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Showing posts from May, 2012

The War on Gays

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - The sentencing of Dharun Ravi for the hateful abuse that may have driven his gay roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide, or Barack Obama’s public acceptance of gay marriage, prevents many of us from seeing that life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is getting worse—much worse. No one understands this better than the gay activist and pastor Mel White. White, along with his husband and partner of 30 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization committed to using nonviolent resistance to end religion-based oppression. White and hundreds of Soulforce volunteers protest outside megachurches that preach hatred and bigotry in the name of religion.  Read more .

To avoid counting civilian deaths, Obama re-defined "militant" to mean "all military-age males in a strike zone"

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims, American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were ”militants” – even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed. They simply cite always-unnamed “officials” claiming that the dead were “militants.” It’s the most obvious and inexcusable form of rank propaganda: media outlets continuously propagating a vital claim without having the slightest idea if it’s true.  Read more .

Cleveland Occupy Arrests are the Latest in FBI's Pattern of Manipulation

Guardian UK - Like real-life Avengers, the FBI and 23 separate police agencies joined forces and pounced on a band of villains hell-bent on sowing chaos in a sleepy Midwest suburb earlier this month. The FBI reassured the world that thanks to the "swift collaborative action" of law enforcement, it had rounded up five "self-proclaimed anarchists … intent on using violence to express their ideological views" by attempting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland on May Day. Now, the Cleveland Five look more like bedraggled punks than diabolical geniuses, but surely doom was averted in the nick of time. In fact, the G-Men admit the exact opposite: "At no time during the course of the investigation was the public ever in danger." So if there was no threat, what really happened?  Read more .

Fukushima Radiation Found in Tuna Off California

Common Dreams - Detectable amounts of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were found in bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California about four months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, US scientists reported on Monday. The timing is important because it shows that migrating fish carried radiation much further and faster than either wind or ocean currents. In addition, of course, the bluefin are a highly prized edible fish found in sushi restaurants all over the world.  Read more .

How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals

Jill Richardson @ AlterNet - Driving through Ngong Hills, not far from Nairobi, Kenya, the corn on one side of the road is stunted and diseased. The farmer will not harvest a crop this year. On the other side of the road, the farmer gave up growing corn and erected a greenhouse, probably for growing a high-value crop like tomatoes. Though it's an expensive investment, agriculture consultants now recommend them. Just up the road, at a home run by Kenya Children of Hope, an organization that helps rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families, one finds another failed corn crop and another greenhouse. The director, Charity, is frustrated because the two acres must feed the rescued children and earn money for the organization. After two tomato crops failed in the new greenhouse, her consultant recommended using a banned, toxic pesticide called carbofuran.  Read more .

Lethal Injection the Latest Chapter in America's History of Botched Executions

Robert Wilbur @ Truthout - The American correctional system has repeatedly sought to deploy our native ingenuity to devise the ultimate corrective: an engine of death that will dispose of our villains in a civilized manner. The quest, which goes on to this day as states refine the technique of lethal injections, has been fraught with disappointments. Hanging was the traditional means of execution from the founding of the Republic, but it had the disadvantage that it often failed to break the neck. Sometimes, a charitable executioner would scramble underneath the gallows and pull down on the condemned person's feet until he heard the satisfying snap of breaking bone, but this measure to hasten death was never written into law, perhaps out of due respect for the sensitivity of executioners.  Read more .

The Rule of Oligarchy Law – From Boris Yeltsin’s Russia to Aubrey McClendon’s Oklahoma

Mark Ames @ The Daily Banter - At the end of the 1990s, after the total collapse of the mass-privatization experiment in Boris Yeltin’s Russia, some of the more earnest free-market proselytizers tried making sense of it all. The unprecedented collapse of Russia’s economy and its capital markets, the wholesale looting, the quiet extermination of millions of Russians from the shock and destitution (Russian male life expectancy plummeted from 68 years to 56 years)—the terrible consequences of imposing radical libertarian free-market ideas on an alien culture—turned out worse than any worst-case-scenario imagined by the free-market true-believers. Of all the disastrous results of that experiment, what troubled many Western free-market true-believers most wasn’t so much the mass poverty and population collapse, but rather, the way things turned out so badly in Russia’s newly-privatized companies and industries. That was the one thing that was supposed to go right.  Read more .

A Last Grasp For Bees: New research says farm chemicals put our food system at risk.

Shannan Stoll @ YES ! Magazine - Earlier this year, three independent studies linked agricultural insecticides to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that leads honeybees to abandon their hives. Beekeepers have reported alarming losses in their hives over the last six years. The USDA reports the loss in the United States was about 30 percent in the winter of 2010-2011.  Read more .

Afghan authorities say that at least 8 members of a family have been killed from a US-led NATO airstrike

Al Jazeera - The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition said it was aware of the allegation and was investigating the incident, which happened late on Saturday night. A senior NATO official said that so far, there is no evidence of any civilian casualties. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information. Rohullah Samon, a spokesman for the Paktia provincial government, said on Sunday that a man, a woman and their six children were killed in a coalition airstrike at 8pm local time (15:00 GMT) in Suri Khail village of Gurda Saria district. "This man had no connection to the Taliban or any other terrorist group," Samon told the AFP news agency, naming the man as Mohammad Shafi.  Read more .

Quebec Labor Unions Join Students in Historic Fight Against 'Bill 78'

Montreal Gazette - The motion filed Friday in Quebec Superior Court asks that articles 16-21 of the law be suspended, pending a decision on quashing the entire law. Articles 16 and 17 spell out what steps have to be taken by organizers of demonstrations of 50 people or more. Articles 18-21 deal with student associations that prevent students from attending classes and aim to cut off their funding, either through the institutions or through student fees.  Read more .

It's payback time: don't expect sympathy – Lagarde to Greeks

Guardian UK - The International Monetary Fund has ratcheted up the pressure on crisis-hit Greece after its managing director, Christine Lagarde, said she has more sympathy for children deprived of decent schooling in sub-Saharan Africa than for many of those facing poverty in Athens. In an uncompromising interview with the Guardian, Lagarde insists it is payback time for Greece and makes it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the terms of the country's austerity package. Using some of the bluntest language of the two-and-a-half-year debt crisis, she says Greek parents have to take responsibility if their children are being affected by spending cuts. "Parents have to pay their tax," she says. Greece, which has seen its economy shrink by a fifth since the recession began, has been told to cut wages, pensions and public spending in return for financial help from the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank.  Read more .

Has the FBI Launched a War of Entrapment Against the Occupy Movement?

Arun Gupta @ Alternet - With the high-profile arrest of activists on terrorism charges in Cleveland on May Day and in Chicago during the NATO summit there, evidence is mounting that the FBI is unleashing the same methods of entrapment against the Occupy Wall Street movement that it has used against left movements and Muslim-Americans for the last decade. In Cleveland the FBI announced on May 1 that “five self-proclaimed anarchists conspired to develop multiple terror plots designed to negatively impact the greater Cleveland metropolitan area.” The FBI claimed the five were nabbed as they attempted to blow up a bridge the night before using “inoperable” explosives supplied to them by an undercover FBI employee.  Read more .

