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Showing posts from March, 2013

Maya Angelou: my terrible, wonderful mother

Maya Angelou @ Guardian UK - The first decade of the 20th century was not a great time to be born black and poor and female in St Louis, Missouri, but Vivian Baxter was born black and poor, to black and poor parents. Later she would grow up and be called beautiful. As a grown woman she would be known as the butter-coloured lady with the blowback hair.  Read more .

Iraq, Afghan Wars Will Cost US 4-6 Trillion Dollars: Report

Inter Press Service - Costs to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will run between four and six trillion dollars, making them the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history, according to a new report by a prominent Harvard University researcher. While Washington has already spent close to two trillion dollars in direct costs related to its military campaigns in the two countries, that total “represents only a fraction of the total war costs”, according to the report ... read more .

The Global Unemployment Crisis

Truthout - After the near collapse of the financial system and the Great Recession, unemployment has significantly increased worldwide. According to the ILO Global Employment Trends 2013 report, a special edition warranted by the global employment crisis, the global unemployment rate is around 6 percent, which translates into a total of 197 million unemployed worldwide – and this number does not include the 39 million who have dropped out of the labor market.  Read more.

Self-Replication at Stake in Monsanto Patented Seed Case

Simon Davis-Cohen @ Truthout - Self-replication is a requirement for the continuation of life itself. When species participate in the replication of other species - when we plant our favorite tomato, when a butterfly pollinates its favorite flower - it is said that they co-evolve. This power to co-evolve and self-replicate is inherent, yet we find ourselves with our backs against the wall, fighting to retain it.  Read more .

The Day That TV News Died

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place. The descent was gradual—a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.  Read more .

Attorney General Eric Holder: If the President Does It, It’s Legal

John W. Whitehead @ Ruthordford Institute - Since the early days of our republic, the Attorney General (AG) of the United States has served as the chief lawyer for the government, entrusted with ensuring that the nation’s laws are faithfully carried out and holding government officials accountable to abiding by their oaths of office to “uphold and defend the Constitution.” Unfortunately, far from holding government officials accountable to abiding by the rule of law, the attorneys general of each successive administration have increasingly aided and abetted the Executive Branch in skirting and, more often than not, flouting the law altogether, justifying all manner of civil liberties and human rights violations and trampling the Constitution in the process... read more .

'Disaster Capitalism' in Detroit

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Community and pro-democracy activists in Detroit have no intention of rolling over and playing dead for Kevyn Orr, the city's new 'emergency manager' appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who will begin his contract to run the city as a one-person government on Monday. Called a "bloodless coup" by some, the appointment of an 'emergency financial manager' (EFM) will allow Orr to take full control over the city's resources now that the city council and school board have been stripped of their governing powers.  Read more.

Farmworkers Feed Nation, But Few Have Health Care

New America Media - Around 75 percent of farmworkers hired in the United States lack health insurance, the highest proportion of any major occupational category. More than 90 percent of them are foreign born (most from Mexico), young, married and Spanish-speaking. They toil in the fields so they can send money back home to support their families.  Read more .

'Shrouded in Secrecy': US Soldiers, Drones Proliferate in Niger

Common Dreams - Though "shrouded in secrecy," operations at the new US drone base in the West African country of Niger appear to be in full swing. According to a new Washington Post investigation of the US military's growing "strategic foothold" in the region and the goings-on at the air base established earlier this year, the skies over Niger and neighboring Mali are already humming with the buzz of US Predator drones.  Read more .

The Sociocide of Iraq by Bush/Cheney

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Ten years ago George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as war criminals, launched the sociocide of the people of Iraq – replete with embedded television and newspaper reporters chronicling the invasion through the Bush lens. That illegal war of aggression was, of course, based on recognized lies, propaganda and cover-ups that duped or co-opted leading news institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.  Read more .

Detroit Police Officer Accused of Shooting 7-Year-Old Will Go to Trial

The Michigan Citizen - After three long years, the case of Aiyana Stanley-Jones will finally be argued before a jury. During a March 8 pre-trial hearing, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray-Hathaway denied a motion to dismiss all charges against Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley in the shooting-death of the 7-year-old.  Read more .

Gifted and Talented Schools are Segregation by Another Name

Danny Katch 2 Socialist Worker - While African Americans and Latinos make up two-thirds of the children in the city's public elementary schools, they are barely a quarter of the students in the city's gifted and talented (G&T) programs. Only six students qualified last year in the South Bronx's entire school district. By comparison, in the two districts covering Manhattan south of Harlem, over 6,000 students make the grade.  Read more .

