Vandana Shiva @ Asian Age - For thousands of years farmers, especially women, have evolved and bred seed freely with the help of nature to increase the diversity of what nature gave us and adopt it to the needs of different cultures. Biodiversity and cultural diversity have mutually shaped one another. Read more.
David Cole @ New York Review of Books - On Monday, The New York Times reported that “the Senate has quietly stripped a provision from an intelligence bill that would have required President Obama to make public each year the number of people killed or injured in targeted killing operations in Pakistan and other countries where the United States uses lethal force.” National security officials in the Obama administration objected strongly to having to notify the public of the results and scope of their dirty work, and the Senate acceded. So much for what President Obama has called “the most transparent administration in history.” Read more.
LA Times - A controversial double execution in Oklahoma was scrubbed Tuesday night after the first inmate to receive an experimental three-drug cocktail writhed and grimaced on the gurney, struggled to lift his head and died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes later, officials and witnesses said. Read more.
Thom Hartmann @ Truthout - The Progressive movement in America has lost one of its greatest fighters.
Each night when I close "The Big Picture," I tell you that democracy begins with you, and encourage you to get out there and get active.
Tim Carpenter was the living embodiment of those words. Read more.
Atlanta Journal Constitution - A 19-year-old baggage handler, who was armed ‘like Rambo,’ opened fire on his co-workers at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw early this morning, injuring six people, before killing himself.
The gunman has been identified as Geddy Kramer. Cobb County police say the man walked into the FedEx warehouse on Airport Road and opened fire. Read more.
TomDispatch - In mid-April, Abu Ghraib was closed down. It was a grim end for the Iraqi prison where the Bush administration gave autocrat Saddam Hussein a run for his money. The Iraqi government feared it might be overrun by an al-Qaeda offshoot that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. By then, the city of Fallujah for which American troops had fought two bitter, pitched battles back in 2004 had been in the hands of those black-flag-flying insurgents for months. Needless to say, the American project in Iraq, begun so gloriously -- remember Iraqi exiles assuring Vice President Cheney that the invaders would be greeted with “sweets and flowers” -- was truly in ruins. By then, hundreds of thousands had died in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, the insurgencies that followed, and the grimmest of sectarian civil wars. Read more.
Friends of the Earth (blog) - If you like to eat, then you should care about what’s happening to bees. Did you know that two-thirds of our food crops require pollination -- the very foods that we rely on for healthy eating -- such as apples, berries, and almonds, just to name a few. That’s why the serious declines in bee populations are getting more attention, with entire campaigns devoted to saving bees. Read more.
CNN - Tornadoes tore through several states Sunday evening as severe weather slammed into parts of the central United States.
Authorities confirmed at least nine fatalities: eight in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma. Read more.
Adam Hudson @ Truthout - On January 21, dozens of protesters, decrying displacement and inequality, gathered near City Hall in San Francisco on a chilly Tuesday morning. At around 9:15 a.m., they marched down Market Street and blockaded two tech shuttles, one that was parked at a MUNI (San Francisco Municipal Railway) bus stop, the other in the middle of the street. Tech shuttles - also infamously known as "Google buses" - are private corporate buses that take tech industry workers from their homes in San Francisco down the peninsula to work in Silicon Valley.
Protesters surrounded the buses and placed signs near them that read: "Stop Displacement Now" and "Warning: Rents and evictions up near private shuttle stops." A UC-Berkeley study and maps show that evictions and rent increases often follow the locations of tech bus stops. One sign bluntly read: "Fuck off Google." Read more.
Mother Jones - Making art with a computer ain't easy. Just ask Andy Warhol. The American icon mastered numerous art forms and shaped our culture with his work. But a newly-discovered collection of files from 41 floppy disks—yes, floppy disks—shows that he struggled with early digital design tools. Today, members of Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Club and STUDIO for Creative Inquiry in Pittsburgh released a previously unseen set of images Warhol created in the 1980s using a Commodore Amiga 1000. (That used to be a type of computer, kids.) Read more.
NY Times - A commission appointed by President Hamid Karzai to investigate detention facilities run by American and British forces in southern Afghanistan claimed Saturday to have uncovered secret prisons on two coalition bases, an allegation that could not be immediately confirmed but that was likely to further complicate relations between the Afghan government and its allies. Read more.
Max Keiser @ RT.com - Good Bye, Lenin! is a 2003 German tragicomedy film. Directed by Wolfgang Becker captures the confusion inhabitants of East Germany (the GDR) had after the Berlin Wall came down and the West suddenly flooded in.
What the East Berliners didn't appreciate, to comic effect, was how incredibly behind the times they had become. Consumer culture and technology had leaped dramatically during the preceding Cold War years in ways that were unimaginable. Read more.
RT.com - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Holocaust was the “most heinous crime in the modern era,” offering his sympathies to the "families of the victims and the innocent people who were killed by the Nazis, including the Jews and others."
