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Showing posts from August, 2013

Syria: Putin rubbishes chemical attack claims

Guardian UK - Vladimir Putin has rejected US intelligence claims that Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons in Syria, saying it would be "utter nonsense" for government troops to use such tactics in a war it was already winning. "That is why I am convinced that [the chemical attack] is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want to win the support of powerful members of the international arena, especially the United States," Putin told journalists in Vladivostok.   Read more .

King’s dream still just a dream after 50 years - As America marks the 50th anniversary of a landmark speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, it’s fitting to ask the most important question: has the ‘dream’ of a just society built upon a foundation of morality and equality actually been fulfilled? Or is it merely a collective delusion that all must accept? Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, before the assembled masses on that summer day in 1963 as the United States slowly but surely charted a course for war in Vietnam.  He stirred the emotions of black Americans with his talk of freedom and brotherhood while overt and institutionalized racism in its myriad insidious forms was still the dominant force, not only in the South, but throughout the country.   Read more .

What Awaits Chelsea Manning as the Military's First Openly Trans Woman?

Victoria Law @ Truthout - "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible." These were the words of Chelsea Manning, the day after she was sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified military documents. (Manning had been arrested, tried and sentenced in a military court as Bradley Manning.) The military responded to Manning's statement with its own: "The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder."   Read more .

NFL agrees to compensate retired players with concussion-related brain injuries

ESPN - The NFL has reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.  A federal judge announced the agreement Thursday after months of court-ordered mediation. It came just days before the start of the 2013 season.   Read mor e.

Fast-food workers continue fight against low wages as thousands take part in nationwide walk-out

Guardian UK - Veronica Clark, a mother of three children and the sole breadwinner for her family in Detroit, has spent the last six years looking for a better paying job, to no avail. Every day, she puts on the shirt McDonald's provides her with and a pair of work pants of her own and goes to work serving burgers for $7.40 an hour. Clark, 47, is paid less per hour in real terms than the lowest paid US workers were half a century ago, when, on 28 August 1963, hundreds of thousands of citizens flooded into Washington for the historic march for freedom and jobs for black Americans.   Read more .

Iran foreign ministry appoints first-ever spokeswoman

AFP @ Google News - Iran's foreign ministry has appointed its first-ever spokeswoman, with President Hassan Rowhani appearing to welcome the move as part of a campaign to empower women, reports said Thursday. However, the appointment has drawn criticism from some conservative quarters. Marzieh Afkham, a career diplomat with nearly three decades at the ministry... read more .

Syrian Lawmakers Warn Britain Over Military Strike

NY Times - Members of the Syrian Parliament issued an open letter to their British counterparts on Thursday, warning them that an international military strike on Syria would recklessly and illegally “plunge secular Syria, and indeed the whole region, into a cataclysm of sectarian mass murder” and inviting them to visit with their own chemical weapons experts to check the conclusions of the United Nations investigators now in the country.   Read more .

Scot Nakagawa: Civil Rights Are for Everyone

Laura Flanders @ Truthout - The demand for jobs was the great, unmet demand of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. While many by now have made that point, few have talked plainly about why federal investment in training and jobs for the unemployed dropped out of the picture of civil rights almost as soon as the '63 Marchers left Washington.   Read more .

Even if Assad Used Chemical Weapons, The West Has No Mandate to Act as a Global Policeman

Hans Blix @ Guardian UK - It is true that the UN security council is not a reliable global policeman. It may be slow to take action, or paralysed because of disagreement between members. But do we want the US or Nato or "alliances of willing states" as global policemen either? Unlike George Bush in 2003, the Obama administration is not trigger-happy and contemptuous of the United Nations and the rules of its charter, which allow the use of armed force only in self-defence or with an authorisation from the security council. Yet Obama, like Bush and Blair, seems ready to ignore the council and order armed strikes on Syria with political support from only the UK, France and some others.   Read more .

How the FBI Secretly Denies Muslim Immigrants Their Citizenship

Sonali Kolhatkar @ Common Dreams - When foreign-born US residents apply for citizenship they painstakingly jump through every legal hoop, fill out endless forms, hand over wads of cash, and nervously await a response from the government for months and sometimes years. They rightly expect their applications to be processed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security. They do not expect to have their citizenship application decided by a law enforcement agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).   Read more .