Boris Berezovsky found dead at his Berkshire home

Guardian UK - Police trained in handling chemical, biological and nuclear material have launched a search of the Berkshire home of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, hours after the fierce critic of the Kremlin was found dead. The circumstances of the 67-year-old's death were unclear, though there were unconfirmed claims that the former power-broker of Russian politics had killed himself at the property in Ascot.  Read more .

Vanderbilt Out of Africa: Tennessee students win a divestment fight

In These Times - Appalled by a 2011 report from the Oakland Institute that their school had investments in land-grabbing firm EmVest, Vanderbilt students and faculty began a nearly two-year-long divestment campaign. In February, the California-based development think tank reported that the school had withdrawn its $26 million stake in EmVest.  Read more.

Elizabeth Warren: Why Isn’t Minimum Wage $22?

Obama’s Real Political Program

John R. MacAuthur @ The Providence Journal - You have to hand it to Barack Obama when it comes to having it both ways: He never stops serving the ruling class, yet the mainstream media, from right to left, continues to pretend that he's some sort of reincarnation of Franklin D. Roosevelt, fully committed to the downtrodden and deeply hostile to the privileged and the rich.  Read more .

EPA Favors 'Bee-Toxic Pesticides' Over Future of Food, Groups Charge

Jacob Chamberlain @ Common Dreams - Arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed in its obligation to protect the nation's bee population—one of the Earth's most vital pollinators—from dangerous pesticides, a group of beekeepers and environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court saying the EPA's inaction is causing great harm to biodiversity and the future of food in the U.S.  Read more .

From Detroit to Cyprus, Banksters in Search of Prey

Glen Ford @ Black Agenda Report - From Nicosia, Cyprus, to Detroit, Michigan, the global financial octopus is squeezing the life out of society, stripping away public and individual assets in a vain attempt to fend off its own, inevitable collapse. The bankers “troika” that effectively rules Europe prepares to reach into the individual accounts of ordinary depositors on the island nation of Cyprus to fund the bailout of their local banking brethren. Across the Atlantic, a corporate henchman makes arrangements to seize the assets and abolish the political rights of a Black metropolis. The local colorations may vary, but the crisis is the same: massed capital is devouring its social and natural environment. Either we liquidate the banksters, or Wall Street will liquidate us.  Read more .

Thomas Young's "Last Letter"

Thomas Young @ Truthdig - I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.  Read more .

David Bacon: Corporate Education Reform Hits San Francisco Community College

David Bacon - On March 14, the day before the trustees at San Francisco Community College District handed in the report that may decide the life or death of California's largest community college, student and faculty marchers headed downtown to City Hall. A sinuous line of hundreds of chanting, banner-waving people stopped traffic on Mission Street, the main artery through the city barrio. Their mood combined equal parts of desperation at the prospect of the closure of the school, and anger and defiance at the kinds of changes that authorities are demanding to keep it open.  Read more .

Monsanto's Death Patents

Randall Amster JD @ Counterpunch - Monsanto has yet another case pending in the court system, this time before the U.S. Supreme Court on the exclusivity of its genetically modified seed patents. Narrowly at issue is whether Monsanto retains patent rights on soybeans that have been replanted after showing up in generic stocks rather than being sold specifically as seeds, or whether those patent rights are “exhausted” after the initial planting. But more broadly the case also raises implications regarding control of the food supply and the patenting of life – questions that current patent laws are ill-equipped to meaningfully address.  Read more .

International Day of Happiness

UN News Centre - Marking the first ever International Day of Happiness, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the international community to commit to an inclusive and sustainable human development that will improve the well-being of those who lack basic services needed to pursue happiness.  Read more .

Where Are Progressives in the Fight To Save Public Schools?

Jeff Bryant @ Education Opportunity Network - For years, federal education policies have been characterized by a “Washington Consensus” that public schools are effectively broken and only a market based reform agenda will fix them. People calling themselves “progressives” have tended to unite with conservative Republicans in this consensus – even while they chose to fight tooth-and-nail on other issues.  Read mor e.

