Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2010

Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World

Deepak Chopra @ The Huffington Post - Before addressing the importance of spirituality in modern times, we should first define it. Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality. This domain of awareness is a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect, and ego. In religious traditions this core consciousness is referred to as the soul which is part of a collective soul or collective consciousness, which in turn is part of a more universal domain of consciousness referred to in religions as God. When we have even a partial glimpse of this level of awareness we experience joy, insight, intuition, creativity, and freedom of choice. In addition, there is the awakening of love, kindness, compassion, happiness at the success of others, and equanimity. As the turbulence of our mind settles down, our body also begins to heal itself because it also quiets down. The body's self-repair mechanisms are activated when the mind is at pe

Apple Caught Using Child Labor, also Cited for Toxic Working Environment

Telegraph UK - Apple has been repeatedly criticised for using factories that abuse workers and where conditions are poor. Last week, it emerged that 62 workers at a factory that manufactures products for Apple and Nokia had been poisoned by n-hexane, a toxic chemical that can cause muscular degeneration and blur eyesight. In 2008, Apple found that a total of 25 child workers had been employed to build iPods, iPhones and its range of computers. Apple said the child workers are now no longer being used, or are no longer underage. "In each of the three facilities, we required a review of all employment records for the year as well as a complete analysis of the hiring process to clarify how underage people had been able to gain employment," Apple said, in an annual report on its suppliers. The high environmental cost of Apple's products was revealed when three factories were discovered to be shipping hazardous waste to unqualified disposal companies. Apple said it had re

Civil Rights in America Suffer Major Blow with Patriot Act Renewal

Truthout - Under pressure from the White House and Republicans, a bill to extend three key provisions of the Patriot Act was passed by the House Thursday with little discussion or debate and sent to President Obama, who is expected to immediately sign it into law. In the House, only a few Congressmen, including Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) came out in public opposition to the bill. “As Members of Congress sworn to protect the rights and civil liberties afforded to us by the Constitution, we have a responsibility to exercise our oversight powers fully, and significantly reform the PATRIOT Act, ensuring that the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans are fully protected,” Kucinich said in a statement. “More than eight years after the passage of the PATRIOT Act, we have failed to do so.” Read more .

Massive 8.8-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Central Chile; Tsunami Warning Issued for Hawaii

The Associated Press @ Common Dreams- A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles (660 kilometers) off the Chilean coast, said President Michele Bachelet. Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands. "It has been a devastating earthquake," Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma told reporters. Bachelet said the death toll was at 78 and rising, but officials had no information on the number of people injured. She declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile. A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami. Read more .

The Power of Local

YES! Magazine - The 2009 holiday season was a tough one for retail businesses. In November, their sales increased just 1.8 percent over low 2008 numbers-failing to keep pace with inflation. December was worse, with sales actually falling three tenths of a percent from 2008. But in more than a hundred communities across North America, independent community-based businesses had a more positive story to tell. A nationwide survey of more than 1,800 independent businesses by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) found them outperforming chain competitors. Most notably, the survey found independent retailers in communities with active "Buy Independent" or "Buy Local" campaigns reported an increase in holiday sales three times stronger (up three percent) than those in cities without such campaigns (up one percent). Given the current inflation rate of 2.7 percent, the benefit of such campaigns could mean the difference between success and failure for many store ow

National Archives, Watchdog Demand DOJ Probe Destruction of John Yoo's Emails

Truthout - The National Archives and a watchdog group sent letters to the Justice Department (DOJ) Thursday demanding an investigation into the destruction of John Yoo's emails in the summer of 2002, when he and other government attorneys prepared and finalized legal memoranda for the CIA that redefined torture and authorized interrogators to brutalize war on terror detainees. The Federal Records Act (FRA) requires the preservation of government documents. Records cannot be destroyed unless approved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). According to the DOJ's web site, emails fall under FRA if they pertain to government business. Read more .

A Snitch In Your Pocket

"Law enforcement is tracking Americans' cell phones in real time -- without the benefit of a warrant" Truthout - Amid all the furor over the bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program a few years ago, a mini-revolt was brewing over another type of federal snooping that was getting no public attention at all. Federal prosecutors were seeking what seemed to be unusually sensitive records: internal data from telecommunications companies that showed the locations of their customers' cell phones -- sometimes in real time, sometimes after the fact. The prosecutors said they needed the records to trace the movements of suspected drug traffickers, human smugglers, even corrupt public officials. But many federal magistrates -- whose job is to sign off on search warrants and handle other routine court duties -- were spooked by the requests. Some in New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas balked. Prosecutors "were using the cell phone as a surreptitious trackin

Will Rachel Corrie's Family Finally Get Justice?