This Land Is My Teacher: Preserving Native Agriculture and Traditions

Beverly Bell @ Other Worlds - Nayeli Guzman is a young Mexican woman who went to New Mexico to be part of the effort to restore traditional agriculture. Throughout the US, Native, Chicano, and other peoples are rejecting industrialized agriculture and are growing their own food instead, thereby reclaiming the health of their traditions, culture, bodies, and land. They are contributing to one of the largest movements in the US today: creating a sustainable food supply chain. Here, Nayeli talks of one such program at the Tesuque Indian Pueblo, where she and other farmers are using long-abandoned farmland to grow long-abandoned crops, building up seed libraries, and teaching others ecological methods for growing food.  Read more .

Coal Industry Pays Fake Activists $50 to Wear Pro-Coal Shirts at Public Hearing

Rebecca Leber @ ThinkProgress - Apparently unable to find real activists, the coal industry paid astroturfers $50 to wear pro-coal t-shirts at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing yesterday. The EPA hearings, held yesterday in Chicago and Washington, D.C., were focused on the agency’s first-ever carbon standards for new power plants. The industry has adamantly opposed these standards, as well as standards on mercury — a pollutant that even Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) admits is harmful.  Read more .

Amazon Indians Can Be Saved

Stephen Cory @ Survival Intenational - May 2012 marks the twentieth birthday of Brazil’s Yanomami Park. It’s the largest area of protected rainforest in the world; it’s also the best reply to critics who say that efforts to protect tribal peoples are futile. The park saved the Yanomami and was secured with modest resources: a handful of people with conviction and public support more than made up for their lack of big bucks. Similar victories can, indeed must, be grasped elsewhere with equally modest ingredients. The Yanomami, who straddle the Brazil/Venezuela border, are a relatively typical Amazon people except in one respect – their numerical size. Their many ‘sub-groups’ go by a variety of names (‘Yanomami’ is simply the most widely recognized by outsiders) and constitute about 19,000 individuals in Brazil and 13,000 in Venezuela. This is some fifty times bigger than most Amazon Indian tribes, and the Yanomami are amongst the largest of all South American peoples who live comparati

Doh! Romney Messes Up, Tells the Truth About Austerity

William K. Black @ Common Dreams - Romney has periodic breakdowns when asked questions about the economy because he sometimes forgets the need to lie. He forgets that he is supposed to treat austerity as the epitome of economic wisdom. When he responds quickly to questions about austerity he slips into default mode and speaks the truth -- adopting austerity during the recovery from a Great Recession would (as in Europe) throw the nation back into recession or depression. The latest example is his May 23, 2012 interview with Mark Halperin in Time magazine.  Read more .

Occupy Wall Street Librarians Strike Back

Melissa Gira Grant @ Truthout - Even now, six months after the brutal raid on Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, we have yet to fully learn the extent of the destruction and violence - or the chain of command responsible for its execution. Thursday, members of Occupy Wall Street took a step toward forcing the city of New York to reveal the facts of that night to the public, as they filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, seeking to hold them accountable for violations of their constitutional rights in the course of the raid, as well as subsequent smaller raids that targeted the People's Library - the movement's most visible demonstration, through the collection and sharing of books in public spaces, of the rights to free speech and free assembly. In the course of the suit, the city may have to admit who called the shots during the eviction on November 15, 2011.  Read more .

On Memorial Day Weekend, America Reckons with Torture

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship @ Common Dreams - Facing the truth is hard to do, especially the truth about ourselves. So Americans have been sorely pressed to come to terms with the fact that after 9/11 our government began to torture people, and did so in defiance of domestic and international law. Most of us haven’t come to terms with what that meant, or means today, but we must reckon with torture, the torture done in our name, allegedly for our safety.  Read more .

Obama Ushers in Era of Unprecedented Arctic Drilling

Common Dreams - President Barack Obama, who once elevated the hopes of many US environmentalists by promising to be a 'transformative' president -- one whose term, as he said, would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal" -- may yet be the president remembered for passing on a potentially historic opportunity to end, or at least curb, the practice of dangerous offshore drilling.  Read more .

Global Protests Against Draconian Education Cuts, Tuition Hikes

Allison Kilkenney @ The Nation - Austerity protests have become part of the new global landscape, a reality underscored by a wave of recent protests in Philadelphia and Quebec. More than 1,000 people rallied Wednesday to protest the Philadelphia District’s plans to “transform schools,” a pleasant euphemism generally meaning school closures and mass layoffs. The Philly district plans to possibly lay off 2,700 blue-collar workers, including every member of SEIU B2BJ Local 1201, the city school union representing bus assistants, cleaners, mechanics and other workers.  Read more .

Quebec's 'Truncheon Law' Richochets as Student Strike Spreads

Martin Lukacs @ Guardian UK - A draconian law to quell demonstrations has only galvanised public support for young Quebecois protesting tuition fee hikes.  At a tiny church tucked away in a working-class neighbourhood in Montreal's east end, Quebec's new outlaws gathered on Sunday for a day of deliberations. Aged mostly between 18 and 22, their membership in a progressive student union has made them a target of government scorn and scrutiny. And they have been branded a menace to society because of their weapons: ideas of social justice and equal opportunity in education, alongside the ability to persuade hundreds of thousands to join them in the streets.  Read more .

What Started a Mississippi Prison Riot? Depends on Who You Ask

Seth Freed Wessler @ - A Mississippi jail is on lockdown today after a Sunday night riot left one prison guard dead and as many as 20 inmates and guards injured. According to sheriff’s reports, the violence began as a gang feud and soon engulfed the privately operated facility, which holds 2,500 non-citizens incarcerated for reentering the United States after deportation and for other charges. But the fragments of information that have emerged from inmates and advocates suggest that the violence had more to do with a pattern of abuse and neglect that has emerged at privately run, for-profit prisons.  Read more .

Pictures of Second "NATO 5" Informant, "Gloves," Published For First Time on

Steve Horn @ - Today, on the morning of the pre-trial hearing of the “ NATO 3,” — who are being charged with “conspiracy to commit terrorism,” “terrorism” and “possession of incendiary devices”– another explosive (excuse the pun) revelation has been made by Occupy Chicago.  Read more .

Cooperative Banking, the Exciting Wave of the Future

Ellen Brown @ Alternet - As our political system sputters, a wave of innovative thinking and bold experimentation is quietly sweeping away outmoded economic models. In 'New Economic Visions', a special five-part AlterNet series edited by Economics Editor Lynn Parramore in partnership with political economist Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative, creative thinkers come together to explore the exciting ideas and projects that are shaping the philosophical and political vision of the movement that could take our economy back. According to both the Mayan and Hindu calendars, 2012 (or something very close) marks the transition from an age of darkness, violence and greed to one of enlightenment, justice and peace. It's hard to see that change just yet in the events relayed in the major media, but a shift does seem to be happening behind the scenes; and this is particularly true in the once-boring world of banking.  Read more .

