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Showing posts from May, 2013

Monsanto set to halt GM push in Europe

Russian Times - Monsanto plans to halt lobbying for its genetically modified plant varieties in Europe due to low demand from local farmers, a representative from the US agricultural giant told a German daily. "We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe," Brandon Mitchner a representative for Monsanto’s European branch, Tageszeitung, said in an interview set to be published on Saturday. "Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops. The reason is, among other things, low demand of the farmers,” he continued.  Read more .

The FBI’s Fishy Story on Killing Tsarnaev’s Friend

Matthew Rothschild @ The Progressive - This story always smelled a little fishy to me. I’m talking about the FBI’s killing of Ibragim Todashev, the Chechen down in Florida who was a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. When he was fatally shot by an FBI agent on May 22 while being questioned by several law enforcement officers, we were told... read more.

The 'We Steal Secrets' Documentary on WikiLeaks Is Incredibly Biased

Jesselyn Radack @ Guardian UK - Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is slick and dangerous in the same way Zero Dark Thirty is. People walk away finding it "balanced", and thinking that certain conduct (whistleblowing and torture, respectively) is "bad" or "good". We live in such a perverse moment in society that a film is portrayed as "balanced" when it paints whistleblowing as deviant behavior.  Read more .

"Off the Record" Meetings with DOJ Exposes Deep Subservience of DC Press Corps

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - While some news outlets are lining up to attend a series of "off the record" media briefings with the Department of Justice, others are balking at the invitation from embattled Attorney General Eric Holder, saying that it would be "inappropriate" to accept the government's conditions of secrecy as they actively report on how the DOJ "secretly" investigates journalistic activities.  Read more .

US lifts ban on laptops and other hightech exports to Iran ahead of elections

Russian Times - The US has announced it is easing sanctions on Iran, allowing exports of computers, cellphones and software to individuals. The move comes ahead of presidential election to be held next month. Though the chances of an Apple Store being opened in Tehran are still slim, Iranians might soon be able to buy American computer devices and cellphones officially and not at the black market... read more.

Hundreds Protest Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Trees in North Carolina

Mike Ludwig @ Truthout - Protests are raging outside of a biotechnology conference in Asheville, North Carolina, where demonstrators are voicing opposition to proposals to grow genetically engineered eucalyptus trees across the southeastern United States. Hundreds of demonstrators marched outside the Tree Biotechnology 2013 conference on Wednesday, and organizers said the protest was the largest against genetically engineered trees yet. On Tuesday, two Asheville residents were arrested after disrupting a presentation at the conference, according to a release from activist groups.  Read more.

Are Washington, Moscow, and Beijing Using the Global Arms Trade to Create a New Cold War?

Michael T. Klare @ TomDispatch - Did Washington just give Israel the green light for a future attack on Iran via an arms deal?  Did Russia just signal its further support for Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime via an arms deal?  Are the Russians, the Chinese, and the Americans all heightening regional tensions in Asia via arms deals?  Is it possible that we’re witnessing the beginnings of a new Cold War in two key regions of the planet -- and that the harbingers of this unnerving development are arms deals?  Read more .

Van Jones: Three Myths About the Obama Tar Sands Pipeline

Father of Ibragim Todashev FBI shot claims his son was executed

USA Today - The father of a Florida man with ties to Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev said Thursday that his son was slain "execution-style" by FBI agents last week in Orlando. Ibragim Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, was shot in his Florida home on May 22 while an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers questioned him... read more .

Americans have rebuilt less than half of wealth lost to the recession, study says

Washington Post - American households have rebuilt less than half of the wealth lost during the recession, leaving them without the spending power to fuel a robust economic recovery, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve. From the peak of the boom to the bottom of the bust, households watched a total of $16 billion in wealth disappear amid sinking stock prices and the rubble of the real estate market. Since then, Americans have only been able to recapture 45 percent of that amount on average... read more .

The Death of Nutrition

Thom Hartman @ Truthout - When nutritionists say “super foods,” most people think of things like spinach, blueberries, pomegranates and quinoa. Thanks to the “super food” debate that has raged over the past several years, we’ve been led to believe that these and other types of grains, fruits, and veggies are the key to living a long and healthy life.  Read more .

Officials: Man who knew Boston bombing suspect was unarmed when shot

Washington Post - A Chechen man who was fatally shot by an FBI agent last week during an interview about one of the Boston bombing suspects was unarmed, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. An air of mystery has surrounded the FBI shooting of Ibragim Todashev, 27, since it occurred in Todashev’s apartment early on the morning of May 22. The FBI said in a news release that day that Todashev, a former Boston resident who knew bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed during an interview with several law enforcement officers.  Read more .