The message, delivered in Arabic and English, was timed to coincide with Israel's annual remembrance day for the mass murder of 6 million Jews during World War II. Read more.
Chris Black @ Chicago Reporter - After 45 Chicagoans were shot over Easter weekend, including six children, Mayor Emanuel made another angry speech, talking about values and responsibility.
But he shares a portion of responsibility, too — particularly for his role pushing through a series of policies in the 1990s that have devastated the communities now plagued by violence. Read more.
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - Native American tribes, farmers and ranchers, and thousands of their allies flooded the National Mall Saturday with a ceremonial procession calling for President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
In the biggest mobilization yet of a five-day protest encampment, participants rode horses, waved signs, and carried banners as they moved past tipis erected beside national monuments. Read more.
Trevor Timm @ Guardian UK - After Edward Snowden caught the US government with its pants down, you would think the keepers of this country's secrets might stand up for a little more transparency, not bend over backwards trying to control the message.
Instead, this week we found out the Most Transparent Administration in American History™ has implemented a new anti-press policy that would make Richard Nixon blush. National intelligence director James Clapper, the man caught lying to Congress from an "unauthorized" leak by Snowden, issued a directive to the employees of all 17 intelligence agencies barring all employees from any "unauthorized" contact with the press. Read more.
ABC News - The Connecticut teenager who was fatally stabbed just hours before her prom was remembered at a seaside vigil with many of her classmates wearing their prom outfits.
Maren Sanchez, 16, was killed Friday morning, stabbed by another student in an attack in the hallways of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Conn. According to reports, Sanchez told her attacker she would not go to the prom with him. Read more.
Thom Hartman @ Truthout - According to a new study from the Brookings Institute, wealthy Americans are living considerably longer lives than Americans who are struggling with poverty.
The report points out that the by the age of 55, the average American man in the top 10 percent of the income bracket can expect to live another 35 years or so.
But, by the age of 55, the average man in the bottom 10 percent of the country's income bracket only has around 24 years left to live. Read more.
Peter Van Buren @ TomDispatch - There are many sides to whistleblowing. The one that most people don't know about is the very personal cost, prison aside, including the high cost of lawyers and the strain on family relations, that follows the decision to risk it all in an act of conscience. Here's a part of my own story I've not talked about much before.
At age 53, everything changed. Following my whistleblowing first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, I was run out of the good job I had held for more than 20 years with the U.S. Department of State. As one of its threats, State also took aim at the pension and benefits I'd earned, even as it forced me into retirement. Would my family and I lose everything I'd worked for as part of the retaliation campaign State was waging? I was worried. That pension was the thing I’d counted on to provide for us and it remained in jeopardy for many months. I was scared.
Candice Bernd @ Truthout - In what could be the first time a series of large corporations have publicly denounced investment in the private prison industry, three major corporations have announced they will be divesting a combined total of nearly $60 million of their shares from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, two of the largest private prison companies in the nation.
The announcement comes after civil rights activists, led by the group ColorOfChange, pressured more than 150 companies, including dozens of corporate executives, for months, pushing a moral imperative for divestment. Read more.
Reuters - Two Republican U.S. senators who voiced support for a Nevada cattleman in his showdown with federal agents over grazing rights on public land condemned the rebellious rancher's remarks about whether African-Americans would be "better off as slaves."
A day after Cliven Bundy's comments about "the Negro" and government subsidies were published in The New York Times, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky issued a statement...read more.
USA Today - Vermont is expected to become the first state in the nation to require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms.
On Wednesday, the state House passed a bill, 114-30, that would require the labeling by July 1, 2016. The next step is Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has said he will sign the legislation. Read more.
Burlington Free Press - The [Vermont] House on Wednesday propelled to the governor's desk a bill that could make Vermont the first state to require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms.
The bill passed the house with a 114-30 vote.
For supporters of the labeling requirement, Wednesday's vote was another step in a decade-long effort they hope will sweep across the country. Read more.
Reuters - For the first time, the Chinese have become the biggest foreign buyers of apartments in Manhattan, real estate brokers estimate, taking the mantle from the Russians - whose activity has dropped off since the unrest in Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions against Russia by the United States.
Wealthy Chinese are pouring money into real estate in New York and some other major cities around the world, including London and Sydney, as they seek safe havens for their cash and also establish a base for their children to get an education in the West. Read more.
New York Daily News - A jilted teen killed a 16-year-old girl in a Connecticut high school on Friday after she dumped him and refused to go to prom with him, friends and witnesses said.
The violence erupted after Chris Plaskon, also 16, shoved his ex, Maren Sanchez, down the stairs and tried to choke her inside Jonathan Law High School...read more.
ABC News - A developer at the center of one of the biggest judicial scandals in U.S. history is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Federal prosecutors say two Luzerne County judges took $2.1 million in illegal payments...read more.
