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Showing posts from July, 2011

World Reacts to Debt Ceiling Debacle: "Irresponsible," "Worst Kind of Absurd Theatrics"

Think Progress - The rhetoric over raising the debt ceiling has become increasingly harsh as Democratic and Republican congressional leaders trade barbs back and forth. But as the U.S. inches closer to defaulting on its debts for the first time in history, criticism of Congress is starting to come from beyond our own borders. From France and Germany to China and India, countries around the world are angry that American politicians play with the possibility of a U.S. default like a yo-yo with little regard for the international economic system that depends on American solvency.  Read more .

Massive 'Social Justice' Protests Sweep Israel

Agence France-Presse @ Common Dreams - Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in 10 cities to protest against the high cost of living and to demand ''social justice, not charity''. Police and media estimated that between 80,000 and 120,000 people demonstrated on Saturday. More than 50,000 people marched in Tel Aviv; about 10,000 protested in the northern city of Haifa, and in Jerusalem 15,000 demonstrators congregated outside the residence of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, waving placards that read: ''A whole generation wants a future.''  Read more .

Turkey's Top Generals Quit En Masse Over Political Targeting

NY Times @ Truthout -Turkey’s top military commanders resigned en masse on Friday, a move without precedent in Turkish history that many analysts saw as a failed effort by a beleaguered institution to exert what is left of its dwindling political power. In the surprising series of events, Turkey’s top commander, Gen. Isik Kosaner, together with the leaders of the navy, army and air force, simultaneously resigned in protest over the sweeping arrests of dozens of generals as suspects in conspiracy investigations that many people in Turkey have come to see as a witch hunt.  Read more .

Air Force Pulls Christian-Themed Ethics Training for Nuclear Missile Officers After Publication of Truthout Report

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - The Air Force, in response to an exclusive report published by Truthout earlier this week, has pulled a Christian-themed training session that used a quote from an ex-Nazi SS officer and numerous passages from the New and Old Testament to teach missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons.  Read more .

Obama & the Fake Debt Ceiling Crisis: This President Is Really Just Smarter Than You Are

Bruce A. Dixon @ Black Agenda Report - So why won't the president call Republican and bankster bluffs and shut down the phony debt ceiling crisis? Why won't the Republicans take yes-may-I -have-another-tax-cut-for-the-rich for an answer? And why won't president Obama stand up and fight for the poor and working people who voted for him in their tens of millions, who have made his career possible. It's taken a long while, but I'm finally coming around. I'm about ready to admit the truth.  Read more .

Obama's Whistleblower War Suffers Two Defeats

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - The Obama administration's unprecedented war on whistleblowers suffered two serious and well-deserved defeats.  The first occurred in the prosecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was accused of multiple acts of espionage, only for the DOJ to drop virtually all of the charges right before the trial was to begin and enter into a plea agreement for one minor misdemeanor.  Today, The Washington Post -- under the headline "Judge blasts prosecution of alleged NSA leaker" -- reports that the federal judge presiding over the case "harshly criticized U.S. prosecutors’ treatment of a former spy agency official accused of leaking classified material."  Read more .

Prison Slave Labor

Black Adgenda Report - America has long been an incarceration state whose penal system is a direct descendant of Black chattel slavery. The system is swiftly returning to its roots with innovations on extraction of free labor, with probationers put to work on Georgia farms and prisoners substituted for union labor in Wisconsin. “The mania to save government dollars and the American propensity to punish and permanently criminalize vast numbers of black people will combine to make these new policies extremely popular.” Michelle Alexander’s ground breaking book, The New Jim Crow, is an outstanding expose of the horrors of America’s criminal justice system that are perpetrated against black people. It is well documented proof of what many have long observed, that get tough policies on drug enforcement and “three strikes” laws are targeted towards the masses of often non-violent black Americans and are used to make money for private entities and for all levels of government.  Read more .

War is a Racket

Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - “War is a racket,” wrote retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, in 1935. That statement, which is also the title of his short book on war profiteering, rings true today. One courageous civil servant just won a battle to hold war profiteers accountable. Her name is Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse. She blew the whistle when her employer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, gave a no-bid $7 billion contract to the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) as the invasion of Iraq was about to commence. She was doing her job, trying to ensure a competitive bidding process would save the U.S. government money. For that, she was forced out of her senior position, demoted and harassed.  Read more .

Debt Madness Was Always About Killing Social Security

Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - This phony debt crisis has now passed through the looking glass into the realm where madness reigns. What should have been an uneventful moment in which lawmakers make good on the nation’s contractual obligations has instead been seized upon by Republican hypocrites as a moment to settle ideological scores that have nothing to do with the debt. Hypocrites, because their radical free market ideology, and the resulting total deregulation of the financial markets, is what caused the debt to spiral out of control this last decade. That and the wars George W. Bush launched but didn’t have the integrity to responsibly finance. The consequence was a banking bubble and crash leading to a 50 percent run-up of the debt that has nothing to do with the “entitlements” that those same Republicans have always wanted to destroy.  Read more .

In Secret, Senate Panel May Re-Up Vast Surveillance Dragnet

Wired Magazine - Most of Congress is busy debating whether to raise the debt ceiling. But starting Thursday, Danger Room is hearing, a group of Senators meeting behind closed doors may consider renewing a controversial law permitting widespread government surveillance of Americans’ communications. That law would be the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which gave the cover of law to President George W. Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. Beloved by the Obama administration, the law is set to expire — not this year, but in 2012.  Read more .

Who Put McDonald’s in Charge of Kids’ Health?

Appetite For Profit - When McDonald’s sneezes, the media jumps. Such was the case yesterday when the company announced it was giving the Happy Meal a makeover. Well not really, but that’s how it got reported, because the media loves simple stories. But when it comes to marketing and PR by multinational corporations, nothing is ever that simple. While my colleagues have done a great job of explaining why nutritionally, this move is little more than PR (see Marion Nestle and Andy Bellatti), missing from the analysis so far is this: what McDonald’s really wants is to remain in charge.  Read more .

Monsanto Nation: Taking Down Goliath

Ronnie Cummins @ Common Dreams - After two decades of biotech bullying and force-feeding unlabeled and hazardous genetically engineered (GE) foods to animals and humans‹aided and abetted by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations‹it¹s time to move beyond defensive measures and go on the offensive. With organic farming, climate stability, and public health under the gun of the gene engineers and their partners in crime, it¹s time to do more than complain. With over 1/3 of U.S. cropland already contaminated with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), with mounting scientific evidence that GMOs cause cancer, birth defects, and serious food allergies  and with new biotech mutants like alfalfa, lawn grass, ethanol-ready corn, 2,4 D-resistant crops, and genetically engineered trees and animals in the pipeline time is running out.  Read more .

Why Is Pat Buchanan Still an Acceptable Television Pundit When He Is a Fringe White Supremacist?