As Anti-Protest Law Attempts to Stifle Dissent, 400 Students in Quebec Arrested in Mass March

Yana Kunichoff @ Truthout - In the most recent escalation in the battle between a Quebecoise government pushing tuition hikes and striking Canadian students, at least three cities saw mass arrests at demonstrations against a newly minted anti-protest law that activists are calling "absurd." The "biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history," as some groups are calling it, took place in Montreal, where 400 students were arrested after being kettled by police. Quebec City and Sherbrooke also saw mass arrests in what commentators say is a sure sign that the protests are not letting up.  Read more .

Messing With Our Minds: The Ever Finer Line Between News and Advertising

Kingsley Dennis @ Truthout - The manufacturing of consent is endemic within modern societies. Throughout history, the need to "persuade and influence" has always been manipulated by those people in power as a means to maintain authority and legitimacy. In more recent years, the overall manipulation of the mass public mind has become less about making speeches and more about becoming a pervasive presence within the lives of each individual.  Read more .

Congress 'Un-Declares' War with Iran

Kate Gould @ Common Dreams - All 535 members of Congress are now on the record declaring that they have not authorized the use of military force against Iran in the latest round of legislation passed in the House and the Senate. This unanimous 'un-declaration' of war by Congress is a crucial victory, with particular significance given its passage on the eve of the U.S.-Iran talks in Baghdad. The House was the first chamber to 'un-declare war', with its inclusion of a proviso in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that this legislation does not authorize war with Iran. This stipulation that "nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran"  Read more .

'Biggest Act of Civil Disobedience in Canadian History'

Common Dreams - "The single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history." That's how yesterday's Montreal protest is being described today. Hundreds of thousands red-shirted demonstrators defied Quebec's new "anti-protest" law and marched through the streets of downtown Montreal filling the city with "rivers of red."  Read more .

35,948 Arrested Yesterday

Maya Schemar @ Truthout - Last Friday, the day the NATO 3 were arrested, approximately 35,948 people were arrested across the United States. On Sunday, when at least 45 protesters were arrested at Chicago's NATO summit protests, approximately 35,948 Americans - the number arrested on a daily basis in the US, according to FBI statistics - were handcuffed, read their Miranda rights (maybe), carted off to jail and booked. The plurality of those people were arrested for nonviolent drug crimes. Some of these people will be charged, convicted, prosecuted and jailed.  Read more .

Google doodle plays tribute to Moog keyboard creator, honoring bithday

Rolling Stone - Today the Google homepage honors Robert Moog, father of the modern synthesizer, by letting users play, record and share a synth melody of their own. The doodle was revealed on what would have been Moog's 76th birthday. "At their best Google doodles are a bit like Dr. Moog's inventions. They operate at the nexus of art and technology and are seriously fun," Chief Doodler Ryan Germick told Rolling Stone. "If it wasn't for the geek genius of Dr. Moog, it would be a much less funky world."  Read more .

Occupy Movement Wins Spate of Legal Battles, but Faces New Challenges Ahead as "NATO 3" Face Terrorism Charges

JA Myerson @ Truthout - Much of the recent news on the legal front has provided the Occupy movement with bursts of momentum. The first victory was the acquittal of Alexander Arbuckle, an NYU student arrested in January (ironically while completing a photojournalism project aimed at exploring the NYPD’s side of an Occupy Wall Street protest). Charged with disorderly conduct for standing in the middle of the street and blocking traffic, Arbuckle was vindicated by considerable photographic and video evidence showing that it was police, not protesters, blocking traffic. The protesters, including Arbuckle, are shown to have remained on the sidewalk.  Read more .

NAACP Passes Resolution in Support of Marriage Equality

NAACP - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today released a resolution supporting marriage equality. At a meeting of the 103-year old civil rights group’s board of directors, the organization voted to support marriage equality as a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.  Read more.

How Twitter Mapped a ‘Covert’ US Drone Operation in Yemen

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism - Though the hour was late, Yemen’s social media was still very much awake. A US drone’s missiles had just slammed into a convoy of vehicles in a remote part of Yemen, killing three alleged militants. The attack – like all other US drone strikes outside warzones – was supposed to be clandestine. Yet within minutes Sanaa-based lawyer Haykal Bafana was reporting the strike in almost-realtime. Just after 1am on May 17 he posted the following on Twitter:  Read more .

Medical Students Embrace Medicare for All

St. Louis Dispatch - If you ever want to rekindle your hope for American medicine, spend time with medical students. These bright, energetic minds are going into medicine for all the right reasons — to help people, relieve suffering and find new ways to cure illness and eradicate disease.  Read more .

100-Foot Subsea Turbine Successfully Installed

inhabitat - This week saw the successful installation of a 100-foot-tall subsea turbine. After it was installed, tests were conducted to generate electricity for the surrounding region. Scottish Power Renewables, which is overseeing the project, said the turbine was performing well and is already powering homes and businesses on the island of Eday. It wasn’t an easy installation, as the 1-megawatt Hammerfest Strom HS1000 turbine was lowered into the sea during a storm, with crews facing hostile waters (see a video of the installation here ). However, successful tests will pave the way for future turbines.  Read more .

Obama's 'Poverty-Relieving' Plan for Africa a Profit Boon for Giant Agribusiness

Common Dreams - President Obama's announcement today of $3 billion in private investments in a poverty- and hunger-relieving plan for Africa is set to be a boon for giant agribusiness, a move critics say leaves small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods in the dust. The pledged investments come from agricultural behemoths including Dupont, Monsanto and Cargill. The G8, now meeting in Maryland, has presented a view of private investments as a way of solving poverty. “The G8 must not give in to the temptation to make bold and convenient assumptions about the private sector as a development panacea,” said Gawain Kripke, Director of Policy and Research at Oxfam America. Raj Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, argued that a public-sector solution to alleviating hunger is "highly unlikely." Kripke, however, dismisses that claim.  Read more .

Nurses Gather at NATO Summit to Demand Government Fund Health, Not Death

Allison Kilkenney @ Truthout - Casey Hobbs, a registered nurse for 37 years and part of Nurse Talk Radio, traveled to Chicago from San Francisco in order to protest for the creation of a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street. Participants wore red National Nurses United (NNU) shirts accompanied by green Robin Hood masks and hats in keeping with the theme of a small trading tax in order to raise badly needed revenue. "[It's] less than half a penny tax on financial transactions. With the billions of dollars we'd get from that, we're gonna heal America. We're going to do that by providing Medicare for all, we're going to provide college educations, we're going to rebuild our infrastructure and put people back to work and give back to the 99 percent."  Read more .

