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Showing posts from May, 2017

Kenya inaugurates new Chinese-funded railway

Amid concerns of its high price tag, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has inaugurated a Chinese-built railway, the country's biggest infrastructure project since its independence.
The red-and-white diesel train left from the port city of Mombasa on Wednesday on its journey to Nairobi, carrying Kenyatta, Chinese dignitaries and citizens from around the country.  Read more.

Nursing Home Workers Win Wage Gains With Credible Strike Threat

After close to three years of negotiations, stickers and leaflets weren't getting the boss any closer to a fair agreement. The master contract covering 10,000 nursing home workers in Illinois had been expired for two years and extended several times.
Management was insisting on a wage freeze until Illinois overcame its budget impasse and increased Medicaid reimbursements. Long-term workers were languishing at minimum wage, even when their employers had begun offering higher wages to entice new hires.  Read more.

Cleveland policeman who fatally shot Tamir Rice is fired

An Ohio police officer who fatally shot a black 12-year-old boy in 2014 was fired on Tuesday after an internal investigation found he provided inaccurate information on his application to join the police, city officials said.
Timothy Loehmann, a rookie with the Cleveland Division of Police, shot Tamir Rice, who was playing in a playground with a toy gun that fired pellets.  Read more.

Trudeau invites pope to Canada for Church apology to indigenous peoples

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday urged Pope Francis to visit Canada to apologize to indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church's treatment of aboriginal children in schools it ran there.
Starting in the late 19th century, about 30 percent of children of Canada's native peoples, or about 150,000 children, were placed in what were known as "residential schools" in a government attempt to strip them of their traditional cultures and ancestral languages.  Read more.

Police shootings of Native Americans spark a movement

No one knows why, but when he heard the sudden blare of sirens behind him, Daniel Covarrubias began running. The 37-year-old was walking home from the St. Clare hospital in Lakewood, Washington, on April 21, 2015, after getting treatment for side effects from his pain medications. His backpack full of beadwork, a craft that he had started a few years ago in an attempt to reconnect with his Native heritage, Covarrubias dashed into a nearby lumberyard, scaled a 25-foot-tall stack of wood and crouched, trying to hide.  Read more.

One Hundred Eighth Graders Boycott Paul Ryan Photo Op

One hundred eighth grade students refused to be photographed with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan during a field trip to the nation's capital because they "didn't want to be associated with a person who puts his party before his country," as one student put it.
According to reporting, roughly half of the 200 students who traveled from South Orange Middle School in New Jersey protested the photo-op on Thursday, watching instead from a parking lot across the street.  Read more.

Angela Merkel says Europe has become unsure about the reliability of US

German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally on Monday but said she was a "convinced trans-Atlanticist", fine-tuning her message after surprising Washington with her frankness a day earlier.
In a speech in Berlin, Merkel showed how seriously she is concerned about Washington's dependability under President Donald Trump by repeating the message she delivered a day earlier that the days when Europe could completely count on others were "over to a certain extent".  Read more.

Indigenous Alliance Launches Divestment Campaign Against US and Canadian Pipelines

It's imperative to create an alternative to harmful fossil fuel extraction, according to Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
Nepinak is a member of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, a coalition of 121 First Nations and other Indigenous tribes from across North America that are united against major projects stemming from the Alberta tar sands.  Read more.

Trump's HUD Secretary Says Poverty Mostly a "State of Mind"

Republicans want to slash the nation's social safety net, but that's apparently okay by some top Republicans because "poverty" is just in the minds of the nation's poor.
Offering the latest evidence that the individual President Donald Trump chose to lead one of the nation's largest anti-poverty programs has little but contempt for the low-income people he was...read more

Moody's downgrades China, warns of fading financial strength as debt mounts

Moody's Investors Service downgraded China's credit ratings on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 30 years, saying it expects the financial strength of the economy will erode in coming years as growth slows and debt continues to rise.
The one-notch downgrade in long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings, to A1 from Aa3, comes as the Chinese government grapples with the...read more.

Why are so many young Greeks turning to farming?

Odysseas Elytis, the Greek Nobel laureate and poet, once wrote: "If you disintegrate Greece, in the end you'll see that what you have left is an olive tree, a vineyard, and a ship. Which means: with these you can rebuild it." 
Having endured eight years of a deepening economic crisis, thousands of young Greeks are taking heed of Elytis' words by leaving the cities to work on the land.  Read more.

Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

Africa is poor, but we can try to help its people.
It's a simple statement, repeated through a thousand images, newspaper stories and charity appeals each year, so that it takes on the weight of truth. When we read it, we reinforce assumptions and stories about Africa that we've heard throughout our lives. We reconfirm our image of Africa.
Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.  Read more.