Buzzflash - "Although [Pat] Buchanan doesn't have the influence he did in the 1990s when he commanded a following inside the Republican Party, he remains an influential, even cutting edge figure among a significant sector of extreme paleoconservatives," says Leonard Zeskind, president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. For a number of years, Patrick J. Buchanan was considered "The Man" in the conservative movement; he took a back seat to no one. Read more .

Evil Corporate Tax Holiday Gains Bipartisan Support

Matt Tabbi @ Rolling Stone Magazine - The madness that is the proposed tax repatriation holiday is continuing and gathering steam. More and more members of congress are coming out of the woodwork, scratching their chins in contemplative consideration as it were, pretending that they’ve just realized what a great day a corporate tax holiday would be – not that they’ve taken gazillions of dollars from the firms lobbying for it or anything.  Read more .

Getting Away With Torture: the Ill Treatment of Detainees

Truthout - Should the U.S. government officials most responsible for setting interrogation and detention policies following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks be investigated, and if warranted prosecuted, under United States and international law? In a new comprehensive 107-page report entitled "Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees," Human Rights Watch (HRW) concludes that "there is sufficient basis for the U.S. government to order a broad criminal investigation into alleged crimes committed in connection with the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the CIA secret detention program, and the rendition of detainees to torture" focusing on alleged criminal conduct by "former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet."  Read more .

Where is Our Crisis President?

Robert Kutter @ The Prospect - Like most American spectators watching this slow-motion train wreck of a budget disaster, I have assumed that at the last minute the damsel would be pulled off the track of the oncoming train. Somehow, the Republicans would appreciate the stakes, a compromise (albeit on sickeningly Republican terms) would be reached, and the nation would be spared the catastrophe of default—a gratuitous deepening of an already dire economic mess. Now I am not so sure. In the last 48 hours, the Republicans have dug in even more, and Democrats are drawing the line at the Reid plan (which is already far too Republican).  Read more .

The Tax-Free American Aristocracy

David Benjamin @ Common Dreams - The Republican vision for America’s future keeps popping up in old movies. My latest flash of GOP déjà vu came unexpectedly, while I feasted with friends in a tiny Italian village. As we ate, the television unspooled a 1955 German movie dubbed in Italian. The only face I recognized was Romy Schneider as the title character, “Sissi,” who was — as best I could guess — princess of Austro-Hungary. I tried to ignore the TV. But the sheer spectacle, in vibrant, tear-inducing Agfacolor, kept pulling me back into the charming, although completely incomprehensible life story of the woman I later learned was Elizabeth, Empress of Austro-Hungary from 1854-1898.  Read more .

ALEC, Republicans Beat Up On Kids in Special Ed

The Progressive - Republican lawmakers and corporations have a new target: kids in special ed. It sounds like a sick joke, but it’s true. Like cartoon schoolyard bullies, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—the powerful coalition of corporations and rightwing legislators—has worked out plans to trick special ed students and their families into giving up their federally protected educational benefits, in exchange for cheap vouchers that can be used in unregulated, fly-by-night academies.  Read more .

None Dare Call It Privatization

On The Commons - At the Hyatt Lodge Hotel on the McDonald’s corporate campus in Oak Brook, Illinois, June 24, the other wingtip dropped. It happened at a conference called “It’s Not Privatization: Implementing Partnerships in Illinois”, organized by The National Council for Public-Private Partnerships and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Metropolitan Planning Council . The conference revealed the corporate sector’s designs on the commons in Illinois, and how they intended to duck the increasingly unpopular label of privatization. In recent years Chicago has become an epicenter of privatization.  Read more .

I Do Not Want Mercy, I Want You To Join Me

Tim DeChristopher, who was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine for 'disrupting' a Bureau of Land Management auction in 2008, had an opportunity to address the court and the judge immediately before his sentence was announced. This is his statement: Tim DeChristopher @ Common Dreams - Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court.  When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the presentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to “get to know me.”  He said he had to get to know who I really was and why I did what I did in order to decide what kind of sentence was appropriate.  I was struck by the fact that he was the first person in this courthouse to call me by my first name, or even really look me in the eye.  I appreciate this opportunity to speak openly to you for the first time.  I’m not here asking for your mercy, but I am here asking that you know me.  Read more .

The GOP’s State-by-State Crusade to Disenfranchise Voters

Katrina vanden Heuvel - With only a week left before the United States of America could default on its debt, it’s easy to look at the federal government and wonder how we ever made it this far. Who would have guessed that a committed gang of extremists could bring down the economy? And yet, that’s where we find ourselves today, cornered by a manufactured crisis and running out of time.  Read more .

Breaking: New Study Links Mountaintop Removal to 60,000 Additional Cancer Cases

Jeff Biggers @ Common Dreams - Among the 1.2 million American citizens living in mountaintop removal mining counties in central Appalachia, an additional 60,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to the federally sanctioned strip-mining practice. That is the damning conclusion in a breakthrough study, released last night in the peer-reviewed Journal of Community Health: The Publication for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention .  Read more .

Florida Looks for the Lowest Bidder as It Privatizes 30 State Prisons

Think Progress - Florida is seeking bids from private companies to take over management of 30 state prisons in an 18-country area in South Florida. The “fastest privatization venture ever undertaken by the state of Florida” is an effort by Gov. Rick Scott (R) to save the state money by outsourcing prison oversight to the lowest bidder:  Read more.

In Cuba, three modernists vindicated

Architects & Artisans - It traces its roots to an inspired conversation between victorious revolutionaries Che Guevara and Fidel Castro on an abandoned, suburban Havana golf course in January 1961. Those were heady days.  The pair had already defeated Batista, booted the Americans and launched a successful literacy campaign, shutting down the schools and sending students out to the countryside to learn to read. “Che wanted to move ahead in other areas of education, like an international, cutting-edge art school,” said architect John Loomis, author of... read more .

Air Force Cites New Testament, Ex-Nazi, to Train Officers on Ethics of Launching Nuclear Weapons

Jason Leopold - The United States Air Force has been training young missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons by citing passages from the New Testament and commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party, according to newly released documents. The mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which includes a discussion on St. Augustine's "Christian Just War Theory," is led by Air Force chaplains and takes place during a missile officer's first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.  Read more .

Ten Questions the Media Are Not Asking About Norway

Truthout - The law enforcement entities dealing with the appalling massacre in and around Oslo last Friday have been understandably preoccupied with the question, did the perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, act alone. That is an important question for them, but it does nothing to help the rest of us understand and respond to this tragedy. Let us assume that he acted alone, in the legal sense that unlike Timothy Mc Veigh of the Oklahoma City bombing he did not have accomplices. Acting alone does not mean that he acted in a vacuum. Thus we have to understand the climate in which he thought and acted. Just imagine if the media were asking instead, or in addition:  Read more .