The Guardian UK - The family of the American activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza seven years ago, is to bring a civil suit over her death against the Israeli defence ministry. The case, which begins on 10 March in Haifa, northern Israel, is seen by her parents as an opportunity to put on public record the events that led to their daughter's death in March 2003. Four key witnesses – three Britons and an American – who were at the scene in Rafah when Corrie was killed will give evidence, according the family lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein. The four were all with the International Solidarity Movement, the activist group to which Corrie belonged. They have since been denied entry to Israel, and the group's offices in Ramallah have been raided several times in recent weeks by the Israeli military. Read more .

Hearing Debates Link Between Psychiatric Drugs and Veterans' Suicide

Truthout - Psychiatrists and mental health experts spoke about the relationship between medication and veterans' suicide when the House Veterans' Affairs Committee hosted a committee hearing on the topic on Wednesday. Although speakers offered different views on whether antidepressants help to decrease veterans' chances of committing suicide, there was agreement that suicide is a topic of concern, as suicide rates climb among young veterans who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Bob Filner, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said, "The purpose of today's hearing is to explore the potential relationship, if any, between psychiatric medications and suicides. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) being the signature wounds of the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan, mental health issues have naturally taken centerstage. Research has shown that mental disorders and substance-abuse disorders are linked t

War Politics: Numb and Number

Normon Solomon @ Common Dreams - Playwright Lillian Hellman said: "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." The statement was in a letter to the House Un-American Activities Committee. The year was 1952. We tell ourselves that the McCarthy era was vastly different than our own -- but what about the political fashions of 2010? This year's fashions cut mean figures on Washington's runways. Conformities lie, and people die. While the escalating disaster of war in Afghanistan keeps setting deadly blazes, the few anti-war voices on Capitol Hill usually sound like people whispering "Fire!" In 2010, this is what the warfare state looks like: a largely numbed state, mainlining anesthetics that induce routine torpor. In that context, the conformity of mild dissent is apt to be mistaken for outspoken moral acuity. On the back of an envelope, or anywhere else, check this math: $1,000,000 x 100,000 = $100,000,000,000 In round flat

Sanders: Obama 'Is Wrong,' Making A Mistake On The Public Option

Sam Stein @ The Huffington Post - During an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered fairly sharp criticisms of Obama for failing to show the requisite leadership needed to add a government-run insurance option to the final legislative package. Asked about the administration's argument that the provision lacked the votes needed for passage, even through reconciliation, Sanders replied: I think the president is wrong. I think it is a public mistake. I think the people, for all the right reasons, distrust private insurance companies. I think they want to look to a Medicare-type public option. I think they should have that choice. And second of all, at a time when health care costs are soaring, vis-à-vis that 39% increase in California and all over the country, what a public option can do is keep private insurance companies honest, give people an option, hold them accountable. So I think the president is wrong and I think

The Hurricane Katrina Shootings: Ex-Cop Pleads Guilty

The Huffington Post - In Hurricane Katrina's chaotic aftermath, police shot six people – killing two – as they crossed a bridge in search of food. For years the case was a shocking symbol of the confusion and violence that swept through the flooded city. On Wednesday it became a mark of shame for the police department. As victims' relatives watched from the courtroom gallery, a retired lieutenant who supervised the department's probe of the shootings pleaded guilty to orchestrating a cover-up to conceal that police gunned down unarmed civilians. Michael Lohman, a 21-year veteran of the force, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Prosecutors said Lohman and other unidentified officers conspired to fabricate witness statements, falsify reports of the incident and plant a gun in an attempt to make it appear the killings were justified. Read more .