The persecution of Barrett Brown - and how to fight it

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - [T]he pending federal prosecution of 31-year-old Barrett Brown poses all new troubling risks. That's because Brown - who has been imprisoned since September on a 17-count indictment that could result in many years in prison - is a serious journalist who has spent the last several years doggedly investigating the shadowy and highly secretive underworld of private intelligence and defense contractors, who work hand-in-hand with the agencies of the Surveillance and National Security State in all sorts of ways that remain completely unknown to the public. It is virtually impossible to conclude that the obscenely excessive prosecution he now faces is unrelated to that journalism and his related activism.  Read more .

North Korea threatens to attack US military bases in Pacific if provoked

Guardian UK - North Korea has said it will attack US military bases on Japan and the Pacific island of Guam if provoked, a day after its leader, Kim Jong-un, oversaw a mock drone strike on South Korea. The North also held an air raid drill on Thursday after accusing the United States of preparing a military strike using bombers that have overflown the Korean peninsula as part of drills between South Korean and US forces.  Read more .

'Worse Than Nixon': Pentagon Papers Lawyer on Obama, Secrecy and Press Freedoms

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - In 1971, when the New York Times decided to publish the Pentagon Papers leaked to it by Daniel Ellsberg, it knew it was triggering a major fight with the secrecy-obsessed Nixon administration. As expected, the Nixon administration sued the NYT in an attempt to ban it from publishing the documents, but the US Supreme Court, in a landmark decision for press freedom, ruled the prior restraint unconstitutional. The paper's general counsel at the time, James Goodale, said that he counseled the paper to publish despite "the more likely scenario that everyone feared was the fact that they could have gone to jail," and he subsequently became an outspoken defender of press freedoms. He now has a new book entitled "Fighting for the Press" in which he argues, as the Columbia Journalism Review puts it, that "Obama is worse for press freedom than former President Richard Nixon was."  Read more .

Bombings in Baghdad kill 56 on eve of Iraq war anniversary

Guardian UK - Hisham Shouar was 200 metres from his shop when the car bomb detonated, killing six people and injuring three others a short distance from the fortified Green Zone. The blast tore through his shop, where he sells toys and groceries, as well as a currency exchange and a pharmacy, setting fire to the cars parked around it.  Read more .

New York's Police Union Worked With the NYPD to Set Arrest and Summons Quotas

Ross Tuttle - Audio obtained by The Nation confirms an instance of New York City’s police union cooperating with the NYPD in setting arrest quotas for the department’s officers. According to some officers and critics of quotas, the practice has played a direct role in increasing the number of stop-and-frisk encounters since Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to office. Patrolmen who spoke to The Nation explained that the pressure from superiors to meet quota goals has caused some officers to seek out or even manufacture arrests to avoid department retaliation.  Read more .

Haiti's Duvalier Needs Company in the Dock

David Wilson - Human Rights Watch spokesperson Reed Brody called it "historic": on February 28 former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was forced to appear before a Port-au-Prince appeals court to discuss criminal complaints filed against him by victims of his 1971-1986 regime. The occasion was significant regardless of the outcome of the now ongoing trial of Duvalier. "Whatever happens next," Brody said, "Haitians will remember the image of their former dictator having to answer questions about the repression carried out under his rule."  Read more .

Al Gore: My Vision of the Future

Truthout - Denied the presidency by the United States Supreme Court (in a 5-4) vote, Al Gore became a Jeremiah for awhile during the worst of the Bush years. Generally, the mainstream media ignored him or derided him, even as he spoke truth to power about the War in Iraq and the threats to democracy. Since then he's become an apostle about the crisis of climate change, an entrepreneur, and a visionary.  Read mor e.

The Shame of America’s Gulag

Chris Hedges - If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.  Read more .

Wall Street Execs Should Face Criminal Consequences

Amitabh Pai @ The Progressive - Another day, another Wall Street scandal—and yet another instance where the perpetrators will quite certainly get little more than a slap on the wrist. The U.S. Senate has issued a report that faults JPMorgan Chase for the trading fiasco last year that caused billions of dollars in losses. It blames the bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, for lax supervision and for not sharing information with regulators.  Read more .

New 'Costs of War' Report: Hundreds of Thousands Dead, Trillions Spent

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - As the ten year anniversary of the US invasion approaches, updated research shows that both the human and financial costs of the preemptive and prolonged military adventure in Iraq are higher than the most Americans even now realize and astronomically higher than its proponents assured the public as they made their case for war a decade ago. At minimum, according to the Costs of War project at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, 134,000 innocent Iraqis lost their lives as a direct result of the US-led war that began in March of 2003.  Read more .