America Held Hostage to Two-Party Failure: Government of, by and for the Corporations

Truthout - Washington rhetoric waxes Orwellian in proportion to inside-the-Beltway disconnect around cause and effect of the US economic crisis. Ranging from the Ryan Budget - "kill Medicare to save it" - and some Democrats - "cut Medicare and Social Security to save them" - to claims that deficit reduction (not jobs) is "what the people want," to the "greed is good" creed that assigns entitlements in the form of taxpayer bailouts to wealthy financial institutions that take for granted the ability to shift risk for their liar's loans and speculative transactions. "Austerity" and "shared sacrifice" are Washington code for preserving tax advantages and privilege for the wealthiest, while transferring private debt and risk to the public, onto the backs of the working/middle class.  Read more .

From Benetton to Murdoch: The Culture of Money, Shock and Schlock

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - What C. Wright Mills once termed "the cultural apparatus" matters even more 50 years later.(1) At the dawn of the 21st century, this apparatus has grown into a vast web of media monopolies, which serve to entertain global audiences, set fashion standards, provide information about the world, promote celebrity culture, create consumer desires and occasionally offer insights about existing social problems while holding powerful individuals and institutions accountable. But they do more. They also function as teaching machines, producing and legitimating particular modes of identity while providing the framing mechanisms that drive the questions, interests and values that shape a society. Through the sheer power of their size and ubiquity, the media and its digital extensions influence major institutions, influence the larger culture and reproduce particular social values; they also set standards, exert influence upon politics and often privilege the t

Why Washington is About to Make the Jobs Crisis Worse

Robert Reich - We now live in parallel universes. One universe is the one in which most Americans live. In it, almost 15 million people are unemployed, wages are declining (adjusted for inflation), and home values are still falling. The unsurprising result is consumers aren’t buying — which is causing employers to slow down their hiring and in many cases lay off more of their workers. In this universe, we’re locked in a vicious economic cycle that’s getting worse.  Read more .

Consumer Bureau Launches in Shark-Infested Waters

PR Watch - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) throws open its doors to consumers this week, officially starting its mission to safeguard Americans from overly complex financial products and malignant banking practices. The bureau is the culmination of a national grassroots effort to hold the big banks accountable for the 2008 economic collapse caused by Wall Street's insatiable appetite for dangerous mortgage products. Millions of Americans signed petitions to create the bureau and new polling shows that 74% of Americans think it is a terrific idea.  Read more .

As Stores Die, So Does Book Culture

Boston Globe - THE LIQUIDATION of Borders Books, announced last week, is like the death of an unlikely friend - unlikely because Borders was itself implicated in the slow-motion degradation of the culture of the book. The story began in 1971, when brothers Tom and Louis Borders, students at the University of Michigan, established a book shop in Ann Arbor. They were among the first to grasp the potential of digital technology, inventing software that revolutionized how inventories were tracked. Borders became a book-selling powerhouse. The company proved insufficiently nimble, though, when online ordering - via Amazon or the Barnes & Noble website - transformed the point of sale, and digital files - via Kindle, Nook, or iPad - replaced paper publication entirely. The technology that made Borders boom ultimately killed it.  Read more .

Too Many Rulings are Supremely Courteous to Corporations

Other Words - Americans realize that our rights and liberties depend on having a system of justice that we can trust. We know we should be able to show up in court to contest anything from a parking ticket to felony and make our case — whether we're rich or poor. But there's one U.S. court where it's increasingly hard for individual Americans to have their voices heard. The Supreme Court — our court of last resort — is making it harder for individual citizens to hold the rich and powerful accountable.  Read more .

Norway Mourns 92 Victims After 'Hell on Paradise Island'

Agence France Presse @ Common Dreams - Police said they were questioning a right-wing Christian on Saturday over the massacre of 92 people in a killing spree that Norway's prime minister said had turned an island paradise into hell on earth. As harrowing testimony emerged from the summer camp where scores of youngsters were mown down, Norway was struggling to understand how a country famed as a beacon of peace could experience such bloodshed on its soil. "Never since the Second World War has our country been hit by a crime on this scale," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told journalists as police searched for more bodies on the idyllic Utoeya island.  Read more .

Two Months Later, Spain's 'Indignants' Converge on Madrid

Agence France Press @ Common Dreams - Two months after they launched a movement against the economic crisis and soaring unemployment, Spain's so-called "indignant" protesters converged on Madrid again on Saturday. Several cross-country protest marches reached the city's Puerto del Sol square Saturday evening on the eve of a demonstration through the streets of the Spanish capital.  Read more .

Wealth in America: Whites-minorities gap is now a chasm

MSNBC - As Congress and the White House wrestle whether to raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans, a new analysis of Census data shows that the wealth gaps between whites and blacks and Hispanics widened dramatically during the recession. The analysis by the Pew Research Center, released on Tuesday, found that from 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell 66 percent among Hispanic households and 53 percent among black households, compared with a 16 percent decline among white households.  Read more .

Obama is NOT “Caving” to Corporate Interests

Jeff Cohen @ Common Dreams - In  a campaign almost as frenzied as the effort to get Barack Obama into the White House, liberal groups are now mobilizing against the White House and reported deals that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. They accuse President Obama of being weak and willing to “cave” to corporate and conservative forces bent on cutting the social safety net while protecting the wealthy. Those accusations are wrong. The accusations imply that Obama is on our side. Or was on our side. And that the right wing is pushing him around. But the evidence is clear that Obama is an often-willing servant of corporate interests.. .read more .

Emails Show White House Promotes Genetically Engineered Crops in Wildlife Refuges

Truthout - The Obama administration is supporting genetically engineered (GE) agriculture in more than 50 national wildlife refuges across the country and watchdog groups say internal emails among top administration officials reveal that the GE plots are a priority in the White House. Earlier this year, a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and its allies halted the planting of GE crops in US Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife refuges in northeastern states. Now PEER claims the Obama administration is working with the biotech lobby to shield GE plots in refuges from future legal challenges.  Read more .

Black Chicago Divided

In These Times - Martavius (Mark) Carter is both the product and perpetrator of a growing class divide in black America. He is a resident of Chicago’s distressed North Lawndale neighborhood and a founding member of the Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE), a group created to empower black people who were once imprisoned. The group’s approach is based on a protest model of direct action, and they intend to be a disruptive force. “We are living in an emergency situation and time is out for the kind of quiet diplomacy that has been so ineffective,” says Carter, as he points out the numerous signs of decay in his West Side neighborhood.  Read more .

A Boom in Corporate Profits, a Bust in Jobs, Wages

Associated Press @ Common Dreams - Strong second-quarter earnings from McDonald's, General Electric and Caterpillar on Friday are just the latest proof that booming profits have allowed Corporate America to leave the Great Recession far behind. But millions of ordinary Americans are stranded in a labor market that looks like it's still in recession. Unemployment is stuck at 9.2 percent, two years into what economists call a recovery. Job growth has been slow and wages stagnant. "I've never seen labor markets this weak in 35 years of research," says Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.  Read more .