The Black Church Is Dead

Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. - Black America stands at the precipice. African American unemployment is at its highest in 25 years. Thirty-five percent of our children live in poor families. Inadequate healthcare, rampant incarceration, home foreclosures, and a general sense of helplessness overwhelm many of our fellows. Of course, countless local black churches around the country are working diligently to address these problems. The Black Church, as we've known it or imagined it, is dead. Of course, many African Americans still go to church. But the idea of this venerable institution as central to black life and as a repository for the social and moral conscience of the nation has all but disappeared. The death of the black church as we have known it occasions an opportunity to breathe new life into what it means to be black and Christian. Black churches and preachers must find their prophetic voices in this momentous present. And in doing so, black churches will rise again and insist

Genetically Modified Crops Fail to Deliver, Creating More Problems Instead

Jim Goodman @ Common Dreams - Since the first commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in 1996, Monsanto and the rest of the big six Biotech seed companies, (Pioneer/DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, BASF and Bayer) have become masters at the art of story telling. Governments, seeing biotechnology as a huge economic engine, embraced the technology. University research was shifted almost exclusively to biotech crops. GM was the wave of the future, bankers encouraged planting GM crops to guarantee a "profitable harvest". Crop insurance premiums were lower for farmers planting GM. Everyone bought the story. Problem is, the promises were just good stories. The believers are missing the truth. Weeds have become resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and insects became resistant to the toxins produced by their GM corn. As GM was planted on more acres, overall pesticide use went up, not down. Read more .

Doctors' Group: Obama Plan Leaves Millions Uninsured

Common Dreams - President Obama's health care proposal, preserving as it does a central role for the for-profit, private health insurance industry, is incapable of achieving the kind of universal, comprehensive and affordable reform the country needs, a spokesman for a national doctors' group said Wednesday. "Regrettably, the president's proposal is built on some of the worst aspects of the Senate bill," said Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 17,000 doctors who support single-payer, Medicare-for-All approach to reform. Young's statement comes on the eve of the president's bipartisan summit in Washington. "For example, the president's proposal would ship hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the private health insurance industry in the form of subsidies," Young said. "And to help finance this, it would impose a new tax on health benefits of workers, especially

Fighting the Subversion of Our People's Sovereignty

Creators Syndicate - As you've probably heard, corporations are now "people" — humanoids that are equivalent to you and me. This miraculous metamorphosis happened on Jan. 21. Accompanied by a blinding bolt of lightning, and a terrifying jolt of thunder, five Dr. Frankensteins on the Supreme Court threw a judicial switch that endowed these pulseless paper entities with the human right to speak politically. Never mind that inanimate corporate constructs have no tongue, brain, heart or soul — the five judicial fabricators breathed unprecedented legal life into corporations, decreeing that the vast wealth held in their corporate treasuries is their voice. With a cry of "Shazam!" the court ruled that, henceforth, every corporation — from Wal-Mart to Wall Street — is entitled to "speak" by spending unlimited sums from their treasuries to elect or defeat candidates for any and all public offices in our land, from city council to the presidency. By a bare f

45 Years After the Assassination of Malcolm X

The Take Away - Malcolm X was assassinated 45 years ago this weekend. Earlier this year, WNYC Radio unearthed a 1960s interview between the civil rights leader and a reporter named Eleanor Fischer. On this somber anniversary, we consider Malcolm X’s legacy through the rediscovered tape, which has not been heard since the 1960s. We also speak to two people whose lives were profoundly affected by his leadership. In the tape, Malcolm X talks passionately about the deep roots of segregation in America; the political and psychological state of the Black community; the need to build the Black leadership; and his strong condemnation of Martin Luther King's methods. Earl Grant was a close associate of Malcolm X and one of the last people to see him alive. Peter Bailey is a former associate editor for Ebony Magazine and an original member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity. Listen to the full interview with Malcolm X from 1960 here:

Malcolm X deserves lasting tribute

Michigan Free Press - Malcolm X -- born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Neb. -- spent much of his youth in Lansing, where the family moved when Malcolm was 4, and, later, in Detroit, the birthplace of the Nation of Islam and home to one of the first temples Malcolm attended. Still, our state has no monuments, libraries or public waysides devoted to this seminal freedom fighter, who was assassinated in New York City on Feb. 21, 1965, at the age of 39. It's a shame. I believe Malcolm X to be the greatest American leader in the last century. I won't spend much time debating the point. You could make an argument for many other people, but who exceeds Malcolm's unflinching courage and conviction, open and evolving mind, and journey from street hustler and prisoner to international voice for the oppressed? How many men have traveled as far, or taken so many with them? In the end, he carried the struggle of African Americans into the global arena, and redefined the movement as one of h

Will eBooks Create An Elite Reading Class?