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - Marking the one year anniversary of Bangladesh's Rana Plaza tragedy, thousands of survivors, family members of the dead and missing, and their supporters marched Thursday on the ruins of the collapsed factory that killed at least 1,135 garment workers and injured over 2,500. Read more.
Tim Karr @ Save The Internet - When President Barack Obama pledged to appoint a Federal Communications Commission chair who was dedicated to protecting Net Neutrality, we had no reason to doubt he'd find the right person for the job.
Obama campaigned in 2008 as a strong champion of the open Internet, telling an audience that he'd "take a back seat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality." He said that his chair would share his views on safeguarding the open Internet.
Now, the president is on his second FCC chair, and neither has proven himself up to the task. Read more.
Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Defenders of an open, innovative and fair internet are up in arms Thursday after learning the Federal Communications Commission is about to issue new rule proposals that will kill the online principle known as "net neutrality."
The death of net neutrality—which has governed the equal treatment of content since the internet was created—will create, say critics, a tiered internet that allows major internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to cut special and lucrative deals with content providers who can afford to pay for special "fast lanes." The result will be an internet that will incentivize slower traffic by ISPs and the creation of privatized, corporate-controlled "toll-roads" that will come to dominate a once fair and free environment. Read more.
NPR - The Food and Drug Administration says it will formally propose regulating e-cigarettes.
Early Thursday, the agency unveiled a long-awaited rule that would give it power to oversee the increasingly popular devices, much in the way that it regulates traditional cigarettes.
"It's a huge change," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters in a briefing Wednesday, before the official announcement of the agency's plans. "We will have the authority as a science-based regulatory agency to take critical actions to promote and protect the health of the public." Read more.
Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - A landmark law that guarantees equal access to the nation's internet and protects the privacy of users was signed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday, in a move that is being hailed as a historic step for online freedom worldwide.
The "Civil Law Marco Internet"—dubbed the Internet Bill of Rights by its supporters—was passed unanimously by Brazil's Senate on Tuesday. Rousseff signed the bill at the launch of the two-day NETmundial conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Read more.
USA Today - The U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center says a magnitude 6.7 quake has been recorded in the Pacific Ocean off the northwest corner of British Columbia's Vancouver Island. Read more.
Zoltan Grossman @ Common Dreams - It’s not everyday you see cowboys helping to set up a tipi encampment, but that’s what is happening this week on the National Mall. An unlikely alliance of white ranchers and Native American activists, known as the Cowboy Indian Alliance, has erected the tipi encampment in the nation’s capital to protest plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Alliance (with the ironic acronym “CIA”) brings together Native Americans with white ranchers and farmers—the archetypal enemies of the American West—to protect their common land and water. Read more.
Dan Massoglia @ Truthout - At a meeting April 7 and 8 in Louisiana, a group of lawyers and academics prepared the rules for when law enforcement is allowed to hack people's computers for a dramatic, and troubling, expansion. Government hacks - the FBI's secretly accessing your hard drive, email, webcam, and more - which have unfolded in headlines as a push and pull between privacy-concerned judges and activists and secrecy-obsessed law enforcement, appear poised to see the strict judicial restrictions on their use loosened. As is often the case with wide-reaching changes to the criminal law, the law at issue is not a big-name bill, like the Affordable Care Act, but rather one more closely held to the legal system - here, Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Read more.
Naomi Klein @ The Nation - One of the most disturbing ways that climate change is already playing out is through what ecologists call “mismatch” or “mistiming.” This is the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses. Read more.
NY Times - The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.
While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades. Read more.
Bill Berkowitz @ Buzzflash - Let's face it, people: Walmart is kicking our collective butts; to the tune of more than $7 billion in taxpayer subsidies. A new report by Americans for Tax Fairness points out that the American taxpayer - read that, you, me and probably everyone you know - "is providing enormous tax breaks and tax subsidies to Walmart and the Walton family, further boosting corporate profits and the family's already massive wealth." Read more.
Jill Richardson @ OtherWords - If you want to buy a fresh, whole chicken at the store, it’ll run you about $1.54 per pound. But if I buy it from my local farmer, it costs $5 per pound. I live in an expensive part of the country — California — but even the farm I visited last year in rural New Hampshire sold its birds for $4 per pound. Read more.
Chelsea Manning @ Common Dreams - Today is an exciting day. A judge in the state of Kansas has officially ordered my name to be changed from “Bradley Edward Manning” to “Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.” I’ve been working for months for this change, and waiting for years. Read more.
Jim Hightower @ Creators.com - It doesn't take an IQ much higher than room temperature to realize that it's way past time to raise America's sub-poverty minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. But let's also pay attention to the millions of people trying to make ends meet on — believe it or not —America's sub-minimum wage. Read more.
RT.com - NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been inaugurated as the Rector of the University of Glasgow after a sweeping win at a student vote. Over the next three years, Snowden will officially represent the university’s students – presumably via the internet. Read more.
