USA Today - NSA software, known as DROPOUTJEEP, can access files, text messages, contact lists, and location data, once installed on iPhones, according to documents leaked by newspaper Der Spiegel... read more .
Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Privacy advocates and a prominent civil liberties group sued the U.S. government on Monday, demanding disclosure of how key spy agencies and the executive branch interpret and execute legal authorities that govern a vast foreign electronic surveillance program that also sweeps up the communication data of millions of Americans each year. Read more .
Seattle|pi - A train carrying crude oil from North Dakota's oil patch derailed Monday near the small town of Casselton, setting off a series of fiery explosions. No injuries were initially reported, but officials were warning residents to stay indoors as the situation unfolded. Read more .
Jon queally @ Common Dreams - Private labor contractors in Japan are "recruiting" homeless individuals throughout the country, luring them to perform clean-up work in the areas near the destroyed nuclear power plant at Fukushima for less than minimum wage. Read more .
SF Gate - Todd Morgan and Victoria Traverso's lives revolve around their roles as teachers, coaches and mentors at Phillip & Sala Burton Academic High School in San Francisco's Bayview district. The married couple spend up to 12 hours at the school most days, attend games on weekends and answer texts and calls from their students around the clock. They have helped turn the school around. They love their jobs. Read more .
Reuters - New York City's Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on Monday named Carmen Farina, a longtime teacher and administrator, as the next chancellor of the nation's largest public school system. Read more .
Der Spiegel - The NSA's TAO hacking unit is considered to be the intelligence agency's top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting. Read more .
RT.com - Julian Assange said there is “no hope” that mass strategic interception – as it is termed by the US – will go away. The whistleblower then drew a historical analogy with how the US has retained nuclear weapons in the past. Read more .
Common Dreams - France’s Constitutional Council – the country's highest court – gave the go ahead on Sunday for President François Hollande’s “Millionaires' Tax”, a 75-percent levy to be paid in 2013 and 2014 by companies on their portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros ($1.38 million). Read more .
Guardian UK - Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them some questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?" Read more .
RT.com - At least 15 people were killed in a blast at a railway station in the city of Volgograd, southern Russia. A female suicide bomber is suspected to have carried out the attack, says the National Anti-terrorism Committee. Read more.
Popular Resistance - This week we want to highlight some of the issues that are spurring youth to get active in their communities and what they are doing about them. Young people are yearning to understand the world, even when the truth is horrible, so that they can change it for the better. Read more.
CNN - Little more than a week after it suspended "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson for incendiary remarks about homosexuality, the cable channel A&E said Friday that it would include him in future tapings of the reality television show, effectively lifting the suspension amid a flurry of petitions in support of Robertson. Read more .
Mark Karlin @ Buzzflash - Providing additional evidence that the Obama Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) is protecting "banks too big to fail," Pulitzer Prize winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston has revealed that the DOJ has refused to force JPMorgan Chase to comply with an ongoing investigation into the bank's possible knowledge of Bernard Madoff's fraud scheme of a few years ago. Read more .
Medea Benjamin @ Codepink - It would be easy to make a list of 10 bad things—wars, government shut-down, drone attacks, lack of progress on immigrant rights, lousy health-care reform. But it’s also been a year of extraordinary activism: whistleblowers, DREAMers, Walmart workers, peacemakers, gay rights advocates, garment workers. As the year ends, let’s pay tribute to the good things their efforts have wrought. Read more .
Reuters - The governor of Japan's Okinawa on Friday approved a controversial plan to relocate a U.S. air base to a less populous part of the southern island, but said he would keep pressing to move the base off the island altogether. Read more .
USA Today - A federal judge ruled on Friday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone and Internet records is legal and a critical component of the country's effort to combat the threat of terrorism. Read more .
RT.com - The UN Security Council has unanimously voted to nearly double the number of peacekeepers in South Sudan to protect civilians, as thousands are feared dead in the deteriorating conflict in the world’s youngest state. Read more .
Common Dreams - Israel slammed Gaza with a series of air and ground military assaults on Tuesday, killing 3-year-old Palestinian girl Hala Abu Sabikha and wounding at least nine in what appears to be the most severe attack on this besieged home to 1.7 million people since an Israeli offensive in November 2012. Read more .