Karin Slaughter @ The Huffington Post - The notion of a public library is a fairly new one. Prior to the Civil War, most libraries were either privately owned or housed in universities or churches. While we can rightfully thank Andrew Carnegie for helping bring libraries to the masses, Women's clubs started over seventy-five percent of our public libraries. These ladies understood that access to the written word equals access to opportunity. If there is still an American dream, reading is one of the bootstraps by which we can all pull ourselves up. With this in mind, I have to wonder what Mr. Carnegie and the Women's clubs would think of eBook readers. On one hand, here is a device that can put a limitless supply of books at your fingertips. On the other hand, here is a device that is so expensive that only a select few can afford it. It seems to me that with digitized books, we are taking a giant leap into the past, when access to literature was available only to those of m

Are Israeli Policies in Palestine Affecting Jews in Sweden?

Telegraph UK - When she first arrived in Sweden after her rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, Judith Popinski was treated with great kindness. She raised a family in the city of Malmo, and for the next six decades lived happily in her adopted homeland - until last year. In 2009, a chapel serving the city's 700-strong Jewish community was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused on their way home from prayer, and "Hitler" was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men. "I never thought I would see this hatred again in my lifetime, not in Sweden anyway," Mrs Popinski told The Sunday Telegraph. "This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants. The Jewish people are afraid now." Malmo's Jews, however, do not just point the finger at bigoted Muslims and their fellow racists in the country's Neo-Nazi fringe. They also accuse Ilmar Reepalu, the Left-wing mayor who has been in power for 15 years, of fail

FLASHBACK: Bush manipulates terror alerts for political gain

Original publication date: July 7, 2006 TIME magazine - In these perilous days, we must be ready to think the unthinkable. No, I don't mean the possibility of a catastrophic terrorist attack. After 9/11, that's all too easy to imagine. No, I'm talking about a thought that even now seldom forces its way into respectable conversation: the quite reasonable suspicion that the Bush Administration orchestrates its terror alerts and arrests to goose the GOP's poll numbers. Now, I'm a respectable columnist. I don't want to draw rolled eyes. But think about it. The 18 months prior to the 2004 presidential election witnessed a barrage of those ridiculous color-coded terror alerts, quashed-plot headlines and breathless press conferences from Administration officials. Warnings of terror attacks over the Christmas 2003 holidays, warnings over summer terror attacks at the 2004 political conventions, then a whole slew of warnings of terror attacks to disrupt the election i

Boycott FedEx

Chris Hedges - Dean Henderson’s career with FedEx ended abruptly when a reckless driver plowed into his company truck and mangled his leg. His doctor will decide this week if it needs to be amputated. No longer able to drive, stripped of value in our commodity culture, he was tossed aside by the company. He became human refuse. He spends most of his days, because of the swelling and the pain, with his leg raised on a recliner in the tiny apartment in Fairfax, Va., he shares with his stepsister. He struggles without an income and medical insurance, and he fears his future. Henderson is not alone. Workers in our corporate state earn little when they work—Henderson made $18 an hour—and they are abandoned when they can no longer contribute to corporate profits. It is the ethic of the free market. It is the cost of unfettered capitalism. And it is plunging tens of millions of discarded workers into a collective misery and rage that is beginning to manifest itself in a dangerous right-wing

Nato airstrike kills 27 civilians in Afghanistan

Times Online - Nato forces in southern Afghanistan bombed a civilian convoy, killing 27 people including women and children and injuring many more, Afghan officials said. The airstrike in a remote part of Oruzgan province yesterday capped a bloody week for Afghan civilians that has seen some 60 innocent people killed by Nato weapons. Afghanistan’s cabinet called the attack "unjustifiable" and condemned the raid "in the strongest terms possible". Read more .

Domestic Terrorism or Tax Revolts?

Common Dreams - In 1786 and after hearing about the tax revolts occurring throughout the newly formed United States of America, Thomas Jefferson, who was in France, claimed such rebellions were good things...and it was medicine necessary for the sound health of government. On the other hand, Samuel Adams believed that those who had rebelled against the laws of a republic and were committing treason and should suffer death. These differing views came to mind when a software engineer launched a suicide attack against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). After setting his home on fire, Joseph Stack flew a small plane into an IRS building. Evidently, the tax rebel, or domestic terrorist, was unable to find work, had zero income, and did not file a tax return. As the IRS tried to collect taxes, he accused them of cannibalizing his savings and retirement funds. Stack believed the government was not interested in justice, but only concerned about financially bailing out America's corpor