The Case for Food Stamps

LA Times - To hear Republicans — and some Democrats — in Congress talk, you'd think food-stamp dollars just disappear into a black hole. The prevailing debate in the Senate and House versions of the farm bill, which contains funding for food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), is over how much to cut. But when more than 15% of Americans remain impoverished, slashing food assistance for the poor makes no sense in humanitarian, economic or public health terms.  Read more .

How Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists

Earth Island Journal - In February 2010 Tom Jiunta and a small group of residents in northeastern Pennsylvania formed the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC), an environmental organization opposed to hydraulic fracturing in the region. The group sought to appeal to the widest possible audience, and was careful about striking a moderate tone. All members were asked to sign a code of conduct in which they pledged to carry themselves with “professionalism, dignity, and kindness” as they worked to protect the environment and their communities. GDAC’s founders acknowledged that gas drilling had become a divisive issue misrepresented by individuals on both sides and agreed to “seek out the truth.”  Read more .

Will Journalists Take Any Steps to Defend Against Attacks on Press Freedom?

Glenn Greenwald - Media outlets and journalists have finally awakened to the serious threat posed by the Obama administration to press freedoms, whistle blowing and transparency. Apparently, what was necessary for them to be prodded out of their slumber was watching people they perceive as "one of them" have their emails secretly seized and be accused of serious felonies. The question now: what, if anything, will they do to defend the press freedoms they claim to value? By design, there are many options the press corps has for thwarting government attacks like these. Doing so requires a real adversary posture, renouncing their subservience to government interests and fear of alienating official sources. It remains to be seen whether any of that will happen.  Read more .

Colorado Governor Signs Bill Ending Marijuana Prohibition in State

Buzzflash - Today, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation that continue the reform of marijuana laws in Colorado set in motion last election by the voters in the state. Once voters made it clear that marijuana prohibition must end, Hickenlooper established a task force of various stakeholder communities to provide guidance for the general assembly to enact legislation to implement Amendment 64.  Read more .

15 Freight Train Cars Derail in Maryland

ABC News -  Fifteen freight train cars derailed in an industrial area of Maryland this afternoon causing an explosion, the collapse of several buildings and leaving one person in serious condition, according to authorities. The CSX train derailed in the White Marsh area around 2 p.m., according to officials.  Read more .

Women Face Down Stun Batons at Nike Factory Protest

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Garment workers in Cambodia, making apparel for the US shoe and sportswear company Nike, were attacked by police armed with electrified batons on Monday, marking a violent escalation in their battle to receive better ages at a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the nation's capital city.  Read more .

Pentagon: The Chinese stole our newest weapons

Russian Times - The designs for more than two dozen major weapons systems used by the United States military have fallen into the hands of the Chinese, US Department of Defense officials say. Blueprints for the Pentagon’s most advanced weaponry, including the Black Hawk helicopter and the brand new Littoral Combat Ship used by the Navy, have all been compromised, the Defense Science Board claims in a new confidential report.  Read more .

Obama's Terrorism Speech: Seeing What You Want To See

Glenn Greenwald - The hallmark of a skilled politician is the ability to speak to a group of people holding widely disparate views, and have all of them walk away believing they heard what they wanted to hear. Other than Bill Clinton, I've personally never seen a politician even in the same league as Barack Obama when it comes to that ability. His most consequential speeches are shaped by their simultaneous affirmation of conflicting values and even antithetical beliefs, allowing listeners with irreconcilable positions to conclude that Obama agrees with them. The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the "war on terror" is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the preside

Why USC and not a black college, Dr. Dre?

LA Times - I was in Detroit preparing to give a speech last week when the news came across my Twitter feed: "Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine donate $70 million to USC to create new degree." As one of the first university presidents from the hip-hop generation, I had to stop and read the story immediately.  Read more .

Oregon teen to be charged with attempted murder over 'conspiring to top Columbine massacre'

Russian Times - An Oregon high school student has been accused of building at least six bombs in preparation an attack modeled after the notorious 1999 Columbine school shooting. Grant Acord, 17, was arrested late Thursday at his Albany home and taken to a juvenile jail. He is suspected of manufacturing and possessing explosive devices, which he stored in a secret compartment under the floor of his bedroom, according to authorities.  Read more .

UN Human Rights Chief Slams US Over Gitmo, 'War on Terror'

Jacob Chamberlain @ Common Dreams - Anti-terror policies implemented by the U.S. and governments around the world have grossly violated human rights, warned United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay on Monday, warning that the U.S. government's Guantanamo Bay detention center and international rendition and drone programs have done far more harm than good.  Read more .