In Syria, the Other Target Is Iran

Ray McGovern @ Common Dreams - Amid the increased likelihood that President Barack Obama will cave in to pressure from foreign policy hawks to “Libya-ize” Syria and to accord Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the same treatment meted out to Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi, the main question is WHY? Obviously, there is concern about the human rights catastrophe in Syria, but is the main target Syria’s main ally, Iran, as many suspect? Surely, the objective has got to be more than simply giving Secretary of State John Kerry a chance to brag, in the manner of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, regarding Gaddafi, “We came, we saw, he died.” Read more .

Hypocrisy and Legacy of Death as US Claims Moral Authority in Syria

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - "This is about the large-scale indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else... And there is a reason why no matter what you believe about Syria, all peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again."   Read more .

Family Sues Miami Beach in Taser Death by the Police

NY Times - The family of an 18-year-old street artist who died three weeks ago after being shocked with a Taser by the police filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the City of Miami Beach and its police chief, accusing officers of “unnecessary, excessive and unconstitutional force” in their apprehension of the man, Israel Hernandez-Llach, who had been seen tagging an abandoned building with graffiti.  Read more .

San Francisco Community College Targeted by "Rogue" Accreditation Commission

Labor Notes - Late last night, 150 students staged a sit-in at San Francisco's City Hall, demanding that the mayor defend City College of San Francisco. Twenty-six were arrested. The much-loved, low-tuition community college may shut down in July 2014. It’s the target of an unusually frank attack from an unexpected source, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. ACCJC doesn’t claim any problems with quality of instruction. Rather, CCSF apparently treats its employees too well and gives away too much free community service.   Read more .

World Press Slams UK Threats Over Snowden Docs

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - Threats by U.K. officials that the Guardian must "hand the Snowden material back or destroy it" have drawn the ire of the world's press, which has slammed the "intimidation" as having a "chilling effect on press freedom." In a protest letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications and 15,000 online sites in over 120 countries, write, in part:   Read more .

California Battling Wildfire the Size of Chicago

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - The Rim Fire continues to blaze in northern California on Monday and has become one of California's largest wildfires. The drought-fueled wildfire, one of a dozen currently scorching the state, broke out Aug. 17 and has already engulfed an area about the size of Chicago.   Read more .

President Obama should not be welcomed at the 50th Anniversary March on Washington

Ajamu Baraka - On August 28, the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, an event is being organized at the Lincoln Memorial by the King Center, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Council of Negro Women to commemorate that extraordinary and consequential demonstration. To highlight the occasion, these organizations apparently extended an invitation to the President of the United States to deliver the keynote address on the very same spot where Martin Luther King delivered his legendary “I have a dream” speech. The fact that Barack Obama will be standing in the shadow of Dr. King, his presence conveying the impression that he somehow represents the values and self-sacrificing lives of Dr. King, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, Rosa Parks and many of the thousands gathered that afternoon on the national mall, should be taken as an insult by everyone who has struggled and continues to struggle for human rights, peace and social

Exclusive Glenn Greenwald Interview: "I Won't Be Kept Out of My Country for Doing Journalism!"

Jonathan Franklin @ Truthout - Glenn Greenwald, the US lawyer-turned-blogger-turned-journalist, has been writing about state-sponsored repression, surveillance, torture and leaks for years. He has four best-selling books but nothing compared to the watershed event in June when Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras received a cache of top secret documents from NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.  On August 21, from his home in Rio de Janeiro, Greenwald described the latest twists and revelations in the NSA spy scandal.   Read more .

Three Illusory "Investigations" of the NSA Spying Are Unable to Succeed

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Since the revelations of confirmed National Security Agency spying in June, three different "investigations" have been announced. One by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), another by the Director of National Intelligence, Gen. James Clapper, and the third by the Senate Intelligence Committee, formally called the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).   Read more .

