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Showing posts from October, 2013

In Haiti, Cholera Claims New Victims Daily

Inter Press Service - Some 2,400 kilometres from New York City, where victims of Haiti’s cholera epidemic are suing the United Nations in a U.S. federal court, the disease continues to burn through the populace with no end in sight.
In a single week between Oct. 19 and Oct. 26, the Pan-American Health Organisation reported 1,512 new cases and 31 deaths. New cases are reported in all 10 departments.  Read more.

On Leaving The Guardian and the Future Ahead

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - As many of you know, I'm leaving the Guardian in order to work with Pierre Omidyar, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and soon-to-be-identified others on building a new media organization. As I said when this news was reported a couple of weeks ago, leaving the Guardian was not an easy choice, but this was a dream opportunity that was impossible to decline.  Read more.

Chilean Students Poised for Congressional Victories

Jonathan Fraklin @ Truthout - With her iconic silver nose ring and steadfast fight for free quality university education for all Chilean students, Camila Vallejo has become modern Latin American folk hero. In Santiago's Bellavista neighborhood, trendy art galleries sell oil paintings of "Camila" while chalked messages of support decorate Santiago streets.  Read more.

Activists of Color Lead Charge Against Surveillance, NSA

Rania Khalek @ Truthout - "We been exposed to this type of surveillance since we got here," declared Kymone Freeman, director of the National Black LUV Fest as he emceed the historic rally against NSA surveillance in Washington, DC. He continued, "Drones is a form of surveillance. Racial profiling is a form of surveillance. Stop-and-frisk is a form of surveillance. We all black today!"  Read more.

BP's "Widespread Human Health Crisis"

Dahr Jamail @ Al Jazeera - Peter Frizzell never thought his watersports off the coast of Florida would destroy his health.
"After sea kayaking after BP's spill happened, I was sitting at my desk and started coughing up loads of blood," Frizzell, an avid outdoorsman, told Al Jazeera. "My doctor ran a scope down to the top of my lungs and said my bronchi were full of blood."  Read more.

US Navy gets largest and most expensive destroyer ever

RT.com - After suffering numerous problems with the latest class of surface warships, the Navy is hoping for a win with the introduction of the largest destroyer in United States history.
On Monday, the Navy launched the new USS Zumwalt into Maine’s Kennebec River for the first time. Originally designed simply for shore bombardment, the ship is now intended to serve multiple purposes, including backing up Marines on clandestine missions.  Read more.

Perpetual War: How Does the Global War on Terror Ever End?

Jeremy Scahill @ TomDispatch (book exerpt) - On January 21, 2013, Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term as president of the United States. Just as he had promised when he began his first campaign for president six years earlier, he pledged again to turn the page on history and take U.S. foreign policy in a different direction. “A decade of war is now ending,” Obama declared. “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”  Read more.

How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt

Naomi Klein @ New Statesman - In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.  Read more.

Ban the Bomb!

Foreign Policy In Focus - Several months ago, even the most politically engaged Americans had probably never heard of either the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  Read more.

The European Drone War

Chris Cole @ Common Dreams - While there is rightly much media attention on the US drone war in Pakistan and Yemen, there is a very different but over-looked “drone war” taking place in Europe right now. In parliamentary committee rooms, in company boardrooms, and in packed public meetings, arguments rage about whether Europe should embrace or reject the use of armed drones.  Read more.

The World Without US

Inter Press Service - In his 2007 bestseller The World Without Us, journalist Alan Weisman describes a planet that regenerates itself after the disappearance of human beings. Skyscrapers crumble and bridges collapse into rivers, but the primeval forests take over and the buffalo return to roam.
It’s an optimistic vision of the future – if you’re a buffalo or a dolphin or a cockroach. No more ranchers. No more huge trawling nets or D-Con.  Read more.

America's Most Beloved War Criminals

Justin Doolittle @ Truthout - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to be named officially next month as a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, charged with selecting the four teams that will compete in the first playoffs following the 2014 season. Rice's appointment, which, according to ESPN, brings some "star power" to the committee, was made possible by the generally favorable impression of her among the public and in the media. Rice has never been a particularly polarizing figure, unlike Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, two other high-profile players in the Bush administration, who, even if they were equally serious and informed about college football, would never be considered for an appointment. Despite being at the center of some of the most intensely political dramas of the Bush presidency, Rice has managed to escape from the wreckage of those years virtually unscathed.   Read more.