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - The U.S. is quietly shipping hellfire missiles and surveillance drones to war-torn Iraq in an alleged bid to help the government fight the country's Al Qaeda affiliate. Read more .
Robin Marty @ Care2 - As the holidays come, many of us will draw closer to friends and family, basking in their generosity, caring and warmth. For the country’s homeless, the holidays are much less friendly, and the streets are much, much colder. Read more .
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - In what is being reported as the first ever Christmas Day U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, a suspected U.S. drone on Wednesday fired two missiles at a home in the village of Qutab Khel in North Waziristan, killing four people. Read more .
Alabama.com - The Prancing Elites' appearance in the Semmes Christmas parade on Saturday has sparked a controversy that is gaining nationwide attention. But tucked among the hundreds of reader comments on AL.com about Christian values, inappropriate dress attire and "my children shouldn't see that," there has also been support for the all-male dance group from Mobile. Read more .
Ray McGovern @ Common Dreams - Fifty years ago, exactly one month after John Kennedy was killed, the Washington Post published an op-ed titled “Limit CIA Role to Intelligence.” The first sentence of that op-ed on Dec. 22, 1963, read, “I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency.” Read more .
Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - Shares in the Philadelphia-based Aramark Holdings Corp., which contracts through Aramark Correctional Services to provide the food to 600 correctional institutions across the United States, went public Thursday. The corporation, acquired in 2007 for $8.3 billion by investors that included Goldman Sachs, raised $725 million last week from the sale of the stock. It is one more sign that the business of locking up poor people in corporate America is booming. Read more .
CNN - Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian gun designer whose AK-47 rifle became the weapon of choice for many national armies and guerrillas around the world, died Monday, the Kremlin announced on its website. Read more .
Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - The recommendations set forth by an internal government NSA review panel are nothing but "cosmetic changes" staged to "restore public confidence" in the U.S. government's spying activities, charged NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in an email exchange with Brazil's O Globo news station. Read more .
Dahr Jamail @ TomDispatch - I grew up planning for my future, wondering which college I would attend, what to study, and later on, where to work, which articles to write, what my next book might be, how to pay a mortgage, and which mountaineering trip I might like to take next. Read more .
Mother Jones - Officially, the Great Recession of 2007 ended in June 2009. Yet the economic downturn remains in full effect for millions of Americans, particularly the nearly 40 percent of the unemployed who have been looking for work for six months or more. Read more .
Paul Buchheit @ Buzzflash - At a time of year when we're inclined to show empathy for people less fortunate than ourselves, some of our top business leaders are notable for comments that show their disdain for struggling Americans. Their words may seem too outlandish to have been uttered, or inappropriately humorous, but all the speakers were serious. Read more .
Arun Gupta @ Truthout - It wasn’t getting a freshly plucked rooster for my birthday that made it so memorable. It was the realization of what a real chicken tasted like. It was early spring. Michael had just driven down from the Finger Lakes to the city. Hopping out of his prematurely aged Hyundai, he walked toward me with a lopsided grin and a clear plastic bag. "Happy 40th," he said thrusting a naked bird forward in the chilly night air. I took the bag and inspected the tight, vibrant flesh in the streetlight, noticing a few pin feathers attached to the lower leg, revealing this was home-grown fowl. Read more .
Christopher Longeneck @ Truthout.org - It was a lot less street theater this time around, and a lot more action. On December 20, emboldened by the success of anti-eviction protests against a "Google bus" in San Francisco's Mission District the week prior, residents and activists in the Bay Area organized simultaneous blockades of "tech buses" in the Mission and Oakland. In Oakland, Google buses were targeted, while residents of San Francisco prevented a bus bound for Apple's main campus from moving for over a half hour. Residents in the Bay Area continue to struggle against crippling evictions and displacement brought on, in large part, by the influx of well-to-do tech industry workers. Read more .
RT.com - A vigil meant to commemorate the memory of a teenager who was fatally shot in the head while in police custody last month turned to panic Thursday night when police in full riot gear deployed tear gas to disperse the mostly peaceful crowd. Read more .