Press freedom: an open letter to David Cameron from Nordic editors

Guardian UK (Observer) - We know that you will agree that one of the hallmarks of free and open democracies is a vivid public debate addressing all fundamental aspects of society, including the balance and possible conflict between the legitimate security concerns of governments and the protection of privacy and the free press. We all understand both the imperative to uphold domestic security and the equally important imperative to protect our open public debate about the limits to and legal implications of these efforts. The debate is not a sign of weakness of our democracies. It is the basis of our strength.   Read more .

Bayard Rustin: the gay black pacifist at the heart of the March on Washington

Guardian UK - When civil rights leaders met at the Roosevelt Hotel in Harlem in early July 1963 to hammer out the ground rules by which they would work together to organise the March on Washington there was really only one main sticking point: Bayard Rustin. Rustin, a formidable organiser and central figure in the civil rights movement, was a complex and compelling figure. Raised a Quaker, his political development would take him through pacifism, communism, socialism and into the civil rights movement in dramatic fashion.   Read more .

San Francisco's Green Power Plan Still Stalled by Corporate Interests a Decade Later

Darwin Bond Graham @ Truthout - CleanPowerSF initially called for investing over a billion dollars in energy efficiency upgrades and publicly-owned renewable energy assets at thousands of sites in San Francisco. The plan's huge public popularity and technical authority have not protected it from attack and subversion.   Read more .

Mountain Grown: Appalachia's New Local Food Economy

YES! Magazine - Restaurants like Knife and Fork didn't use to exist in places like Spruce Pine, a town of just 2,200 people nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. About 80 percent of what the restaurant serves is sourced from within a 40-mile radius. For the most part, the only things that aren't local are beer, wine, and cheese. "I see myself as less a chef and more as a sourcer or a seeker of great products," says chef Nate Allen.   Read more .

UK government now leaking documents about itself

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - The Independent this morning published an article - which it repeatedly claims comes from "documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden" - disclosing that "Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies." This is the first time the Independent has published any revelations purportedly from the NSA documents, and it's the type of disclosure which journalists working directly with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have thus far avoided. That leads to the obvious question: who is the source for this disclosure? Snowden this morning said he wants it to be clear that he was not the source for the Independent, stating:   Read more .

New Documents Show Financial Ties Between NSA and Major Internet Companies

Guardian UK - The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian. The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of... read more .

Manning heads to notorious Fort Leavenworth prison to serve sentence - Bradley Manning has returned to Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas to begin serving a 35-year sentence for espionage, theft, and fraud for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. Concurrently, Manning announced in a written statement his intentions to live out the rest of his life as a woman. In a letter revealed on NBC’s ‘Today’ show on Thursday, the whistleblower asked to be referred to as Chelsea Manning.   Read more .

Those Not-So-Good Old Days

Paul Krugman - In an online article for New York magazine, the commentator Jonathan Chait mocked Robert Samuelson for his recent column in The Washington Post lamenting the rise of the Internet. I don’t especially want to pile on, but this is an occasion to say something about my own perceptions of how the Web has changed journalism.   Read more .

Nuclear World Threat: As Fukushima Crisis Spirals, Expert Warns 'It's Much Worse' Than Claimed

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - In the latest setback of the spiraling crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, operator TEPCO announced on Thursday that it had discovered radiation hotspots near contaminated water storage tanks, while a nuclear expert warns that the disaster may even be "much worse" than has been claimed.   Read more.

‘You Failed to Break the Spirit of Bradley Manning’: An Open Letter to President Obama

Normon Solomon @ Common Dreams - As commander in chief, you’ve been responsible for the treatment of the most high-profile whistleblower in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Under your command, the United States military tried -- and failed -- to crush the spirit of Bradley Manning. Your failure became evident after the sentencing on Wednesday... read more .

Western Despotism in the name of fighting terrorism - British authorities can sift through electronic documents seized from journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner, in the interests of “national security”, a court ruled on Thursday. A limited injunction was granted to the Guardian. Two judges gave authorities until Aug. 30 to analyze “ thousands” of documents, according to a police lawyer.   Read more .