Racially Segregated ‘Black-Only Pods’ in Florida County Jail

ColorLines - U.S. Department of Justice investigators found a number of unconstitutional practices at the Escambia County Jail facility in northwest Florida that “constitute serious risks to prisoner safety,” according to the Justice Department’s findings letter. Among those problems were insufficient access to mental healthcare for the inmates, and racial segregation of black prisoners. Said the U.S. Department of Justice in a release:  Read more .

Consumerism and Its Discontents

Charles Derber @ Truthout - A quiet revolutionary struggle is brewing in the minds of the US "millennial" generation, those 80 million Americans between ages 16 and 34. They are wrestling with the fundamental edict of capitalism: Buy and you shall be happy. The millennials have not rejected consumerism, but they have also not embraced it fully. They experience its very real downsides - that also afflict millions of older Americans and go to the heart of capitalist sustainability and morality.  Read more .

In Guantanamo, fine words are no substitute for freedom

Russian Times - When President Obama delivered a major speech on America's drone program and the ongoing existence of the Guantanamo prison, the majority of those most affected by the latter - the prisoners themselves - were, ironically, unable to hear his speech. Until six weeks ago, the majority of prisoners were spending most of their time communally, in Camp Six of the prison, where they were able to watch TV and would have seen President Obama's speech. Six weeks ago, however, after an early morning raid, the majority of the prisoners were moved to solitary cells, where they have remained ever since - as punishment for embarking on a prison-wide hunger strike, now in its fourth month.  Read more .

NYC’s Bike Share Launches At $9.95 Per Day

Talking Points Memo (TMP) - New York City’s long-awaited and much-hyped bicycle-sharing program is finally set to begin. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan will christen the beginning of bike-sharing at a docking station near the Brooklyn Bridge Monday morning.  Read more .

Julian Assange: UK Spy Messages Suggest He is Being Framed

Craig Brown @ Common Dreams - Speaking during an interview with Spanish television program Salvados, which aired on Sunday, WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange said that he has received a series of unclassified instant message exchanges from UK intelligence officials suggesting that he is being framed. Assange filed a 'Special Access Request' under the UK's Data Protection Act asking the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) for copies of all unclassified documents referencing Assange.  Read more .

Thousands join Paris rally against gay marriage law

France 24 - Several hundred thousand opponents of same-sex marriage marched in central Paris on Sunday against a reform the unpopular French government passed last month at the price of deepening political polarisation. Large park grounds around Les Invalides monument were full of protesters waving pink and blue flags, while far-right activists hung a banner on the ruling Socialist Party headquarters urging President Francois Hollande to quit.  Read more .

Kechiche’s powerful same-sex love story wins Palme d’Or

France 24 - Critics and the Cannes jury don’t always see eye-to-eye. But on Sunday night, when jury president Steven Spielberg announced that this year’s Palme d’Or was going to “three artists”, French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche, as well as his leading ladies Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, for “Blue is the Warmest Color” (“La vie d’Adèle”), the press erupted in cheers.  Read more .

How Many Rotting Apples Do Our Hedges Hide? - They’re hunkering down at SAC Capital, the hedge fund empire billionaire Steven Cohen has spent over two decades building. Federal prosecutors have been picking off SAC’s current and former second bananas one by one, plea bargaining for information that brings them ever closer to Cohen. This past March SAC coughed up $616 million, without admitting guilt, to settle a federal civil suit charging the hedge fund with insider trading. A defiant Cohen then went out and plopped down $155 million for a Picasso and $60 million more for a new Hamptons manse, just to show how little he’d miss the $616 million.  Read more .

The End of the Beginning of the End

William Rivers Pitt @ Truthout - I think my daughter's eyes are blue. They might be green. She hasn't been around long enough to tell just yet, but they are certainly something. She recognized me for the first time just a few days ago, and smiled up at me in a simple, sweet way that obliterated my heart. She cannot focus on anything more than a few feet from her face, but that, like everything else about her, will change in time. Someday soon, she will be able to see everything, and tragically, this will be the world within her view. A report released early this year by the organization Oxfam International revealed that the combined income of the richest 100 people in the world is enough to end global poverty four times over... read more .

