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Showing posts from January, 2014

Hillary Clinton vs the 99%

Michael I. Niman @ Artvoice - Just over two years after the inception of Occupy Wall Street, and one year after the corporate media wrote it off as dead, an unabashed progressive, Bill de Blasio, took the movement’s rhetoric and mobilized the 99 percent to give him a landslide victory over four decades of class war against poor and working New Yorkers. Mayor de Blasio’s progressive campaign rhetoric could have come from the Occupy movement’s “human microphone,” and no amount of Koch brothers funded attack ads could derail the zeitgeist that drove de Blasio and a strong contingent of progressive city council members (including at least one Occupy veteran) to victory. This election foretells a changing political tide that promises to swell thousands of miles beyond New York, ultimately forcing the Democratic Party to rethink who its masters are.   Read more.

NSA documents reveal that 'Obama admin. clearly never wanted Copenhagen talks to work'

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - While climate activists from around the world gathered outside the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 called for "System Change, Not Climate Change' while demanding to be heard by world leaders, the U.S. delegation inside the talks was busy listening to something else: a steady stream of surveillance intelligence on other nations provided by the National Security Agency.   Read more .

Living near fracking sites increases infant birth defects - Although fracking already attracts controversy as an allegedly bio-hazardous industry, a new study takes it up a notch by showing that the practice can badly impact the health of unborn children. Babies still in their mothers’ wombs living within a 10-mile range of fracking wells are in much greater danger of congenital heart defects (CHD) and neural tube defects (NTD). This was surmised in a recent study correlating birth data with geographical locations of gas wells and congenital conditions.   Read more .

Canadian Government Hacked Free Airport Wi-Fi for Mass Surveillance

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Canada's most secretive intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), used the free wi-fi networks provided at one of the nation's largest airports to obtain the metadata contained in the electronic devices of passengers passing through the terminals which then allowed the agency to "track" the devices going forward.   Read more .

Fraud-Ridden Banks Are Not LA's Only Option

Ellen Brown @ Web of Debt Blog - “Epic in scale, unprecedented in world history.” That is how William K. Black, professor of law and economics and former bank fraud investigator, describes the frauds in which JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has now been implicated. They involve more than a dozen felonies, including bid-rigging on municipal bond debt; colluding to rig interest rates on hundreds of trillions of dollars in mortgages, derivatives and other contracts; exposing investors to excessive risk; failing to disclose known risks, including those in the Bernie Madoff scandal; and engaging in multiple forms of mortgage fraud.   Read more .

Is Israel a "Jewish Nation"? Is the US an "American Nation"?

Ira Chernus @ Common Dreams - When Barack Obama referred to Israel as "a Jewish state" in his State of the Union speech, those three little words were meant to carry a very big message. In his effort to force Israelis and Palestinians to an agreement, Obama will apparently take the Israeli side on an issue that isn't get much notice but "may be even more intractable than old ones like security and settlements," as the New York Times' Jodi Rudoren recently reported: "a demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as ... 'the nation-state of the Jewish people.'”  Read more .

American State of the Union: A Festival of Lies

Glen Ford - “Believe it,” said the current Prevaricator-in-Chief, in the conclusion to his annual litany lies. President Obama’s specialty, honed to theatrical near-perfection over five disastrous years, is in crafting the sympathetic lie, designed to suspend disbelief among those targeted for oblivion, through displays of empathy for the victims. In contrast to the aggressive insults and bluster employed by Republican political actors, whose goal is to incite racist passions against the Other, the sympathetic Democratic liar disarms those who are about to be sacrificed by pretending to feel their pain.   Read more .

An Austerity Storm Hammers Georgia

John Nichols @ Common Dreams - Americans are surrounded by examples of the extent to which the austerity compulsion has twisted the thinking of elected officials—December’s budget “compromise” failed to extend unemployment benefits, not just Republicans but many Democrats just voted for a Farm Bill that cuts aid for the hungry, states across the country are proposing to spend revenue surpluses on tax breaks for the rich and Detroit is trying to come up with a plan to avoid having to sell off its art museum. But there will be no better example of how the austerity mindset warps the understanding of what government can and should be doing than the explanations... read more .

Elementary kids school lunches taken away because parents are poor

Lisa Schencker @ The Salt Lake Tribune - Up to 40 kids at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City picked up their lunches Tuesday, then watched as the meals were taken and thrown away because of outstanding balances on their accounts — a move that shocked and angered parents. "It was pretty traumatic and humiliating," said Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her as she stood in line... read more .