'I am Chelsea Manning,' says jailed soldier formerly known as Bradley

Guardian UK - The US soldier who was sentenced as Bradley Manning on Wednesday plans to undergo hormone therapy and has asked to be recognised as a woman. In a statement on Thursday Manning said she would like to be known as Chelsea E Manning and be referred to by female pronouns. "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me," she wrote. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.   Read more .

'Sending a message': what the US and UK are attempting to do

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger on Monday night disclosed the remarkable news that UK authorities, several weeks ago, threatened the Guardian UK with prior restraint if they did not destroy all of their materials provided by Edward Snowden, and then sent agents to the basement of the paper's offices to oversee the physical destruction of hard drives. The Guardian has more details on that episode today, and MSNBC's Chris Hayes interviewed the Guardian's editor-in-chief about it last night. As Rusbridger explains, this behavior was as inane as it was thuggish: since this is 2013, not 1958, destroying one set of a newspaper's documents doesn't destroy them all, and since the Guardian has multiple people around the world with copies, they achieved nothing but making themselves look incompetently oppressive.   Read more .

Global Progressive Community Reacts to Manning Sentence

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Announcement of Pfc. Bradley Manning's 35 year prison sentence by military Judge Col. Denise Lind on Wednesday was met with swift condemnation in the U.S. and across the globe with progressives and supporters of the army whistleblower calling the sentence a clear miscarriage of justice. Though less than the 60 years military prosecutors had pushed for, many critics of the three and a half decade sentence say that in the context of recent war crimes that have gone unpunished... read more .

NSA gathered thousands of Americans’ e-mails before court struck down program

Washington Post - The National Security Agency unlawfully gathered as many as tens of thousands of e-mails and other electronic communications between Americans as part of a now-discontinued collection program, according to a 2011 secret court opinion. The 86-page opinion, which was declassified by U.S. intelligence officials... read more .

'Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society'

Bradley Manning @ Common Dreams - The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.  We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.   Read more.

Greenwald partner sues Home Office as UK defends 'Miranda op' - The UK Home Office says it has “to protect the public”, but Miranda has accused Britain of a “total abuse of power” and has said he will take legal action against the Home Office. The Guardian is “supportive” of his action. David Miranda, the partner of US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who published documents about the NSA and GCHQ spying activities leaked by Edward Snowden, in Britain’s Guardian newspaper was questioned for nine hours in London’s Heathrow airport on Sunday under Schedule 7 of the UK’s anti-terrorism law.   Read more.

Why Eliot Spitzer Is Wall Street's Worst Nightmare

Ellen Brown @ Web of Debt - Before Eliot Spitzer’s infamous resignation as governor of New York in March 2008, he was one of our fiercest champions against Wall Street corruption, in a state that had some of the toughest legislation for controlling the banks. It may not be a coincidence that the revelation of his indiscretions with a high-priced call girl came less than a month after he published a bold editorial in the Washington Post titled “Predatory Lenders’ Partner in Crime: How the Bush Administration Stopped the States from Stepping in to Help Consumers.”  The editorial exposed the collusion between the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street in deregulating the banks in the guise of regulating them, by taking regulatory power away from the states. It was an issue of the federal government versus the states, with the Feds representing the banks and the states representing consumers.   Read more .

Miranda's Lawyers Threaten UK over 'Flagrant Misuse' of Authority

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Lawyers representing David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who was recently detained by British authorities under the unprecedented interpretation of a terrorism statute while passing through Heathrow Airport, have sent the UK's Home Office a letter demanding an apology for his treatment, clarification of the legal authority used, and indicating their willingness to file suit on behalf of their client if his electronic media are not returned, unspoiled immediately.   Read more .

UK ordered Guardian to destroy hard drives in effort to stop Snowden revelations - UK authorities reportedly raided the Guardian’s office in London to destroy hard drives in an effort to stop future publications of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed in a Monday article posted on the British newspaper's website that intelligence officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) told him that he would either have to hand over all the classified documents or have the newspaper’s hard drives destroyed.   Read more .