A Review of Alex Gibney's 'We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks'

Alexa O'Brien @ Common Dreams - If "We Steal Secrets" or the subsequent Q & A with director, Alex Gibney, revealed anything, it's that the filmmaker is quite uninformed about the trial of Bradley Manning. He can barely speak on the topic or on that of the largest criminal probe of a publisher and its source in history. Which begs the question: What was Gibney relying on for his costly 'string of pearls' reportage, beyond his hackneyed entourage of unexamined glory-boats, bearing witness on the silver screen to their privileged punditry-- that is, talking about themselves amongst themselves for their own benefit-- certainly not the public's-- or future generations?  Read more .

On the eve of March against Monsanto Senate shoots down GMO labeling bill

Russian Times - As 200,000 people prepare to march against Monsanto, the Senate has overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would allow states to decide if genetically modified food products should be labeled. The amendment shot down by the Senate would have allowed states to make their own decisions on whether or not GMO foods should be labeled – without mandating any action. Supporters originally believed that this measure was non-controversial, and simply gave states an option. But the Senate voted 71 to 27 against it on Thursday, days before Saturday’s March Against Monsanto.  Read more .

The Corporate Dictatorship of PBS and NPR

Thom Hartman @ Truthout - PBS is blowing it, and their decision not to air a documentary on the Koch brothers is pretty horrifying proof of it. But it wasn't always this way. On November 7, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Public Broadcasting Act.  Read more .

Come Clean: Groups Demand Transparency from Attorney General Eric Holder

Josh Sterns @ Save the Internet - A day after President Obama ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to review the Justice Department’s guidelines regarding interactions with the press, Free Press and a diverse coalition of civil liberties, digital rights and open government groups weighed in on the agency’s treatment of journalists’ sources and information. Representing millions of Americans, 62 groups signed the letter, demanding a full, transparent account of the Justice Department’s targeting of journalists and whistleblowers.  Read more .

'Obama must be taken before ICC for the war on terror' says Noam Choamsky

Russian Times - The US war on terror is in fact the most massive terror campaign ever, and the invasion of Iraq was the worst crime in recent history, prominent liberal thinker Noam Chomsky told RT, adding that he wants to see Bush, Blair and Obama tried at the ICC. The ‘father of modern linguistics,’ Chomsky reflects on the language of the war on terror, coming to the conclusion that the freer the society, the more sophisticated its propaganda.  Read more .

Another Memorial Day in This Endless War

Amy Goodman @ Guardian UK - In a remarkable but little-noticed oversight hearing last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee looked at "The Law of Armed Conflict, the Use of Military Force, and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force". The 2001 AUMF is the act passed by Congress on 14 September, three days after the al-Qaida attacks on the United States. Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, opened his questioning of the military officials before him by stating:  Read more .

Collapse: Does Washington Bridge Expose the Crumbling of a Nation?

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - As the nation continues to follow the slash and burn economic policies of the austerity hawks in Washington, will a dramatic bridge collapse in Washington state renew talk of America's eroding infrastructure? On Thursday night, a truck hit a support beam on Interstate-5 near Seattle and caused a complete section of the Skagit River Bridge to collapse, sending vehicles and their passengers into the frigid water below.  Read more.

President Obama and the media: a game of flattery and deceit

Ann Marie Cox @ Guardian UK - It's difficult to say who's happier about the recent spate of troubles in the Obama White House, specifically the revelations about administration investigations into the activities of news organizations and individual journalists. Is it the Republicans, whose glee has finally found a source that doesn't coincide with the misery of every day Americans? (That's the problem with pegging your campaigns to Obama's inability to get the economy going – you have to actively block his attempts to get the economy going). Or is it the press that's the truly delighted party here, as they have finally found a narrative that is as critical of the Obama administration as it is laudatory of their own role in the great pageant of democracy?  Read more .

Boy Scouts of America lifts ban on gay youth

LA Times - In a highly anticipated vote Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay youth starting next year, the latest sign of a shift in American attitudes toward gays and lesbians. The resolution was adopted with more than 60% of the vote. The vote to allow gay youth in Scouting — but not gay adult leaders — was held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central time during the group’s annual meeting... read more .

Obama’s War on Journalists

Emily Bazelon @ Slate - Attorney General Eric Holder has said that he doesn’t want the Obama administration’s leak prosecutions “to be his legacy.” But he has also trumpeted the cases—six and counting—in response to criticism from Senate Republicans. “We have tried more leak cases—brought more leak cases during the course of this administration than any other administration,” Holder said before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.  Read more .