Police shooting of Brooklyn teen sparks protest

Peter Rugh @ Waging Nonviolence - “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.” Those words were posted on Facebook by teenager Kimani “Kiki” Gray shortly before he was killed by undercover police officers in East Flatbush on Saturday night, according to his friends. Gray couldn’t have had any idea he was foreshadowing his own death. He was more than likely just playing around, something Keayana Coke says Gray loved to do.  Read more .

Ten years on, Blair says Iraq invasion was right decision

France 24 - Tony Blair formed an unlikely alliance with George W. Bush to send British forces into Iraq, and 10 years on, the former prime minister is adamant he took the right decision. The Labour premier and the Republican US president were both convinced of the need to act against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, these weapons never materialised and although Saddam was ousted within weeks of the March 2003 invasion, Iraq soon descended into chaos... read more .

Iraq: War's Legacy of Cancer

Dahr Jamail @ Al Jazeera - Contamination from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq. Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse... read more .

On Kimani Gray, and on Not Walking Away

Yotam Maron @ Waging Nonvoilence - On Saturday, March 9, New York City police officers shot and killed 16-year-old Kimani Gray in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. After those seven bullets hit him, he lay on the ground and cried Vigil for Kimani Gray in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. (Photo: Jenna Pope)out, “Please don’t let me die.”  Read more .

Prison Profiteers Are Neo-Slaveholders and Solitary Is Their Weapon of Choice

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.  Read more .

Failed "Welfare" Programs and the Web of Poverty

Max Eternity @ Truthout - Whether by default or conscious implementation, a variety of institutional policies contribute to ongoing poverty. These include federal policies around poverty assistance and student debt, institutional barriers to upward social mobility and criminalization of poverty.  Read more .

Telecoms firm hails 'significant victory' as judge blocks FBI's data demands

Guardian UK - The Californian telecoms company thought to be behind a stunning court victory that has blown a hole in the FBI's highly secretive system for collecting US citizens' private data has hailed the "significant" legal breakthrough. Credo, based in San Francisco, spoke out after a federal judge ordered the US government to stop issuing what are called... read more .

John Catt Wins Lawsuit: Landmark privacy case won by 88 year old in UK

The Telegraph (UK) -   John Catt, 88, argued that keeping information about him on the National Domestic Extremism Database was a breach of his right to a private life because he had not committed any crimes. In a landmark ruling which threatens to throw police intelligence systems into chaos, the Appeal Court agreed, saying the intrusion into his private life had not been justified.  Read more .

Two Steubenville football players found guilty of raping teenage girl at party

Guardian UK - Two high school football players from a team that was the pride of the small former steel-producing town of Steubenville, Ohio, were convicted Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party. Former school quarterback Trent Mays, 17, and team-mate Ma'lik Richmond, 16, broke down in tears in the juvenile court after being found guilty in a case that bitterly divided the declining Rust Belt city and had led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community's revered athletes.  Read more .

L.A. Teachers Block Corporate Donor Attempt to Buy School Board

Labor Notes - The Los Angeles teachers union squeaked out a victory in yesterday’s L.A. school board election, beating back corporate donors who flushed millions of dollars into an effort to unseat an independent school board leader. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, not satisfied with pushing his corporate vision on public schools in his own city, was one of many wealthy outside donors, dropping $1 million on the L.A. school board races.  Read more .

Farmer Ben Burkett on Racism and Corporate Control of Agriculture

Other Worlds - Ben Burkett is a family farmer and coordinator of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives for the state of Mississippi. He is also president of the board of the National Family Farm Coalition and a member of the food sovereignty commission of Via Campesina, the international network of small farmers and landless people. He gave the following interview one early morning in New Orleans, where he went to deliver a truckload of his cooperatives’ okra to Whole Foods:  Read more .

Letter From Poland: Smart, Young, Unemployed - and Leaving

Pawel Wita @ - Anita Budner comes from a small town in western Poland, but has restarted her life in Hamburg, Germany. Budner didn't picture herself leaving her homeland. Yet despite having a good education and a university degree, the lack of opportunities in Poland pushed her to go abroad. And she is not alone. "Here in Germany right now there is a huge debate to increase the minimum wage from 5 euros to 8.50 euros per hour. I would be incredibly happy if I could find any job in Poland for Germany's current minimum wage," Budner said. The minimum wage in Poland is 2.50 euros per hour, and there isn't a politician who would consider increasing it.  Read more .