How Low Can You Get: The Minimum Wage Scam

Guardian UK - You'd think the exceptionally low minimum-wage – $7.25 an hour – would be the shame of a country like the United States that prides itself on its economic leadership. Half of minimum-wage jobs are held by adults over 25 years old, and asking adults to live on $7.25, or $14,500 a year, doesn't leave them with enough to rent an apartment, commute to work, raise a child and participate in society in any meaningful way.   Read more .

How Billionaire "Philanthropy" Is Fueling Inequality and Helping to Destroy the Country

Truthout - Peter Buffett, the second son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, worries that the state of philanthropy in America “just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place.” At meetings of charitable foundations, he says “you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left.”   Read more .

Small debts enough for UK lenders to force borrowers to sell property - An unpaid credit card bill worth 1,000 pounds is now enough for a UK lender to go to court, forcing debtors to sell their property. A recent regulation puts tens of thousands of British homeowners at risk of losing their houses. Frankie Waller, an owner of a modest London dwelling, might well soon lose the place holding memories of the last 20 years of his life. September court hearings will decide if he can keep his home or will have to sell it to repay 6,000 pounds of credit card debts he has run up.   Read more .

Judge gives green light to torture and deny human rights in California's prisons

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - Human rights advocates slammed a judge's decision Monday to give California prison officials the green light to force-feed prisoners who are on hunger strike by deeming "do not resuscitate" orders signed by inmates invalid. “This [court decision] violates all international laws and standards and gives the medical director of each prison authority to violate human rights laws instead of reasonably negotiating with prisoners," declared Claude Marks of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.   Read more .

David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face

Guardian UK - In a private viewing cinema in Soho last week I caught myself letting fly with a four-letter expletive at Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the New York Times. It was a confusing moment. The man who was pretending to be me – thanking Keller for "not giving a shit" – used to be Malcolm Tucker, a foul-mouthed Scottish spin doctor who will soon be a 1,000-year-old time lord. And Keller will correct me, but I don't remember ever swearing at him. I do remember saying something to the effect of "we have the thumb drive, you have the first amendment".   Read more .

San Francisco jail inmates 56% black

SF Gate - Just 6 percent of San Francisco residents are African American, yet 56 percent of jail inmates are black, according to a city report issued last week. By contrast, around 42 percent of city residents are white, but the group accounts for only 22 percent of jail residents.   Read more .

White House knew Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda would be detained

CNN - Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the news about secret U.S. surveillance programs, said the authorities who took his partner into custody at London's Heathrow Airport "are going to regret what they did." "I am going to write my stories a lot more aggressively now," the Guardian reporter told Brazil's Globo TV on Monday in Rio de Janeiro. "I am going to publish many more documents now. I am going to publish a lot about England, too, I have a lot of documents about the espionage system in England. Now my focus is going to be that as well."   Read more .

Obama Administration: 'We Want to Make an Example Out of Bradley Manning'

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - US government prosecutors called Monday for the military courts to make an example out of Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning by ensuring that the 25 year old lives most of his life behind bars. The defense slammed the push for excessive punishments aimed at preventing Manning from having a life.   Read more .

UK freedoms, farewell! Detention of Miranda reveals vindictiveness of wounded police state - As the definition of terrorism has expanded to cover activists, placard wavers, protesters and now, apparently, the partners of journalists, the arrest of Glenn Greenwald's partner is just another nail in the coffin of British Freedoms. David Miranda had just spent a week in Berlin before flying back to his home country, Brazil, via London's Heathrow airport. As he attempted to transit on to his flight home - not enter the UK, mind you, just make an international connection - he was pulled to one side by the UK's border security officers and questioned for nine hours, as well as having all his technical equipment confiscated.   Read more .

Charles Koch: The Scariest Man in America?

Paul Buchheit @ Common Dreams - Scary because he claims "We don't have the power to coerce anybody" while providing massive funding to organizations that attack public education, social programs, worker salaries, business regulations, and the environment. Scary because he refers to himself with words like 'integrity' and 'principles' while saying "I want my fair share -- and that's all of it." Scary because he declares, "I want my legacy to be...a better way of life for...all Americans."   Read more .