Michal Rozworski @ Common Dreams - The holidays are meant to be a joyful time. Religion aside, they are a time for family and celebration. For many workers at Walmart, however, the holidays are a source of stress and challenge. Stores become figurative, sometimes even literal, battlefields, making already-taxing work more demanding, even chaotic. At the same time, low wages and inadequate benefits stretch year-end budgets, leaving little room for the joys of the holidays. Read more .
Margaret Kimberley @ Black Agenda Report - There is not very much democracy left in America, a country which endlessly brags about how democratic it is. Every now and again we are pleasantly surprised when the people and their interests are served instead of the 1% and their factotums in government. Those moments are few and far between but when they take place it is always because an individual decides to take on the system directly. In 2013 Edward Snowden was the person who risked his freedom to tell every human being with access to modern communications that they were under United States government surveillance. Read more .
RT.com - What would a former Gitmo detainee, a journalist in a small central Asian newspaper and an editor of a big Western publication have in common? They are provided with documents from WikiLeaks about politics in the region, but what will they do with them? Read more .
Entertainment Weekly - After inadvertently infuriating Duck Dynasty fans, Cracker Barrel is hastily restoring order to its restaurant chain universe by putting products featuring the Robertson clan back on its shelves. Read more .
RT.com - TEPCO has found a record 1.9 million becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances at its No.2 reactor. Also radioactive cesium was detected in deeper groundwater at No.4 unit’s well, as fears grow of a new leak into the ocean. Read more .
Institute for Policy Studies Blog - As we end the longest period of war in our history, we should be entering a period of postwar downsizing - but what about the communities dependent on the massive post-9/11 military budget? Read more .
ABC News - Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that on Saturday became a battle ground between the country's military and renegade troops, officials said. Four U.S. service members were wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before. Read more .
seattle|pi - A federal judge struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban Friday in a decision that brings a nationwide shift toward allowing gay marriage to a conservative state where the Mormon church has long been against it. Read more .
RT.com - After years of being held at the US Naval Base in Cuba without trial, Ibrahim Idris, one of two Sudanese detainees released on Thursday, said US prison officials had "systematically tortured" him in the course of his 11-year imprisonment at Gitmo. Read more .
Information Week - BlackBerry's third fiscal quarter was brutal. Sales of its smartphone plunged to new lows and the company was forced to take another writedown on unsold device inventory. The smartphone maker may have revealed a new turnaround strategy, but its success is hardly assured. Read more .
Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - The death of several UN peacekeeping soldiers this week and reports of large numbers of civilian casualties as fighting intensified between militias and government soldiers on opposite sides of a recent coup attempt have stirred international focus on the country, with Obama telling Congress in a written statement that the recently formed country is "at the precipice" and the UN Security Council scheduled to hold an emergency meeting in New York on Friday to address the worsening situation. Read more.
Marcy Wheeler @ Guardian UK - President Obama's NSA review panel makes it clear that many of the things NSA has been doing are bad from a policy perspective. But the real question we should be asking is: are they legal? Read more .
Amy Goodman @ Truthdig - President Barack Obama proclaimed Dec. 15 Bill of Rights Day, praising those first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution as “the foundation of American liberty, securing our most fundamental rights—from the freedom to speak, assemble and practice our faith as we please to the protections that ensure justice under the law.” The next day, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon called Obama’s surveillance policies “almost Orwellian” in a court order finding the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone metadata very likely unconstitutional. If that was not enough, the president’s own task force on the issues, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, delivered its report, which the White House released, with 46 recommendations for changes. Read more .
Reuters - Emergency services said nearly 90 people were injured on Thursday when part of the ceiling collapsed during a performance at a packed London theatre, bringing the city's West End entertainment district to a standstill. Read more .
RT.com - Europe has launched a billion dollar state of the art space telescope, that should bring back home the most detailed 3D map of our galaxy. The five-year-long space voyage of the telescope named Gaia has started from Kourou in French Guiana, where it has taken off on top of a Russian-built Soyuz-Fregat rocket. Read more .
Naomi Prins @ Truthdig - The subject of heated debate in financial circles, the Volcker Rule, which was originally passed as part of the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was finally approved by regulators. It will begin taking effect in April 2014 with full compliance required by July 2015. They say the devil is in the details. Regarding the Volcker Rule, the devil is in the details of its abundant exemptions. These include a laundry list of practices and businesses that mega-banks have performed under one roof, since the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall, as well as the myriad perks they won along the way to that power-consolidating event. Read more .
