlled detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which rights groups describe as a "gulag," "medieval torture chamber" and "a sad reminder of our country's flagrant disregard for justice."  Read more.

‘Death of a Prisoner’ at Obama's Guantánamo

Laura Poitras @ NY Times - When President Obama pledged to close the Guantánamo Bay prison on his first day in office as president in 2009, I believed the country had shifted direction. I was wrong. Four years later, President Obama has not only institutionalized Guantánamo and all the horrors it symbolizes, but he has initiated new extrajudicial programs, like the president’s secret kill list.  Watch video and read more.

Mr. President, Education Is a Human Right, Not a Product

Bill Ayers @ Truthout - The landscape of “educational reform” is currently littered with rubble and ruin and wreckage on all sides. Sadly, your administration has contributed significantly to the mounting catastrophe. You’re not alone: The toxic materials have been assembled as a bipartisan endeavor over many years, and the efforts of the last several administrations are now organized into a coherent push mobilized and led by a merry band of billionaires including Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Sam Walton, and Eli Broad.  Read more.

General McChrystal compares Afghans to teenager who need US in parental role

Star Tribune (Minnesota) - Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said Monday he backs the White House's drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan slated for 2014, but added that the U.S. owes Afghans some sort of enduring security presence to support them.

"We have an emotional responsibility," McChrystal said of Afghanistan in an interview with The Associated Press. He commanded forces there before resigning over a controversial magazine article.  Read more.

The Progressive Caucus: Enabling Obama's Rightward Moves

Norman Solomon @ Common Dreams - The failure of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stand up to President Obama on many vital matters of principle is one of the most important – and least mentioned – political dynamics of this era.  As the largest caucus of Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Progressive Caucus has heavyweight size but flyweight punch.  Read more.

Drawing the Line: Wherever It Is, Irate Judge Rules Stop-and-Frisk Crossed It

Abby Zimet @ Common Dreams - In a win for civil liberties and a blow to mindless racist harassment, a federal judge has ordered the NYPD to halt stop-and-frisk actions outside thousands of Bronx apartment buildings as part of its “Clean Halls” program, ruling that officers have shown “deliberate indifference” to the unconstitutionality of the stops.  Read more.

Military Judge Refuses to Toss Out Charges Against Bradley Manning: Calls His Pretrial Punishment Illegal

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - The nine months Pfc. Bradley Manning spent in a windowless cell in Quantico, Virginia - at times without any clothing - amounted to illegal pretrial punishment, a military judge ruled Tuesday.

But Col. Denise Lind refused to dismiss charges against the 25-year-old Army Intelligence analyst, and instead decided that any sentence Manning receives if he is convicted should be reduced by a little more than three months.  Read more.

Cornell West: A Voice in the Wilderness

Rev. Osayyefo Sekou @ Spare Change News - "I come to you tonight with a heavy heart," Cornel West began. "I just buried my grandmother," he continued at the crowd gathered at West Park Presbyterian Church in the New York, which caused a collective "ahhh." Dr. West cancelled a number of speaking engagements in early March, pausing his whirlwind schedule to deliver the eulogy for Rosie Bais. She was not his biological grandmother but the only grandmother he had known.  Read more.

'Smoking Gun': Tar Sands Report Eviscerates Industry Claims

Beth Brogan @ Common Dreams - As climate justice campaigners in the US ramp up their efforts to block the Keystone XL pipeline and First Nation activists foment a global 'Earth-centered' movement in Canada, scientists say a new study "conclusively" proves that tar sands oil is both highly carcinogenic and that toxic contamination in Alberta, Canada covers a much wider area than previously acknowledged.  Read more.

Paul Krugman for Treasury Secretary

Dean Baker @ Truthout - That headline has all the DC insider types rolling their eyes right now, since they know it is absurd to imagine that President Obama would pick Krugman to be Timothy Geithner’s replacement as Treasury Secretary. They aren’t wrong, it is absurd. There is no way on earth that Obama would select Krugman. This fact tells us a great deal about what is wrong with the shape of the economic policy being debated in the nation’s capital.  Read more.

