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Showing posts from December, 2013

Lawsuit Demands Info on Rule That Permits NSA to Spy on the Whole World

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Privacy advocates and a prominent civil liberties group sued the U.S. government on Monday, demanding disclosure of how key spy agencies and the executive branch interpret and execute legal authorities that govern a vast foreign electronic surveillance program that also sweeps up the communication data of millions of Americans each year.  Read more.

High housing costs push many teachers out of S.F.

SF Gate - Todd Morgan and Victoria Traverso's lives revolve around their roles as teachers, coaches and mentors at Phillip & Sala Burton Academic High School in San Francisco's Bayview district.
The married couple spend up to 12 hours at the school most days, attend games on weekends and answer texts and calls from their students around the clock. They have helped turn the school around. They love their jobs.  Read more.

The public should know what really goes on with drone killing

Guardian UK - Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them some questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"  Read more.

Youth Can Handle The Truth

Popular Resistance - This week we want to highlight some of the issues that are spurring youth to get active in their communities and what they are doing about them.
Young people are yearning to understand the world, even when the truth is horrible, so that they can change it for the better.  Read more.

A&E: 'Duck Dynasty' resuming 'with the entire Robertson family'

CNN - Little more than a week after it suspended "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson for incendiary remarks about homosexuality, the cable channel A&E said Friday that it would include him in future tapings of the reality television show, effectively lifting the suspension amid a flurry of petitions in support of Robertson.  Read more.

Obama and Holder Protecting JPMorgan Chase NYC From Criminal Investigation

Mark Karlin @ Buzzflash - Providing additional evidence that the Obama Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) is protecting "banks too big to fail," Pulitzer Prize winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston has revealed that the DOJ has refused to force JPMorgan Chase to comply with an ongoing investigation into the bank's possible knowledge of Bernard Madoff's fraud scheme of a few years ago.  Read more.

10 Good Things about the Year 2013

Medea Benjamin @ Codepink - It would be easy to make a list of 10 bad things—wars, government shut-down, drone attacks, lack of progress on immigrant rights, lousy health-care reform.  But it’s also been a year of extraordinary activism: whistleblowers, DREAMers, Walmart workers, peacemakers, gay rights advocates, garment workers. As the year ends, let’s pay tribute to the good things their efforts have wrought.  Read more.

Small Town Accidentally Hires Black Drag Queen Dance Troupe for Christmas Parade

Alabama.com - The Prancing Elites' appearance in the Semmes Christmas parade on Saturday has sparked a controversy that is gaining nationwide attention. But tucked among the hundreds of reader comments on AL.com about Christian values, inappropriate dress attire and "my children shouldn't see that," there has also been support for the all-male dance group from Mobile.  Read more.

'The Only Thing We Have to Fear...' is the CIA

Ray McGovern @ Common Dreams - Fifty years ago, exactly one month after John Kennedy was killed, the Washington Post published an op-ed titled “Limit CIA Role to Intelligence.” The first sentence of that op-ed on Dec. 22, 1963, read, “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency.”  Read more.

Food Behind Bars Isn’t Fit for Your Dog

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Shares in the Philadelphia-based Aramark Holdings Corp., which contracts through Aramark Correctional Services to provide the food to 600 correctional institutions across the United States, went public Thursday. The corporation, acquired in 2007 for $8.3 billion by investors that included Goldman Sachs, raised $725 million last week from the sale of the stock. It is one more sign that the business of locking up poor people in corporate America is booming.  Read more.

Snowden Slams NSA Review as 'Cosmetic'

Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - The recommendations set forth by an internal government NSA review panel are nothing but "cosmetic changes" staged to "restore public confidence" in the U.S. government's spying activities, charged NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in an email exchange with Brazil's O Globo news station.  Read more.

What's the Difference Between a Meth Kingpin and a Wall Street CEO? The Meth Dealer Might Go to Jail.

Paul Buchheit @ Buzzflash - At a time of year when we're inclined to show empathy for people less fortunate than ourselves, some of our top business leaders are notable for comments that show their disdain for struggling Americans. Their words may seem too outlandish to have been uttered, or inappropriately humorous, but all the speakers were serious.  Read more.