Jacob Chamberlain @ Common Dreams - In the year following the massive BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, dolphins in the area developed severe lung disease, hormonal abnormalities and other deadly health problems that are likely linked to the toxic oil contamination, according to a report published Wednesday. Read more .
Jon Schwarz @ Consortium News - Everyone who watched John Miller’s “60 Minutes” segment on the NSA should follow it up with this story involving Morley Safer — who, at 82 years old, is still a correspondent at “60 Minutes”: Read more .
John Pilger @ Truthout - In the late 1960s, I was given an usual assignment by the London Daily Mirror's editor in chief, Hugh Cudlipp. I was to return to my homeland, Australia, and "discover what lies behind the sunny face." The Mirror had been an indefatigable campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, where I had reported from behind the "sunny face." As an Australian, I had been welcomed into this bastion of white supremacy. "We admire you Aussies," people would say. "You know how to deal with your blacks." Read more .
Shiela D. Collins @ Truthout - On December 9, 2013, at more than 100 sites across the country, teachers, parents, students and labor and community allies rallied in a Day of Action to Proclaim the Promise of Public Education. Among the common complaints were a lack of resources for their schools, the loss of programs they feel are vital to a rounded education, such as art and music, and inequality in school funding. Read more .
John Dodds @ Truthout - Three days after Christmas this year, 1.3 million laid-off American workers will see their unemployment benefits stopped. In Pennsylvania, the number will be 87,000 people drawing their last check December 28. Read more .
Edward Snowden - Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government's National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist's camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I went in front of that camera with open eyes, knowing that the decision would cost me family and my home, and would risk my life. I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world deserve to understand the system in which they live. Read more .
CNN - A breach of credit and debit card data at discount retailer Target may have affected as many as 40 million shoppers who went to the store in the three weeks after Thanksgiving, the retailer said Thursday. Read more .
Peter Hart @ FAIR - Last Friday, it was reported that what seemed to be a US drone strike hit a wedding convoy in Yemen, killing over a dozen people. It got attention from outlets like the New York Times (FAIR Blog, 12/13/13), which reported that "most of the dead appeared to be people suspected of being militants linked to Al-Qaeda, according to tribal leaders in the area, but there were also reports that several civilians had been killed." Other accounts (CNN, 12/13/13) suggested that most–and perhaps all–of the dead were civilians. Read more .
BBC News - Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will soon pardon jailed former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Mr Putin said he had received a request from Khodorkovsky - in custody for a decade - to pardon him on humanitarian grounds as his mother is ill. Read more .
RT.com - Brazil has rejected a contract for Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jets in favor of the Swedish Saab’s JAS 39 Gripens. The unexpected move to reject the US bid comes amid the global scandal over the NSA’s involvement in economic espionage activities. Read more .
Normon Solomon @ Common Dreams - News media should illuminate conflicts of interest, not embody them. But the owner of the Washington Post is now doing big business with the Central Intelligence Agency, while readers of the newspaper’s CIA coverage are left in the dark. The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon -- which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. But the Post’s articles about the CIA are not disclosing that the newspaper’s sole owner is the main owner of CIA business partner Amazon. Read more .
Max Eternity - Volume 2 of the Autobiography of Mark Twain is now published. Samuel L. Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, authored the book in a style that’s reads as editorial diary; formatted as a well-annotated and historically-succinct prose timeline as told by Twain in the first-person narrative. Written during Twain’s lifetime, the best-selling Volume1 was published in 2010. For as stipulated by Twain, his “complete, uncensored” autobiography was to remain unpublished for a century after his passing. An excerpt of Twain’s [Monday] June 11, 1906 writings speak to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake: "The first hint of the disaster which had befallen San Francisco reached me in such an extravagant form that I took it for an impudent invention, and it did not hold my attention ten minutes. It came to me by telephonic message from a friend down in the city. He simply said: “San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake at five o’clock this morning. Two thousand
Reuters - Gold fell about 1 percent in choppy trade on Wednesday, after the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered its inflation forecast and signalled better prospects for the economy as it announced plans to trim its bond-buying stimulus. Read more .