Activists Win Preliminary Injunction Blocking Enforcement of NDAA's Military Detention Provision

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - Seven journalists and activists who sued President Barack Obama earlier this year over the controversial indefinite detention provision in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) were handed a surprise victory Wednesday by a federal court judge who issued a preliminary injunction blocking its enforcement.  Read more .

NATO Protesters Held Without Charge After Raid as Chicago Steps Up Police Activities

Truthout - A pre-emptive raid by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) on the home of two Occupy Chicago activists may have happened without a search warrant, said the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), and led to the disappearance of nine activists into police custody without charge for almost 24 hours. "I'd like to stress that we have done nothing wrong," said Zoe Sigman, an Occupy Chicago activist whose home was raided. "We have been planning to protest NATO and there is nothing illegal about expressing our feelings about a war machine. Now we're being treated as mere criminals. As if we're part of an organized crime that they're trying to take down. Who knows what they're going to pin on us. We're terrified."  Read more .

Vermont first state to ban fracking

CNN - Vermont's governor has signed a bill making it the first U.S. state to ban fracking, the controversial practice to extract natural gas from the ground. "This is a big deal," Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday. "This bill will ensure that we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy."  Read more .

Disco queen Donna Summer dead at 63

Boston Herald (blog) - Disco queen and Dorchester native Donna Summer lost her battle with cancer this morning. The original “Bad Girl” was 63. Details are scarce now, but according to reports, she was in Florida at the time of her death. She is survived by her husband and three daughters. Summer was born Dec. 31, 1948, in Dorchester and sang in local churches before becoming disco’s biggest star. She was a five-time Grammy winner who ruled the late ‘70s with such blockbuster hits as “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” “MacArthur Park” and “Bad Girls.”  Read more .

Looting the Poor: How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks

Barbara Ehrenreich @ Tom Dispatch - Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.  Read more .

Federal court enjoins NDAA

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - A federal district judge today, the newly-appointed Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued an amazing ruling: one which preliminarily enjoins enforcement of the highly controversial indefinite provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last December. This afternoon’s ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violates ”both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”  Read more .

NDAA's 'Indefinite Detention' Provisions Unconstitutional, says Judge

Wall Street Journal - A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said in a written ruling that a single page of the law has a "chilling impact on First Amendment rights."  Read more .

Wells Fargo Has Blood on Its Hands: Desperate Man Commits Suicide After Shocking Foreclosure Mistreatment

AlterNet - Norman and Oriane Rousseau were one more couple pushed by a huge, greedy bank to the brink of homelessness. On Sunday, desperate and with nowhere to go, Norman Rousseau shot himself. This is the story of what happens when an average couple is up against a giant, wealthy, powerful bank. Unfortunately the result is what the result always is when people are on their own against the wealthy and powerful: the bank ends up with all of their money, takes their house to sell and throws them out onto the street. In this case the bank is Wells Fargo.  Read more .

Moscow police raid new Occupy protest site

Washington Post - Police swept into a new gathering of political protesters Wednesday evening, pushing into a plaza where the demonstrators had established a base hours before and carting away the leaders. An angry crowd of about 1,000 jeered at the police and tried to block their buses before being shoved aside.  Read more .

New NYCLU Report Finds NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practices Ineffective, Reveals Depth of Racial Disparities

NYCLU (New York) - The New York Civil Liberties Union today released an analysis of new NYPD data that provides a detailed picture of the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, including new insights on the program’s stark racial disparities and its ineffectiveness in recovering illegal firearms. “The NYPD’s own data undermine many of the Bloomberg administration’s justifications for the stop-and-frisk program,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Contrary to the mayor and police commissioner’s assertions, the massive spike in the number of stops has done little to remove firearms from the streets. Instead, it has violated the constitutional rights of millions of people and corroded the ability of communities of color to trust and respect the police.”  Read more .

Chávez's Economics Lesson for Europe

Guardian UK - Some years ago, travelling on the presidential plane of Hugo Chávez of Venezuela with a French friend from Le Monde Diplomatique, we were asked what we thought was happening in Europe. Was there any chance of a move to the left? We replied in the depressed and pessimistic tones typical of the early years of the 21st century. Neither in Britain nor France, nor anywhere in the eurozone, did we see much chance of a political breakthrough.  Read more .

Double-talk on Pentagon's war against Islam course

Max Eternity - Last year, Wired Magazine broke a story about FBI teachers that mainstream Muslims and Islam were "violent, radical."  And this week it has come to light in the mainstream American media, with US officials claiming to condemn the Pentagons anti-Islam course: FBI Teaches Agents: ‘Mainstream’ Muslims Are ‘Violent, Radical’ - The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”  Read more . Top U.S. Officer: Stop This ‘Total War’ on Islam Talk America’s top military officer condemned in the strongest possible terms a Defense Department course that taught troops to prep for a “total war” on Islam using “Hiroshima”-style tactics. “It was totally objectionable, against our values and it wasn’t academically sound,” Army Gen.

Julian Assange's The World Tomorrow: Surviving Guantanamo (VIDEO)

The World Tomorrow @ Common Dreams - The 5th episode of The World Tomorrow takes us to the very heart of America's War on Terror: Guantanamo Bay. In the episode Julian Assange speaks with Moazzam Begg - former Gitmo prisoner and a rights campaigner fighting for those still trapped behind the wire, and Asim Qureshi - former corporate lawyer, whose human rights organization Cageprisoners Ltd exists solely to raise awareness of the plight of prisoners who remain in Guantanamo Bay.  Read more .

François Hollande sworn in as French president

France 24 - Francois Hollande was sworn in as France's first Socialist president since 1995 on Tuesday at a solemn ceremony overshadowed by the debt crisis threatening to unravel the eurozone. After brief ceremonies in Paris, the 57-year-old career politician was to dash to Berlin to confront Chancellor Angela Merkel over their very different visions as to how to save the single currency bloc.  Read more .

Five Reasons Drone Assassinations Are Illegal

Bill Quigley @ Common Dreams - US civilian and military employees regularly target and fire lethal unmanned drone guided missiles at people across the world. Thousands of people have been assassinated. Hundreds of those killed were civilians. Some of those killed were rescuers and mourners.  These killings would be criminal acts if they occurred inside the US. Does it make legal sense that these killings would be legal outside the US?  Read more .

Why Tibet Matters

Bianca Jagger @ Common Dreams - His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in London this week to receive the Templeton Prize in recognition of his outstanding achievements and spiritual wisdom. Tibet has a long-standing connection to Britain. Prior to the Chinese invasion in 1949-50, Britain was the only country to formally recognize Tibet as an independent nation. British representatives were stationed in Lhasa from 1904 to 1947 to liaise with the Tibetan government. In 1949 the newly-victorious leader of the China Communist Party Mao Zedong announced, over the radio waves, his intention to "liberate" Tibet from this "foreign imperialism." Over the past 60 years, Tibet has been anything but "liberated" by the Chinese Communist Party.  Read more .