War in Afghanistan Is Killing Children in Record Numbers in 2017

Four-year-old Alisina was playing in the fields outside her house in the Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan, located 80 kilometers from the capital city of Kabul, on a mid-April morning. Only vaguely aware of the constant war that surrounds them, Alisina and her friends didn't know the large metal object they found in the field that day was in fact an unexploded ordnance left behind by one of the warring parties. The little girls squabbled over who would get to play with it first, and Alisina won the rights to the deadly weapon, which minutes later exploded in her hands as she attempted to lift it.  Read more.

The Trump Administration's Budget Is a Highway to Privatization

"Private companies should fund, build, and run more of the basic infrastructure of American life."
That's how the Washington Post sums up a key tenet of the Trump administration's thinking on infrastructure, in an article Wednesday that outlines the White House's push to privatize "some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops, and other facilities." Read more.

Charter Schools Are a Scam in Segregated Neighborhoods

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems not to hear the fierce protests of parents, teachers and school officials over school closings and charter expansion in New York, Chicago, Oakland, Detroit and other American cities. How else to explain her continuing tone-deaf comments praising the glories of school choice?  In truth, school choice does not exist in most black and brown communities in the United States. That is why her words ring false and her promises sound empty to the people living in those communities.  Read more.

Israel Siphoning Natural Gas from Gaza Says Dutch Report

Chelsea Manning Is Free–but Whistleblowers Still Face Prison

Human Rights Watch is glad that Chelsea Manning is free. A statement from the group’s General Counsel’s office notes that Manning’s “absurdly disproportionate” 35-year sentence for passing classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010, commuted by Barack Obama on his last day in office, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917, which they warn still stands ready for use against the next potential whistleblower.  Read more.

Sweden shuts down Julian Assange rape investigation

Swedish prosecutors have decided to end the rape investigation into Julian Assange and lift the Europe-wide arrest warrant against him, but UK police say they will still arrest him.
In a statement on its website, the Swedish prosecution authority said that the "Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange".  Read more.

As Trump Pushes Massive Saudi Weapons Deal, Yemenis Suffer from Cholera, War, and Famine

President Donald Trump will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday bearing a major arms deal for the Gulf kingdom, which observers warn will swiftly then be used against the people of Yemen, who are currently facing a deadly cholera outbreak, devastating famine, and two years of war that shows no sign of abating.
In exchange for the $110 billion package, said to be the largest arms deal in history, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has offered...read more.

Trump Told Russians "Nut Job" Comey Was Fired to Ease Pressure: Report

President Donald Trump characterized former FBI director James Comey, whom the president had fired just a day earlier, as a "nut job" to top Russian government officials during a recent Oval Office meeting, the New York Times reports on Friday citing an anonymous U.S. official who read from an internal document that purportedly summarized the exchange.  Read more.

Outrage Abounds as 'Unconscionable' Wisconsin Sheriff Takes DHS Job

Controversial Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke confirmed on Wednesday that he would be joining the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), prompting a chorus of outrage from those who say the cop who once compared Black Lives Matter to the KKK is unfit for the job.
Clarke told a Milwaukee radio show that he would be appointed as assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement, where he will pressure local police departments to enforce President Donald Trump's tough immigration rules.  Read more.

Controversial Milwaukee County sheriff says taking U.S. Homeland Security post

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an African-American who became a staunch critic of the "Black Lives Matter" movement and supported Donald Trump's presidential campaign, said on Wednesday he has accepted a job as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Clarke told radio station WISN in Milwaukee that he would leave his post as sheriff next month to join the Department of Homeland Security.  Read more.

Dakota Pipeline Builder Under Fire for Ohio Spill: 8 Violations in 7 Weeks

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline, is under fire from federal and state regulators after triggering a massive spill, and seven other violations, during the first seven weeks of construction of a major gas pipeline in Ohio.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Wednesday sent a letter to the Rover pipeline operator ordering it to not start...read more.

Emmanuel Macron Hires Center-Right Mayor As His New Prime Minister

Edouard Philippe, the center-right mayor of the port city of Le Havre, was named France’s new prime minister, charged with putting into action the economic reforms of the newly inaugurated President Emmanuel Macron.
The first major announcement of Macron’s 24-hour-old presidency was made by Alexis Kohler, the president’s chief of staff.   Read more.