A Liberace film too gay? No such thing

Guardian UK - A lesbian scriptwriter on a successful British soap opera once explained to me why it was impossible to maintain long-term gay characters in it. "Soap storylines rely on couples splitting up and getting off with someone else. So my gay characters would have to find others to sleep with and split up with constantly and the whole neighbourhood would end up far too gay."  Read more.

Those Who Say "I Support the Troops" Should Just Stop, Out of Respect for the Troops

Michael Moore - I don't support the troops, America, and neither do you. I am tired of the ruse we are playing on these brave citizens in our armed forces. And guess what -- a lot of these soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines see right through the bull**** of those words, "I support the troops!," spoken by Americans with such false sincerity -- false because our actions don't match our words. These young men and women sign up to risk their very lives to protect us -- and this is what they get in return:  Read more.

Damien Hirst's split from Larry Gagosian turns heads in art world

Guardian UK - They seemed the perfect match. On one side, Larry Gagosian, the world's most powerful art dealer, whose eponymous gallery has more exhibition space than Tate Modern, an annual revenue estimated at more than $1bn (£600m) and puts on exhibitions of the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Warhol to rival the greatest museums. On the other, Damien Hirst, the world's most successful living artist, who has amassed a fortune of £215m.  Read more.

Noam Chomsky: The Gravest Threat to World Peace

Noam Chomsky @ Truthout - Reporting on the final U.S. presidential campaign debate, on foreign policy, The Wall Street Journal observed that "the only country mentioned more (than Israel) was Iran, which is seen by most nations in the Middle East as the gravest security threat to the region."

The two candidates agreed that a nuclear Iran is the gravest threat to the region, if not the world, as Romney explicitly maintained, reiterating a conventional view.  Read more.

Bought, Sold and Abused in Yemen

Inter Press Service - Twenty-one-year-old Aisha clings to her two children as she recounts her tale of horror. Growing up in the Somali capital Mogadishu, she fell in love and bore a child out of wedlock four years ago. When her family threatened her life for destroying her ‘honour’, Aisha escaped.

She braved the hazardous journey with smugglers across the Indian Ocean to Yemen, and to what she thought was a better life.  Read more.

Berlin's homeless find voice in choir founded by NYC jazz singer

Guardian UK - Ecki Werner stood by the piano dressed in a lime green shirt, his grey-blue eyes surrounded by deep laughter lines, humming and swaying to the music.

He and 25 other homeless and socially deprived people were squeezed into a room on the first floor of a community centre as Jocelyn Smith led them through their warm-up exercises. "Don't forget to breathe, my darlings," the soul and jazz singer told them.  Read more.

Amsterdam's Plan to Resettle "Antisocial Tenants" in Containment Camps

Danny Weil @ Truthout - Amsterdam is famous for liberal policies such as those that help it attract tourists who want to buy sex and smoke pot in coffee shops, but now it has announced an illiberal social containment and human disposability scheme to house what the Dutch are calling "antisocial tenants." The plan is to warehouse live bodies - or an ever-mounting population of surplus labor - in converted shipping containers.  Read more.

France's Censorship Demands to Twitter Are More Dangerous Than 'Hate Speech'

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - Writing in the Guardian today, Jason Farago praises France's women's rights minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, for demanding that Twitter help the French government criminalize ideas it dislikes. Decreeing that "hateful tweets are illegal", Farago excitingly explains how the French minister is going beyond mere prosecution for those who post such tweets and now "wants Twitter to take steps to help prosecute hate speech" by "reform[ing] the whole system by which Twitter operates", including her demand that the company "put in place alerts and security measures" to prevent tweets which French officials deem hateful. This, Farago argues, is fantastic, because - using the same argument employed by censors and tyrants of every age and every culture - new technology makes free speech far too dangerous to permit:  Read more.

Midnight Weddings Commence as Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Official in Maine

Common Dreams - Mainers celebrated around the state at the stroke of midnight Saturday, December 29, 2012, when a law legalizing the marriage of same-sex couples went into effect.  Read more.

There Is No American Left

Salvatore Babones @ Truthout - In September 2012 Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel attempted to break the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) with a bid to privatize Chicago's public schools. The mayor's proposal was based on a plan to subject teachers (and schools) to performance measurement based on students' standardized test scores.  Read more.