Over One Million Say Shell No! to Arctic Drilling

Common Dreams - Environmental groups delivered over a million signatures to the White House today demanding President Obama stop Shell's plans for oil drilling in the Arctic. “Shell’s ships are already on the way to drill in the icy Arctic waters, putting human life, polar bears and whales at risk in harsh, stormy conditions,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which worked with the Sierra Club, the Alaska Wilderness League and other groups to deliver the petitions. “President Obama has a small window to stop Shell from spoiling the Arctic, and that’s exactly what people across the country are asking him to do.”  Read more .

George Lucas pushes low-income housing option

SF Gate - Filmmaker George Lucas is pushing forward with plans to build low-income housing at Marin County's picturesque Grady Ranch, a vow of his that was widely dismissed as an insincere attempt by the billionaire to thumb his nose at complaining neighbors. The Marin Community Foundation announced Tuesday that it is working with Lucasfilm to "explore options" for building affordable housing in the location where the movie mogul wanted to build a film studio until residents in an adjacent subdivision protested.  Read more .

Obama: Pitchman for Exporting US-Made Weapons

David Sirota @ - With the economy still struggling and the debates over how to fix the problem more intense than ever, one word still evokes bipartisan consensus: exports. "I want us to sell stuff," said President Obama, summing up the bipartisan sentiment. That nebulous word "stuff" is significant. It asks us to see all exports as the same and to refrain from making nuanced value judgments about what exactly we're shipping overseas. In this cold-blooded view, a job-creating export is a job-creating export, and that's as far as any conversation should go.  Read more .

Don’t Send Me Roses for Mothers Day

Medea Benjamin @ Common Dreams - What happened to us mothers? We allowed this holiday to get away from us. We allowed it to become commercialized, individualized, commodified, unpoliticized. We allowed it to be about superficial symbols of love—flowers and chocolates and store-bought cards. We allowed it be a time when we, as mothers, sit back and receive personal recognition, instead of a time when we, as mothers, stand up together to make collective demands.  Read more .

Malaysian legal body finds Bush guilty of war crimes

Malaysia Sun - George W. Bush and several other members of his administration have been found guilty of war crimes by the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War. In a unanimous vote on Saturday the symbolic Malaysian war crimes tribunal, part of an initiative by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, found the former US President guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Read more .

Crushing Defeat for Germany's Merkel as Voters Reject Austerity

Guardian UK - Voters in Germany's most populous state handed a resounding victory to the center-left , dealing a heavy blow to Angela Merkel's conservatives in what was interpreted as a backlash against the chancellor's European austerity campaign. Exit polls in the election in North Rhine-Westphalia showed Hannelore Kraft of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) had soundly beat her Christian Democrat (CDU) rival Norbert Röttgen, Merkel's environment minister.  Read more .

Leaving Wall Street

Alexis Goldstein @ Truthout - When some people think about Wall Street, they conjure up images of traders shouting on the stock exchange, of bankers dining at five star restaurants, of CEOs whispering in the ears of captured Congress members. When I think about Wall Street, I think about its stunted rainbow of pale pastel shirts. I think about the vaulting, highly secured, and very cold lobbies. And I think about the art passed daily by the harried workers, virtually unseen. Before I occupied Wall Street, Wall Street occupied me. What started as a summer internship led to a seven-year career.  Read more .

In Search of Stripper Solidarity: Can Professional Dancers Find Workplace Justice?

Rachel Aimee @ In These Times - The last time I danced at a strip club in Manhattan, I paid an $80 “house fee” to work. I was shouted at for slouching in my seat and for eating my lunch at the wrong time, and I went home with $40 less than I’d arrived with. After working in this exploitative industry for many years, I wanted to organize to improve working conditions for strippers. But when I reached out to other activists who had been involved in campaigns to protect dancers’ rights, the overwhelming response I got was: “Don’t do it!”  Read more .

Tim DeChristopher appeal: Oil lease bids stopped greater crime

Salt Lake Tribune - Tim DeChristopher’s attorney on Thursday finally got to argue that his client had no choice but to disrupt a Utah oil and gas lease auction because it was illegal. Pressed for time as his 15 minutes before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals shrunk with each technical question coming from the three-judge panel, Ron Yengich finally asked to get to what he viewed as "critical" in overturning the conviction and two-year sentence imposed on DeChristopher, the Salt Lake City activist who succeeded in disrupting a Bureau of Land Management auction on Dec. 19, 2008.  Read more .

Human Rights Group Condemns Murder of Journalist and LGBTI Activist in Honduras

Hispanically Speaking News - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Unit for the rights of persons LGBTI of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemn the murder of Eric Alex Martínez Ávila, a journalist and defender of the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual population, who went missing on May 5th and was found dead two days later.  Read more .

Caught on Tape: Governor Walker Plans for a Single-Party State

Spain's indignado protesters face anniversary crackdown

Guardian UK - Police will be out in force in Madrid's Puerta del Sol as well in other squares across the country as Mariano Rajoy's government vows to prevent the indignados rebuilding the camps that appeared suddenly last May. Madrid alone will have up to 2,000 anti-riot police watching the protesters and arresting those who try to pitch camp. The indignados have announced 96 continuous hours of protests in the Puerta del Sol from Saturday until Tuesday, but the civil governor has set a limit of 10 hours or less a day for demonstrations.  Read more .

Seniors' Social Security Garnished for Student Debts

Ellen Brown @ Truthout - "A sizeable chunk of US student loan debt is held by senior citizens, many of whom are not only unemployed but unemployable.... Two million US seniors age 60 and over have student loan debt, on which they owe a collective $36.5 billion. Almost a third of all student loan debt is held by people aged 40 and over and 4.2 percent is held by people over the age of 60. The total student debt is now over $1 trillion, more even than credit card debt."  Read more .

Remembering Chris Drew: Chicago free speech artist and civil rights activist

Max Eternity @ | Report - This past Monday, the City of Chicago lost one of its greatest free speech activist, Chris Drew, who passed away on May 7, 2012. And though Drew finally lost his fight with the ravages of cancer, he did not, however, lose his several year battle with the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois in his quest to bring awareness to 2 laws that he found antithetical to creativity and liberty in America.  Read more .

The Austerity Theory is a Big Lie

Stephen Pizzo for BUZZFLASH @ Truthout - You know that something is seriously out of whack when those who made a bundle, and then some, with financial black magic, nearly bringing down the entire industrial world, insist they be allowed to not only keep their booty but that the 99% who ate it in the shorts thanks to their skullduggery, should be forced to go on a fiscal diet. ("You want more porridge?!) That, in a nutshell, describes the so-called "austerity" programs sweeping western economies.  Read more .