Democrats Share the Blame for Tragedy of Iraq War

Stephen Zunes @ Truthout - Here on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, it is important to remember that it was not just those in the Bush White House who were responsible for the tragedy, but leading members of Congress as well, some of whom are now in senior positions in the Obama administration. The 4,500 Americans killed, the far larger number permanently wounded, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed and millions displaced, the trillion dollars of US taxpayers' money squandered (and the resulting cutbacks through sequestration), the continued costs of the war through veterans' benefits and interest on the national debt, and the anti-American extremism in reaction to the invasion and occupation which has spread throughout much of the world all could have been avoided if the Democratic-controlled Senate hadn't voted to authorize this illegal and unnecessary war and occupation.  Read mor e.

Rock Art Riches: The Devastating Cost of Australia’s Mining Boom

The Global Mail (AUS) - TTucked away in the sandstone ridges of the rugged tropics near Australia’s north-eastern tip, the ochre “bullymen” with their big penises and staring eyes still cling to the rock. These are secret paintings, made by Aboriginal men who were driven from their lowlands by colonials hungry for gold, and who were then harassed in the hills by the Native Mounted Police, both black troopers and their white officers. The locals painted the police, or “bullymen”, onto the rock, in the belief that these works would conquer the enemy... read more .

Catholics in Argentina Protest Church’s Complicity in Dictatorship

Inter Press Service - Argentine archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was selected as pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church in this South American country is facing a rebellion by priests and laypersons who reject the role of the church leadership during the 1976-1983 dictatorship and the lack of reparations for past omissions and complicities.  Read more.

14 on Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Prison

McClatchy Newspapers - The U.S. military said Friday that it had designated 14 captives at the Guantánamo detention center as “hunger strikers,” and that six of them were being force-fed through tubes in the first admission of a protest claimed by defense attorneys.  Read more .

Right to a Lawyer Can Be Empty Promise for Poor

NY Times News Service @ Truthout - Billy Jerome Presley spent 17 months in a Georgia jail because he did not have $2,700 for a child support payment. He had no prior jail record but also no lawyer. In Baltimore last fall, Carl Hymes, 21, was arrested on charges of shining a laser into the eyes of a police officer. Bail was set at $75,000. He had no arrest record but also no lawyer. In West Orange, N.J., last summer, Walter Bloss, 89, was served with an eviction notice from the rent-controlled apartment he had lived in for 43 years after a dispute with his landlord. He had gone to court without a lawyer.  Read more .

Ten Years on I Want Answers for my Daughter Rachel Corrie

Craig Corrie @ The Hill - On March 16, 2003, my daughter Rachel Corrie was crushed to death under a bulldozer driven by an Israel Defense Forces soldier. The bulldozer was manufactured in the United States by Caterpillar, Inc. and paid for by U.S. foreign military financing aid. My tax dollars Rachel Corrie, paid for the machine used to kill my daughter.  Read more .

On the 10th Anniversary of Rachel Corrie's Death

Court Docs Reveal Blackwater’s Secret CIA Past

The Daily Beast - Last month a three-year-long federal prosecution of Blackwater collapsed. The government’s 15-felony indictment—on such charges as conspiring to hide purchases of automatic rifles and other weapons from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives—could have led to years of jail time for Blackwater personnel. In the end, however, the government got only misdemeanor guilty pleas by two former executives, each of whom were sentenced to four months of house arrest, three years’ probation, and a fine of $5,000. Prosecutors dropped charges against three other executives named in the suit and abandoned the felony charges altogether.  Read more .

'Unmitigated Disaster': Iraq's Pain Has Only Intensified Since US-Led Invasion in 2003

Guardian UK - It has always been painful for me to write about Iraq and Baghdad, the land of my birth and the city of my childhood. They say that time is a great healer, but, along with most Iraqis, I feel the pain even more deeply today. But this time the tears for what has already happened are mixed with a crippling fear that worse is yet to come: an all-out civil war. Ten years on from the shock and awe of the 2003 Bush and Blair war – which followed 13 years of murderous sanctions, and 35 years of Saddamist dictatorship – my tormented land, once a cradle of civilisation, is staring into the abyss.  Read more .