Nuclear Hypocrisy: America as the World's Serial Killer

Common Dreams - On Sunday, February 14th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-speaking at the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar-lambasted Iran for its continual development of its nuclear power program. Clinton accused Iran of "consistently (failing) to live up to its responsibilities." According to Clinton "It has refused to demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful." The evidence sighted by Clinton of Iran's callousness toward international laws and the United Nations system is Iran's own action. The only reason Iran would establish a nuclear energy program, it is claimed, is to eventually use it to develop weapons and attack other nations. Therefore, any development of nuclear energy is ipso de facto a threat to security and assault on world peace. The standard that the Obama administration has set for Iran does make some sense. The cost in producing nuclear energy--in the terms of its maintenance, its s

Obama's gives the nod for torture and civilian slaughter

Max Eternity - By refusing to prosecute the Bush torture memo writer, John Yoo, President Obama gives the green light for civilian slaughter. Consortium News reports: Former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo argued that President George W. Bush's commander-in-chief powers were so sweeping that he could willfully order the massacre of civilians, yet Yoo's culpability in Bush administration abuses was deemed "poor judgment," not a violation of "professional standards." That downgrading of criticism by the Justice Department - regarding the legal advice from Yoo and his boss at the Office of Legal Counsel, Jay Bybee, to Bush's White House and the CIA - means that the department will not refer them to state bar associations for possible disbarment as lawyers. But an earlier version of the report by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that the legal advice warranted the sterner conclusion and thus possible disbar

Falling Further Behind

Bob Herbert - One section of the Maytown Elementary School in rural Maytown, Pa., was built in 1861. Another section was built in the late-1920s. There’s a time clock in the ancient gym that was donated by the class of 1946. This is a school that could use an update. No, scratch that. It needs to be replaced. Shelly Riedel, superintendent of the Donegal School District, which includes Maytown, told me that teachers can’t mount smart boards in their classrooms because of the asbestos “encapsulated” behind the walls. The asbestos is not dangerous as long as the walls are not disturbed. The electricity is not particularly reliable. A teacher who is using, say, an overhead projector has to check to make sure that other teachers are not using similar devices at the same time as that might cause an outage. There is no air conditioning. And there is no money right now to replace the school, which has an enrollment of 237. Read more .

Terrorism: the most meaningless and manipulated word

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - Yesterday, Joseph Stack deliberately flew an airplane into a building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas, in order to advance the political grievances he outlined in a perfectly cogent suicide-manifesto. Stack's worldview contained elements of the tea party's anti-government anger along with substantial populist complaints generally associated with "the Left" (rage over bailouts, the suffering of America's poor, and the pilfering of the middle class by a corrupt economic elite and their government-servants). All of that was accompanied by an argument as to why violence was justified (indeed necessary) to protest those injustices: I remember reading about the stock market crash before the "great" depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn't it ironic how far we've come in 60 years in this country that they now know

How Wars Are Made

Guardian UK - In a visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia this week, Hillary Clinton said that Iran "is moving toward a military dictatorship," and continued the administration's campaign for tougher sanctions against that country. What could America's top diplomat hope to accomplish with this kind of inflammatory rhetoric? It seems unlikely that the goal was to support human rights in Iran. Because of the United States' history in Iran and in the region, it tends to give legitimacy to repression. The more that any opposition can be linked to the United States' actions, words, or support, the harder time they will have. Second, it is tough for anyone – especially in the region – to believe that the US is really concerned about human rights abuses. In addition to supporting Israel's collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza, Washington has been remarkably quiet as the most important opposition leaders in Egypt were arrested as part of the government'

Iraq war to be rebranded 'Operation New Dawn'

Agence France-Presse @ Yahoo - President Barack Obama's administration plans to rebrand its military operation in Iraq "Operation New Dawn," beginning September 1, a Pentagon memorandum shows. The memo, signed by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, shows the Pentagon approving a request to switch the name of the US military effort in Iraq from its current designation -- "Operation Iraqi Freedom." "The request... is approved to take effect 1 September 2010, coinciding with the change of mission for US forces in Iraq. Read more .