Humor Helps: Top Ten Reasons to Make Gay Marriage Illegal - Top Ten Reasons to Make Gay Marriage Illegal 01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning. 02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall. 03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.  Read more .

Women Artists Still Face Discrimination

Eleanor J. Bader @ Truthout - Twenty-seven years ago, the Guerrilla Girls - an anonymous group of artists who use humor to illustrate gender inequities in the art world - surveyed the most influential galleries and museums in the country and found that most exhibited little to no work by women. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) was but one example. Of 169 artists on display, only 13 were female. Even worse, the modern art section of New York's Metropolitan Museum was 97 percent male; on the flip side, 83 percent of the nudes were - you guessed it - girls and women.  Read more .

Wisconsin Democrats Choose Challenger to Run Against Governor in Recall Race

NY Times News Service @ Truthout - Wisconsin Democrats will get a do-over election between Gov. Scott Walker and Tom Barrett when the two face off in a rare recall vote next month. Mr. Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, got the nod from his party after a statewide primary on Tuesday, beating a fellow Democrat, Kathleen Falk, a former Dane County executive who had been seen by some as labor’s preferred candidate. The victory sets up a rematch of Mr. Barrett’s race against Mr. Walker in 2010, when the governor won by about five percentage points as Republicans took control of the state — not just in the governor’s office but also in both chambers of the Legislature.  Read more .

The Greediness of Brain Drain

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - The phrase “brain drain” used to mean, in the 1950s and ‘60s, the flight of professionally-trained people from dictatorships to find opportunity in the U.S. and other Western countries. Now “brain drain” is used in American media to mean an active U.S. government policy to attract foreign entrepreneurs, scientists, physicians, nurses and other skilled laborers in short supply to the U.S. Behind this push for a “great sucking sound” are companies like Intel, Google, Microsoft, and Pfizer, with their media cheerleaders like Tom Friedman of the New York Times, and members of Congress like Kansas Republican Congressman Jerry Moran and Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner.  Read more .

British-born celebrity hairdresser Vidal Sassoon dies

BBC News - British-born celebrity hairdresser Vidal Sassoon has died at his home in Los Angeles, aged 84. A police spokesman said officers went to the stylist's home on Wednesday morning to confirm the death. He said Sassoon had died of natural causes. Sassoon is regarded as one of the best-known hairdressers of his generation. He is credited with revolutionising haircuts in the 1960s, and developed a popular line of hair products under his name. The creator of the "bob" hairstyle, he is best known for his short, geometric cuts, ending the bouffant styles trendy in the 1950s.  Read more .

Big rise in North Pacific plastic waste

Jonathan Amos @ BBC News - The quantity of small plastic fragments floating in the north-east Pacific Ocean has increased a hundred fold over the past 40 years. Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography documented the big rise when they trawled the waters off California.  Read more .

After NC Passes Marriage Amendment, Opponents Consider Next Steps

Talking Points Memo - North Carolina voters may have just passed a change to the state’s constitution that designates marriage between a man and a woman as the only legally recognized union, but gay rights advocates are already considering options to counter the newly minted law. After Amendment One received overwhelming approval in Tuesday’s statewide election, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect NC Families told TPM that the organization would now “look at all legal options and political options to overturn this amendment.” A day later, Jeremy Kennedy, the campaign manager for the Coalition, clarified his group’s official role going forward. “As far as the Coalition is concerned, our job was to run the campaign and try to win the campaign,” Kennedy told TPM. “Our work is done.”  Read more .

Austerity Can't Be Just for Regular People

Matt Taibbi @ Rolling Stone - It didn’t take long to crank up the backlash against European voters. This is inevitable whenever a socialist wins a major election, but particularly now, when new French president François Hollande rode to victory shouting, "Austerity can no longer be inevitable!" This sounds like the beginning of what will be a very heated debate over who has to pay for the excesses of the financial crisis. It was previously assumed that everybody but the actual financial services sector would have to pay, but voters in Europe now are refusing to go along, sparking a wave of eye-rolling editorials in the financial press. Even David Brooks got into the act today, penning a lugubrious editorial about the errant political instincts of the populist masses here and abroad.  Read more .

Against War and Austerity, Hollande Is Right and Obama Should Agree

Robert Naiman @ Truthout - Newly elected French President François Hollande is coming to the White House next week to meet with President Obama ahead of the G8 and NATO summits. Two items are sure to be on the agenda: Hollande's call for a "New Deal" (as it were) in European economic policy that would restore growth rather than continue budget austerity and Hollande's promise to speed up the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan. Press reports suggest that Obama's agenda for the meeting will include trying to induce Hollande to renege on his pledge to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan. That would be a terrible mistake, a terrible waste of a unique opportunity for Obama to agree with Hollande on a common position for speeding up the withdrawal of all foreign forces that they can announce at the NATO summit in Chicago.  Read more .

The People's Bishop

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard was arrested in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in New York City on Tuesday night as he participated in the May 1 Occupy demonstrations. He and 15 other military veterans were taken into custody after they linked arms to hold the plaza against a police attempt to clear it. There were protesters behind them who, perhaps because of confusion, perhaps because of miscommunication or perhaps they were unwilling to risk arrest, melted into the urban landscape. But those in the thin line fromVeterans for Peace, of which the bishop is a member, stood their ground. They were handcuffed, herded into a paddy wagon and taken to jail .   Read more .

Fire at Tyler Perry's studios limited to backlot facade

CNN - A large fire at the southwest Atlanta film studio of Tyler Perry on Tuesday night damaged the backlot facade of one of Perry's sound stages, according to a statement from the studio Wednesday. "We are grateful that there were no injuries and that 99% of the damage is limited to the backlot facade," the studio statement said. The building's interior, which was protected from the flames by concrete masonry construction, did suffer some water damage, according to a statement from the Atlanta Fire Department.   Read more .

The French are revolting. The Greeks, too. And it’s about time.

Paul Krugman @ NY Times - The French are revolting. The Greeks, too. And it’s about time. Both countries held elections Sunday that were in effect referendums on the current European economic strategy, and in both countries voters turned two thumbs down. It’s far from clear how soon the votes will lead to changes in actual policy, but time is clearly running out for the strategy of recovery through austerity — and that’s a good thing.   Read more .

Surveillance State democracy

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon - CNET‘s excellent technology reporter, Declan McCullagh, reports on ongoing efforts by the Obama administration to force the Internet industry to provide the U.S. Government with “backdoor” access to all forms of Internet communication:   Read more .

François Hollande wins French presidential election

Guardian UK - François Hollande has won power in France, turning the tide on a rightwards and xenophobic lurch in European politics and vowing to transform Europe's handling of the economic crisis by fighting back against German-led austerity measures. The 57-year-old rural MP and self-styled Mr Normal, a moderate social democrat from the centre of the Socialist party, is France's first leftwing president in almost 20 years. Projections from early counts, released by French TV, put his score at 51.9%.   Read more .