Monarch Butterfly in 'Grave Danger'

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - A new report from the World Wildlife Fund and Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas found that the number of monarch butterflies hibernating in Mexico dropped to its lowest level since records began in 1993.   Read more .

Shell Ditches Its Arctic Drilling Plans

Andrea Germanos @ Common Dreams - To the cheers of environmental groups, fossil fuel giant Shell announced Thursday that it is shelving its plans to drill in the Alaskan Arctic in 2014. The company cited a court decision from last week that found that the U.S. Department of the Interior did not accurately assess the potential environmental impacts from a spill in the region.   Read more .

The Dutch Weed Burger: Vegan Fast Superfood

Truthout - Growing environmental, ethical and social concerns have pushed many, from Beyonce to Bill Gates, to look for alternatives to eating meat. Amid a media storm last August, a 5-ounce in vitro beef burger, made using stem cells from slaughterhouse scraps, was sampled by a team of three tasters in London. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals declared in a statement that "in vitro technology will spell the end of lorries full of cows and chickens, abattoirs and factory farming," and that "it will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and make the food supply safer."   Read more .

Southeast US caught in deep winter freeze

CNN - Empty streets, shuttered storefronts and abandoned vehicles littering the side of the road. That was the scene across much of metropolitan Atlanta on Wednesday as people hunkered down to wait out the aftermath of a snow and ice storm that brought the nation's ninth largest city to a screeching halt.   Read more .

Ukraine Prime Minister Azarov resigns - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has accepted the resignation of PM Nikolay Azarov and his cabinet, according to a decree on the presidential website. The cabinet will continue to work until a new government is formed. The prime minister submitted his resignation earlier Tuesday, explaining that his move was motivated by efforts to peacefully resolve the current crisis in the country.   Read more .

America's Conscience: Pete Seeger Dies at 94

LA Times - Pete Seeger, the iconoclastic American singer, songwriter and social activist who did battle with injustice in America armed with a banjo, a guitar and the transformative power of song, has died. He was 94. Seeger died Monday at New York Presbyterian Hospital, his grandson Kitama Cahill-Jackson told the Associated Press.   Read more .

The State of Phony Populism

Normon Solomon @ Al Jazeera - Barack Obama put on a deft performance Tuesday night. With trills of empathy, the president’s voice soared to hit the high notes. He easily carried a tune of economic populism. But after five years of Obama in the White House, Americans should know by now that he was lip-syncing the words. The latest State of the Union speech offered a faint echo of a call for the bold public investment that would be necessary to reduce economic inequity in the United States. The rhetoric went out to a country that in recent years has grown even more accustomed to yesterday’s floor becoming today’s ceiling.   Read more .

Why the FCC Can't Actually Save Net Neutrality

April Glaser @ Deeplinks (blog) - Network neutrality—the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally—is a principle that EFF strongly supports. However, the power to enforce equal treatment on the Internet can easily become the power to control the Internet in less beneficent ways. Some people have condemned last week’s court decision to reject the bulk of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order as a threat to Internet innovation and openness. Others hailed it as a victory against dangerous government regulation of the Internet. Paradoxically, there is a lot of truth to both of these claims.   Read more .

Exposed: Covert, Real-Time Spying on Youtube, Facebook, Blogs

Sarah Lazare @ Common Dreams - The British government gave the U.S. lessons in how to spy on users of popular websites, including Youtube and Facebook, in real-time and without the consent of users or cyber companies. This is according to a report released Monday afternoon by a team of NBC journalists, including Glenn Greenwald who is listed as a special contributor... read more .

Got a charge for $9.84 on your credit card? Beware

CBS (Money Watch) - Wondering if your credit card number could be in the hands of a crook? Look for a charge for $9.84. The Better Business Bureau issued a fraud alert last week about a raft of consumer complaints all reporting the same niggling charge. The business levying this fee may purport to provide “customer support,” or it may simply identify itself as any one of a number of different websites.   Read more .

Endless, Global War Continues as US Bombs Somalia

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - A suspected U.S. drone bombed an area in southern Somalia on Sunday, reportedly killing five people, at least two of whom are said to be members of the al-Shabab militia. Though the number was not confirmed, it remains unclear who the other three people killed in the attack may have been. Reports from the scene indicate that a car or envoy was targeted.   Read more .