Black Panthers' Fight For Free Health Care Documented in New Book

Elenor J. Bader @ Truthout - It is well-known that the Black Panther Party's [BPP] rallying call was "serve the people, body and soul." According to sociologist Alondra Nelson, the phrase was far more than a rhetorical flourish. In fact, Panther co-founder Bobby Seale made sure it was taken literally when, in the spring of 1970, he ordered all party chapters to create free breakfast programs for children and health centers to serve the medically needy.  Read more.

Guitar Center Workers Rock the Shop Floor

Michele Chen @ In These Times - If your 9-to-5 job revolves around your life’s passion, the satisfaction of being surrounded by what you love can offset the daily grind. But such passion is often in short supply in retail work, which is generally defined by the quintessential boring sales job. At Guitar Center, however, one of the country's largest instrument chains, workers' love for music, combined with their disdain for The Man, is driving a valiant campaign for a union.
In several cities, Guitar Center employees have been organizing since late 2012 with the support of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). In May, they scored their first victory at the flagship store in the West Village, with 57 employees voting to unionize.  Read more.

Monsanto's Very Bad Week: Three Big Blows for GMO Food

Ocean Robbins @ Alternet - It hasn't been a good week for Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry.

Just three days ago, Mexico banned genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country's borders.  Read more.

Addicted to the Apocalypse

NY Times - Once upon a time, walking around shouting “The end is nigh” got you labeled a kook, someone not to be taken seriously. These days, however, all the best people go around warning of looming disaster. In fact, you more or less have to subscribe to fantasies of fiscal apocalypse to be considered respectable.  Read more.

Obama's Lethal Empire: America's "Secret Wars" in Over 100 Countries

The Hampton Institute - Obama's global terror campaign is not only dependent upon his drone assassination program, but increasingly it has come to rely upon the deployment of Special Operations forces in countries all over the world, reportedly between 70 and 120 countries at any one time. As Obama has sought to draw down the large-scale ground invasions of countries (as Bush pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq), he has escalated the world of 'covert warfare,' largely outside the oversight of Congress and the public. One of the most important agencies in this global "secret war" is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC for short.  Read more.

Time to End the Torture and Jailing of Palestinian Children

Ziad Abbas @ Common Dreams - Although I have been living far from Palestine for a few years and I am now in my forties, I still have nightmares about the Israeli army invading my house when I was a child and about the first time I was tortured. This is the reality most Palestinian former prisoners live with for the rest of our lives.  Read more.

US Diplomat: Each US Drone Attack Creates '40 to 60' New Enemies

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - The U.S. military, according to one former diplomat with a frontrow seat to its drone policy in Yemen, is creating new terrorists in that country at breakneck speed.
In an article published at TomDispatch earlier this week, the site's editor Tom Engelhardt gave the recent and ongoing counterterrorism strategy of the U.S. military an unkind moniker by dubbing it a perpetual "blowback machine."  Read more.

Naughty Nuns, Bad Bankers and Ballot Bandits

Greg Palast @ Truthout - On May 6, 2008, 12 fraudulent voters, dressed as nuns, attempted to cast ballots in the presidential primary in Indiana.
Luckily, ten of them were caught, stopped cold by Indiana's new voter photo ID law. The law had been found to be constitutional by Federal Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Read more.

It's The Spies, Not the Leaks, That Threaten Our Security

Seumas Milne @ Guardian UK - The war on terror has been a boon to the British intelligence services. After decades in which they became notorious for "counter-subversion" operations against political activists and trade unionists, colluding with death squads in Northern Ireland and helping the US to overthrow elected governments around the world, the spooks have at last had a chance to play the good guys.  Read more.

Corporate Media's Hidden Wave of Consolidation

Mike Ludwig @ Truthout - Faye Steuer is a former psychology professor living near Charleston, South Carolina, who spent much of her career researching how violence on television affects children. Over the years, Steuer learned about the inner workings of the media business and stumbled upon what she believes to be an even bigger problem.  Read more.

Female Prisoners' Babies Shouldn't Be Sentenced to Life Without Breast Milk

Maya Schenwar @ Truthout - The vast majority of the 10,000 babies born to US prisoners each year are deprived of their mothers - and their mother's milk.
Last July, as my parents and I sat munching Bugles around a visiting room table with my incarcerated sister in an Illinois state prison, a cry rang out from the table next to us. There, a bawling infant lay cradled in the arms of a visitor. She smoothed the baby's soft hair, then surreptitiously opened her shirt to nurse it. The baby simmered down immediately, happily sucking away.  Read more.