Truman's True Warning on the CIA

Arun Gupta @ Truthout - It wasn’t getting a freshly plucked rooster for my birthday that made it so memorable. It was the realization of what a real chicken tasted like.
It was early spring. Michael had just driven down from the Finger Lakes to the city. Hopping out of his prematurely aged Hyundai, he walked toward me with a lopsided grin and a clear plastic bag. "Happy 40th," he said thrusting a naked bird forward in the chilly night air. I took the bag and inspected the tight, vibrant flesh in the streetlight, noticing a few pin feathers attached to the lower leg, revealing this was home-grown fowl.  Read more.

In San Francisco and Oakland, Residents Fight Back Against Tech Giants

Christopher Longeneck @ Truthout.org - It was a lot less street theater this time around, and a lot more action. On December 20, emboldened by the success of anti-eviction protests against a "Google bus" in San Francisco's Mission District the week prior, residents and activists in the Bay Area organized simultaneous blockades of "tech buses" in the Mission and Oakland. In Oakland, Google buses were targeted, while residents of San Francisco prevented a bus bound for Apple's main campus from moving for over a half hour. Residents in the Bay Area continue to struggle against crippling evictions and displacement brought on, in large part, by the influx of well-to-do tech industry workers.  Read more.

Fired By Walmart for Christmas

Michal Rozworski @ Common Dreams - The holidays are meant to be a joyful time. Religion aside, they are a time for family and celebration. For many workers at Walmart, however, the holidays are a source of stress and challenge. Stores become figurative, sometimes even literal, battlefields, making already-taxing work more demanding, even chaotic. At the same time, low wages and inadequate benefits stretch year-end budgets, leaving little room for the joys of the holidays.  Read more.

Edward Snowden: Person of the Year

Margaret Kimberley @ Black Agenda Report - There is not very much democracy left in America, a country which endlessly brags about how democratic it is. Every now and again we are pleasantly surprised when the people and their interests are served instead of the 1% and their factotums in government. Those moments are few and far between but when they take place it is always because an individual decides to take on the system directly. In 2013 Edward Snowden was the person who risked his freedom to tell every human being with access to modern communications that they were under United States government surveillance.  Read more.

3 US Military Aircraft Hit in S. Sudan, 4 Wounded

ABC News - Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that on Saturday became a battle ground between the country's military and renegade troops, officials said. Four U.S. service members were wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before.  Read more.

Can BlackBerry Be Fixed?

Information Week - BlackBerry's third fiscal quarter was brutal. Sales of its smartphone plunged to new lows and the company was forced to take another writedown on unsold device inventory. The smartphone maker may have revealed a new turnaround strategy, but its success is hardly assured.  Read more.

President Obama Orders US Troops to South Sudan

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - The death of several UN peacekeeping soldiers this week and reports of large numbers of civilian casualties as fighting intensified between militias and government soldiers on opposite sides of a recent coup attempt have stirred international focus on the country, with Obama telling Congress in a written statement that the recently formed country is "at the precipice" and the UN Security Council scheduled to hold an emergency meeting in New York on Friday to address the worsening situation.  Read more.

Obama Wrongs the Bill of Rights

Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - President Barack Obama proclaimed Dec. 15 Bill of Rights Day, praising those first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution as “the foundation of American liberty, securing our most fundamental rights—from the freedom to speak, assemble and practice our faith as we please to the protections that ensure justice under the law.” The next day, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon called Obama’s surveillance policies “almost Orwellian” in a court order finding the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone metadata very likely unconstitutional. If that was not enough, the president’s own task force on the issues, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, delivered its report, which the White House released, with 46 recommendations for changes.  Read more.

World's most powerful satellite telescope 'Gaia' launched to map Milky Way in 3D

RT.com - Europe has launched a billion dollar state of the art space telescope, that should bring back home the most detailed 3D map of our galaxy.
The five-year-long space voyage of the telescope named Gaia has started from Kourou in French Guiana, where it has taken off on top of a Russian-built Soyuz-Fregat rocket.  Read more.