The End of Austerity in Europe?

Foreign Policy In Focus - A few months ago, when Occupy movements bloomed across Europe, the absence of any similar uprising in France appeared to be an anomaly in a country infamous for its people's propensity to take the streets. One explanation was that the presidential election was just around the corner, and that after 10 years out of government, the Left was capable of channeling the French people's indignation into electoral gains. Indeed, the election's big surprise was the spectacular surge of Jean-Luc Melenchon's Front de Gauche (Leftist Front), a coalition of parties to the left of the traditional social-democratic PS (Socialist Party). With an Occupy-friendly platform, the Front went from virtual non-existence to a double-digit finish in the election's first round, gathering crowds beyond President Nicolas Sarkozy's wildest dreams throughout the campaign.   Read more .

Socialists celebrate as French vote nears close

Reuters - France looked set to crown Francois Hollande as its first Socialist president in nearly two decades in an election on Sunday, marking a shift to the left at the heart of Europe and heralding a fight back against German-led austerity. Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, swamped by anger at a surge in unemployment during his five-year term, faced being the 11th euro zone leader to be swept from power by the economic crisis after final opinion polls placed Hollande between four and eight points ahead.   Read more .

Who's who? Obama, Romney projecting mirror image

Connie Cass @ Associated Press - He's a smug, Harvard-trained elitist who doesn't get how regular Americans are struggling these days. More extreme than he lets on, he's keeping his true agenda hidden until after Election Day. He's clueless about fixing the economy, over his head on foreign policy. Who is he? Your answer will help decide the next president. Is it Barack Obama, as seen by Mitt Romney? Or Romney, the way Obama depicts him? For all their liberal versus conservative differences, when the two presidential contenders describe each other, they sound like they're ragging on the same flawed guy. Or mirror images of that guy.   Read more .

Argentina's Model, an Alternative to Austerity

Mark Weisbot @ Guardian UK - One of the great myths about the Argentine economy that is repeated nearly every day is that the rapid growth of the Argentine economy during the past decade has been a "commodity export boom". For example, the New York Times reported last week: "Riding an export boom for commodities like soybeans, Argentina's economy grew at an average rate of 7.7% from 2004 to 2010, almost twice the average annual growth of 4.3% in Chile, a country often cited as a model for economic policies, over the same period." Michael Shifter, the president of the inter-American dialogue and probably the most quoted source on Latin America in the US press, wrote in a disparaging article about Argentina this week that "If the sales and price of soybean, Argentina's principal export (mainly to China), remain high, then the country may be able to continue its path of economic growth." I haven't seen any economists make the claim t

Bill Marher: Obama to the left of Pat Robinson

There Is a Plague Loose Upon the Land

David Macaray @ Common Dreams - Most states in the union have laws against “gouging.” Broadly speaking, gouging is defined as the practice of arbitrarily raising prices on necessary goods, such as milk, bottled water, baby food, baby formula, bread, etc., in response to civil emergencies (riots, martial law) or natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, tornadoes).   Read more .

Kent State, 40 years on: the shredding of constitutional liberty still goes on

Guardian UK - Again and again, we learn that war abroad will find a way home. On 30 April 1970, Richard Nixon announced the US invasion of Cambodia, a sovereign nation the US had been secretly bombing for several months. It was a saturation campaign involving 120 strikes a day by B-52s carrying up to 60,000 pounds of bombs each. But in the common doublespeak of war, the president claimed: "This is not an invasion of Cambodia … once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and once their military supplies are destroyed, we will withdraw".  Read more .

Adam Yauch, one-third of the pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at the age of 47, Rolling Stone has learned. Yauch, also known as MCA, had been in treatment for cancer since 2009. The rapper was diagnosed in 2009 after discovering a tumor in his salivary gland. Read more:

Rolling Stone - Adam Yauch, one-third of the pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at the age of 47, Rolling Stone has learned. Yauch, also known as MCA, had been in treatment for cancer since 2009. The rapper was diagnosed in 2009 after discovering a tumor in his salivary gland.  Read more .

Cartagena Beyond The Secret Service Scandal

Noam Chomsky @ Truthout - A headline in the Jamaica Observer read, "Summit shows how much Yanqui influence had waned." The story reports that "the big items on the agenda were the lucrative and destructive drug trade and how the countries of the entire region could meet while excluding one country – Cuba." The meetings ended with no agreement because of U.S. opposition on those items – a drug-decriminalization policy and the Cuba ban. Continued U.S. obstructionism may well lead to the displacement of the Organization of American States by the newly-formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, from which the United States and Canada are excluded.   Read more .

Quebec Students Ignite the Popular Imagination

Stefan Christoff @ Rabble (Canada) - Vibrant nightly protests over the past week in downtown Montréal, in solidarity with the Quebec student strike, are sparking global attention. As the Quebec-wide strike continues - it has now been going for over 11 weeks - a new energy is apparent in the city. All across the city spotting the symbolic red square patches is easy; on any city bus or métro car patches are proudly pinned on jackets or backpacks.   Read more .

The Ghost of Osama bin Laden

(The imagined conversation between the Ghost of Osama bin Laden and President Barack Obama) Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - The Ghost of Osama bin Laden swirled into the Oval Office where Barack Obama was spending the evening going over a pile of requested sign-offs for drone missions. Osama’s Ghost: “Mind if we have a conversation one year after you dispatched my body to the ocean sharks?” With curiosity reigning supreme, President Obama replied, “Ok, so long as you remain hovering and do not alight to defile this solemn room.”   Read more .

Illegal Settlements Bonanza in West Bank

Ramzy Baround @ Common Dreams - Israel’s colonization policies are entering an alarming new phase, comparable in historic magnitude to the original plans to colonize Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem following the war of 1967. On April 24, an Israeli ministerial committee approved three settlement outposts - Bruchin and Rechelim in the northern part of the West Bank, and Sansana in the south. Although all settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal by international law, Israeli law differentiates between sanctioned settlements and ‘illegal’ ones. This distinction has actually proved to be no more than a disingenuous attempt at conflating international law, which is applicable to occupied lands, and Israeli law, which is in no way relevant.   Read more .

Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed

Tom Hayden @ The Nation - President Obama’s dramatic speech from Afghanistan should be parsed as a careful election-year orchestration of his plan to “wind down” the war. It is no accident that the speech came during the first-year commemoration of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the event providing Obama the rationale for ending American combat while placing hawks and political rivals on the defensive.   Read more .

Portland’s mayor on building prosperous cities

Sam Adams @ Grist - I help lead one of America’s cities — Portland, Ore. It is known for being a well-planned city. It’s not. At least, not as well as we want it to be. And not as well-planned as every American city must be. When I talk about planning, I’m not just referencing plotting spots on a map where new bikeways will run, or where new business districts will pop up. Instead, I’m talking about how to understand the specific and real human challenges we face, and then how to establish priorities that are shared by community members and government. This is what creates a real playbook to guide future decisions.   Read more .