No Wonder Obama Is Losing Support from the Left

Matthew Rothchild @ The Progressive - CNN has just come out with a poll that shows Obama losing support from his left flank. “Roughly one in four Americans who disapprove of the president say they feel that way because he's not been liberal enough,” the poll said. “Obama's approval rating among liberals has dropped to 71 percent, the lowest point in his presidency.” Overall, the poll had Obama with an approval-disapproval rating at 45%-54%. For anyone within shouting distance of most progressive communities, this is not a surprise.  Read more .

Norway PM: 'We Must – and Will – Meet Terror with More Democracy, Not Less'

Mirror UK - Norway is in shock, but its 4.9 million people are a rugged, ­resilient race who will recover from this terrible attack on their shores, its leaders have vowed. Crime rates – especially murder rates – are incredibly low by UK standards, and with few safety concerns even key members of state such as Prime ­Minister Jens Stoltenberg walk the streets without security. Norwegian social commentator Tobjorn Holt said last night: “The nation is in shock. We are quiet, low-key people who don’t like fuss. That way of life’s been rocked to its core but I hope it will ­survive. We are resilient.  Read more .

Third Prize: You're Fired

Foreign Policy In Focus - In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin walks into the office of underperforming salesmen and shakes them to their core. He's the guy from the head office, and his motivational speech has a whiff of sulfur to it. The top prize for sales that month, he announces, will be a new Cadillac. The second prize: a set of steak knives. As for the third prize, he informs them with a certain twinkling malice, "You're fired."  One of the salesmen in the audience, Ed Harris, leans back in his chair — he's not buying it. Baldwin takes off his watch, puts it on Harris's desk, and says that it costs more than the Hyundai that Harris drove to work. "I made $970,000 last year," Baldwin practically spits at him. "That's who I am. And you're nothing."  Read more .

Film Chronicles American Jews Caught Between Two Worlds

Truthout (movie review) - People often look surprised when I tell them that my first exposure to progressive ideas came from Congregation B'Nai Israel, a reform temple in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I remember the shul's packed auditorium the night Gloria Steinem spoke, and I can still call up the I-want-to-be-like-her feelings that her eloquence aroused. Under the tutelage of Rabbi Arnold Sher, our youth group studied apartheid and wrote letters in solidarity with African National Congress (ANC) freedom fighters. We also marched against hunger and celebrated civil and human rights victories.  Read more .

After Long Wait, Same-Sex Couples Marry in New York

NY Times @ Truthout - Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples across New York State began marrying on Sunday — the first taking their vows just after midnight — in the culmination of a long battle in the Legislature and a new milestone for gay rights advocates seeking to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation.  Read mor e.

Put 15 Million Back to Work Fixing $2.2 Trillion in Infrastructure: the Works Progress Administration

Truthout - Perhaps all is not lost for the republic's economic future, even as its leaders let this nation hurtle toward the abyss of the Great Depression II. An immensely successful, sensible and practical solution is being signaled by increasingly thunderous shout-outs from prominent people: pundits Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, Rich Lowry, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, filmmaker Michael Moore and two new web sites[1] - not to mention millions of voters with long memories and the friends and families of the nation's 15,000,000 unemployed. Their solution? Resurrect the phenomenally successful Works Progress Administration (WPA) of 1935-1943.  Read more .

Praising the Hostage Takers: Will Obama Ever Hold the Republicans Accountable?

Truthout - Will Obama ever hold the Republicans accountable for their reckless and destructive actions? No matter how outrageous their demands, he keeps giving them legitimacy, first resisting, then compromising, then praising the result as bipartisanship. He's forgotten the basic lesson of negotiation - you don't hand everything over before you start, particularly to people who have utter contempt for your values and goals. He's also forgotten the importance of fighting for your principles, so people have a reason to support you. Obama's almost pathological devotion to compromise started early in his presidency.  Read more .

With GOP Roadmap in Hand, Where Will Obama and Dems Wind Up?

In These Times - Some pundits imagine that President Obama has thoroughly out-foxed the Republicans on the debt-ceiling debate, arguing that he could safely push for “the biggest deal possible”—including concessions on Social Security and Medicare—because  Republicans are too divided to grasp the deal they'd be getting. Meanwhile, pundits say, Obama is impressing “independent” voters with his willingness to "compromise."  Read more .

Destination? GAZA! The Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human Meets the Shayetet 13

Truthout - The French-flagged ship, Dignité - al Karama, was halted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) en route to the shores of Gaza this morning. The small vessel was boarded and reportedly towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod. There were 16 people on the boat, with French, Greek, Tunisian, Canadian and Swedish passengers among them. As coalition organizers stated, "It is now the representative of the entire Freedom Flotilla II."  Read more .

States Can’t Win the Endless ‘Business Climate’ Game

In These Times - For the past four decades, America's 50 states have allowed themselves to be trapped as players in a multi-state race to the bottom staged by Corporate America. The inter-state (and increasingly global) competition to offer corporations the most perfect “business climate” costs states a huge share of their tax revenues. Greg LeRoy, author of the Great American Jobs Scam, estimates the cost of state-level inducements at a staggering $50 billion annually, and journalist David Cay Johnston pegs the figure at about $70 billion.  Read more .

To Save Our Cities, Put Children First

"We know a lot about the ideal environment for a happy whale or a happy mountain gorilla. We’re far less clear about what constitutes an ideal environment for a happy human being. One common measure for how clean a mountain stream, is to look for trout. If you find the trout, the habitat is healthy. It’s the same way with children in a city. Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people"     —Enrique Peñalosa YES! Magazine - Change is coming to our cities in the next 10-20 years, whether or not our culture is ready for it. As cheap oil disappears and we firmly enter the age of ‘extreme energy’ and additional finite resources diminish to scarce levels, we will be forced to adjust to new ways of building and living with a global population approaching eight billion—almost entirely in urban settings. Even as our cities mushroom in size, the very mega-infrastructure projects that

EXCLUSIVE: The Deficit Is Not Default of Obama

Greg Palast @ Truthout - Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" gave debtors' prison a bad rap. Too bad. I'd say that locking away GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a penitentiary for deadbeats seems like a darn good idea. Let's talk about how we ended up in this pickle, bucking up against the "debt ceiling." From 2001 to 2008, a Republican president took an annual surplus of $86 billion left for him by Bill Clinton and ran up the budget deficit to over half a trillion in a year ($642 billion in 2008). Altogether, George W. Bush blew up the national debt by over $3 TRILLION - then left the bills to Barack Obama. For eight years, Bush spent like a drunk monkey.  Read more .

Fracking at Drinking Water Source for 80,000 Pennsylvanians Raises Alarms

SolveClimate News - Cynthia Walter, an ecologist at St. Vincent College outside Pittsburgh, gets a lot of emails from local wildlife enthusiasts asking about "this bird" or "that amphibian." But one day last year she got an uncommon request to inspect the forest cover around the Beaver Run Reservoir via Google Earth. The 1,300-acre lake is the main source of drinking water for 80,000 residents in southwestern Pennsylvania. It also rests atop the enormous Marcellus Shale gas reserve.  Read more .