Volcker Rule Made Meaningless by Abundant Exemptions

Naomi Prins @ Truthdig - The subject of heated debate in financial circles, the Volcker Rule, which was originally passed as part of the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was finally approved by regulators. It will begin taking effect in April 2014 with full compliance required by July 2015. They say the devil is in the details. Regarding the Volcker Rule, the devil is in the details of its abundant exemptions. These include a laundry list of practices and businesses that mega-banks have performed under one roof, since the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall, as well as the myriad perks they won along the way to that power-consolidating event.  Read more.

Mandela Is Gone, but Apartheid Is Alive and Well in Australia

John Pilger @ Truthout - In the late 1960s, I was given an usual assignment by the London Daily Mirror's editor in chief, Hugh Cudlipp. I was to return to my homeland, Australia, and "discover what lies behind the sunny face." The Mirror had been an indefatigable campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, where I had reported from behind the "sunny face." As an Australian, I had been welcomed into this bastion of white supremacy. "We admire you Aussies," people would say. "You know how to deal with your blacks."  Read more.

Public Education and the Arts: Lessons From the New Deal

Shiela D. Collins @ Truthout - On December 9, 2013, at more than 100 sites across the country, teachers, parents, students and labor and community allies rallied in a Day of Action to Proclaim the Promise of Public Education. Among the common complaints were a lack of resources for their schools, the loss of programs they feel are vital to a rounded education, such as art and music, and inequality in school funding.  Read more.

Edward Snowden: NSA Surveillance Is about Power, Not "Safety"

Edward Snowden - Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government's National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist's camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I went in front of that camera with open eyes, knowing that the decision would cost me family and my home, and would risk my life. I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world deserve to understand the system in which they live.  Read more.

A Wedding Was Bombed–Don't Worry, It Was by the US, Not in the US

Peter Hart @ FAIR - Last Friday, it was reported that what seemed to be a US drone strike hit a wedding convoy in Yemen, killing over a dozen people. It got attention from outlets like the New York Times (FAIR Blog, 12/13/13), which reported that "most of the dead appeared to be people suspected of being militants linked to Al-Qaeda, according to tribal leaders in the area, but there were also reports that several civilians had been killed." Other accounts (CNN, 12/13/13) suggested that most–and perhaps all–of the dead were civilians.  Read more.

Under Amazon’s CIA Cloud: The Washington Post

Normon Solomon @ Common Dreams - News media should illuminate conflicts of interest, not embody them. But the owner of the Washington Post is now doing big business with the Central Intelligence Agency, while readers of the newspaper’s CIA coverage are left in the dark.
The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon -- which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. But the Post’s articles about the CIA are not disclosing that the newspaper’s sole owner is the main owner of CIA business partner Amazon.  Read more.

Published: The Autobiography of Mark Twain – Volume 2

Max Eternity - Volume 2 of the Autobiography of Mark Twain is now published.  
Samuel L. Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, authored the book in a style that’s reads as editorial diary; formatted as a well-annotated and historically-succinct prose timeline as told by Twain in the first-person narrative.
Written during Twain’s lifetime, the best-selling Volume1 was published in 2010.  For as stipulated by Twain, his “complete, uncensored” autobiography was to remain unpublished for a century after his passing.  
An excerpt of Twain’s [Monday] June 11, 1906 writings speak to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake: "The first hint of the disaster which had befallen San Francisco reached me in such an extravagant form that I took it for an impudent invention, and it did not hold my attention ten minutes. It came to me by telephonic message from a friend down in the city. He simply said: “San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake at five o’clock this morning. Two thousand lives lost.” But b…

Mandela and Arafat

James Zogby @ Arab American Institute - In late February of 1990, just two weeks after being released from prison, Nelson Mandela met with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasir Arafat. Afterwards Mandela spoke publicly of his affinity with the Palestinian people and his support for their struggle. He described the parallels between the two peoples' struggles for justice, saying in part, "There are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel..." read more.

President Obama's NSA Review Group Is Typical Administration Whitewash

Marcy Wheeler @ Guardian UK - In case you missed it, on Thursday night, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times published leaked details from the recommendations from the review group on intelligence and communications technologies, a panel President Obama set up in August to review the NSA's activities in response to the Edward Snowden leaks.  Read more.

Edward Snowden is a Patriot

ACLU (blog) - Edward Snowden is a patriot.
As a whistleblower of illegal government activity that was sanctioned and kept secret by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government for years, he undertook great personal risk for the public good. And he has single-handedly reignited a global debate about the extent and nature of government surveillance and our most fundamental rights as individuals.  Read more.