President Obama's Inequality Story

Dean Baker @ Truthout - The advance word is that inequality is going to be the central theme in President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday. That’s certainly good news, since it is a huge problem. The question is whether President Obama is prepared to talk about inequality in a way that gets to the core of the problem as opposed to just clipping away at the edges.   Read more

Why There’s No Outcry

Robert Reich - People ask me all the time why we don’t have a revolution in America, or at least a major wave of reform similar to that of the Progressive Era or the New Deal or the Great Society. Middle incomes are sinking, the ranks of the poor are swelling, almost all the economic gains are going to the top, and big money is corrupting our democracy. So why isn’t there more of a ruckus? The answer is complex, but three reasons stand out.   Read more .

The 20 Richest Americans: Takers, Not Makers

Paul Buchheit @ Buzzflash - The top individuals on the 2013 Forbes 400 list are generally believed to be makers of great companies or concepts. They are the role models of Paul Ryan, who laments, "We're going to a majority of takers versus makers in America." They are defended by Cato Institute CEO John A. Allison IV, who once protested: "Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let's call it an attack on the very productive." But many of the richest Americans are takers. The top twenty, with a total net worth of almost two-thirds of a trillion dollars, have all taken from the public or from employees, or through taxes or untaxed inheritances.   Read more .

Costas Lapavitsas Discusses the Financialization of Capitalism: Book Review and Interview

CJ Polychroniou @ Truthout - The neoliberal capture of the state has laid the ground for the financialization of capitalism, a stage of capitalism that cannot be reversed without developing new methods of public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and the other sources financialization has used to create profit. This is the crux of the argument advanced in Costas Lapavitsas's latest work, Profiting without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All, recently released by Verso Books.   Read more .

The Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome – From Japan to America

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law. We Americans better take notice. Under its provisions the government alone decides what are state secrets and any civil servants who divulge any “secrets” can be jailed for up to 10 years. Journalists caught in the web of this vaguely defined law can be jailed for up to 5 years.   Read more .

State of the Estate: Mario Cuomo's Tax Giveaway to the Rich

Jeffrey Mikkelson @ Truthout - In a State of the State address largely devoid of the progressive policy proposals he floated last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo decided this year to lay out a lavish buffet of tax cuts that disproportionately benefit large corporations and the rich. Cuomo is proposing $2 billion in "tax relief" phased in over three years, a package impressive enough to prompt the Republican State Senate Leader Dean Skelos to admiringly describe him as a "good, moderate Republican." (Rule of thumb in the age of hyper-partisanship: If a Republican calls you a Republican, you are probably a Republican.)   Read more.

Rhode Island Govenor wants state to be synonymous with the arts

Associated Press - Idaho has potatoes and Maine has lobsters. If Gov. Lincoln Chafee has his way, Rhode Island will be the state Americans associate with the creative arts. The Democratic governor of the nation's smallest state is calling for a sizable investment in performing arts centers, museums and other facilities that cater to the arts. In a state with shuttered factories, struggling cities and a 9 percent jobless rate, Chafee calls the arts economy a safe bet.   Read mor e.

Michael Pollan on the Food Movement's Next Goal of Justice for Food Workers

Amy B. Dean @ Truthout - Take a stroll through most grocery stores, and many of the products claim to be organically grown or locally sourced. The foodie movement has swept America in the last decade, thanks in no small part to the work of journalists and intellectuals who have championed the cause online, in print and on the airwaves. Michael Pollan is inarguably one of the most influential of these figures. Pollan is most famous for his books, especially In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2008) and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). He also contributes regularly to publications such as the New York Times Magazine, where his work has received numerous awards, and is a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.   Read more .

NSA is after industrial spying - The NSA agency is not preoccupied solely with national security, but also spies on foreign industrial entities in US business interests, former American intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, has revealed in an interview to German TV. Edward Snowden chose the German ARD broadcaster to make his first TV interview ever since he became a whistleblower. The interview was made in strict secrecy in an unspecified location in Russia, where Snowden is currently living under temporary asylum.   Read more .

Maryland mall shooting: Death, panic, sorrow

USA Today - A gunman opened fire in a crowded suburban shopping mall Thursday, leaving three people dead and setting off panic as hundreds of fear-stricken shoppers and mall employees raced for cover. The suspect, armed with a shotgun, was among the victims at The Mall in Columbia, Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said. Police said a fourth victim was being treated for a gunshot wound to the foot. At least two other people suffered minor injuries not directly related to the shootings, officials said.   Read more .