America's New Employment Reality

Paul Krugman @ Truthout - For years people like me have been engaged in a running argument with those who insist that the reason we have high unemployment is that American workers don't have the skills required for a 21st-century economy. It's normally implied, although not always stated, that they're talking about technological skills, knowledge of science and math, and in general the cutting edge.  Read more.

Art Speaks Louder Than Words

Anna Goodson (blog) - There is a lot of controversy about  The Olympic Games that are to take place in Sochi, Russia, especially with the way they treat the LGBT community.
So, I was wracking my brain to try to figure out a way to make a statement and possibly a difference.  Read more.
FOX News - Food stamp recipients are turning the government handouts into quick cash with ads on Craigslist, despite efforts to stem fraud.
The federally-funded grocery assistance coupons -- which are issued by states in the form of debit cards under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- are being sold on the online bulletin board as well as auction sites like eBay. FoxNews.com found several offerings at Craigslist sites around the country, where the sellers offered the welfare benefits at large discounts from face value.  Read more.

The $13 Billion JPMorgan Settlement Is a Good Start—Now Someone Should Go To Jail

The Nation - JPMorgan Chase, the star of mega-banks, is up against the wall at the Justice Department, trying to settle its myriad crimes for $13 billion. That’s real money, even for a trillion-dollar bank. So this is progress. After years of scandalous indifference, the Obama administration appears to have found its backbone.  Read more.

The Business of America Is War

William J Astore @ TomDispatch - There is a new normal in America: our government may shut down, but our wars continue.  Congress may not be able to pass a budget, but the U.S. military can still launch commando raids in Libya and Somalia, the Afghan War can still be prosecuted, Italy can be garrisoned by American troops (putting the “empire” back in Rome), Africa can be used as an imperial playground (as in the late nineteenth century “scramble for Africa,” but with the U.S. and China doing the scrambling this time around), and the military-industrial complex can still dominate the world’s arms trade.  Read more.

A Fascist Revival Stirs in Spain

Consortium News - Last week, a mayor of a Madrid suburb threatened through his Twitter account to send some “skinheads” to target opposition political leaders. The mayor, a member of the ruling conservative Popular Party, later said he was just joking – and no “skinheads” actually showed up to rough up the mayor’s opponents.  Read more.

Food Stamp Corporate Welfare

Margaret Kimberley @ Black Agenda Report - If you think the SNAP food stamps debate is about poor people’s need to eat, you’re wrong. It’s about big corporations’ need to profit. “Xerox, JPMorgan Chase and eFunds Corporation have all successfully turned poverty into a profit center.” So have Coca Cola, Kroger, Wal-Mart, Kelloggs and a large slice of the rest of the Fortune 500 corporations.  Read more.

Glenn Greenwald and the $250 Million "Angel Investor"

Jonathan Franklin @ Truthout - Glenn Greenwald, the author and blogger behind the publication of the NSA documents obtained by former contractor Edward Snowden, announced Oct. 16, 2013, that he is leaving British newspaper The Guardian to join what he described as a "once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity," a new media organization designed to promote in-depth reporting.  Read more.

The Abject Failure of Reaganomics

Robert Parry @ Consortium News - Even as the Republican Right licks its wounds after taking a public-opinion beating over its government shutdown and threatened credit default, the Tea Partiers keep promoting a false narrative on why the U.S. debt has ballooned and why the economy struggles, a storyline that will surely influence the next phase of this American political crisis.  Read more.

Charter Schools and the Future of Public Education

Stan Karp @ Rethinking Schools - Somewhere along the way, nearly every teacher dreams of starting a school. I know I did.
More than once during the 30 years I taught English and journalism to high school students in Paterson, New Jersey, I imagined that creating my own school would open the door to everything I wanted as a teacher:  Read more.

The Government Is Open Again ... Now What?

Center for Effective Government - Just after midnight on Oct. 17, President Obama signed legislation that avoided a dangerous default and reopened the government after the third-longest government shutdown in history. Under the terms of the deal, the government was funded through Jan. 15, 2014, and the debt limit was extended until Feb. 7, 2014.  Read more.

Obama to name Jeh Johnson as next DHS Secretary

CBS News - President Obama will announce Friday that he is nominating former Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson to be the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, a senior administration official confirmed to CBS News. He will be the fourth Homeland Security Secretary and the first African-American to hold the post if he's confirmed by the Senate.  Read more.

Government Shutdown Ended, Austerity Drive Lives On

John Queally @ Common Dreams - The government shutdown is over, but the drive for austerity endures.

President Obama, early Thursday morning, signed a bill passed by both chambers of Congress on Wednesday that reopened the federal government and raised the nation's borrowing limit, ending a more than two-week showdown in Washington that received near-constant media attention.  Read more.