Dozens of California prisoners hospitalized after 40 days of hunger strike - Dozens of inmates on a hunger strike in California prisons have been hospitalized – 40 days into an organized fast by 200 prisoners. The inmates are protesting state prison conditions, including increasing reliance on solitary confinement as a punishment. Prison doctors say they fear for the health of 118 prisoners who have been on continuous hunger strike since July 8, when tens of thousands of inmates in California prisons refused breakfast.   Read more .

Companion to Glenn Greenwald arrested and held by UK police for 9 hours without warrant

Glenn Greenwald @ Guardian UK - At 6:30 am this morning my time - 5:30 am on the East Coast of the US - I received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as a "security official at Heathrow airport." He told me that my partner, David Miranda, had been "detained" at the London airport "under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000."   Read more .

Crocodile-Tear Time for America’s Free Press

Campaign for America's Future - A rather ruthless billionaire has grabbed one of the world’s great newspapers. But you don’t have to be a high-tech plutocrat, the paper’s previous regime has demonstrated, to help make our world more unequal. Jeff Bezos, the bezillionaire Amazon CEO, has bought the Washington Post, America’s second-most prestigious daily newspaper. Bezos only had to pay $250 million, less than 1 percent of his over $27.8 billion personal fortune.   Read more.

NSA Revelations of Privacy Breaches 'the Tip of the Iceberg'

Spencer Ackerman @ Guardian UK - Two US senators on the intelligence committee said on Friday that thousands of annual violations by the National Security Agency on its own restrictions were "the tip of the iceberg." Senator Ron Wyden (above) and Mark Udall said: 'We believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg.' (Photograph: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) "The executive branch has now confirmed that the rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans' have been violated thousands of times each year," said senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, two leading critics of bulk surveillance, who responded Friday to a Washington Post story based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.  Read more .

Germany to become first European state to allow ‘third gender’ birth certificates - German parents will no longer be legally obliged to register their newborn child as male or female, and will instead be officially allowed to assign the baby a “third gender” if the sex cannot be clearly identified at birth. The new law will come into force on November 1, on the back of a constitutional court decision which states that as long as a person “deeply feels” that they belong to a certain gender, they have a personal right to choose how they legally identify themselves.   Read more .

In Nebraska, Lakota Women Lead Fight Against the "Liquid Genocide" of Liquor and Beer

Reuben Cruz @ Waging Nonviolence - There’s a steady flow of traffic outside the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, heading back and forth over the state-line, in and out of Nebraska. At the entrance, just over the border, sits an encampment set up off to the side of the road, with children running about playing. A large tipi stands tall next to a small cook shack and a shaded area for visitors. “Their children prosper while our children suffer,” reads one large sign in front of the cook shack. “A sober Lakota is a dangerous Lakota,” reads another. Inside the camp is a long table covered in sewing material... read more .

'Jaw-Dropping' Record of Violations Reveals Perils of NSA Self-Policing

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - An internal National Intelligence Agency audit and other documents leaked to the Washington Post by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that despite official claims to the contrary, the spy agency broke its own guidelines, breaking "privacy rules" and overstepping "its legal authority" thousands of times each year as it collected online and phone data on Americans without a warrant or due process.   Read more .

Fannie Mae Hires Banker It Sued for “materially misleading statements”

Bloomberg - A former Bank of America Corp. executive whose work on mortgage bonds is the subject of regulator and Justice Department lawsuits was hired by U.S.- backed Fannie Mae months after the claims began to surface. Adam Glassner was named a defendant in a September 2011 complaint filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae (FNMA), over losses incurred by the firm. He joined Fannie Mae in January 2012 and worked there until this year. Last week, he also was referenced as “BOA-Securities Managing Director” in a Justice Department lawsuit against Bank of America, according to a person with knowledge of his career.   Read more .

Silent Circle encrypted Internet service shutting down after Lavabit - Silent Circle, a secure email service that provides customers with an encrypted way of sending messages, announced Thursday that it is shutting down only hours after a company offering a similar product said the same. Shortly after the owner and operator of wrote that his nine-year-old encrypted email service was shutting down in order to avoid becoming “complicit in crimes against the American people,” Silent Circle said Thursday they’d be following suit.   Read more .