Freedom for Arctic 30, Pussy Riot Celebrated as Russian Amnesty Law Passes

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - With a vote of 446-0 in the Russian parliament on Wednesday, the passage of a sweeping amnesty bill comes as a welcome gift to the international Greenpeace team known as the 'Arctic 30,' two prominent members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, and other prisoners in the country's jails and prison camps who could be released as early as today if the law is swiftly stamped by President Vladimir Putin.  Read more.

Obama and Climate Change: The Real Story

Bill McKibben @ Rolling Stone - Two years ago, on a gorgeous November day, 12,000 activists surrounded the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Signs we carried featured quotes from Barack Obama in 2008: "Time to end the tyranny of oil"; "In my administration, the rise of the oceans will begin to slow."
Our hope was that we could inspire him to keep those promises.  Read more.

On Selling Out: Progressives on the Take

Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - How can President Obama be so right and so wrong in the same moment? On the one hand, he warns us that sharply rising income inequality “is the defining challenge of our time” and pledges to reverse “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility. ...” But then he once again turns to the same hacks in the Democratic Party who helped create this problem to fix it.  Read more.

Gunpowder and Blood on Their Cold, Dead Hands

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship @ Common Dreams - This grim anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., killings, with 28 dead, reminded us of that moment back in 2000 when Charlton Heston made his defiant boast at the NRA convention that gun control advocates would have to pry his rifle from his “cold, dead hands.” You would have thought he had returned to that fantasy world of Hollywood where, in a previous incarnation, he portrayed those famous Indian killers Andrew Jackson and Buffalo Bill Cody, whose Wild West, as Cody marketed it, still courses through the bloodstream of American mythology.  Read more.

America’s Child Soldiers

Ann Jones @ TomDispatch - Congress surely meant to do the right thing when, in the fall of 2008, it passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA). The law was designed to protect kids worldwide from being forced to fight the wars of Big Men. From then on, any country that coerced children into becoming soldiers was supposed to lose all U.S. military aid.  Read more.

The Permanent Crisis at Fukushima

Justin McKeating @ Greenpeace - Hundreds of tons of radioactively contaminated water leak from the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors every day. That water has to go somewhere and the operator of the plant is running out of places to store it. So the suggestion has been made that it be dumped in the sea.
At the scene of the Fukushima nuclear disaster they can’t clean anything without getting something else dirty.  Read more.

Betty Dodson's Feminist Sex Wars

Melissa Gira Grans @ Truthout - Betty Dodson still lives in the same spacious, light-drenched apartment off Park Avenue where she hosted circles of women in the 1970s. Her Bodysex workshops - from which Eve Ensler cribbed a section of her Vagina Monologues - brought a DIY spirit to sex. In the years that crossed the sexual revolution and the feminist sex wars, Betty's apartment was an oasis.  Read more.

'Snowden Vindicated': Judge Rules Against 'Indiscriminate' NSA Spying

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - In the biggest legal blow to the National Security Council since the dragnet spying scandal broke in June, a federal judge ruled Monday that the U.S. government "almost certainly" violated the constitution by mass collecting data on nearly every single phone call within or to the United States.  Read more.

A Look at Abortion in Haiti

Haiti Grassroots Watch - Despite the fact that it is illegal, abortion is common in Haiti.
Haitian women have the procedure in secret. Women from the lower classes are the ones most at risk, because unlike wealthy women, they cannot travel to specialized clinics in places like Florida. Poorer women have to use various medicines from pharmacists or traditional healers, or they have operations performed by doctors working without any oversight from health authorities.  Read more.

Actor Peter O'Toole dead, aged 81

Sydney Morning Herald - Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, his agent said on Sunday. He was 81.
O'Toole died on Saturday after a long illness, Steve Kenis said in a brief statement.  Read more.

Syrian rebels execute 80 civilians outside Damascus

RT.com - Over 80 civilians in a town northwest of the Syrian capital of Damascus have been executed by Islamist rebels, sources within the Syrian military told RT. Many others were kidnapped to be used as human shields.
Government forces are continuing a large-scale operation against Jabhat al-Nusra and Liwa Al-Islam fighters, who captured the town earlier this week. The area is located some 20 kilometers away from Damascus.  Read more.