Japan Set to Ban Fukushima Cattle Shipments After Radioactive Meat Scare

Guardian UK - Japan is poised to impose a ban on shipments of cattle from Fukushima prefecture – the scene of its worst ever nuclear crisis – after discovering that meat containing abnormally high levels of radioactive caesium had been processed and consumed. The cows had been fed on rice straw containing high levels of the radioactive isotope that was harvested after the 11 March tsunami triggered a core meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  Read more .

Hidden Bombs Hit Libyans

IPS @ Common Dreams - The conflict in Libya between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces will continue to take its toll on communities long after the war has ended as long as hidden bombs remain scattered across public areas. Fifteen-year-old Misurata resident Mohammed lost most of his left hand and sustained shrapnel injuries to his abdomen in April after an unexploded ordnance found near his house detonated in his hands while he was playing.  Read more .

Youth Continue to Fight For Their Future

Allison Kilkenney @ The Nation - Throughout the budget battles, it’s become a common GOP tactic to invoke the martyred image of impoverished future children in order to depict President Obama’s spending plans as being irresponsible and reckless. 'We keep kicking the can down the road and splashing the soup all over our grandchildren,” said Senator Tom Coburn of the nation’s debt.  Read more .

Eating Less, Better Meat: Yes We Can

Civil Eats - I’m a vegetarian. But my husband’s not. And, go figure, my kids aren’t either. Which is exactly why I care about the meat I buy. Yes, I buy meat. I’d rather not, but if it’s coming into the house–and into my kids’ bodies–then I need to know exactly what I’m buying. And I not only want to know how it’s affecting my family’s health, I also care deeply about how it’s affecting our family’s environmental footprint (including climate change). Enter Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) new Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health. In it, EWG took a close look at how a variety of protein foods rank when their total, “cradle-to-grave” greenhouse gas emissions are calculated. Then we factored in the non-climate environmental impacts (like water pollution) and health effects of meat and confirmed that, indeed, not all meat is created equal. Read more .

Prisoners Strike Against Torture in California Prisons

Majorie Cohn @ Common Dreams - The torture of prisoners in U.S. custody isn’t confined to foreign countries. For more than two weeks, inmates at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison have been on a hunger strike to protest torturous conditions in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) there. Prisoners have been held for years in solitary confinement, which can amount to torture. Thousands of inmates throughout California’s prison system have refused food in solidarity with the Pelican Bay prisoners, bringing the total of hunger strikers to more than 1,700.  Read more .

Unequal Protection: The Court Takes the Presidency

Thom Hartman [book excerpt] @ Truthout - On December 12, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court granted yet another gift to corporate power—and hammered yet another nail into the coffin of democracy in America. They did it in a strikingly dramatic fashion: by stealing the presidency. In the process five members of the unelected third branch of government made sure that its majority character and nature probably wouldn’t change for a long enough time that the Court could cast a hugely conservative shadow over the American electoral process, guaranteeing that people like themselves and their patrons—wealthy, powerful, and corporate-connected—would continue to have a disproportionate impact on future elections. Here’s how they did it and what their actions mean for the future of the battle between corporations and citizens for the soul of the nation.  Read more .

Advice Hillary Clinton Should, But Won’t, Give to Economically-Strapped Greece

Medea Benjamin @ Common Dreams - When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Greece, she praised the Greek government’s austerity measures to reduce deficits and cut spending. The U.S. and Greece face a common challenge of dealing with soaring deficits, but they also face something else in common: a refusal to deal with out-of-control military spending. And given that the United States is a major arms seller to Greece, Hillary Clinton will encourage the Greeks to slash workers’ wages and pensions, but not its enormous military appetite.  Read more .

Thom Hartmann: Workers Are the Real Job Creators

Neoliberalism, Austerity, and the Global Crisis of Legitimacy

The Activist - The world is not simply in the midst of a deep economic slump. This is but one aspect of the crisis of legitimacy that confronts almost all of the political and economic institutions that comprise the capitalist world system today. The ongoing revolt in the Arab world against political corruption and socioeconomic exclusion is unquestionably the most dramatic manifestation of this phenomenon, but the crisis of legitimacy is not confined to that region alone. The grievances that have fueled street protests and revolutionary movements from Morocco to Iran are shared in greater or lesser degrees by people all around the globe – the indignados of Puerta del Sol, the aganaktismenoi of Syntagma Square, students and public sector strikers in the U.K., and the hundreds of thousands of protesters who, for a brief time, turned Madison into a Midwestern version of Tahrir Square.  Read more .

Anonymous Members Raided by FBI; Hacker Group Claims to Have News Corp. Emails

Village Voice - A day after the online sect LulzSecurity pulled their own hack on Rupert Murdoch, members of the most the widely-known hacking collective Anonymous, from which LulzSec spun off, have been raided by the FBI. (There doesn't seem to be a direct connection other than the media attention currently being showered on all parties mentioned.) Three search warrants were executed in New York at the homes of young adults thought to be involved in the internet mischief that took down websites for Visa, PayPal and more, Fox News reports. But the group isn't scared, at least publicly. "It doesn't matter how many people the 'FBI' arrest," one member tweeted today. "Whether they are core members or not. #anonymous have started something unstoppable."  Read more .

Press Release: Co-Chairs Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison & Budget Task Force Chair Michael Honda Blast Republican Plan to End Medicare

Congressional Progressive Caucus - By walking away from every negotiation – from the Deficit Commission to the Biden Commission to direct talks with the President – Republicans have made it clear that they place politics above responsibly solving the country’s budget challenges. Now they have introduced their extreme “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal. This bill would dramatically cut our country’s most critical investments, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  It would also cut funding for public education, Pell grants, repairing roads, bridges and waterways, and disaster relief.  Read More .

The Republican Light Bulb Joke

Think Progress - By a voice vote on Friday, the House passed a “light bulb ban” amendment to the 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Act (HR 2354). The amendment, offered by climate denier Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), prohibits spending to enforce the incandescent lighting efficiency standards in the 2007 energy law signed by President George W. Bush.  Read more .

Cameron Calls in Parliament as the Hacking Scandal Grows

Truthout - Prime Minister David Cameron cut short an African trip on Monday and ordered a special parliamentary session back home to debate the widening phone-hacking scandal just hours after Britain’s top police officer resigned and Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, was arrested on suspicion of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing the police.  Read more .

Liberation When? Five Months of Waiting in Egypt

Sharif Abdel Kouddous @ Foreign Policy - Five months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Tahrir Square has, once again, been transformed into a mass protest encampment and the epicenter of the struggle for change in Egypt. Thousands of protesters are entering the second week of a sit-in reminiscent of the one that captured the world's attention during the 18-day uprising that began on Jan. 25. At the heart of the matter is the feeling of many that the basic demands of the revolution have gone unfulfilled, with little indication that a path for real change lies ahead; that the calls for justice and accountability for members of the former regime and security forces accused of killing protesters have gone unanswered; and that the revolutionary demands of "bread, freedom, social justice" have all but been abandoned.  Read more .