Wave of "Ag Gag" Bills Threaten Food Safety and Freedom of the Press

PR Watch - Remember "fecal soup"? A CBS "60 Minutes" exposé in 1987 documented widespread food safety violations by the poultry industry, making use of undercover video from a hidden camera placed by the "60 Minutes" crew. The episode vindicated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) whistleblower Hobart Bartley, who had been ignored and threatened by his superiors and finally transferred to another plant when he warned of unsanitary conditions at a Simmons Industries plant in Missouri. Bartley was particularly irate about the "eight-foot-high vat of water called the 'chiller,' where as many as 10,000 chicken carcasses were routinely left to float, soaking up moisture to increase their selling weight. Dried blood, feces, and hair were floating in along with the dead birds. Diane Sawyer later called it 'fecal soup.'"  Read more .

The Cruel Gap Between CEO Pay and the Stagnant Minimum Wage

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Walmart CEO Mike Duke makes approximately $11,000 an hour. Think about that -- $11,000 every hour. Think about an hour of your day, the tasks you accomplish, and the compensation you receive from your employer. If you are an average American worker, you could add up all your daily work hours and that of your close friends, family, and fellow coworkers and it still won't even come close to what Mike Duke makes in a single hour of his work day. He was the 46th highest paid CEO in America in 2012, according to Forbes.  Read more .

Erased US Data Shows 1 in 4 Missiles in Afghan Airstrikes Now Fired by Drone

Common Dreams - Drones are now firing nearly a quarter of all air-launched missiles in Afghanistan, just as the US military deletes its drone figures. The US military has stopped publishing data on drone use in Afghanistan, claiming missions that include drone strikes are ‘the exception’ – just 3% of all drone flights. However, the figures themselves demonstrate the increasingly important role played by drones in airstrikes by the US and its allies in Afghanistan.  Read more .

The Obama administration doubles down on government opacity

Jason Leopold @ Truthout - The Obama administration stepped up its war on leaks of classified information to the media by ordering the intelligence community to enhance lie detector tests and expound to individuals who are interviewed during the security clearance process "the full meaning and implications" of an "unauthorized" disclosure to journalists, according to a memo signed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.  Read more .

NYPD officer Gilberto Valle found guilty of all charges in cannibalism plot

Guardian UK - A New York City police officer has been convicted of plotting to kidnap and cook women alive, bringing to an end a macabre case that raised difficult questions about where the law draws the line between fantasy and reality. The federal jury found Gilberto Valle, a 28-year-old father with an admitted fetish for discussing cannibalism on the internet, guilty on all counts. He now faces life in prison.  Read more .

Finally: hear Bradley Manning in his own voice

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - The court-martial proceeding of Bradley Manning has, rather ironically, been shrouded in extreme secrecy, often exceeding even that which prevails at Guantanamo military commissions. This secrecy prompted the Center for Constitutional Rights to commence formal legal action on behalf of several journalists and activists, including myself, to compel greater transparency.   Read more .

Millions of Europeans Require Red Cross Food Aid

Spiegel - Needy families and individuals in the European Union are becoming increasingly reliant on charity organizations like the Red Cross for basic needs like food, water and shelter. While Germany is relatively unaffected, unemployment and austerity in countries like Spain are making the problem even more severe.  Read more .

The Crucifixion of Tomas Young

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - I flew to Kansas City last week to see Tomas Young. Young was paralyzed in Iraq in 2004. He is now receiving hospice care at his home. I knew him by reputation and the movie documentary “Body of War.” He was one of the first veterans to publicly oppose the war in Iraq. He fought as long and as hard as he could against the war that crippled him, until his physical deterioration caught up with him.  Read more .

This Week in Poverty: American Winter

Greg Kaufmann @ The Nation - Since the beginning of the Great Recession, I’ve been waiting for a documentary to make the case that low-income people and the middle class are now in the same boat—that old distinctions people created to divide them are obsolete, with so many people living near poverty, or an illness, lost job, or disaster away from poverty.  Read more .

Noam Chomsky: Will Capitalism Destroy Civilization?

Noam Choamsky @ Truthout - There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.” The term “capitalism” is commonly used to refer to the U.S. economic system, with substantial state intervention ranging from subsidies for creative innovation to the “too-big-to-fail” government insurance policy for banks.  Read more.