RT.com - As the standoff in the eastern Ukraine deteriorates into violence it’s up to world powers to step in and calm things down. Despite tough talk from Washington, the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine have managed to reach a framework to peace in Geneva. But will it be enough to avert a civil war? Read more.
Robert Parry @ Consortium News - As the rhetoric rages out of control, worsening violence in Ukraine grows more likely. Official Washington is readying the American people to view the slaughter of eastern Ukrainians as justified because they are “terrorists” and linked to the hated Russians...read more. Read more.
Kevin Gostzola @ FireDogLake - How much of the drone war being waged by the United States in Yemen is targeting actual al Qaeda fighters? And how much of it is targeting fighters, who are opposed to the current regime led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi?
In three days, three possible drone strikes launched apparently in cooperation with Yemeni forces has killed anywhere from 38 to 55 people. Anywhere from three to eight of those people were reportedly civilians yet, thus far, the identities of the other people killed have not been confirmed. Read more.
RT.com - American workers who previously made up the wealthiest middle class in the world have lost that distinction, according to new research that attributes the economic stagnation on rising income inequality in the US.
Economic growth in the US continues to be as strong if not stronger than other developed nations, although fewer Americans are reaping the benefit of their hard work. An analysis of income and spending numbers published Tuesday by the New York Times indicated that the wealthiest tax brackets are enjoying more financial growth, while the lower and middle income tiers are now lagging behind their counterparts throughout the world. Read more.
Guardian UK - They call him the Robin Hood of the banks, a man who took out dozens of loans worth almost half a million euros with no intention of ever paying them back. Instead, Enric Duran farmed the money out to projects that created and promoted alternatives to capitalism.
After 14 months in hiding, Duran is unapologetic even though his activities could land him in jail. "I'm proud of this action," he said in an interview by Skype from an undisclosed location. Read more.
Michele Chen @ The Nation - The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is in, reminding us once again that time is running out for governments and industry to decarbonize the economy: Within a generation, policymakers must tighten emissions regulations, shift to clean energy sources, promote greener manufacturing and adapt technologies to reverse climate trends and mitigate the ecological impacts. Yet, while the assessment focuses on policy solutions, it leaves open questions about the labor element of climate policy: At the end of the day, the work of transforming how we produce and consume takes human hands. Where are the workers? Read more.
Mark Karlin @ Truthout - The latest incident of domestic white male terrorism was in Nevada, where a veritable make-shift militia presented an armed threat to federal and local law enforcement. Why were they there? Because they were defending the view that Cliven Bundy was being treated unjustly by a US government that was allegedly violating his rights and his beliefs. It sounds like al Qaeda circling a military unit with firepower to defend the beliefs of Osama bin Laden. Read more.
Rania Khalek @ Truthout - On January 10, 2010, 18-year-old Kwadir Felton was shot in the face and permanently blinded by Jersey City, N.J., Police Sergeant Thomas McVicar. Yet it is Felton who faces decades in prison.
McVicar insists he was forced to open fire because Felton tried to rob him at gunpoint. Felton, now 22, vehemently denies having been armed. Read more.
Paul Krugman @ Truthout - Here we go again. There's now a full-court press of the usual suspects claiming that the recovery in Britain proves that fiscal austerity isn't contractionary after all, that the International Monetary Fund had it all wrong, and so on. Read more.
Paul Buchheit @ Common Dreams - Warren Buffett once claimed that the "genius of the American economy, our emphasis on a meritocracy and a market system and a rule of law has enabled generation after generation to live better than their parents did." The Economist suggested that "people succeed through brains and hard work." Economist Tyler Cowen believes in a "hyper-meritocracy" in which wealth is created by the most intelligent and motivated people. Read more.
Inter Press Service - An indigenous community in the United States has filed a petition against the federal government, alleging that officials have repeatedly broken treaties and that the court system has failed to offer remedy.
The petition was filed by the Onondaga Nation, a Native American tribe and one of more than 650 sovereign peoples recognised by the U.S. government. Read more.
Danny Schechter @ Consortium News - The United States' mainstream media still pretend they are custodians of "serious journalism," but those claims continue to erode as the corporate press shies away from its duty to challenge propaganda emanating from various parts of the US government. Read more.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer @ Common Dreams - As the standard of living of working people continues its four-decades-long steady decline, the number of people who classify themselves as “middle class” has correspondingly dropped, including by almost 10 percent in the past six years alone. Under the circumstances one might assume that leaders of organized labor are furiously rethinking their single-minded, long-held strategy of “defending” working people by simply electing Democrats to office. Surely, the disastrous track record of this strategy has given rise to a pause. Unfortunately, there are few encouraging signs on the horizon that top union officials are engaged in any serious contemplation of a dramatic new strategic departure. Read more.
Christian Science Monitor - Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter was never went down without a fight whether slugging his way through a boxing match, fighting for his life in the courtroom, where he was wrongfully convicted of murder, or serving 19 years in prison before being exonerated in 1985. Read more.