Abuses in Tech Industry in China Exposed

Michele Chen @ In These Times - The Information Age once promised a new industrial revolution, in which ugly smokestacks and Third World sweatshops would be overwritten by antiseptic roboticized assembly lines, ceaselessly pumping out state-of-the art electronics. But the promise of modernity didn't stop a few young factory workers from throwing themselves off of ledges last year. Working-class misery, it seems, has just gotten rebranded.  Read mor e.

Hollow Deficit Debate Ignores the Burden of Afghanistan Military Spending (VIDEO)

Institute For Policy Studies (IPS) - At this moment the hollow debate on the deficit has sucked up almost all the oxygen in the Capitol. Yet the war in Afghanistan which costs us hundreds of billions of dollars a year is scarcely mentioned. Sixty-four percent of the people of this country believe that the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, so representing "the people" should mean using Congressional power to end that war — not least because the war budget is the biggest potential source of money to pay for jobs.  Read more .

Mass Psychosis in the US: How Big Pharma Hooked Americans on Drugs

Al Jazeera - Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux. Once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses - primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - to treat such symptoms as delusions, hallucinations, or formal thought disorder. Today, it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics, while old people with dementia are dosed, in large numbers, with drugs once reserved largely for schizophrenics. Americans with symptoms ranging from chronic depression to anxiety to insomnia are now being prescribed anti-psychotics

The End Game: Saving Obama From Himself

Robert Kuttner for Demos @ Common Dreams - As the debt doomsday of August 2 draws closer, what sort of end-game can we imagine? The worst scenario would be for an outbreak of common sense and self-interest to overtake the extremism of the House Republican caucus. If the Republicans were to accept Obama's proffered deal, they would weaken Social Security and Medicare -- and put the Democrats' fingerprints on the deed -- depriving Democrats of their traditional defense of America's best loved social programs. They would also get a ten-year deficit-reduction agreement that is mostly program cuts. And they would get an austerity package that guarantees high unemployment as Obama heads into a difficult re-election. And a Democratic president is offering this deal!  Read more .

Sitting Atop Trillions: What Would Business Do with Another Tax Break?

Policy Shop - Conservatives routinely declare that businesses can’t hire anyone because tax burdens are too high (or "uncertain"—the bête noir of the day) and the way to create jobs is to give business more money. Among other things, corporations have launched a new campaign in Washington for a tax repatriation holiday that would allow businesses to bring home as much as $1 trillion in offshore profits at a very low-tax rate, cash they say could be used to create jobs and boost the economy. But business already has plenty of cash, and if you look at what corporate America is actually doing with this money, it’s not pretty.  Read more .

If McCain had won

Fred Branfman @ Truthdig - Democrats were united on one issue in the 2008 presidential election: the absolute disaster that a John McCain victory would have produced. And they were right. McCain as president would clearly have produced a long string of catastrophes: He would probably have approved a failed troop surge in Afghanistan, engaged in worldwide extrajudicial assassination, destabilized nuclear-armed Pakistan, failed to bring Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to the negotiating table, expanded prosecution of whistle-blowers, sought to expand executive branch power, failed to close Guantanamo, failed to act on climate change, pushed both nuclear energy and opened new areas to domestic oil drilling, failed to reform the financial sector enough to prevent another financial catastrophe, supported an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, presided over a growing divide between rich and poor, and failed to lower the jobless rate. Nothing reveals the true state of American politic

Elizabeth Warren Out, Another Bank Critic to Lead Consumer Agency

Boston Herald - The White House appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau won praise from U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, but the Newton Democrat still prefers Elizabeth Warren. “It’s the second best appointment the president could have made,” Frank told the Herald yesterday. “But Cordray has a very good record protecting consumers.”  Read more .

America’s Disappeared

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Dr. Silvia Quintela was “disappeared” by the death squads in Argentina in 1977 when she was four months pregnant with her first child. She reportedly was kept alive at a military base until she gave birth to her son and then, like other victims of the military junta, most probably was drugged, stripped naked, chained to other unconscious victims and piled onto a cargo plane that was part of the “death flights” that disposed of the estimated 20,000 disappeared. The military planes with their inert human cargo would fly over the Atlantic at night and the chained bodies would be pushed out the door into the ocean. Quintela, who had worked as a doctor in the city’s slums, was 28 when she was murdered.  Read more .

Koch Brothers' ALEC Tentacles Creep Into Your State

Allison Kilkenney  @ Truthout - Thanks to the work from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and investigative journalists like Beau Hodai, we now know that ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), a front group for major corporations, the Koch brothers and right-wing lobbying groups, actively disseminated model bills promoting its agenda to state leaders. ALEC creates plausible deniability for state legislators by claiming it's not lobbying, of course, but merely making friendly suggestions and, in turn, the legislators ultimately reap the rewards of being extra nice to ALEC's corporate clients.  Read more .

The Corporate Supreme Court

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Five Supreme Court Justices--Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy are entrenching, in a whirlwind of judicial dictates, judicial legislating and sheer ideological judgments, a mega-corporate supremacy over the rights and remedies of individuals. The artificial entity called "the corporation" has no mention in our Constitution whose preamble starts with "We the People," not "We the Corporation." Taken together the decisions are brazenly over-riding sensible precedents, tearing apart the state common law of torts and blocking class actions, shoving aside jury verdicts, limiting people's "standing to sue", pre-empting state jurisdictions--anything that serves to centralize power and hand it over to the corporate conquistadors.  Read more .

Connecting Extreme Weather Dots Across the Map

Janet Redman @ Other Words - I took a cross-country road trip in late June that became a race to outrun the triple-digit heat waves that have literally buckled highways between the Midwest and the East Coast. The record-breaking scorcher was an apt send-off. As I weaved my way across the United States, I found the consequences of extreme weather everywhere I looked. After the heat, the first sign of something unusual came in Iowa. There, every creek I crossed seemed to overflow its banks. Water pooled in cornfields.  Read more .

ALEC, For-Profit Criminal Justice, and Wisconsin

PR Watch - As the first half of 2011 has revealed, Wisconsin is not a moderate “purple” state, but a state divided between staunchly “blue” progressives and righteous “red” right-wingers. That rift is particularly apparent in legislative conflicts over the criminal justice system, a debate spurred by corporate interests represented in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and perpetuated by ALEC legislative members, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin’s history and public policy reflects the red/blue divide. It is the state that gave birth to the Republican Party, which supported slavery abolition, and the John Birch Society, which opposed the civil rights movement. In the first half of the 20th Century, the state elected both progressive hero Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollette and right-wing extremist Joe McCarthy. It is the state that elected both former Senator Russ Feingold (D) and Representative Paul Ryan (R).  Read more .