New York Times Professional Lies About Thailand's Upheaval

Michael Prisch @ Truthout - I have been reading accounts of the demonstrations in Thailand by Thomas Fuller of the International New York Times (INYT). I do not have a television, so I cannot comment on the nature of its coverage. The INYT coverage minimizes the cause of the protests. Consequently, readers in America receive a dishonest version that pits the democracy-loving Thaksin proxy government as the victim of an undemocratic mass protest that seeks to undermine democratic elections. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Read more.

‘This is not a movement you are going to stop’ – Connecticut governor signs first GMO labeling law in US

RT.com - The governor of Connecticut hosted a ceremonial signing outside an organic restaurant in the city of Fairfield on Wednesday to commemorate the state’s passing of what could be the first GMO labeling law of its type in the United States.
Voters in Connecticut decided back in June to approve a bill requiring that all foods meant for human consumption that contain genetically-modified ingredients be properly labeled.  Read more.

Obama Delivers Another Raw Deal

Robert Reich - About the only good thing that can be said about the budget deal just patched together by House Republican budget chair Paul Ryan and Senate Democratic budget chair Patty Murray is that the right-wing Heritage Foundation and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity oppose it.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for the country. In fact, it’s a bad deal, for at least three reasons:  Read more.

Coke's Conspiracy Against Tap Water

Jim Hightower @ Buzzflash - Coca-Cola is running a stealth advertising campaign.
Stealth? Yes, it's a nationwide product promotion that's being run below the public radar! Why would a corporation as ad-dependent as Coke spend big bucks on advertising that it doesn't want consumers to notice? Shhhh — because the campaign is a surreptitious ploy to enlist restaurants in a marketing conspiracy that targets you, your children, and — of course — your wallet.
Coke calls its covert gambit "Cap the Tap," urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: "Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain." Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke...read more.

Chris Matthews and the Reagan Myth

Steven Jonas @ Buzzflash - MSNBC's Chris Matthews has been doing an over-the-top job of self-promoting his new book, Tip and the Gripper: When Politics Worked. Matthews has been with MSNBC for quite some time but in this past year he has become a true attack dog against the Tea Party/GOP (and regular readers of mine know that I see no fundamental differences between them on policy, just on style). And for that, for me it is fun to watch him, which I do on a fairly regular basis. But as for this book, ah well, that is another story.  Read more.

Published: Time Magazine's Snowden Snub

Common Dreams - Following the news on Wednesday that Pope Francis was selected Time's person of the year despite speculation and, for some, hopes that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was the top pick, critics from around the world are blasting the magazine for snubbing Snowden in favor of the less controversial choice.  Read more.

How History Will Remember Obama (Hint: Not Well)

William Pfaff @ Truthdig - Action begets reaction in foreign policy as in physics, and action unconsidered for its possible consequences has been responsible for many results for which statesmen (or their unqualified counterparts) are eventually sorry, as are multitudes (as it may be) who pay the price. That, sententious as it may be, is my holiday message to Barack Obama. I continue:  Read more.

Obama's Oil Expansion Plans: A Clear and Present Danger to Public Safety

Jacqueline Marcus @ Truthout - In case you haven't heard the latest news from the White House, the president chose to unleash the fossil fuel industry all across America. That's right. They're proudly calling the United States "the new Saudi Arabia." President Obama told his oil friends that "America the Beautiful" is all theirs for the profits.  Read more.

Measuring Food Waste

East Bay Express (California) - Just past midnight on a recent Wednesday, the half-moon hovered over Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland where waste bins had been put out on the street for pickup the next morning. Two homeless men shuffled down the sidewalk as we peered into the green bins in front of the Arizmendi bakery. We found several whole pizzas, bags of old bread, and slices of yam that didn't make it into a pie.  Read more.

Guilty verdict in California city corruption trial

Seattle pi - A former official in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell was convicted of corruption Monday in a case that drove the city to the brink of bankruptcy.
Jurors found former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia guilty of 11 charges, including conspiracy, misappropriating public funds, falsification of government records and conflict of interest.  Read more.