Trump 'Needs a Good War' and Pence is Waiting in the Wings to Lead It

Scientists just discovered yet another coral reef that has been devastated by global warming

As concerns grow over the condition of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which has endured widespread coral bleaching in the past several years, scientists are finding similar damage on reefs all over the world, including in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Now, a recent expedition to the Chagos Archipelago, a collection of at least 60 small islands in the Indian Ocean, has revealed devastating coral bleaching and coral death there, too.  Read more.

Trying to Explain the Disdain for Poor Americans

Americans with wealth and power don't generally care about the middle and lower classes. Even worse, they are doing real damage to the people they don't care about. 
But why? Either these well-positioned people are 100 percent out of touch with the realities of middle-class life in our country, or they're contemptuous of those they consider inferior, or they believe...read more.

Why Did the FBI Leak the Comey Memo?

Senate GOP leader plays down latest Trump controversy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell downplayed on Tuesday the startling reports that President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to a pair of Russian diplomats in the Oval Office. But a number of GOP lawmakers expressed concerns, as Democrats demanded that Republicans finally stand up to their president.  Read more.

Trump administration vastly expands global anti-abortion policy

The Trump administration said on Monday it was vastly expanding the scope of a policy blocking U.S. assistance to foreign groups that perform or provide information about abortions, a move critics say will hinder women's access to critical care.
The new policy means that $8.8 billion in U.S. assistance to an array of programs fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and maternal and child ...reads more.

Trump Is the Symptom, Not the Disease

Forget the firing of James Comey. Forget the paralysis in Congress. Forget the idiocy of a press that covers our descent into tyranny as if it were a sports contest between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats or a reality show starring our maniacal president and the idiots that surround him. Forget the noise. The crisis we face is not embodied in the public images of the politicians that run our dysfunctional government. The crisis we face is the result of a four-decade-long, slow-motion corporate coup that has rendered the citizen impotent, left us without any authentic democratic institutions and allowed corporate and military power to become omnipotent.  Read more.

Sorry, Folks, But Donald Trump Is Everything We Deserve

The main reason (besides the grinding repetition) why I can’t bear to watch comedians do their self-congratulatory Donald Trump shtick is that their phony indignation is based on the premise that this guy is somehow unworthy of being our president, which is ludicrous.  Trump is not only worthy of being president, he’s perfect for it.  Read more.

Jeff Sessions Is Going to Fill Those Prisons One Way or Another

Sessions is withdrawing a 2013 directive from Attorney General Eric Holder that instructed federal prosecutors not to specify the amount of drugs involved when charging low-level and non-violent drug offenders. That policy effectively gave judges discretion to set sentences lower than the mandatory punishments ranging from five years to life in prison federal law dictates when someone is convicted of a crime involving a certain quantity of illegal drugs.  Read more.

EMMANUEL MACRON IS SWORN IN AS FRENCH PRESIDENT

Emmanuel Macron has been sworn in as the new president of France.
The handover took place in a formal ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Former president Francois Hollande handed over the reins of power to his successor in a ceremony heavy with protocol.
“We are at the dawn of an extraordinary renaissance. We have in our hands all the benefits that have made and will make the 21st century. We will remake and relaunch the Europe we need because it protects us and allows us to demonstrate our...read more.

Morning Mix School releases video of boy who police say was bullied and who later killed himself

Gabriel Taye can be seen lying on the bathroom floor for several minutes.
A school surveillance video shows other students nudging or poking Gabriel with their feet as the 8-year-old lay motionless. At one point, three students can be seen standing over Gabriel. One of them, a boy wearing a blue sweater, raises his leg until his knee was at waist level before walking away.  Read more.

'Major disruption' as UK hospitals hit by cyber attack

A ransomware virus has reportedly targeted organisations in more than 70 countries, including the Russian Interior Ministry and the NHS in the UK.
Friday's attacks came via a technique used by hackers that locks a user's files unless they pay the attackers in bitcoin. Computers affected by the virus went into lockdown by a programme that demanded...read more.

The People vs. The Student Loan Industry

Zack's Investment Research recently recommended that people buy stock for Navient (formerly Sallie Mae), the nation's largest servicer of student loans. This may seem curious given that the company is facing a historic lawsuit filed on January 18 from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), that alleges (in agreement with aggrieved student borrowers) that the company has "illegally cheated many struggling borrowers" for years through "shortcuts and deceptions."  Read more.

The True Definition of Unapologetic

The scene at Florida's historically black Bethune-Cookman University commencement was electrifying: Betsy DeVos, the rich dabbler who bought her unqualified way into a job as Secretary of Education despite her history of seeking to dismantle public schools and replace them with charter schools that leave behind kids of color...read more.