Student jailed for three weeks awaiting trial over Facebook posts

Russian Times - A Boston-area teenager remains in custody on $1 million bond nearly one month after being arrested over what he said on the Internet. Eighteen-year-old Cameron B. D’Ambrosio of Methuen, Massachusetts was arrested on May 1 after police were alerted to “disturbing verbiage” on his personal Facebook page discovered by a fellow student at Methuen High School. D’Ambrosio allegedly posted original rap lyrics that prompted authorities to charge him with terrorism, and now he faces a potential 20 years in prison.  Read more .

London's Violent Spectacle: What is to be Gained by Calling it Terror?

Brad Evans @ Truthout - Politicians know better than most that words function politically. More than offering some definitive truth to a situation, the use of language conditions what is further possible. The decision therefore to label the horrifying spectacle of violence witnessed on the streets of Woolwich in South London Wednesday as a "Terror Attack" will have consequences. But what is actually to be gained from labeling it in such a way instead of as a criminal act, politically motivated violence or just pathological derangement?  Read more .

The GOP's Black Friends Need More Black Friends

Mychal Denzil Smith @ The Nation - The Republican Party knows it cannot continue to compete nationally if it remains the party of old white men. In order to not be the party of old white men, it cannot afford to look racist. It’s not so much interested in distancing itself from the racist elements within the party or abandoning racist policies, but it would like to not appear racist. To that end, it has come up with a solution wherein the few black and brown faces that dot the party are deployed to regurgitate the staid policy and rhetoric.  Read more.

Obamas to Black Grads: Good Job. Now Stop Being Such a Failure

ColorLines - Graduation season is upon us, and with it the time-honored ritual of big, important graduation speeches. This weekend, Barack and Michelle Obama each gave theirs at historically black colleges—the president spoke at Morehouse, the first lady at Bowie State. This is a fabulous thing on its face. And both talked explicitly about race and opportunity. The problem is that both also continued a pattern we have too often been forced to examine—using the world’s largest bully pulpit to browbeat black people for the personal failings that the Obamas seem to believe are our largest challenge.  Read more .

Stockholm riots spread as PM slams 'hooliganism'

France 24 - Rioting spread across Stockholm's suburbs early Wednesday in the third night of unrest to hit the Swedish capital, as Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt blamed the violence on "hooliganism" and appealed for calm. "In the past 24 hours, around 30 cars have been set on fire... in the greater Stockholm area," said Kjell Lindgren, a spokesman for the Stockholm police.  Read more .

Obama DOJ formally accuses journalist in leak case of committing crimes

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined - in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week's controversy over the DOJ's pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the newsgathering process in general. Read more.

Barack Obama seeks prosecution of journalist with 1917 Espionage Act

MSNBC - he Justice Department (DOJ) sought a warrant in 2010 to inspect the private emails of Fox News correspondent James Rosen, according to court documents obtained by the Washington Post and which were released Monday. The department calls Rosen “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” to the leaking of classified materials, in its application for a search warrant, which was approved by a U.S. magistrate judge in May 2010. The revelation that the DOJ would classify a journalist as an un-indicted co-conspirator under the 1917 Espionage Act is “even a bigger deal” than the department’s seizure of Associated Press  phone records... read more .

UK police sample DNA from 120,000 children in 2 years

Russian Times - British police collected the DNA of more than 120,000 children in just two years, with a thousand of them aged 10 at the time of the swab. Most of the youngsters have committed no punishable crime, but their DNA data will be stored for years. “It is disappointing to see valuable crime-fighting resources being wasted on taking DNA samples from thousands of innocent children while serious offenses go undetected,” said Francis Crook, chief executive of the legal activists Howard League for Penal Reform. The group was able to obtain the data for 2010 and 2011 with a Freedom of Information request. Other than the overall numbers, the biggest surprise was the age spread – showing that children aged 13 were almost as likely to be recorded in the police database as 17-year-olds.  Read more .

Swedish extradition request for Assange ‘a fit-up’ - UK intel chatter

Russian Times - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cited unclassified messages exchanged inside a UK intelligence agency to back his refusal to be extradited to Sweden. One of the messages calls sex-related allegations against Assange “a fit-up”. One message from September 2012, which Assange read out in a Sunday night interview with Spanish TV program Salvados, says: "They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate."  Read mor e.

The Collapse of Journalism, and the Journalism of Collapse

Robert Jensen @ The Rag Blog - For those who believe that a robust public-affairs journalism is essential for a society striving to be democratic, the 21st century has been characterized by bad news that keeps getting worse. Whatever one’s evaluation of traditional advertising-supported news media (and I have been among its critics; more on that later), the unraveling of that business model has left us with fewer professional journalists who are being paid a living wage to do original reporting. It’s unrealistic to imagine that journalism can flourish without journalists who have the time and resources to do journalism.  Read more .