RT.com - The value of the cryptocurrency has crashed to $550, less than half the $1,200 trading level last week, after BTC China - the world’s largest bitcoin exchange - halted deposits in Chinese yuan. Read more .
James Zogby @ Arab American Institute - In late February of 1990, just two weeks after being released from prison, Nelson Mandela met with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasir Arafat. Afterwards Mandela spoke publicly of his affinity with the Palestinian people and his support for their struggle. He described the parallels between the two peoples' struggles for justice, saying in part, "There are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel..." read more .
Marcy Wheeler @ Guardian UK - In case you missed it, on Thursday night, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times published leaked details from the recommendations from the review group on intelligence and communications technologies, a panel President Obama set up in August to review the NSA's activities in response to the Edward Snowden leaks. Read more .
ACLU (blog) - Edward Snowden is a patriot. As a whistleblower of illegal government activity that was sanctioned and kept secret by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government for years, he undertook great personal risk for the public good. And he has single-handedly reignited a global debate about the extent and nature of government surveillance and our most fundamental rights as individuals. Read more .
NY Times - For the first time since the revelation of the National Security Agency’s vast dragnet of all Americans’ telephone records, a federal court has ruled that such surveillance is “significantly likely” to be unconstitutional. Read more .
Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - With a vote of 446-0 in the Russian parliament on Wednesday, the passage of a sweeping amnesty bill comes as a welcome gift to the international Greenpeace team known as the 'Arctic 30,' two prominent members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, and other prisoners in the country's jails and prison camps who could be released as early as today if the law is swiftly stamped by President Vladimir Putin. Read more .
Bill McKibben @ Rolling Stone - Two years ago, on a gorgeous November day, 12,000 activists surrounded the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Signs we carried featured quotes from Barack Obama in 2008: "Time to end the tyranny of oil"; "In my administration, the rise of the oceans will begin to slow." Our hope was that we could inspire him to keep those promises. Read more .
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - The controversial oil and gas extraction process known as "fracking" employs dangerous chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and infertility that then contaminate ground and surface water and may expose populations near sites to direct health risks. Read more .
Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - How can President Obama be so right and so wrong in the same moment? On the one hand, he warns us that sharply rising income inequality “is the defining challenge of our time” and pledges to reverse “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility. ...” But then he once again turns to the same hacks in the Democratic Party who helped create this problem to fix it. Read more .
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship @ Common Dreams - This grim anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., killings, with 28 dead, reminded us of that moment back in 2000 when Charlton Heston made his defiant boast at the NRA convention that gun control advocates would have to pry his rifle from his “cold, dead hands.” You would have thought he had returned to that fantasy world of Hollywood where, in a previous incarnation, he portrayed those famous Indian killers Andrew Jackson and Buffalo Bill Cody, whose Wild West, as Cody marketed it, still courses through the bloodstream of American mythology. Read more .
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - Just one day after a federal judge ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of phone data "almost certainly" violates the U.S. Constitution, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) publicly defended the spying program as a "major tool in ferreting out a potential terrorist attack." Read more.
RT.com - Norwegian intelligence cooperated extensively with the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Russian politicians, the country’s energy sector and other ‘civilian targets’ in the country. Read more .
Ann Jones @ TomDispatch - Congress surely meant to do the right thing when, in the fall of 2008, it passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA). The law was designed to protect kids worldwide from being forced to fight the wars of Big Men. From then on, any country that coerced children into becoming soldiers was supposed to lose all U.S. military aid. Read more .
Guardian UK - Edward Snowden, the former security contractor who leaked a trove of National Security Agency documents, welcomed a court ruling on Monday that declared the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records to be a likely violation of the US constitution. Read more .
RT.com - The Pirate Bay has moved again, this time to a .Pe domain based in Peru. As the battle to take down the world’s largest BitTorrent site continues, the website says it is developing a new system which will make domain names completely “irrelevant.” Read more .
Justin McKeating @ Greenpeace - Hundreds of tons of radioactively contaminated water leak from the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors every day. That water has to go somewhere and the operator of the plant is running out of places to store it. So the suggestion has been made that it be dumped in the sea. At the scene of the Fukushima nuclear disaster they can’t clean anything without getting something else dirty. Read more .