World's top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage

The Guardian UK - The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world's biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found. The report comes amid growing concern that no one is made to pay for most of the use, loss and damage of the environment, which is reaching crisis proportions in the form of pollution and the rapid loss of freshwater, fisheries and fertile soils. Later this year, another huge UN study - dubbed the "Stern for nature" after the influential report on the economics of climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern - will attempt to put a price on such global environmental damage, and suggest ways to prevent it. The report, led by economist Pavan Sukhdev, is likely to argue for abolition of billions of dollars of subsidies to harmful industries like agriculture, energy and transport, tougher regulations and mo

Voices from the Hatian earthquake camps

Bill Quigley @ Common Dreams - The United Nations reported there are 1.2 million people living in “spontaneous settlements” or homeless camps around Port au Prince. Three people living in the camps spoke with this author this week, before the hard rains hit. Jean Dora, 71 My name is Jean Dora. I was born in 1939. I live in a plaza in front of St. Pierre’s church in Petionville [outside of Port au Prince]. I am here with twelve members of my family. We all lost our home. We have a sheet of green plastic to shade us from the sun. We put up some bed sheets around our space. I have many small grandchildren living here with me. My son and daughters live with here too. My daughter will soon have a child. She will go to the Red Cross tent when it is time for the baby to come. I worked for the Chinese Embassy for 36 years. I cleaned their offices. I retired in 2007. Until the earthquake I lived in an apartment with my family. The building was destroyed. Read more .

Wall Street's Bailout Hustle

Matt Tabbi @ Rolling Stone - On January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America's pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman's role in precipitating the global financial crisis. The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the D

No We Can't

"Obama had millions of followers eager to fight for his agenda. But the president muzzled them - and he's paying the price" Tim Dickinson @ Rolling Stone Magazine - As the polls were closing in Massachusetts on the evening of January 19th, turning Ted Kennedy's Senate seat over to the Republicans for the first time in half a century, David Plouffe was busy reminiscing about the glory days. The president's former campaign manager was nowhere to be found at the sprawling war room of Organizing for America, the formidable grass-roots army he had forged during the 2008 campaign. Instead, Plouffe — who serves as a "supersenior adviser" to OFA and its only direct conduit to Obama — was across town at a forum hosted by the Progressive Book Club, where he pimped his memoir, The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory. It was a bitterly ironic way to mark the end of the president's first year in office. Toget

Dubai Police Accuse Mossad of Murdering Hamas Chief

The Huffington Post - Dubai police directly accused Israel's Mossad spy agency of orchestrating the hit squad slaying of a Hamas commander as the number of suspects rose Thursday to 18. The investigation also widened to the United States. Emirates authorities said the alleged killers used fraudulent passports to open credit cards accounts through U.S.-based banks, an official said. The international fallout from the murder in a Dubai hotel room showed no signs of easing, with Britain and Ireland summoning Israeli ambassadors Thursday for talks about the case following allegations that European passports were used by the alleged team of assassins. A UAE official, who has close knowledge of the investigation, said at least 18 people – including two women – are now suspected in what Dubai police describe as a highly coordinated operation to kill al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing. Ten of the men and one woman were identified by Dubai police Monday as membe

5 Reasons NOT to Invest in Nuclear Energy

The Huffington Post - Yesterday, President Obama announced that the Energy department will provide an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to the Southern Co. for its proposed nuclear power plant near Augusta, GA. "The loan guarantee program for new nuclear power plants not only will further the nation's commitment to clean energy, Obama said, "but also will assist in creating jobs in American communities." Unfortunately, nuclear energy isn't safe or clean and it's too costly for the nation. News coverage has been mostly supportive and, in some cases, bordering on cheerleading. In his blog for the Atlantic magazine, Editor Daniel Indiviglio laid out "five reasons to cheer Obama's ambition." Let's take a closer look at these "five reasons." Reason #1: "Nuclear power is a known quantity. The U.S. has been successfully using this energy source for a very long time." Nuclear power is certainly well known to Wall Street, which des

Obama's Nuclear Blunder

Harvey Wasserman @ Common Dreams - As Vermont seethes with radioactive contamination and the Democratic Party crumbles, Barack Obama has plunged into the atomic abyss. In the face of fierce green opposition and withering scorn from both liberal and conservative budget hawks, Obama has done what George W. Bush could not---pledge billions of taxpayer dollars for a relapse of the 20th Century's most expensive technological failure. Obama has announced some $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for two new reactors planned for Georgia. Their Westinghouse AP-1000 designs have been rejected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as being unable to withstand natural cataclysms like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Read more .