Promises, Drugs and Executions

Christopher Brauchli @ Common Dreams - State sponsored executions are back in the news again. By the time this column sees the black of print, two men will have been executed in the space of less than one week-one in Ohio and one in Texas. Neither would be remarkable (except in the eyes of the decedent and his family) but for what the executions say about their executioners. In Ohio it is the enthusiasm of the state for getting the job done and in Texas the duplicity of its governor and attorney general who permitted the execution to go forward.   Read more .

Bailout Architect Runs For California Governor; World Laughs

Matt Taibbi @ Rolling Stone - I want to apologize for this space being blank for quite some time. I actually spent the bulk of the last two days on a long blog post about the "Dr. V." story in Grantland. But then I got all the way to the end, and realized I was completely wrong about the entire thing. So, I spiked my own piece. Now I've been in Talk Radio-style "This is totally dead air, Barry" territory for about two weeks. I could swear I saw a cobweb when I logged on this morning. So thank God for Neel Kashkari, and the news that this goofball footnote caricature of the bailout era has decided to run for Governor of California. Never in history has there been an easier subject for a blog post.   Read more .

Multiple explosions rock Cairo

BBC News - At least six people have been killed and some 100 more injured in four explosions in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Militants have stepped up their campaign against security forces, with the attacks coming on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising.   Read more.

Edward Snowden: NSA whistleblower says 'I acted alone' and calls spy accusations 'absurd'

Jane Mayer @ The New Yorker - Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor turned whistle-blower, strongly denies allegations made by members of Congress that he was acting as a spy, perhaps for a foreign power, when he took hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents. Speaking from Moscow, where he is a fugitive from American justice, Snowden told The New Yorker, “This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd.”   Read more .

Millionaires' Congress vs. The People

Jim HIghtower @ The - The rich truly are different from you and me — they tend to hold seats in Congress. Our nation purports to be a representative democracy, yet you don't find many plumbers, mineworkers, dirt farmers, Wal-Mart associates, roofers, beauty parlor operators, taxi drivers, or other "get-the-job-done" Americans among the 535 members of the U.S. House and Senate.   Read more .

The Blind Alley of J Street and Liberal American Zionism

Normon Solomon and Abba Solomon - Since its founding six years ago, J Street has emerged as a major Jewish organization under the banner “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.” By now J Street is able to be a partial counterweight to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The contrast between the two U.S. groups is sometimes stark. J Street applauds diplomacy with Iran, while AIPAC works to undermine it. J Street encourages U.S. support for “the peace process” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while AIPAC opposes any meaningful Israeli concessions. In the pressure cooker of Washington politics, J Street’s emergence has been mostly positive. But what does its motto “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” really mean?  Read more .

Why Did Police Beat an Elderly Man for Jaywalking?

Thom Hartmann @ Truthout - 84-year-old Kang Wong is recovering today from a brutal attack on the streets of New York City. Wong’s attackers jumped him as he jaywalked across a busy street in Manhattan, threw him up against a wall, and left him with cuts all across his face that have since been sealed up with four metal staples.   Read more.

Blackout: Hollywood

Eisa Nefertari Ulen @ Truthout - The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences dissed Black America. By nominating 12 Years a Slave for Oscar awards in nine categories, Hollywood highlighted the color line that still runs through La La Land. Obviously the Steven McQueen film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o, both of whom received nominations, deserves every accolade. But it is not the only film examining Black life that does. Indeed, 2013 was such an important year for Black filmmakers, this year's Oscar snubs feel more like carefully crafted quotas: Rather than lift the velvet rope to let a representative number of Black creatives in, The Academy is acting like a bad bouncer at the hottest club in town, clicking the velvet rope back in place to keep out all the Black creatives good enough to get in.   Read more .

Art as Research

Carol Becker @ Truthout - There is much interest in "innovation" these days, so much so that the word has almost lost its meaning. Still, in November 2013, I accepted an invitation to participate in a symposium on that very topic. I joined professors of energy, nanoscience, computer and electrical engineering, Nobel laureates and other colleagues in the humanities to launch the inauguration of the tenth chancellor of the University of California-Berkeley, Nicholas B. Dirks. Continuing vital conversations begun during his tenure as vice president of arts and sciences at Columbia University, Dirks chose three topics as essential to the future of the university: undergraduate education, the role of the global university and innovation - basic and applied research.   Read more .