Melissa Gira Grans @ Truthout - Betty Dodson still lives in the same spacious, light-drenched apartment off Park Avenue where she hosted circles of women in the 1970s. Her Bodysex workshops - from which Eve Ensler cribbed a section of her Vagina Monologues - brought a DIY spirit to sex. In the years that crossed the sexual revolution and the feminist sex wars, Betty's apartment was an oasis. Read more .
Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - In the biggest legal blow to the National Security Council since the dragnet spying scandal broke in June, a federal judge ruled Monday that the U.S. government "almost certainly" violated the constitution by mass collecting data on nearly every single phone call within or to the United States. Read more .
Haiti Grassroots Watch - Despite the fact that it is illegal, abortion is common in Haiti. Haitian women have the procedure in secret. Women from the lower classes are the ones most at risk, because unlike wealthy women, they cannot travel to specialized clinics in places like Florida. Poorer women have to use various medicines from pharmacists or traditional healers, or they have operations performed by doctors working without any oversight from health authorities. Read more .
Sydney Morning Herald - Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, his agent said on Sunday. He was 81. O'Toole died on Saturday after a long illness, Steve Kenis said in a brief statement. Read more .
BBC News - Nelson Mandela's body has been laid to rest in a family plot, after political and religious leaders paid tribute to South Africa's first black president at a state funeral service. Read more .
BBC News - Nelson Mandela's body has been laid to rest in a family plot, after political and religious leaders paid tribute to South Africa's first black president at a state funeral service. Read more .
RT.com - Over 80 civilians in a town northwest of the Syrian capital of Damascus have been executed by Islamist rebels, sources within the Syrian military told RT. Many others were kidnapped to be used as human shields. Government forces are continuing a large-scale operation against Jabhat al-Nusra and Liwa Al-Islam fighters, who captured the town earlier this week. The area is located some 20 kilometers away from Damascus. Read more .
Washington Post - The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials. Read more .
RT.com - An Italian student protester may end up in court after a photograph of her kissing a riot police officer started making the rounds and became hailed as a symbol of peaceful protest. She may now face sexual assault charges. Read more .
Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - A bigger flatscreen TV, the latest tablet or mobile phone, and the newest, most impressive video game console are sure to be popular presents this holiday season. Read more .
Michael Prisch @ Truthout - I have been reading accounts of the demonstrations in Thailand by Thomas Fuller of the International New York Times (INYT). I do not have a television, so I cannot comment on the nature of its coverage. The INYT coverage minimizes the cause of the protests. Consequently, readers in America receive a dishonest version that pits the democracy-loving Thaksin proxy government as the victim of an undemocratic mass protest that seeks to undermine democratic elections. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read more .
RT.com - Belgium's Senate has supported the bill allowing to extend mercy-killing to children found to be terminally-ill. Opponents of the proposed measure argue that what cries out to be taken for an "act of compassion" is in fact an "act of irresponsibility". Read more .
RT.com - The governor of Connecticut hosted a ceremonial signing outside an organic restaurant in the city of Fairfield on Wednesday to commemorate the state’s passing of what could be the first GMO labeling law of its type in the United States. Voters in Connecticut decided back in June to approve a bill requiring that all foods meant for human consumption that contain genetically-modified ingredients be properly labeled. Read more .
Robert Reich - About the only good thing that can be said about the budget deal just patched together by House Republican budget chair Paul Ryan and Senate Democratic budget chair Patty Murray is that the right-wing Heritage Foundation and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity oppose it. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for the country. In fact, it’s a bad deal, for at least three reasons: Read more .
Jim Hightower @ Buzzflash - Coca-Cola is running a stealth advertising campaign. Stealth? Yes, it's a nationwide product promotion that's being run below the public radar! Why would a corporation as ad-dependent as Coke spend big bucks on advertising that it doesn't want consumers to notice? Shhhh — because the campaign is a surreptitious ploy to enlist restaurants in a marketing conspiracy that targets you, your children, and — of course — your wallet. Coke calls its covert gambit "Cap the Tap," urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: "Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain." Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke... read more.