Cory Booker wins New Jersey Senate race

LA Times - Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who harnessed the power of social media to gain fame far beyond his city, is heading to Washington after winning a special election to fill New Jersey's open U.S. Senate seat.
With 95% of precincts reporting, Booker was leading Republican opponent Steve Lonegan, 55% to 44%. The seat had long been held by Democrat Frank R. Lautenberg, who died in June.  Read more.

Lawmakers launch budget talks as Washington returns to work

Reuters - As hundreds of thousands of federal employees returned to work, Republican and Democratic negotiators held their first meeting to tackle tax and spending issues that have led to repeated rounds of brinkmanship over the past three years.
But one day after Congress ended a 16-day government shutdown and stepped back from the edge of an unprecedented debt default, many feared that they have only set the stage for another standoff in the months to come.  Read more.

'Experimenting' on a Death Row Inmate: Florida to Execute Man by Untested Drug

Sarh Lazare @ Common Dreams - Fifty-one-year-old inmate William Happ is slated for execution in Florida on Tuesday using an experimental cocktail of drugs, despite widespread concerns that the injection could subject him to severe pain and thus 'cruel and unusual punishment' under the 8th amendment. Read more.

Freeing Marissa Alexander

Victoria Law @ Truthout - Three years ago, a single warning shot sent Marissa Alexander to prison. Last month, an appeals court overturned her conviction, ruling that the jury received flawed instructions on self-defense. Supporters are calling for the prosecutor to drop all charges rather than subject Alexander to a new trial.  Read more.

Seeing Its Own Money at Risk, China Rails at U.S.

NY Times - China has become shrill in its criticism of the fiscal train wreck in the United States, arguing that the answer to a potential government default is to begin creating a “de-Americanized world.” Beijing’s alarm is understandable, given that it is the world’s largest investor in American public debt, with at least $1.3 trillion in holdings.  Read more.

JPMorgan to Pay $100 Million and Make Admission of Wrongdoing in London Whale Pact

Deal Book - JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay $100 million and make a groundbreaking admission of wrongdoing to settle an investigation into market manipulation around the bank’s multibillion-dollar trading loss in London, a federal regulator announced on Wednesday, underscoring the great lengths the nation’s biggest bank will take to put the blunder behind it.  Read more.

Warren Buffett: It would be 'asinine' if US defaults

NBC News - Warren Buffett said Wednesday the threat to not raise the nation's debt limit "after you've already spent the money" is a "political weapon of mass destruction" comparable to poison gas and shouldn't be used by either party.
"I know it's been used in the past, but we used the atomic bomb back in 1945 but we decided we weren't going to do something like that again," he said hours before the government's midnight deadline to raise the debt limit or possibly default.
Buffett called on both sides to pledge not to use the debt limit as a weapon. "There are plenty of weapons that can be used," like filibusters, he said.  Read more.

2013 is looking a lot like 1927, a scary year in American history.

Heather Mallick @ Toronto Star - I don’t know why you all seem to think it’s 2013. Clearly it is 1927. I just read Bill Bryson’s book on the American summer of that year — the glorious writer has an astonishing knack for narrative even on sedative subjects like baseball — and it fell from my nerveless fingers when I realized what he was trying to convey.
The world is holding 1927 all over again.  Read more.

Retired African-American Philadelphia Police: Stop-and-frisk is 'demeaning'

Philly.com - Herbert Spellman gave nearly 20 years of his life to the Philadelphia Police Department, retiring in 2008 after a driver rear-ended his police cruiser, knocking him unconscious and sending him to the emergency room.
His body still hurts as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash. But Spellman's pride took a beating more recently.  Read more.

Chris Hedges | The Folly of Empire

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - The final days of empire give ample employment and power to the feckless, the insane and the idiotic. These politicians and court propagandists, hired to be the public faces on the sinking ship, mask the real work of the crew, which is systematically robbing the passengers as the vessel goes down. The mandarins of power stand in the wheelhouse barking ridiculous orders and seeing how fast they can gun the engines. They fight like children over the ship’s wheel as the vessel heads full speed into a giant ice field. They wander the decks giving pompous speeches. They shout that the SS America is the greatest ship ever built. They insist that it has the most advanced technology and embodies the highest virtues. And then, with abrupt and unexpected fury, down we will go into the frigid waters.  Read more.