Scotland Yard Chief Quits Over Murdoch Hacking Scandal

NY Times @ Truthout - The commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Services, Sir Paul Stephenson, resigned his post on Sunday just hours after his officers arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Rupert Murdoch’s media operations in Britain, as damage from a phone-hacking scandal moved to the highest levels of British public life. In a news conference, Sir Paul said his position was “in danger of being eclipsed by the ongoing debate by senior officers and the media. And this can never be right,” according to a report by The Guardian.  R ead more .

China oil spill six times size of Singapore

AFP @ Google News - A huge oil spill off the Chinese coast has now contaminated an area around six times the size of Singapore, state media reported Friday, as the government said it may seek compensation for the leak. The spill from the oil field, which the United States' ConocoPhillips operates with China's state-run oil giant CNOOC, has polluted a total area of almost 4,250 square kilometres (1,650 square miles), government figures showed. The figures, which were announced on the State Oceanic Administration website earlier this week but only reported on Friday, were almost five times the size of the 840-square-kilometre area previously reported.  Read more .

Rupert Murdoch Has Gamed American Politics Every Bit as Thoroughly as Britain's

John Nichols @ The Nation - Australian-born billionaire Rupert Murdoch has manipulated not just the news but the news landscape of the United States for decades. He has done so by pressuring the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to alter the laws of the land and regulatory standards in order to give his media conglomerate an unfair advantage in “competition” with more locally focused, more engaged and more responsible media.  Read more .

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

NPR - Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal. Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch. "The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman." What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.  Read more .

WikiLeaks: Haiti Disaster Capitalism's Latest Electroshock Patient

Foreign Policy In Focus - Naomi Klein was asked today about what additional case studies she would add to future editions of her 2007 Shock Doctrine. Klein's answer: Greece and Wisconsin. Fair enough, but I was surprised that she did not also include Haiti which, if recently released Wikileaks documents are accurate, provides a textbook case of disaster capitalism. The embassy documents, obtained by Haïti Liberté and The Nation, paint a disturbing if not unexpected picture of American coercion of the struggling Caribbean nation between 2004 and the month following the 2010 earthquake that flattened Port-au-Prince.  Read more .

Aiding Insecurity: Four Years of Mexico's Drug War

Tom Barry @ Truthout  - Mexico's drug-trafficking organizations constitute a threat to regional security and to US national security, says the US government. Yet the region is becoming less secure and less safe as the result of the security emphasis of US counternarcotics initiatives. The Merida Initiative, signed by President George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon in October 2007... read more .

One Thing Certain in Debt Debate: More Cuts for States

NY Times @ Truthout - The rancorous debate in Washington over whether to raise the federal debt ceiling is alarming many of the nation’s governors from both parties, who fear that whatever the outcome, much-needed money will almost certainly be drained from their states. If the federal debt limit is not raised, several governors said as they gathered here on Friday for the semiannual meeting of the National Governors Association, the ensuing default will harm the economy, make it difficult for states to borrow money and delay some of the vital federal payments that states count on for everything from Medicaid to unemployment benefits.  Read more .

Former Bush Special Counsel Wants a "Do-Over" on Guilty Plea

Project On Government Oversight - It looks like Scott Bloch, the former special counsel to President George W. Bush, may get his day in court, after all. The Legal Times blog reported Tuesday afternoon that federal prosecutors will not object to Bloch's request to withdraw his guilty plea to a misdemeanor contempt of Congress charge. For Bloch, it's just another chapter in his strange, twisted, fall from grace.  Read more .

BP Pipeline Leaks Oily Mixture Onto Alaskan Tundra

Reuters @ Common Dreams - BP reported yet another pipeline leak at its Alaskan oilfields, frustrating the oil giant's attempts to rebuild its reputation after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP said on Monday that a pipeline at its 30,000 barrel per day Lisburne field, which is currently closed for maintenance, ruptured during testing and spilled a mixture of methanol and oily water onto the tundra.  Read more .

Mired in Scandal, News Corp Seeks New York State's Signoff for $27 Million No-Bid Contract

Think Progress - Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has been at the center of an explosive scandal as it has been revealed that a few of his publications hacked into the personal data of policemen, politicians, murder victims, and others. News Corp’s journalists may even have hacked into the phones of American victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Read more .

British Phone-Hacking Scandal (News of the World)

NY Times - In July 2011, long-simmering charges about tactics used by News of the World, a British newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch's  News Corporation, erupted into a scandal that led to the paper's closing and put Mr. Murdoch and the tabloid culture he represents under unprecedented scrutiny. Members of Parliament of all parties expressed outrage over allegations that the paper's journalists invaded the voicemail accounts not only of a 13-year-old murder victim but also the relatives of fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Read more .

Neocons Fume Over US Boat to Gaza

Ray McGovern - My co-passengers and I of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have now gone from “High-Seas Hippies,” according to the right-wing Washington Times, to participants in a flotilla full of “fools, knaves, hypocrites, bigots, and supporters of terrorism,” says Alan Dershowitz in his usual measured prose. Poor Alan, he seems upset at our audacity not only to hope for humane treatment of the 1.6 million Gazans, who currently live under a cruel blockade, but to force the issue. To stop our boat before it could leave Greek waters, Israel’s Likud government gave itself a self-inflicted black eye and again brought the oppression of Gazans to worldwide attention.  Read more .

British Police Arrest Rebekah Brooks in Phone Hacking Scandal

NY Times @ Truthout - The British police on Sunday arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s media operations in Britain, according to a former associate at News International, the newspaper group at the heart of a phone-hacking scandal convulsing the Murdoch empire, the British political elite and the police.  Read more .

West Prepares to Hand Rebels Gaddafi's Billions

Independent UK - More than 30 countries yesterday recognised Libya's rebel movement as the legitimate government as they tried to end the war and unseat a defiant Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The statement by nations meeting in Istanbul for the fourth time since Nato attacks against Gaddafi's regime began in March could allow the US to free up more than $30bn of Gaddafi's assets held by American banks for the opposition fighters. France has agreed to unfreeze $250m in assets for the opposition, while Italy pledged to unfreeze an additional $100m. Kuwait and Qatar reportedly have given about $100m to the opposition.  Read more .

Somalia Crisis One of 'Largest in Decades'

Making Beautiful Art out of Beach Plastic

Smithsonian Magazine - Judith Lang waves from a kelp pile on Kehoe Beach, shouting to her husband. “Here’s the Pick of the Day!” The artist holds aloft her newfound treasure: the six-inch long, black plastic leg of an anonymous superhero toy. But did it come from Batman or Darth Vader? Only careful research will tell. “We’ll google ‘black plastic doll leg,’” Richard Lang informs me, “and try to find out what it belonged to.” In 1999, Richard and Judith had their first date on this Northern California beach. Both were already accomplished artists who had taught watercolor classes at the University of California and shown their work in San Francisco galleries. And both (unbeknown to each other) had been collecting beach plastic for years.  Read more .