Louisiana Court Rules That 7,000 Teachers Were Wrongfully Terminated

Diane Ravitch - It is always astonishing to be reminded that the rule of law still exists in Louisiana, despite the authoritarian command of Governor Bobby Jindal. But it does! Louisiana courts found the funding of the voucher program, using money dedicated to public schools, to be unconstitutional. The courts found Jindal’s law stripping teachers of all legal rights and protections to be unconstitutional because it included too many subjects in one bill.   Read more .

Marriage in a Prison Visiting Room

Susan Day @ Truthout - Dequi Kioni-Sadiki, who married former Black Panther Sekou Odinga over the phone and in a prison visiting room, talks to Truthout about love, bus rides and the conditions that prisoners - and their loved ones - have to negotiate.   Read more .

Obscene wealth: World’s 85 richest have same wealth as 3.5 billion poorest - The world’s 85 wealthiest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet – half the Earth’s population. That’s according to Oxfam’s latest report on the risks of the widening gap between the super-rich and the poor. The report, titled “Working for the Few,” was released Monday, and was compiled by Oxfam – an international organization looking for solutions against poverty and injustice.   Read more .

Panicked lawmakers mull firing squad executions as drug shortage worsens - Politicians in at least two US states where authorities have been unable to obtain lethal injection drugs have admitted they would be open to executing prisoners via firing squad, resurrecting a method that has disappeared in much of the world. European manufacturers that have traditionally supplied the drugs used to painlessly execute prisoners have stonewalled, boycotting sales of the drug on a moral basis.   Read more .

Who Elected Them?

Glenn Greenwald @ UT Documents - Who elected Daniel Ellsberg and The New York Times to take it upon themselves to reveal  thousands of pages of the top secret Pentagon Papers to the American public?   Read more .

The Trans Pacific Partnership – The More We Know, The Worse It Gets

Thom Hartmann @ - We already knew that the Trans Pacific Partnership is a threat to our jobs, our civil rights, and our national sovereignty, and now we know it's also a danger to our environment.  On Wednesday, Wikileaks published a leaked version of the environmental chapter of the TPP, and it's just another example of putting corporate power ahead of public interest.  In their review of this chapter, Wikileaks said that the section is “a toothless public relations exercise” that lacks “mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures.”   Read more .

Three Obama Speeches for the People

Ralph Nader @ Common Dreams - All the daily decisions and crises you have to confront must not preclude occasional addresses to the country that rise to the level of statesmanship, transcending the hurly-burly of politics and executive branch administration. There are three areas where the people need the views and vision of their President.   Read mor e.

Gitmo 12 Years Later

Adam Hudson @ Truthout - It's been 12 years since the prison at Guantanamo opened, and its future continues to ebb and flow. Congress eased restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees and more prisoners have been released. Despite these changes, the fundamental issues of indefinite detention and perpetual war persist.   Read more .

Effort to 'Normalize' NSA Spying, 'Mollify Public' Rebuked

Jon Queally @ Common Dreams - Appearing on a MSNBC morning news show ahead of President Obama's Friday speech on National Security Agency surveillance reforms, former NSA chief Michael Hayden explained that the president's goal for the day would not be to announce real reforms that would change the behavior of the intelligence community, but suggested a different purpose.   Read more .

The United States’ Bloody Messes in Yemen

Washington Post - December 12 was supposed to be a day of celebration for the al-Ameri family. A young bride traveled to her wedding with her relatives in Bayda province, Yemen. But in a few dark seconds their celebrations were eviscerated. A U.S. drone fired at the wedding procession, destroying five vehicles and most of their occupants. Not even the bride’s car, ornately decorated in flowers for the occasion, was spared from the carnage. Senior Yemeni officials later admitted that the strike was a “mistake”.   Read more .

'A Goldmine to Exploit': NSA Vacuuming Up Millions of Text Messages Daily

Andreas Germanos @ Common Dreams - The National Security Agency vacuumed up nearly two hundred million text messages from around the world daily, the Guardian and the UK's Channel 4 News report on Thursday. This newest revelation about the NSA's vast surveillance made possible by documents leaked from whistleblower Edward Snowden exposes a program of untargeted collection called "Dishfire."   Read more .