Marching in Chicago: Resisting Rahm Emanuel's Neoliberal Savagery

Henry A. Giroux @ Truthout - Across the globe, predatory capitalism spreads its gospel of power, greed, commodification, gentrification and inequality.  Through the combined forces of a market driven ideology, policy and mode of governance, the apostles of free-market capitalism are doing their best to dismantle historically guaranteed social provisions provided by the welfare state, define the accumulation of capital as the only obligation of democracy, increase the role of corporate money in politics, wage an assault on unions, expand the military-security state, increase inequalities in wealth and income, foster the erosion of civil liberties and undercut public faith in the defining institutions of democracy.1. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish - from public schools to health-care centers - there is also a se

The Hidden World of Israel’s High School War Resisters

Yes! Magazine - When the 19-year-old Israeli war resister Noam Gur attends weekly demonstrations against the occupation of Palestine, the soldiers who suppress the protestors—with tear gas, stun grenades, and occasionally live fire—aren’t just strangers in uniform. Among them are her former high school classmates, who have been conscripted into the Israeli army. Gur was supposed to serve, too, but instead joined the shministim. This is a Hebrew term meaning high school students in their senior year, who face conscription into the army. But the word is also used to refer to students who publicly refuse conscription on ethical grounds. “All my friends from high school are in the army,” Gur explains. “Now I see them at demos. It is really weird and complicated.”  Read more .

In Shadow of the Stonewall Inn, a Gay Man Is Killed

NY Times - Mark Carson did not hide that he was gay, and when he went out on the town he would often head to Greenwich Village, where much of the struggle for gay liberation unfolded, years before he was born. Yet late Friday night, just blocks from the Stonewall Inn, among the most important landmarks of that struggle, he was confronted with a man screaming antigay slurs, who then stalked him before pulling out a silver revolver and fatally shooting him, the police said.  Read more .

"Black Diamonds”: South Africa’s Black Millionaires Act as Middlemen for Corporate Power

The IRS and the Real Scandal

Robert Reich - “This systematic abuse cannot be fixed with just one resignation, or two,” said David Camp, the Republican chairman of the House tax-writing committee, at an oversight hearing Friday morning dealing with the IRS. “This is not a personnel problem. This is a problem of the IRS being too large, too intrusive, too abusive.” David Camp has it wrong. There has been a “systematic” abuse of power, but it’s not what Camp has in mind. The real scandal is that:  Read more .

EU Bans Olive Oil Dipping Bowls In Restaurants

The Daily Meal - It's tough to avoid filling up on bread when restaurants keep bringing their baskets of freshly baked bread along with bottles of olive oil to dip it in. But some restaurateurs have been known to pass off lower-quality olive oil, or other oils entirely, on diners by serving their olive oil in dipping bowls or from refillable jugs. And now, in an effort to curb the tide of olive oil fraud, the EU has banned restaurants from serving olive oil in dipping bowls or refillable bottles.  Read more.

Gitmo hunger strike: Timeline

Russian Times - A mass hunger strike has been unfolding in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison for over three months now. RT has been badgering the UN, prison officials, detainees’ attorneys and activists to get a full account of the situation.  Read more .

France legalises same-sex marriage

Al Jazeera - French President Francois Hollande has signed a gay marriage and adoption bill into law, a day after the country's Constitutional Council threw out a legal challenge by the conservative opposition. Hollande, trying to turn the page on months of bitter opposition to the measures, said it was "time to respect the law and the Republic". The Constitutional Council approved the bill on Friday, which was also the International Day Against Homophobia. The ruling cleared the way for France to become the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage.  Read more .

Tensions At Morehouse: Minister Booted For Naming Obama's Failures

Michigan Chornicle -  As President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a commencement address at Morehouse, a prominent Philadelphia minister who wrote a scathing critique of Obama now says he is been disinvited to speak at Morehouse one day before Obama is scheduled to speak on May 18. Rev. Kevin Johnson, senior pastor of the Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, is embroiled in a growing controversy following a blistering editorial he wrote in The Philadelphia Tribune titled “A President for Everyone. Except Black People.”  Read more .

Despite Sequester, High-Level Federal Executives Slated to Get Bonuses

McClatchy Newspapers - An elite group of federal employees is set to receive cash bonuses despite this year’s automatic budget cuts, according to a report that a Senate subcommittee issued Friday. The report revealed that members of the government’s highly paid Senior Executive Service - who make up less than 1 percent of the federal workforce - had received more than $340 million in bonuses from 2008 through 2011. The bonuses came on top of annual salaries that ranged from $119,000 to $179,000.  Read more .