AG Sessions Orders 'Vicious Cycle of Incarceration'

In a bid to revive the failed War on Drugs, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a sweeping memorandum on Friday directing prosecutors to pursue the most harsh charges available for low-level offenders, reinstating a discredited practice that rights groups warn has already "devastated the lives and rights of millions of Americans."
The two-page document (pdf) distributed to federal prosecutors nationwide lays out charging and sentencing policy for the Trump administration.  Read more.

Macron is good for Europe and Africa

Emmanuel Macron’s big win in this week’s presidential elections in France is historic on many levels. Not only is he the youngest head of state on the global stage at the age of 39, but he is also the youngest president of France since Napoleon.
In terms of political tradition he has broken the mould in that he won as an independent, making it the first time since World War II that traditional parties from the left and the right have been ejected from the race.  Read more.

In blow to Trump, GE backs NAFTA and plans growth in Mexico

General Electric Co's chief executive (GE.N) on Friday praised Mexico as a big part of its future growth and said the company is "very supportive" of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that U.S President Donald Trump has threatened to ditch.
The conglomerate is keen to double its purchases from Mexican suppliers next year, a statement from the...read more.

Macron rejects former PM Valls as candidate

Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been rejected by President-elect Emmanuel Macron's movement as it tries to reshape politics.
It's a tough blow for the once-popular Valls, who cracked down on security as France was hit with extremist attacks and had been seen as potential presidential material himself.  Read more.

Macron selects 428 parliamentary candidates and exactly half are women

French President elect Emmanuel Macron on Thursday fulfilled his promise to draw half of the candidates for his Republic on the Move party for June legislative elections from civil society .
The party, which had never fought an election until it propelled Macron to the presidency on May 7, also kept a pledge to have a balance of male and female candidates in an...read more.

Fighting to save the last of Canada's giant trees

Canada's temperate rainforests, found on British Columbia's Pacific coast, contain some of the largest trees in the world - after California's redwoods and sequoias. The oldest of those trees are located in the southwest of the province where prodigious rainfall and mild winters allow relentless growth.
But more than a century of unrelenting commercial logging has placed primaeval old-growth forests...read more.

South Korea's first black model

Han Hyun-min strides down the runway with an expression of emotionless confidence, before pivoting around in front of the rows of photographers whose cameras click in rapid fire. 
Han is 15 and fast becoming a regular on the catwalk, making his third appearance at the recent Seoul Fashion Week...read more.

Census Director Resigns Amid Budget Crunch That Could Harm Communities of Color

The director of the US Census Bureau announced Tuesday that he would resign. The announcement comes amid widespread concerns over the agency's budget for its decennial 2020 population-counting mission, raising fears among civil rights leaders, who say census data is a crucial tool for ensuring people of color and other marginalized groups receive their fair share of electoral representation and government resources.  Read more.

Is America dying or is it being born again?

In a characteristically timely and insightful essay for The New York Times, Pankaj Mishra has recently mapped out the tortuous passage of the United States from exceptionalism to what he now sees as a turn towards nihilism. He rightly identifies that "extravagant promises by ruling elites, and their unexamined assumptions, are at least partly to blame for this moral breakdown in the world's most powerful country".   Read more.

France's Macron names half of parliamentary candidates from civil society

French President elect Emmanuel Macron on Thursday fulfilled his promise to draw half of the candidates for his Republic on the Move party for June legislative elections from civil society .
The party, which had never fought an election until it propelled Macron to the presidency on May 7, also kept a pledge to have a balance of male and female candidates...read more.

Democrats Are Out of Step with Their Base on Israel-Palestine

'Nazi-posters' at Stellenbosch University spark outrage

A South African university on Wednesday said three people were being questioned after it opened an investigation into Nazi-inspired posters promoting an "Anglo-Afrikaner Student" event on its campus.
The posters, which copied Nazi propaganda images, sparked immediate complaints and public outcry when they appeared on noticeboards at..read more.

Betsy DeVos’ Commencement Speech at a Historically Black College Was Drowned Out by Booing

It takes a lot to be one of the most controversial members of the Trump administration, but Betsy DeVos has done it. The inexperienced education secretary’s nomination came the closest to being blocked by Congress, and for her views and political connections she has been the repeated target of protests. Many consider the extreme version of school choice she champions to be outdated and damaging to lower-income families, and her policies regarding disabilities and student debt have not endeared her to the larger public.  Read more.
A West Virginia journalist was arrested Tuesday after trying to ask Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price a question in the halls of the West Virginia state capitol building, The Washington Post reports. 
Dan Heyman, a veteran reporter for Public News Service, asked Secretary Price repeatedly whether domestic violence would be considered a...read more.