House Leaders to Palestine: Seek UN Recognition, Forget Foreign Aid

Foreign Policy - The top Republican and Democrat foreign aid leaders in the House of Representatives are warning the Palestinian Authority (PA) that U.S. aid will be withheld if the Palestinians seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September. "We write to reiterate our serious concerns about your intentions to pursue recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations," reads a July 11 letter sent to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas by the leaders of the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee... read more .

Former Obama Supporters: 'Touch Social Programs and We're Out'

CNN - The liberal advocacy group Progressive Change Campaign Committee delivered 200,000 pledges to President Obama's campaign headquarters Friday, demanding he hold their line in debt ceiling negotiations or lose their support. The group wants a potential agreement to include tax increases on higher income earners instead of cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicaid, the committee's co-founder Adam Green said Friday. Members of the group said they will not contribute to or volunteer for the president's reelection campaign unless their conditions are met.  Read more .

Why Banks Aren't Lending: The Silent Liquidity Squeeze

Truthout - Where did all the jobs go? Small and medium-sized businesses are the major source of new job creation, and they are not hiring. Startup businesses, which contribute a fifth of the nation's new jobs, often can't even get off the ground. Why? In a June 30 article in The Wall Street Journal titled "Smaller Businesses Seeking Loans Still Come Up Empty," Emily Maltby reported that business owners rank access to capital as the most important issue facing them today; and only 17 percent of smaller businesses said they were able to land needed bank financing. Businesses have to pay for workers and materials before they can get paid for the products they produce and for that they need bank credit; but they are reporting that their credit lines are being cut. They are being pushed instead into credit card accounts that average 16 percent interest, more than double the rate of the average business loan. It is one of many changes in banking trends that have been ver

Betty Ford 1918-2011: Former first lady laid to rest beside her husband

Lansing State Journal (Michigan) - The life of former first lady Betty Ford was remembered Thursday as a triumph over sudden and unwanted fame, addiction and a role on the world stage that never really changed the Midwestern onetime dancer and mother of four. Ford, who died Friday at age 93, was eulogized as a loving wife and mother who balanced family life and her White House role yet openly battled alcoholism and breast cancer, founding the Betty Ford Center that has helped thousands overcome addictions.  Read more .

Teaching Gay History Becomes Law in California

David Siders @ McClatchy Newspapers - California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation requiring public schools to teach students about the contributions of gay and lesbian people, making California the first state to adopt such a measure. The bill was cheered by gay rights advocates, and Brown said in a written statement Thursday that it "represents an important step forward for our state."  Read more .

Rupert on the run: News Corp's UK future in doubt as MPs turn on Murdoch

The Independent - The likelihood that News Corp could exit from the British newspaper market increased significantly yesterday as The Wall Street Journal, the most prestigious press title in Mr Murdoch's global portfolio, reported that the option of selling the British papers was being considered by the company in an effort to "stem the fallout" from the phone-hacking scandal.  Read more .

Gordon Brown Alleges Shuttered Murdoch Paper Hired "Known Criminals"

Truthout - Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown brought new and alarming charges on Tuesday to the broadening scandal enveloping Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Britain, accusing one of the most prestigious newspapers in the group of employing “known criminals” to gather personal information on Mr. Brown’s bank account, legal files and tax affairs. The claims came a day after reports that two Murdoch newspapers may have bribed police officers or used other potentially illegal methods to obtain information about Queen Elizabeth II as well as Mr. Brown.  Read more .

Six Birmingham women pardoned for 1963 civil-rights protest arrests

AOL - Six women were pardoned today for their 1963 convictions in Birmingham for parading without a permit while protesting segregation-era laws. The pardons were presented by Mayor William Bell during the Birmingham City Council meeting. They were approved by the city's Board of Pardons and Paroles under a city law known as the Rosa Parks Act.  Read more .

Pentagon declares the Internet a war domain

The Hill (Washington DC) - The Pentagon released a long-promised cybersecurity plan Thursday that declares the Internet a domain of war. The plan notably does not spell out how the U.S. military would use the Web for offensive strikes. The Defense Department’s first-ever plan for cyberspace calls on the DoD to expand its ability to thwart attacks from other nations and groups, beef up its cyber workforce and expand collaboration with the private sector.  Read more .

Obama’s “Big Deal”: Wallowing with Pigs in Search of a Grand Center-Right Coalition

Glenn Ford @ BAR - Barack Obama is salivating at the prospect of concluding his Big Deal with the Republicans, the one that will move the center robustly – even transformatively – to the Right, where this president really lives. The debt-limit deadline is Obama’s big chance to panic a significant part of the Democratic Party into joining in the rape of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “When the debt-limit showdown arrives, pray for gridlock, which would at least mean there is still resistance to Republican extortion."  Read more .

Koch Brothers, ALEC and Their Corporate Allies Plan to Privatize Government

Truthout - On February 25, 2011, Florida State Representative Chris Dorworth (R-Lake Mary) introduced HB 1021. The bill sought to curtail the political power of unions by prohibiting public employers from deducting any amount from an employee’s pay for use by an employee organization (i.e., union dues) or for any political activity (i.e., the portion of union dues used for lobbying or for supporting candidates for office).  Read more .

Italy Eyes Privatization as Market Tension Eases

Reuters @ Common Dreams - The Italian government bolstered an austerity package on Wednesday, announcing its intention to sell stakes in state-owned companies, while political consensus on debt-cutting measures helped calm nervous markets. Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said the four-year austerity package, aimed at bringing the budget into balance by 2014, would be approved by Friday and promised to step up privatisation moves once the crisis was over.  Read more .

The Whistleblower From the Madoff Scandal Tells How to Reform the SEC

Truthout - Harry Markopolos is an American hero for trying to warn the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the infamous Bernie Madoff, who, for years, pulled off the largest Ponzi investment scheme in history. In 1999, while an investment officer for an investment firm in Boston, Markopolos was asked by his boss to find out why Madoff's wealth management company consistently did better than other financial firms. After about four hours of investigating and running Madoff's numbers, he realized that Madoff could not legitimately have made that high a return for his investors. However, with the help of three other coworkers, he spent the next nine years peeling back the layers on Madoff's scheme and trying to get the SEC to investigate.  Read more .

Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - There is a certain irony in the fact that the party of debt has now become a flock of austerity hawks. This is the same Republican Party that gave us two wars, an increase in military spending and whopping loss of tax revenues due to tax breaks for mega-rich corporations and wealthy Americans. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman raises the question of what happened to the federal government budget surplus of 2000 and insists that the answer is, "three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade.  Read more .

Greece--a Dress Rehearsal for United States

Truthout - During the four decades since the Watergate affair engulfed US President Richard Nixon, politicians have repeatedly ignored the scandal’s main lesson: the cover-up is worse than the crime. Like Nixon, they have paid a higher price for concealing their misdeeds than they would have for the misdeeds alone.  Read more .