Steven Jonas @ Buzzflash - MSNBC's Chris Matthews has been doing an over-the-top job of self-promoting his new book, Tip and the Gripper: When Politics Worked. Matthews has been with MSNBC for quite some time but in this past year he has become a true attack dog against the Tea Party/GOP (and regular readers of mine know that I see no fundamental differences between them on policy, just on style). And for that, for me it is fun to watch him, which I do on a fairly regular basis. But as for this book, ah well, that is another story. Read more .
Common Dreams - Following the news on Wednesday that Pope Francis was selected Time's person of the year despite speculation and, for some, hopes that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was the top pick, critics from around the world are blasting the magazine for snubbing Snowden in favor of the less controversial choice. Read more .
Dan Bacher @ CounterPunch - Walmart has been in the headlines in recent weeks after the retailer announced plans to keep its stores open this Thanksgiving, forcing Walmart employees to cancel many of their holiday plans. Read more .
William Pfaff @ Truthdig - Action begets reaction in foreign policy as in physics, and action unconsidered for its possible consequences has been responsible for many results for which statesmen (or their unqualified counterparts) are eventually sorry, as are multitudes (as it may be) who pay the price. That, sententious as it may be, is my holiday message to Barack Obama. I continue: Read more .
John Nichols @ The Nation - The trouble with making "functional" government the great aspiration of the American experiment -- as so many pundits and politicians now do -- is that a smoothly operating Congress is not necessarily moral, humane or even economically smart. Read more .
Jo Comerford @ Truthout - Americans deserve representatives in Congress who take seriously their role as stewards of the people's business. We deserve a federal budget that reflects Americans' priorities for how our tax dollars are spent. Unfortunately, Congress seems determined to give us neither. Read more .
Jacqueline Marcus @ Truthout - In case you haven't heard the latest news from the White House, the president chose to unleash the fossil fuel industry all across America. That's right. They're proudly calling the United States "the new Saudi Arabia." President Obama told his oil friends that "America the Beautiful" is all theirs for the profits. Read more .
RT.com - Nine people were killed and hundreds others injured as chaos gripped Argentina amid a police strike demanding pay rises. Mobs have taken over the streets, looting shops and robbing homes, local media reported. Officers across the country refused to go on patrol in 19 out of 23 Argentinean provinces. Read more .
USA Today - U.S. taxpayers no longer own any of automaker General Motors. The Treasury sold the last of its remaining 31.1 million GM shares today. It started with 500 million shares in 2010. Read more .
Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - 'We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.' Read more.
East Bay Express (California) - Just past midnight on a recent Wednesday, the half-moon hovered over Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland where waste bins had been put out on the street for pickup the next morning. Two homeless men shuffled down the sidewalk as we peered into the green bins in front of the Arizmendi bakery. We found several whole pizzas, bags of old bread, and slices of yam that didn't make it into a pie. Read more .
Seattle pi - A former official in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell was convicted of corruption Monday in a case that drove the city to the brink of bankruptcy. Jurors found former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia guilty of 11 charges, including conspiracy, misappropriating public funds, falsification of government records and conflict of interest. Read more .
USA Today - Some remembered his kindnesses; others reminisced about his charity. And at a special session of Parliament today, dedicated to paying tribute to the country's first democratically elected president, all praised Nelson Mandela for his sacrifice, wisdom and humility. Read more .
RT.com - More than 500 renowned authors – including five Nobel laureates - from across the globe have signed a petition demanding an end to ‘mass surveillance’. It follows the revelations over the last few months of the US and other countries spying. Read more .
RT.com - The NSA and the UK’s GCHQ spying agencies have collected players’ charts and deployed real-life agents into online World of Warcraft and Second Life games, a new leak by whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed. Read more .
Lauren McCauley @ Common Dreams - One day after Canada laid claim to the North Pole in a bid to out-maneuver other nations in the land grab for the resource-rich Arctic, Russian president Vladimir Putin issued orders Tuesday to beef up Russia's military presence in the region. Read more .
International Business Times - Since terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, victims’ loved ones, injured survivors, and members of the media have all tried without much success to discover the true nature of the relationship between the 19 hijackers – 15 of them Saudi nationals – and th