Why Howard Dean Should Run For President in 2012

John MacArthur @ The Providence Journal - So you’re disillusioned with Obama. So you watched The Who play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” during the Super Bowl. So you’re mad, and you’d like to do something about it. Well, don’t sit around being a whiny liberal, the kind of softy Rahm Emanuel likes to insult. Don’t retreat into cynicism, either, or such pointless barroom analysis as “All politicians are alike” and “The big money runs everything.” No, do something constructive — something, moreover, that RahmObama will clearly understand. Give Obama a primary. If you feel betrayed by Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan and mercenary forces in Iraq; by seeing him kowtow to Wall Street and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein; by his plan to donate 30 million taxpayer-subsidized policies to the health-insurance business, and you wonder why Guantánamo and NAFTA are still open for business, then it’s not too early to start thinking about 2012 and who might run against the incumbent now st

Civic Equanimity and the Digital Divide

Max Eternity - Earlier this year I wrote an article entitled " Electronic Apartheid " that spoke to the digital disenfranchisement that many Blacks face--based on statistics which show that Whites generally have much greater access to computers and the Internet, how that is linked to social justice and the arts. In the similar vein, an article written by Library Director, Susan Nemitz, of Ramsey County, Minnesota, appeared today, talking specifically about how the digital divide is playing out in public libraries. Nemitz's article, published at, reads below: "The most cost-effective first step to accelerate broadband deployment is to create universal access to broadband through the nations' public library systems. The consequences of not acting will be huge disparities in academic achievement, worker productivity, and civic and economic participation." On the front lines of the digital divide by Susan Nemitz Every day, librarians are

Pain Relief: Is Medical Marijuana A Solution?

The Huffington Post - The first U.S. clinical trials in more than two decades on the medical benefits of marijuana confirm pot is effective in reducing muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and pain caused by certain neurological injuries or illnesses, according to a report issued Wednesday. Igor Grant, a psychiatrist who directs the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, said five studies funded by the state involved volunteers who were randomly given real marijuana or placebos to determine if the herb provided relief not seen from traditional medicines. "There is good evidence now that cannabinoids may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment," Grant said at a news conference where he presented the findings. Read more .

2012 Presents Opportunity For 3rd Party Victories in Capitol

Max Eternity - With the Congress and the Obama Administration clearly broken and unable to lead, it has been my belief that now more than ever viable candidates outside the big-business, 2-party system, have a real chance of building momentum, getting elected locally and at the state level, perhaps winding up in the White House. And though I am no fan of right-winger, David Brooks of The New York Times, or a fan of Indian's senator, Evan Bayh--a corporate Democrat--in sharing my view that a dissatisfied US populace is looking for new leadership, providing a collective consensus that unexpected political change might visit this nation sooner rather than later, Bayh and Brooks do have a valid point. For good reason, a lot people have lost faith in Obama. And in 2012, we ain't looking forward to a Palin presidency either. It's time for Progressives to mobilize and organize. The Huffington Post reports: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who announced he would retire from his U.S. S

Hacking Democracy: An Administration Asleep At The Switch

Truthout - Nearly a decade ago, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) stood alone as the Senate's constitutional conscience. Casting the only dissenting vote against passage of the Patriot Act in 2001, he was powerless to stop an opportunistic power grab by neoconservatives who had long sought, well before the tragedy of 9-11, to expand our government's reach into the lives of law-abiding Americans. Today, the draconian authorities foisted on an unsuspecting public by the Patriot Act once again place the Constitution in the crosshairs of a complacent Congress, acquiescing to another administration whose political agenda lies at conspicuous odds with its leader's oath to defend the Constitution. Read more .

Dick Cheney: War Criminal

Glenn Greenwald - Dick Cheney went on ABC News this weekend and boasted of the role he played in ordering the waterboarding of detainees. Andrew Sullivan has written several posts accurately describing this statement as a "confession of committing a war crime on national television." Harper's Scott Horton identifies the specific criminal statute Cheney confessed he violated, makes clear that -- as the Attorney General himself previously said -- there is no reasonable debate possible regarding the criminality of waterboarding under U.S. and international law (notwithstanding the efforts of Politico and friends to pretend otherwise), and then asks: "What prosecutor can look away when a perpetrator mocks the law itself and revels in his role in violating it?" In general, people who commit felonies avoid publicly confessing to having done so, and they especially avoid mocking the authorities who fail to act. One thing Dick Cheney is not is stupid, and yet he&#