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - The New York Times made a rare admission that it submits to Israeli state gag orders, fueling charges from critics that the globally-influential publication plays fast-and-loose with journalistic ethics to give favorable coverage to Israel. Read more.
Reuters - An air strike killed 10 al Qaeda militants in central Yemen on Saturday after an intelligence report said they were planning attacks on civil and military targets in al-Bayda province, the state news agency Saba said. Read more.
Beth Buczynski @ Care2 - China is the global epicenter of the shark fin trade, but surprising statistics show that reputation (along with the shark finning industry) may be on its way out.
According to the Hong Kong chapter of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the volume of shark fin products imported into Hong Kong in 2013 dropped by a whopping 35 percent – from 8,285.1 tonnes to 5,412.2 tonnes. Read more.
Slate Magazine - For 20 years the federal government has fined Cliven Bundy for grazing his cattle on protected land. And for 20 years Bundy has refused to pay. Last month this dance came to an end when the Bureau of Land Management sent Bundy a letter informing him that it intended to “impound his trespass cattle” that have been roaming on federal property. It closed off hundreds of thousands of acres, and earlier this month, moved to round up Bundy’s cows. Read more.
Care2 - There is a looming crisis in South Sudan that, if not dealt with, could rival some of the worst famines in recent history. The UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees) and the WFP (World Food Program) released a statement earlier this month that points to alarming food security issues in the world's newest country. Read more.
Media Matters - When guns are involved in domestic violence, women die.
This simple fact was the basis for a tweet from Everytown for Gun Safety, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's new gun violence prevention group, which noted that the presence of a gun makes it five times "more likely that domestic violence will turn into murder." Read more.
Dahr Jamail @ Truthout - International lawyers and activists converged at a conference titled The Iraq Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, April 16 and 17, with the primary aim of bringing to justice government officials who are guilty of war crimes in Iraq.
"Within a few days of this, a lawless atmosphere developed within my unit,” Ross Caputi, a former marine who took part in the brutal November 2004 siege of Fallujah told the Iraq Commission. "There was a lot of looting going on. I saw people searching the pockets of the dead resistance fighters for money. Some people were mutilating corpses." Read more.
Sue Sturgis @ Facing South - This Sunday, April 20 marks four years since BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster began unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and setting off an 87-day gusher that dumped an estimated 200 million gallons of oil into the coastal ecosystem. Read more.
Rob Watson @ Gay Star News - A few weeks ago, I told the story of a teen named Corey who was driven from his birth home when his parents found out he was gay, and into the arms of a loving home that rescued him.
His unique story was read widely and shared by tens of thousands of people. Sadly, the thing that made Corey’s story unique was not that it happened, but that it happened and he got rescued. Many other teens are expelled from their homes and quickly fall into drug abuse and prostitution. Read more.
CNN - A high-altitude avalanche Friday killed 12 Sherpa guides and seriously wounded three in the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest, officials said.
Four others are missing, said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti of Nepal's Tourism Ministry, adding that six people were injured in total. Read more.
S. ELIZABETH BIRNBAUM and JACQUELINE SAVITZ @ NY Times - Four years ago this Sunday, BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out, destroying the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, killing 11 workers and setting off an uncontrolled oil gusher lasting 87 days. By the time the flow was stopped, an estimated 200 million gallons of oil had entered the ocean.
The harm to gulf wildlife has been long-lasting if not fully understood. One recent study found that dolphins in the gulf region were suffering from problems consistent with exposure to oil: lung damage and low levels of adrenal hormones, which are important for responding to stress. Another study found that bluefin and yellowfin tuna sustained heart damage, which suggests likely harm to other fish as well. Read more.
RT.com - A new official report has confirmed that one fifth of Chinese farmland is polluted. It cites the main causes as industry and agriculture. The report was originally a state secret and names heavy metals such as arsenic and cadmium as main pollutants.
The report on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection confirms the extent of soil pollution in China as a result of the country’s dramatic industrialization, overuse of farm chemicals and minimal environmental protection. Read more.
RT.com - The vice principal charged with the care of hundreds of high school children on the disastrous, South Korean ferry trip has committed suicide. Rescuers continue to search for survivors as hope dwindles for the 268 passengers who remain unaccounted for. Read more.
Dan Schneider @ Dollars & Sense - In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington state made historic decisions to legalize marijuana for recreational sale and use, flying in the face of anti-pot moralists, drug warriors, and a century’s worth of prohibitionist policy. At the start of this year, these policies began to take effect, with pot shops opening for business for the first time on this side of the Atlantic. Read more.