French president signs gay marriage bill into law

Yahoo! News - France on Saturday became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage after President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law following months of bitter debate and demonstrations. Hollande acted a day after the Constitutional Council threw out a legal challenge by the right-wing opposition, removing the last obstacle to passing the bill into law. The legislation also legalises gay adoption.  Read more .

Venezuela's New Labour Law: The Best Mother's Day Gift

Thomas Ponniah @ - Here is some news that the conservative critics of Venezuela's leftist government will not publicize. The Chavistas announced that a new labour law, part of which will grant recognition to non-salaried work traditionally done by women, will come into effect this week. Full-time mothers will now be able to collect a pension.  Read more .

New Report Looks at How Foreclosure Undermined Black and Brown Wealth

ColorLines - Despite recent headlines trumpeting a return of America’s real estate market to its boom-time highs, a report released today by the Alliance for a Just Society shows how little of that has trickled into communities of color. The document, entitled “Wasted Wealth,” is a sobering reminder of the gap between top-line economic cheerleading and the reality of what’s happening on the ground.  Read more .

Review by Organisation of American States on illicit drugs 'could mark beginning of the end' of prohibition

Guardian UK - European governments and the Obama administration are this weekend studying a "gamechanging" report on global drugs policy that is being seen in some quarters as the beginning of the end for blanket prohibition. Publication of the Organisation of American States (OAS) review, commissioned at last year's Cartagena Summit of the Americas attended by Barack Obama, reflects growing dissatisfaction among Latin American countries with the current global policy on illicit drugs. It spells out the effects of the policy on many countries and examines what the global drugs trade will look like if the status quo continues. It notes how rapidly countries' unilateral drugs policies are evolving, while at the same time there is a growing consensus over the human costs of the trade.  Read more .

NYC commuter trains collide in Connecticut after ‘major derailment’

Washington Post - Two commuter trains serving New York City collided in Connecticut during Friday’s evening rush hour, sending 60 people to the hospital, including five with critical injuries, Gov. Dannel Malloy said. About 700 people were on board the Metro-North trains when one heading east from New York City’s Grand Central Station to New Haven derailed about 6:10 p.m. just outside Bridgeport, MTA and Bridgeport officials said.  Read more .

9 LGBT Athletes of Color Who Paved the Way for Jason Collins

ColorLines - Sexuality and sports make for a complicated mix. Throw in race and the persistent obsession with what it means to be a man in America, and the conversation becomes impossibly loaded. That’s why it’s so significant for the NBA’s Jason Collins to come out. By telling his story—and doing so while he’s still an active player—the 34-year-old Washington Wizards alumn has created a moment in which racial justice and queer rights merge.  Read more .

84 Percent of NYC Fast Food Workers Report Wage Theft

Josh Eidelson @ The Nation - At an 11 am press conference yesterday outside a Brooklyn KFC restaurant, fast food workers and activists released a new report alleging rampant wage theft in their industry, one of the fastest-growing in the United States. The report includes results from an Anzalone Liszt Grove research survey of 500 of the city’s fast food workers, in which 84 percent reported that their employer had committed some form of wage theft over the previous year.  Read more .

The Casualties of Justice

Max Eternity @ Truthout - The death of Jim Crow laws in 1965 was supposed to mean the end of government persecution of African-Americans, while a scathing new report and data from a growing chorus of experts say otherwise.  Read more .

Milwaukee Becomes Fifth City Where Fast Food Workers Strike

ColorLines - As many as 200 fast food workers are expected to walk off the job today in Milwaukee, making it the fifth city in six weeks where strikes have hobbled chain restaurants. The strikers, organized by local groups with support from national unions, are demanding raises to $15 an hour and the right to unionize. Like Detroit, where fast food workers went on strike last week, Milwaukee in recent decades has seen dramatic decline in unionized manufacturing jobs and a corresponding growth in low-wage service jobs. The shift away from living-wage work has hit black workers particularly hard.  Read more .

White House Damage Control: Obama names new IRS commissioner in scandal fallout

Chicago Tribune - President Barack Obama on Thursday chose a White House budget official to lead the beleaguered Internal Revenue Service temporarily and vowed to ensure that the tax-collection agency will not single out any more groups based on their political beliefs. Danny Werfel, the controller of the Office of Management and Budget who served as a point man on the controversial automatic spending cuts known as "sequestration," will start in the new post on May 22.  Read more .