The Nobel Peace Prize Needs Bradley Manning More Than Manning Needs It

Candice Bernd @ Truthout - After the rights advocacy group RootsAction collected more than 100,000 signatures urging the Norwegian Nobel committee to give this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Pfc. Bradley Manning, RootsAction founder and regular Truthout contributor, Normon Solomon, flew to Norway to deliver the petitions to the research director of the Nobel committee.   Read more .

US Government Threatens California City Trying to Save Homeowners From Foreclosure

Mark Karlin @ Buzzflash - In a move that is hard to fathom considering how many banks too big to fail are being fined for subprime mortgage fraud, the nation's top house financing regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is threatening that if the City of Richmond, California, uses eminent domain to save homes for families, mortgages will be cut off for the city.   Read more .

Detroit Residents on Bankruptcy - We Have No Democracy!

David Bacon @ Truthout - On July 18, 2013, Kevyn Orr, the city emergency manager appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, declared Detroit bankrupt under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code. According to official accounts, Detroit is $18.5 billion in the hole, making this the largest of several recent bankruptcies declared by US cities and counties. In theory, such a declaration means that all the city's creditors will suffer and will have to accept only a fraction of what they're owed. But when a bankruptcy judge decides who will have to make sacrifices, those making the most painful ones will be Detroit's 21,000 retired city employees and its 9,000 current ones.   Read more .

Swiss unveil sex drive-in

France 24 - The Swiss city of Zurich on Thursday unveiled a sex drive-in which local authorities say will enable them to keep closer tabs on prostitution, a year after voters backed the plan. Due to be opened officially in a ceremony on August 26, the nine so-called "sex boxes" are located in a former industrial zone... read more .

Intolerance inverted: Is rodeo clown satire now banned under Obama? - State fairs are a great American institution. They’re so wild, so rural, so hillbilly country that one may even find a rodeo clown donning a mask of the President of the United States. That is, until now. Over the weekend, at the Missouri State Fair, a now-unemployed rodeo clown climbed into the bull pit wearing a rubber Barack Obama mask.   Read more .

Facebook lowers personal morale

McClatchy - Don't press the like button: Facebook is a bummer that makes us feel worse about our lives, according to new research. Facebook users in a study led by the University of Michigan wound up feeling worse about themselves after two weeks, and their moment-to-moment mood darkened the more they browsed the social medium.   Reads more .

America’s Upside-Down Morality

Robert Parry @ Consortium News - Pvt. Bradley Manning has prostrated himself before his court-martial judge, apologizing for leaking documents on U.S. government wrongdoing and referencing his psychological problems as reasons for mercy. The sad spectacle underscores how upside-down American morality now is.   Read more.

In Texas, police add surveillance cameras to officers’ uniform

McClatchy -  Police hope a small piece of high-tech equipment will deliver big results as it records officers’ interactions with the public. The Taser Axon Flex camera, which attaches to uniform collars or the temple of eyeglasses, was demonstrated Wednesday at police headquarters in downtown Fort Worth. Think of it as “dash-cam” technology that can record such things as witness interviews and evidence collection.   Read more .

At Bradley Manning trail full decay of US government exposed

David Swanson @ War Is a Crime - I sat in the courtroom all day on Wednesday as Bradley Manning's trial wound its way to a tragic and demoralizing conclusion.  I wanted to hear Eugene Debs, and instead I was trapped there, watching Socrates reach for the hemlock and gulp it down.  Just a few minutes in and I wanted to scream or shout.   Read more .

Holder Backpedals on Mandatory Minimums Amid Intelligence Laundering Controversy

Candice Bernd @ Truthout - Despite Eric Holder's announcement that mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent, minor drug offenders will no longer be imposed, recent revelations of intelligence laundering between the DEA and the NSA and Holder's track record on the Fair Sentencing Act are reasons to retain a healthy degree of skepticism.   Read more .

ALEC's Unwelcome Party in Chicago

James Anderson @ Truthout - A wide coalition of labor, activist and social justice grassroots groups along with concerned individuals turned out in Chicago last week to protest the now-infamous American Legislative Exchange Council's 40th anniversary conference.   Read more .