Cheney Admits to War Crimes, Media Yawns, Obama Turns the Other Cheek

Truthout - Dick Cheney is a sadist. On Sunday, in an exclusive interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News' "This Week," Cheney proclaimed his love of torture, derided the Obama administration for outlawing the practice, and admitted that the Bush administration ordered Justice Department attorneys to fix the law around his policies. "I was a big supporter of waterboarding," Cheney told Karl, as if he were issuing a challenge to officials in the current administration, including President Barack Obama, who said flatly last year that waterboarding is torture, to take action against him. "I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques..." “I signed off on it; others did, as well, too,” Cheney said in an interview with the right-wing Washington Times about the waterboarding, a drowning technique where a person is strapped to a board, his face covered with a cloth and then water is poured over it. It is a torture technique dating back at l

Give Higher Priority to Farm to School Programs

The Capital Times - The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, held a conference call last week with about a thousand of his closest friends to talk about the Obama administration’s initiatives on child nutrition and physical activity. He started by describing the twin problems that make this a high priority for the administration: obesity and hunger. A third of the nation’s children are overweight, and 16.5 million children live in food-insecure households — those with hunger or fear of starvation. For decades, the federal government has sought to address child hunger through programs such as the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Snack Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program. These programs are coming up for review as part of the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which will occur this year, and attention will also be given to how they reduce obesity. Vilsack says the Obama administration is committing an

The Success of North Dakota's Socialist Bank

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - The Bank of North Dakota - the nation's only state-owned bank - might seem to be a relic. It was the brainchild of a failed flax farmer and one-time Socialist Party organizer during World War I. But now officials in other states are wondering if it is helping North Dakota sail through the national recession. Gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Oregon and a Washington state legislator are advocating the creation of state-owned banks in those states. A report prepared for a Vermont House committee last month said the idea had "considerable merit." Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore promotes the bank on his Web site. Read more .

The Information Super-Sewer

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - The Internet has become one more tool hijacked by corporate interests to accelerate our cultural, political and economic decline. The great promise of the Internet, to open up dialogue, break down cultural barriers, promote democracy and unleash innovation and creativity, has been exposed as a scam. The Internet is dividing us into antagonistic clans, in which we chant the same slogans and hate the same enemies, while our creative work is handed for free to Web providers who use it as bait for advertising. Jaron Lanier, the “father of virtual reality technology,” in his new book “You Are Not a Gadget,” warns us of this frightening new collectivism. He notes that the habits imposed by the Internet have reconfigured how we relate to each other. He writes that “Web 2.0,” “Open Culture,” “Free Software” and the “Long Tail” have become enablers of this new collectivism. He cites Wikipedia, which consciously erases individual voices, and Google Wave as examples of

Team America Kills Five More Children

Common Dreams - "Civilian casualties are inevitable," said U.S. officials before launching their weekend military assault on Marja in southern Afghanistan, and in this case, they were telling the truth. Yesterday, the New York Times reports, a U.S. rocket strike "hit a compound crowded with Afghan civilians... killing at least 10 people, including 5 children." What justification has been provided by the government of the United States for its decision to kill these five children? Read more .

Dollars for Death, Pennies for Life

Norman Solomon @ Common Dreams - When the U.S. military began a major offensive in southern Afghanistan over the weekend, the killing of children and other civilians was predictable. Lofty rhetoric aside, such deaths come with the territory of war and occupation. A month ago, President Obama pledged $100 million in U.S. government aid to earthquake-devastated Haiti. Compare that to the $100 billion price tag to keep 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan for a year. Joblessness is now crushing many low-income Americans. Among those with annual household incomes of less than $12,500, the unemployment rate during the fourth quarter of last year "was a staggering 30.8 percent," Bob Herbert noted in a February 9 column. "That's more than five points higher than the overall jobless rate at the height of the Depression." Herbert added: "The next lowest group, with incomes of $12,500 to $20,000, had an unemployment rate of 19.1 percent. These are the kinds of joble

Cuba's Aid to Haiti Ignored by the US Media?

"After the quake struck, Haiti's first medical aid came from Cuba" Al Jazeera - Among the many donor nations helping Haiti, Cuba and its medical teams have played a major role in treating earthquake victims. Public health experts say the Cubans were the first to set up medical facilities among the debris and to revamp hospitals immediately after the earthquake struck. However, their pivotal work in the health sector has received scant media coverage. "It is striking that there has been virtually no mention in the media of the fact that Cuba had several hundred health personnel on the ground before any other country," said David Sanders, a professor of public health from Western Cape University in South Africa. Read more .