Gay in China: Suffering in a Marriage of Convenience

Spiegel - Xiao Bin is gay, but has been married to a woman for the last seven years. His fate is no different from that of up to 90 percent of gay men in China. The society is slowly changing, but pressures heaped on same-sex couples remain huge. While Xiao's wife was in the bathroom showering and putting on her makeup, Xiao's lover Lian slid under the covers with him. Xiao pulled Lian close, embraced him and kissed him. After a few minutes, Lian slipped out again. Officially, Lian was an employee in Xiao's restaurant, a small establishment located directly under Xiao's apartment in the city of Tianjin.  Read more .

Dancing the World into Being

Naomi Klien @ YES! Magazine - In December 2012, the Indigenous protests known as Idle No More exploded onto the Canadian political scene, with huge round dances taking place in shopping malls, busy intersections, and public spaces across North America, as well as solidarity actions as far away as New Zealand and Gaza.  Read more .

North Korea: US Has No Monopoly on Right to Preemptive Nuclear Attacks

Craig Brown @ Common Dreams - Declaring that the United States' right to "preemptive nuclear attack is not their monopoly," North Korea vowed on Thursday to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States. A spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the country will exercise its right for "a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds... read more .

Tim DeChristopher’s Release from Prison Inspires Earth Day Theatrical Release of Bidder 70

Bradley Manning: The Conscience of America

Michael Ratner @ Common Dreams - This past Thursday, I was among a handful of individuals seated in the small windowless room at the military court facility in Fort Meade, Maryland, where Private First Class Bradley Manning would confess as the source of the largest leak of classified information in history. Sitting in his dark blue full military uniform, Private Manning responded thoughtfully each time the judge addressed him, as he prepared to read aloud a 35-page statement that precisely detailed his actions and motivations for each of 10 charges.  But as I witnessed this momentous occurrence, I was struck by a glaring inconsistency: the young soldier I saw in front of me – poised, resolute – bore absolutely no resemblance to his common depictions in the media from the last three years.  Read more .

Jail Sentence: Court Convicts Italy's Berlusconi

Spiegel - March had looked like it would be a month of political revitalization for former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Instead, it is turning out to be a month of trials -- and at least one conviction. On Thursday, a court in Milan sentenced the media mogul to one year in jail on charges of breaching confidentiality for his role in a wiretapping scandal.  Read more .

On the News With: Thom Hartmann: Attorney General Eric Holder Confesses, and More

83 Billionaires in China's Congress

Washington Post - The legislature of the world’s last major communist country is almost certainly the wealthiest in the world, according to a popular rich list that names 83 dollar billionaires among the delegates to China’s parliament this year. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is not a single billionaire in the House of Representatives or the Senate.  Read more .

Remembering Hugo Chavez

Al Jazeera - "We are all Chavez" - those were the chants from his supporters following the death of Venezuela's president. Losing his two-year battle with cancer, Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday at the age of 58 and Venezuela has declared seven days of mourning.  Read more .

Chávez Dies, Leaving a Bitterly Divided Venezuela

NY Times - President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela died Tuesday afternoon after a struggle with cancer, the government announced, leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis that grew more acute as he languished for weeks, silent and out of sight, in hospitals in Havana and Caracas.  Read more .

Bob Barker Spearheads New ADI Campaign to End Elephant Suffering at Fairs

Animal Defenders International - ADI has launched a nationwide initiative in the United States about the use of elephants giving rides, performances or making appearances at public events. At the heart of the campaign is a new DVD narrated by Emmy award winning TV host Bob Barker entitled ‘No Fun For Elephants’ and featuring harrowing undercover footage from inside elephant training facilities in California, as well as abuse of an elephant on tour by a Texas-owned company.  Read more .

Europe's Lost Generation Finds Its Voice

Spiegel - For years, Europe's young have grown increasingly furious as the euro crisis has robbed them of a future. The emergence of Beppe Grillo's party in Italy is one of the results -- and is just the latest indication that disgust towards European politics is widespread.  Read more .

We Are Bradley Manning

Chris Hedges @ Truthdig - I was in a military courtroom at Fort Meade in Maryland on Thursday as Pfc. Bradley Manning admitted giving classified government documents to WikiLeaks. The hundreds of thousands of leaked documents exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as government misconduct. A statement that Manning made to the court was a powerful and moving treatise on the importance of placing conscience above personal safety, the necessity of sacrificing careers and liberty for the public good, and the moral imperative of carrying out acts of defiance. Manning will surely pay with many years—perhaps his entire life—in prison. But we too will pay. The war against Bradley Manning is a war against us all.  Read more .

80th Anniversary of Roosevelt and The New Deal