A New Approach to Chicken Farming

Caroline Abels @ Grist - Twelve minutes into the 2009 documentary Food, Inc., Carole Morison appears on the screen — haggard, tired, quietly seething. Squinting into the sun, she tells the camera, “I’ve just made up my mind; I’m gonna say what I have to say,” and she proceeds to show and tell. Wearing a face mask, she steps inside one of her chicken houses, where she is raising broilers for Perdue. Inside she reveals a crowded sea of birds bumping into each other and squawking in agitation. Chickens are shown taking a few steps and falling down — due to the weight they’ve been bred to put on rapidly. Others are on their backs, gasping for breath inside a chicken house they cannot leave. Carole picks up a few dead birds and throws them in a pile. She walks back outside, removes her face mask, wipes the dust off her face, and says with disgust, “That’s normal.”   Read more .

Courtney Love Loses Rights to Kurt’s Image

The Fix - Courtney Love’s control over the estate of Kurt Cobain continues to slip. In 2009, Cobain's drug- and alcohol-troubled widow lost custody of their only daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. Now, according to sealed documents exclusively obtained by The Fix, 19-year-old Frances has taken over control of the publicity rights for the Nirvana icon’s name, likeness and appearance. “Publicity rights are potentially worth a fortune,” says Jonathan Faber, an attorney and managing partner of Luminary Group, who once represented Kurt’s estate in policing copyright infringement and investigating licensing opportunities. “They amount to the intellectual property rights.”   Read more .

Making the Cut

The Fix - Cutting yourself to quell emotional pain isn’t all that different from drinking or drugging, though the scars are more apparent. The question is: How dangerous is it? When 21-year-old Alexa, a student from Los Angeles, speaks about her battle with cutting, she uses the dark language of progressive drug addiction. “I started when I was 19,” she says. “At first, it was very shallow cuts along one specific area of my wrist—just slightly more than a scrape. But as I continued, it progressed. They began going up and down my arms. Within a few months, I had to start going to the hospital and getting stitches for it. After a year, I basically ran out of room on that part of my body.”   Read more .

Should Addicts Be Sterilized?

The Fixx - “Don’t let a pregnancy ruin your drug habit,” the slogan on the fliers reads. Another says, “She has her daddy’s eyes…and her mommy’s heroin addiction.” Then: “Get birth control, get ca$h.” These are posters that show up nationwide in homeless shelters and methadone clinics, in AA and NA meeting rooms and near needle exchange programs, distributed by volunteers for Project Prevention. Formerly called Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity (CRACK), the controversial nonprofit pays drug addicts $300 to either undergo sterilization or use a form of long-term, “no responsibility needed” birth control.   Read more .

Why Are Universities Buying Up Drones Faster Than Police Departments?

Jeffery Morley for Salon Magazine @ Alternet - For all the attention given to U.S. law enforcement’s interest in adopting drones, the biggest users turn out to be not police departments, but universities. We learned this last week, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation forced the Federal Aviation Administration to reveal that it had approved 25 universities to fly drones in U.S. airspace. Not that universities were waiting on the FAA to begin working in the field: Last fall, Kansas State University created a degree in unmanned aviation. So far, 30 undergraduates have signed up.   Read more .

What Did We Get for 381 US Dead Since the Death of bin Laden?

Robert Naiman @ Common Dreams - President Obama went to Afghanistan and made a speech celebrating an agreement between the United States and Afghanistan. We haven't seen the agreement, so we don't really know what they're celebrating, but according to press reports, the agreement is symbolic rather than substantive.  According to, which tallies statistics from the Department of Defense, 381 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago on May 2, 2011. No U.S. official has explained to us yet what we won in Afghanistan since May 2, 2011, that justified the additional sacrifice that we have made in Afghanistan since Osama bin Laden's death. No U.S. official has presented a case that we are safer than we were a year ago as a result of our additional sacrifice in Afghanistan, still less that our increased safety was sufficient to justify the additional sacrifice of the last year.  Read more .

Obama's 'Midnight' Deal Will Stretch Afghan War to 2024

Common Dreams - President Obama's secret trip to Afghanistan, shrouded in secrecy for security reasons, culminated in a midnight meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the signing of a 'strategic partnership agreement', the full details of which have not been made available to either the American or Afghan public. "If ever there was an image to convey the limits of the UK-US success in Afghanistan, it was the way that Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of the liberating, Taliban-scattering forces was forced to skulk into Kabul last night under the cover of darkness," writes the Telegraph's Peter Foster. "After landing at Bagram Airbase just after 10pm local time, there was a low-level, cover-of-darkness helicopter insertion to the Presidential Palace where the ten-page deal (which contains no specifics on funding or troop levels) was signed around midnight."  Read more .

Tasers Kill

Common Dreams - A new medical study has found that electrical shock delivered to the chest by a Taser or stun gun - used by over 16,700 law enforcement agencies in 107 countries - can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death.  Read more .

Budgets: The Ultimate Lie-Detector

John Atcheson @ Common Dreams - Budgets have a way of slicing through political rhetoric and revealing the truth.  For example, Obama’s budget choices show him to be a right of center politician willing to sell out progressive principles, notwithstanding the progressive speeches he makes around election time. The Ryan Budget, a bit of budgetary pornography embraced by the Mitt Romney and the entire Republican leadership, shows them to be advocating a radical agenda leading to a nation of, by and for corporate America and the ultra-rich, using means and policies that would hurt the majority of Americans – policies the people rightly oppose.  Read more.

May Day

Noam Chomsky @ Zucotti Park Press - People seem to know about May Day; everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That's because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning. For example, Ronald Reagan designated what he called "Law Day" - a day of jingoist fanaticism, like an extra twist of the knife in the labor movement. Today, there is a renewed awareness, energized by the Occupy movement's organizing, around May Day, and its relevance for reform and perhaps eventual revolution.  Read more .

Freeing the University: Education Occupation on May Day

Michele Chen @ In These Times - Pop quiz: what’s the value of an American education? To some, it’s a booming industry that preys on debt-crippled students. But to the educators, youth and workers who keep the system running, school increasingly seems like it’s just not worth the struggle. This May Day, masses of working people–and students who are working to build a future for themselves–are converging in New York City to rethink education and test those ideas in the real world.  Read more .

Why Are We Striking? Or to Put it Another Way – What’s Wrong with the World?

Mike David @ Adbusters - Of course, most of us know what’s wrong with the world. We know about the poverty, war, violence and disease. We’re conscious of the injustice, but not fully conscious of it, because frankly, we have enough to worry about in our own lives. As such, we’ve come to accept these injustices as simple facts of life – prepackaged side effects of the human condition, as natural and intertwined with our existence as water to a stream, beyond our capacity to effect in any significant way. This collective sense of powerlessness and default apathy is why we’re striking.  Read more .