Amy Goodman @ Democracy Now! - Another U.S. shooting spree has left bullet-riddled bodies in its wake, and refocused attention on violent, right-wing extremists. Frazier Glenn Miller, a former leader of a wing of the Ku Klux Klan, is accused of killing three people outside two Jewish community centers outside Kansas City, Kan. As he was hauled away in a police car, he shouted “Heil Hitler!” Unlike Islamic groups that U.S. agencies spend tens of billions of dollars targeting, domestic white supremacist groups enjoy relative freedom to spew their hatred and promote racist ideology. Too often, their murderous rampages are viewed as acts of deranged “lone wolf” attackers. These seemingly fringe groups are actually well-organized, interconnected and are enjoying renewed popularity. Read more.
Julia Angwin @ ProPublica - The Heartbleed computer security bug is many things: a catastrophic tech failure, an open invitation to criminal hackers and yet another reason to upgrade our passwords on dozens of websites. But more than anything else, Heartbleed reveals our neglect of Internet security.
The United States spends more than $50 billion a year on spying and intelligence, while the folks who build important defense software — in this case a program called OpenSSL that ensures that your connection to a website is encrypted — are four core programmers, only one of whom calls it a full-time job. Read more.
Bill Berkowitz @ Buzzflash - More than ten times the number of mentally ill people are in prisons across the United States then are under treatment in mental health facilities. As of 2012, according to a new report, there were an estimated 356,000 prisoners with severe mental illness – including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other acute forms of brain disease -- in prisons and jails, while state psychiatric hospitals contained approximately 35,000 patients with severe mental illness. Read more.
RT.com - At least six have been killed and the fate of over 280, many of whom high school students, remains unknown after a ferry capsized and sank off South Korean coast. A rescue operation is under way amid fears the death toll is likely to rise.
Coastguard officials said that 175 have been rescued; at least 55 were injured. Meanwhile, 281 remained unaccounted for as frantic rescue operation continued late into the night with the involvement of dozens of ships and helicopters. Read more.
Jim Hightower @ Creators.com - On Monday, April 14, the the Washington Post and the Guardian US newspapers received the Pulitzer for Journalism Public Service for their reports on NSA spying. In light of their hard work, let's recap events of the last year.
Embarrassed and irritated by Edward Snowden's leaks, Obama charged last year at a press conference that Snowden was presenting a false picture of NSA...read more.
Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - After a groundswell of support from state residents fueled by grassroots activism, Vermont is on track to become the first state to require the labeling of food that contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A bill making its way through the Vermont legislature won preliminary approval on Tuesday when the Senate voted 26-2 in favor. On Wednesday, the legislation...read more.
Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - Critics blasted the U.S. Department of Education for profiting off the backs of struggling students after a new projection by the Congressional Budget Office revealed Monday that the federal agency is set to make $127 billion from loan interest payments over the next ten years.
And despite promises to do the opposite, a student loan bill signed into law last year is driving up those interest rates even faster than projected...read more.
Gay Stars News - Finnish gay erotic artist Touko Laaksonen, AKA Tom of Finland, is to be recognized in his homeland with a series of commemorative stamps by Finland’s postal service.
The stamps will be released in September this year as the first of a series of commemorative stamps recognizing prominent Finnish artists. Read more.
Katherine McFate and Scott Klinger @ Common Dreams - April 15 is the 125th anniversary of the birth of A. Philip Randolph, a staunch trade unionist, civil rights activist, and advocate for federal action to ensure every American receives equal protection under the Constitution. His 90 years of life spanned tumultuous times for the nation and were filled with violent repression and astounding advances, but Randolph never stopped fighting for structural change. As many despair the past three years of gridlock in Washington, it may be useful to remember the broader arc of history that Randolph helped to bend toward justice. Read more.
Peter Hart @ FAIR - A liberal-leaning Democrat is waging a somewhat lonely but passionate fight against a mega-corporate merger. That's the kind of thing you're going to see talked about on the liberal-leaning cable channel MSNBC, right?
Not at the moment. Because that politician, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, is talking about the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger (New York Times, 4/11/14). And, of course, Comcast is MSNBC's parent company. Read more.
Nick Turse @ TomDispatch - What the military will say to a reporter and what is said behind closed doors are two very different things -- especially when it comes to the U.S. military in Africa. For years, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has maintained a veil of secrecy about much of the command’s activities and mission locations, consistently downplaying the size, scale, and scope of its efforts. At a recent Pentagon press conference, AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez adhered to the typical mantra, assuring the assembled reporters that the United States “has little forward presence” on that continent. Just days earlier, however, the men building the Pentagon’s presence there were telling a very different story -- but they weren’t speaking with the media. They were speaking to representatives of some of the biggest military engineering firms on the planet. They were planning for the future and the talk was of war. Read more.
Eric Zuesse @ Common Dreams - A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, "Who governs? Who really rules?" in this country, is: read more.
Diane Ravitch - The central feature of the Obama administration's $5 billion "Race to the Top" program was sharply refuted last week by the American Statistical Association, one of the nation's leading scholarly organizations. Spurred on by the administration's combination of federal cash and mandates, most states are now using student test scores to rank and evaluate teachers. This method of evaluating teachers by test scores is called value-added measurement, or VAM. Teachers' compensation, their tenure, bonuses and other rewards and sanctions are tied directly to the rise or fall of their student test scores, which the Obama administration considers a good measure of teacher quality. Read more.