In Photos: The Oil Spill North Dakota Tried to Keep Secret

Phil Radford @ Common Dreams - On September 29th, Steve Jensen, a farmer in northwest North Dakota, discovered crude oil "spewing and bubbling 6 inches high" out on his field while he was harvesting wheat. The spewing oil came from a break in Tesoro Corporation's underground pipeline which carries crude oil from Bakken shale formation (fracking for oil) to Columbus, North Dakota. By the time clean up crews made it out to Jensen's field, over 20,000 barrels of oil had spilled, making this one of the largest spills in state history.  Read more.

The Perfect Epitaph for Establishment Journalism

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - Like many people, I've spent years writing and speaking about the lethal power-subservient pathologies plaguing establishment journalism in the west. But this morning, I feel a bit like all of that was wasted time and energy, because this new column by career British journalist Chris Blackhurst - an executive with and, until a few months ago, the editor of the UK daily calling itself "The Independent" - contains a headline that says everything that needs to be said about the sickly state of establishment journalism:  Read more.

Why Food Should be a Commons Not a Commodity

Jose Luis Vivero Pol @ Sharable - Food is treated as a private good in today's industrial food system, but it must be re-conceived as a common good in the transition toward a more sustainable food system that is fairer to food producers and consumers. If we were to treat food as a commons, it could be better produced and distributed by hybrid tri-centric governance systems implemented at the local level and compounded by market rules, public regulations, and collective actions. This change would have enormous ethical, legal, economic, and nutritional implications for the global food system.  Read more.

The Answer to the Great Question of Education Reform? The Number 42

Adam Bessie @ Truthout - For the Gateses and their Silicon Valley disciples who have also invested millions in The Answer - Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix's Reed Hastings - our public school system is really just a large operating system. It is not a messy, social, human enterprise but, rather, a technical problem, one that can be solved through quantification, effective programming and, most of all, through data, data, data - and numerical data, at that, which should be analyzed, evaluated and synthesized by ceaseless computation, preferably by Deep Thought.  Read more.

Red Light Cameras, Drones and Surveillance: Fleecing the Taxpayer in the Age of Petty Tyrannies

The Rutherford Institute - We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the name of the national good by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions. We, the middling classes, are not so fortunate. We find ourselves badgered, bullied and browbeaten into bearing the brunt of their arrogance, paying the price for their greed, suffering the backlash for their militarism, agonizing as a result of their inaction, feigning ignorance about their backroom dealings, overlooking their incompetence, turning a blind eye to their misdeeds, cowering from their heavy-handed tactics, and blindly hoping for change that never comes.   Read more.

Hurricane Sandy Evacuees Suddenly Left Without a Place to Live Again

Kristina Chew @ Care2 - It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Sandy struck the U.S. East Coast, causing the deaths of 72 people in eight states, wreaking havoc on the lives of millions and damaging or destroying thousands of homes. Government officials, recognizing how fragile the aging U.S. infrastructure is, have announced plans for better disaster preparation, but there are still plenty of people still living every day with the aftermath of the hurricane.  Read more.

Atomic Energy—Unnecessary, Uneconomic, Uninsurable, Unevacuable and Unsafe

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - It has been over two years since the earthquake and tsunami that brought about the nuclear reactor crisis in Fukushima—the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. The situation at the six plants is still grim. Four of the reactors are damaged. Hundreds of tons of contaminated groundwater are reportedly seeping into the ocean every day. Nearly 83,000 people were displaced from their homes in the approximately 310 square mile exclusion zones. On Wednesday October 9th, an accident resulted in six workers being doused in radioactive water. Accidents and mishaps at the Fukushima site are regular occurrences. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now asked the world community for help in containing the ongoing Fukushima disaster, as it continues to spiral out of control.  Read more.

Access restored for food stamp users

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - A system failure that left people in Georgia and 16 other states unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards has been restored, said Xerox Corp., the vendor that operates the program.
The outage forced food stamp recipients to walk away from their grocery carts Saturday when the electronic payment system connected to their benefits failed during a routine test. Called Electronic Benefits Transfer, the system allows people to spend their welfare benefits with payment cards.  Read more.

Protesters Fill Streets of Santiago: Chile indigenous groups mark Columbus Day with outrage

Al Jazeera - Protesters clashed with police in Chile’s capital Saturday during an anti-Columbus Day march organized by Indigenous groups, with activists calling for the return of ancestral lands and the right to self-determination on the 521-year anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.  Read more.

Secret FISA Court Extends NSA Phone Spying

Jacob Chamberlain @ Common Dreams - The secretive U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved a request made by the National Security Agency (NSA) to continue its dragnet collection of records on all U.S. phone calls.
In what it claimed to be move for transparency, the office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the announcement late Friday.  Read more.