Penn State University Wages Union-Busting Campaign Against Its Own Graduate Students

Penn State University is no stranger to controversy. In the past decade, its ethical crimes and cover-ups include the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, administration-approved student cheating, the harassment of faculty and journalists by Paterno Truthers and its president's hypocritical refusal to give sanctuary to undocumented students.
In the newest chapter of Penn State's fall from grace, [President Eric] Barron rejected a request by the...read more.

Seattle mayor abandons re-election bid after sexual abuse allegations

eattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday dropped his re-election bid after four men claimed he sexually abused them when they were teenagers, allegations Murray vehemently denied as an anti-gay political conspiracy aimed at derailing his campaign.
Murray for weeks pushed ahead for a second term despite the allegations but told reporters he decided it would be best for the city for him to abandon his campaign. He said he will serve out his term through the end of this year.  Read more.

Fourth man accuses Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of paying him for sex

A fourth man has accused Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of paying him for sex after being introduced to Murray as a teenager.

A Murray spokesman denied the latest allegations, made in a court filing late Tuesday, calling them a “sensational media stunt.” The mayor’s lawyers Wednesday morning redoubled their effort to get a judge to sanction the attorney who...read more.

Third Mysterious Death of a Black Ferguson Activist

Funding Housing for Homeless Americans With Mental Illness Is a Financial Gain for All

As Congress considers the federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 to reduce funding for services to poor and homeless Americans, programs with proven cost-effectiveness should not be on the chopping block. One such program is supportive housing for homeless people with severe mental illness.  Read more.

Greece Passes New Austerity for New Loans

Tunnel collapses at Washington nuclear waste plant; no radiation released

A tunnel partly collapsed on Tuesday at a plutonium-handling facility at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, but there was no indication workers or the public were exposed to radiation, federal officials said.
Workers evacuated or took cover and turned off ventilation systems after damage was discovered in the wall of a...read more.

Trump's Plantations: Black Colleges at the Mercy of White Politicians

Of all the political spectacles of Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency, few could match the improbability of his meeting in the Oval Office in late February with nearly 100 presidents of historically black colleges and universities. The official photo of the event captured a beaming Trump surrounded by a dozen African-American educators smiling and applauding his promise to boost federal funding to their schools. Considering that Trump was the most racially polarizing national politician since George Wallace, the episode inspired an outcry on many HBCU campuses and critical commentary from leading black journalists.  Read more.

White House Visitors

A number of readers have written me asking me to explain why those particular leaders were selected by DJT to be among the first heads of state to be invited to the DJT White House, when so many others were hoping for invitations. The invitees whose invitations prompt the question, are Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte. Each of the visitors would seem at first blush to have more in common with each other than, the casual observer would at least hope, with DJT. The similarities between the three leaders are palpable.  Read more. ,

Blacks arrested 5 times more than whites in Madison County, lawsuit says

A class-action lawsuit filed Monday accuses the Madison County Sheriff’s Department of targeting black residents with unconstitutional and sometimes violent searches and seizures, arresting them at nearly five times the rate of white residents.
“Simple daily activities — such as commuting to work, grocery shopping, visiting friends and family, attending church, or even sitting on the steps outside one’s own home — present the very real possibility of unlawful and humiliating searches and seizures, as well as the … prospect of arrest and jail time for unpaid fines and fees,” the lawsuit claims.  Read more.

Mississippi African Americans besieged by illegal searches, ACLU lawsuit says

Black people in a racially segregated county in Mississippi are living under a permanent state of siege, subjected to repeated unlawful and humiliating searches at police roadblocks, at pedestrian “checkpoints” and even in their homes, according to a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  Read more.

Obama Shows Why Wall Street Has Two Parties And We Have None

Just as Donald Trump mortgages the White House to Goldman Sachs, Barack Obama does a Hillary: He agrees to take $400,000 from Wall Street to give one speech. Obama will make as much money in one hour as the average American makes in about five years.
The excuse can’t be lack of money. He and Michelle are about to receive $60 million in book advances on top of the several million already in the bank plus the $200,000 pension as an ex-president.  Read more.

Is Venezuela's Withdrawal from the OAS Justified?

Macron wins French presidency, to sighs of relief in Europe

Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France on Sunday with a business-friendly vision of European integration, defeating Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who threatened to take France out of the European Union.
The centrist's emphatic victory, which also smashed the dominance of France’s mainstream parties, will bring huge relief to European allies...read more.