Paul Buchheit@ Common Dreams - David Horowitz, founder of an organization called the "Freedom Center," argued that blacks should not be paid reparations for the enslavement of their ancestors. Among his reasons are that: There Is No Single Group Clearly Responsible For The Crime Of SlaveryMost Americans Have No Connection (Direct Or Indirect) To SlaveryReparations To African Americans Have Already Been Paid
But slavery, in its various forms of physical and mental torment, has been a part of U.S. history from the beginnings of our country to the present day. There are numerous modern-day corporations who profited immensely - themselves or their predecessors - from slave labor. Only token amounts have been paid back, along with a few scattered apologies. Read more.
RT.com - To the casual consumer of McMedia happy meals, the Ukrainian crisis is a consequence of Russia’s yearning for empire lost, a Nazi-style Anschluss that began with Crimea and will end, judging by the big-font hysteria, somewhere near Alaska.
For the more sober-minded observer, however, whose worldview has not been vandalized by misguided Russophobic inclinations, the reality of the situation is a bit more complicated. Read more.
Christian Science Monitor - Frazier Glenn Miller, the man in custody in connection with the killing of three people near Kansas City, Kan., Sunday, was well known to law-enforcement officials as the former leader of a paramilitary organization that avowed white supremacist beliefs. Read more.
National Post - Shorter working hours? Bans on after-work emails? In Sweden and France, employers are doubling down on their bets that demanding even less from employees than they already do is the road to productivity gains. Read more.
RT.com - The United States Navy has finally christened a first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art ship that, at 610-feet-long and roughly $7 billion, is the largest and most expensive stealth destroyer ever built. Read more.
Guardian UK - The three journalists who broke the National Security Agency revelations from Edward Snowden in the Guardian are among the recipients of the prestigious 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism. Read more.
Julian Sanchez @ Guardian UK - The American intelligence community is forcefully denying reports that the National Security Agency has long known about the Heartbleed bug, a catastrophic vulnerability inside one of the most widely-used encryption protocols upon which we rely every day to secure our web communications. But the denial itself serves as a reminder that NSA's two fundamental missions – one defensive, one offensive – are fundamentally incompatible, and that they can't both be handled credibly by the same government agency. Read more.
Margaret Kimberly @ Black Agenda Report - As we have said often at Black Agenda Report, Barack Obama is not the lesser evil, he is just the more effective one. We say this not because we possess a trove of top secret information. We just pay attention to what he has always said.
Barack Obama has succeeded in mastering the art of marketing, that is to say convincing people to buy what they otherwise would not. In 2008 he marketed himself as the anti-war candidate when he was nothing of the sort. When he ran for the Senate in 2004 he told a New York Times reporter that he “didn’t know” how he would have voted on the authorization for use of force which gave the green light to invade Iraq. He also made the statement quoted above that he wasn’t really different from the man Democrats were supposed to hate. Read more.
Washington Post - In May 2012, the law school at George Mason University hosted a forum billed as a “vibrant discussion” about Internet search competition. Many of the major players in the field were there — regulators from the Federal Trade Commission, federal and state prosecutors, top congressional staffers.
What the guests had not been told was that the day-long academic conference was in large part the work of Google, which maneuvered behind the scenes with GMU’s Law & Economics Center to put on the event. Read more.
Rania Kahlek @ Truthout - For Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, in the walled-off ghettos of the West Bank and even inside present-day Israel, the reality could not be more grim. But the battle for justice is heating up in spaces far outside Israel-Palestine. For the first time ever, Palestinians and their allies are winning the argument, most notably on college campuses, where pro-Israel forces are waging war on Palestine solidarity activism and, by extension, free speech. Read more.
Chicago Tribune - Three people were killed in shootings at Jewish centers in Kansas on Sunday, and a suspect was in custody, police and local media said.
The shootings occurred at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, and at Village Shalom, an assisted living center about a mile away...read more.
Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) - Pleasant Grove police made a grisly discovery Saturday: seven dead infants, six of them in cardboard boxes.
Megan Huntsman, 39, was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of six counts of murder. Read more.
RT.com - China’s rejection of shipments of US corn containing traces of unapproved genetically modified maize has caused a significant drop in exports. According to a new report, US traders have lost $427 million in sales.
Overall, China has barred nearly 1.45 million tons of corn shipments since last year, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), an American industry association, said Friday. Read more.
Reuters - U.S. officials ended a stand-off with hundreds of armed protesters in the Nevada desert on Saturday, calling off the government's roundup of cattle it said were illegally grazing on federal land and giving about 300 animals back to the rancher who owned them.
The dispute less than 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas between rancher Cliven Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had simmered for days. Bundy had stopped paying fees for grazing his cattle on the government land and officials said he had ignored court orders. Read more.
Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - Residents of Albuquerque, New Mexico are marching on the police department Saturday to demand retribution against the city's mayor and police chief for their role in the police force's documented "execution" of citizens.
The march comes after the Department of Justice slammed the Albuquerque Police Department for their frequent use of excessive and lethal force in a damning report released on Thursday. Read more.
Time Magazine - Today’s Google Doodle honors what would have been the 115th birthday of Percy Lavon Julian, a pioneering chemist who overcame the obstacles of segregation to ascend to international notoriety. Read more.
Reuters - A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit southwest Nicaragua on Friday near the coast, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, shaking buildings in the capital Managua and as far away as San Jose in Costa Rica. Read more.
Gar Alpovitz @ Common Dreams - One economic fact is held to be self-evident: that the future well-being of the United States requires economic growth — preferably, as much of it as we can muster. Despite wildly divergent policy recommendations, this basic assumption is made clear and explicit by everyone from the fiscally conservative Club for Growth to the left-leaning Center for American Progress. In the boardroom of the Federal Reserve, at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and on the shale fields of North Dakota, our national economic policy is built on the unshakable conviction that the only way to grow the middle class is to grow the economy — by any means necessary. Read more.
CNN - Jonathan Gutierrez kicked off his shoes and dozed off in the back of a bus traveling along a sleepy stretch of Interstate 5 near the North California town of Orland.
The trip to Humboldt State University was meant to open doors and possibilities for 17-year-old Gutierrez and dozens of other teens, all low-income or first-generation prospective college students. Read more.
Mike Ludwig @ Truthout - I'm lying on the floor in my friend's kitchen. A dozen people are gathered around me. Maria grinds her knuckles across my sternum, but the sensation on the sensitive pressure point does not cause me to react. She rolls me on my side, turns my face to the side and brings one of my knees up toward my chest. Putting me in this "recovery position" will prevent me from choking if I vomit.
Maria pulls out a thick-gauged intramuscular syringe and a vial of naloxone hydrochloride, a drug known commonly by the brand name Narcan. She shows the people gathered around me how to draw up 1 cubic centimeter of naloxone into the syringe. "You want to inject it into fleshy areas, the upper arm muscle, thigh or butt," she says. "If there is not response in a few minutes, try administering one more cc of naloxone. Paramedics will give up to 3 cc's." Read more.
Bloomberg - The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.
The agency’s reported decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts. Read more.
Salon - Jimmy Carter’s new book, “A Call to Action,” is an urgent and bold addition to a library of some two dozen books he’s written in his post-presidency, as one of our finest global citizens. It’s subtitled “Women, Religion, Violence and Power,” and Carter is unafraid to tackle controversial topics: sexual assault on campus and the military; religious leaders of all faiths who use sacred texts to justify oppression; punitive prison sentences weighted against the poor and against racial minorities; American drone wars and endless military operations. Read more.
Paul Krugman @ New York Review - Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn’t a household name, although that may change with the English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age—or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle Époque—defined by the incredible rise of the “one percent.” But it has only become a commonplace thanks to Piketty’s work. In particular, he and a few colleagues (notably Anthony Atkinson at Oxford and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley) have pioneered statistical techniques that make it possible to track the concentration of income and wealth deep into the past—back to the early twentieth century for America and Britain, and all the way to the late eighteenth century for France. Read more.
Bernie Sanders @ Common Dreams - As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process.
Perhaps, the biggest winners of Citizens United are Charles and David Koch, owners of the second-largest privately run business in America Koch Industries. Read more.
Jacob Chamberlain @ Common Dreams - Nearly four years after BP's Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe, plants, animals, and fish in the Gulf of Mexico are still reeling from the toxic spill, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Wildlife Federation.
The report, which arrives just ahead of the disaster's anniversary, examined 14 species of wildlife in the Gulf and found ongoing impacts of the disaster that could last for decades. Read more.
Washington Post - As the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan, it is leaving behind a deadly legacy: about 800 square miles of land littered with undetonated grenades, rockets and mortar shells. Read more.
Science World Report - Health officials have linked the death of nearly 600 pets and 3,600 pet illnesses to a mysterious outbreak of jerky treats from China.
Many of the cases have come from all breeds of dogs, both ages and sizes, after ingestion of chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. The federal Food and Drug Administration has reported that though the number of reported illnesses coming in has slowed at this time, officials are seeking ongoing help from both veterinarians and pet owners alike to solve this mysterious health hazard. Read more.
Doctors Without Borders - In a shocking display of indifference, senior officials with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have refused to improve living conditions for 21,000 displaced people living in a flood-prone part of a UN peacekeeping base in the capital Juba, where they are exposed to waterborne diseases and potential epidemics, the international medical humanitarian organization...read more.
Guardian UK - Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the fossil fuel industry for driving global warming, just days ahead of a landmark UN report on how carbon emissions can be slashed. Read more.