Germany to investigate Western pharm companies over ‘human guinea pig’ drug trials

Russian Times - German authorities are planning to launch an investigation into tens of thousands of patients in former East Germany who were allegedly used for drug trials without their consent “as guinea pigs,” after a media report sparked a wave of outrage. Previously unpublished documents indicate that at least 50,000 patients, including premature babies, were involved in more than 600 trials at dozens of DDR hospitals until the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, a report published in the German weekly Der Spiegel says.  Read more .

New York Attorney General Investigates Fast Food Wage Theft

ColorLines - The New York State attorney general is investigating widespread practices of wage theft and other pay violations by fast food companies in the New York City. The investigation was announced as a new report released today reveals that the vast majority of New York City fast food workers say they work for below the minimum wage, don’t get paid for overtime hours or go unreimbured for work related expenses like gas for deliveries. The investigation comes on the heels of a wave of fast food strikes in five cities around the country. Workers in these cities are demanding raises to $15 an hour and the right to unionize.  Read more .

Federal Judge Says Obama Governs Like Bush on Reproductive Rights

Jorge Rivas @ ColorLines - A federal judge last week denied a request to delay his ruling ordering the government to make “Plan B” emergency contraception available to everyone, without restrictions. In 2011, the FDA approved emergency contraception, also known as the “morning-after” pill or “Plan B”, for women of all ages. But the Obama administration stepped in and reversed the decision soon after.  Read more.

Cutting Social Security and Not Taxing Wall Street

Dean Baker @ Truthout - As we move towards the fifth anniversary of the great financial crisis of 2008, people should be outraged that cutting Social Security is now on the national agenda, while taxing Wall Street is not. After all, if we take at face value the claims made back in 2008 by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner, Wall Street excesses brought the economy to the brink of collapse.  Read more .

Death and Denial on Dolphin Deaths

Michael Jansy @ Common Dreams - On June 9, 2008, at least 60 dolphins stranded along the coast of Cornwall, England, in what was by far the largest common dolphin mortality ever seen in UK waters.  For hours, rescuers tried to lead them back to sea – often unsuccessfully, as some of the animals were panicked and others just milled about in tight circles, resistant to saving.  The forensic investigation that followed ultimately involved 24 experts from 5 countries and multiple government agencies.  Their verdict has just come in: the most probable cause was naval exercises.  Read more .

The major sea change in media discussions of Obama and civil liberties

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - Due to the controversies over the IRS and (especially) the DOJ's attack on AP's news gathering process, media outlets have suddenly decided that President Obama has a very poor record on civil liberties, transparency, press freedoms, and a whole variety of other issues on which he based his first campaign. The first two paragraphs of this Washington Post article from yesterday, expressed in tones of recent epiphany, made me laugh audibly:  Read more .

Google launches new Play Music All Access streaming service

Guardian UK - Google outstripped its arch-rival, Apple, with the launch of a subscription music streaming service on Wednesday, simultaneously mounting a threat to other providers such as Spotify. The service, labouring under the full name of Google Play Music All Access, was unveiled at Google I/O, the tech giant's annual developer conference in San Francisco, where delegates also heard about significant updates to its search and mapping services.  Read more .

Brazil judicial panel clears way for gay marriage

France 24 - A top judicial panel cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Brazil Tuesday, ruling that gay couples could not be denied marriage licenses. The National Council of Justice, which oversees the Brazilian judicial system and is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, said government offices that issue marriage licenses had no standing to reject gay couples.  Read more .

Corporate Win: Supreme Court Says Monsanto Has 'Control Over Product of Life'

Jacob Chamberlain @ Common Dreams - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of biotech giant Monsanto, ordering Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, 75, to pay Monsanto more than $84,000 for patent infringement for using second generation Monsanto seeds purchased second hand—a ruling which will have broad implications for the ownership of 'life' and farmers' rights in the future.  Read more .

U.S. Attorney General Holder recused himself from media subpoena

Reuters - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he had recused himself from the Justice Department's controversial decision to secretly seize telephone records of the Associated Press. Instead, the decision to seek phone records of one of the world's largest news-gathering organizations was made by the deputy attorney general, Holder said. Jim Cole currently holds that position.  Read more .

Jerry Brown: Public schools to get big revenue boost

SF Chronicle - Over the next few years, California's public schools will reap billions of extra dollars in revenues as the state slowly emerges from the Great Recession. From 2011-12 to 2016-17, school funding will jump by $19 billion from $47.3 billion to $66.5 billion, according to Gov. Jerry Brown, who presented his revised spending plan for the next fiscal year on Tuesday.  Read more .