The Special Ops Surge: America's Secret War in 134 Countries

Nick Turse @ TomDispatch - They operate in the green glow of night vision in Southwest Asia and stalk through the jungles of South America.  They snatch men from their homes in the Maghreb and shoot it out with heavily armed militants in the Horn of Africa.  They feel the salty spray while skimming over the tops of waves from the turquoise Caribbean to the deep blue Pacific.  They conduct missions in the oppressive heat of Middle Eastern deserts and the deep freeze of Scandinavia.  All over the planet, the Obama administration is waging a secret war whose full extent has never been fully revealed -- until now.   Read more .

NSA able to target offline computers using radio-waves for surveillance, cyber-attacks - The National Security Agency has implanted software in about 100,000 computers around the world, allowing the United States to surveil those machines while creating a trail that can be used to launch cyber-attacks. Though most of the software is installed by gaining access to computer networks, the NSA can also employ technology that enters computers and alters data without needing internet access.   Read more .

Single cinder block was used to contain toxic chemical prior to mass W. Virginia spill - State inspectors found that the company involved in a major chemical spill in West Virginia had set up a simple cinder block and one 50-pound bag of a safety absorbent powder, according to the Charleston Gazette. On Thursday officials with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) responded to complaints of a smell coming from the area of Freedom Industries facilities, noting the rudimentary measures taken to block the flow of “Crude MCHM” leaving a compromised containment tank.   Read more .

The FCC Can and Must Prevent a Separate-but-Unequal Internet

John Nichols @ The Nation - When the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order Tuesday—dealing what is being broadly interpreted as a fatal blow to net neutrality— it highlighted the urgent need for the FCC to develop a smarter and more assertive approach to protecting citizens and consumers in the digital age.   Read more .

1 student critical, 1 stable after boy opens fire in New Mexico middle school gym

CNN - A 12-year-old boy entered his middle school gym, pulled a shotgun out of a bag and opened fire on students waiting for school to start Tuesday, wounding two, authorities in Roswell, New Mexico, said. A girl, 13, was in stable condition Tuesday night following surgery, authorities said. A boy, 11, was in critical condition after surgery.   Read more .

Whole Foods Agrees to Stop Selling Produce Grown in Sewage Sludge

Rebekah Wilce @ PR Watch - The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) broke the story that the $12.9 billion-a-year natural and organic foods retailer Whole Foods Market had a policy of "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to "conventional" -- or non-organic -- produce being grown in fields spread with sewage sludge, euphemistically called "biosolids."   Read more .

America's Real Welfare Queens

Thom Hartman @ Truthout - Let's talk about America's real welfare queens. Republicans are all upset about people getting government benefits, but our nation's real welfare queens are this country's billionaires and biggest corporations. But first let's look at who the Republicans want us to think about when they use slurs like "welfare queen."   Read more .

Thailand anti-government protesters continue effort to 'shut down' Bangkok

CNN - Tens of thousands of demonstrators on Tuesday continued anti-government protests in Bangkok intended to drive Thailand's Prime Minister out of office. The protesters have laid siege to major intersections in Thailand's large and hectic capital city. At their peak on Monday evening, they numbered as many as 170,000, said Lt. Gen. Paradon Pattanathabut, the nation's security chief.   Read more .

BREAKING: Police officers not guilty in killing of Kelly Thomas

LA Times - An Orange County jury Monday found two former Fullerton police officers accused of killing a schizophrenic homeless man, Kelly Thomas, not guilty.  Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli were charged with striking Kelly Thomas with a baton and a stun gun in a beating that left him comatose. He died five days later.  Read more .

On GMO Seed Patents: ​Supreme Court hands Monsanto victory - The US Supreme Court upheld biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically-engineered seed patents and the company’s ability to sue farmers whose fields are inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials. The high court left intact Monday a federal appeals court decision that threw out a 2011 lawsuit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and over 80 other plaintiffs against Monsanto that sought to challenge the agrochemical company’s aggressive claims on patents of genetically-modified seeds. The suit also aimed to curb Monsanto from suing anyone whose field is contaminated by such seeds.   Read more .

Suicide Rate Soars Among Young Vets

Time Magazine - The number of male veterans under the age of 30 who commit suicide jumped by 44 percent between 2009 and 2011, the most recent year for which data was available, according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Roughly two young veterans a day commit suicide.   Read more .

Israeli police to investigate ‘expressions of joy’ at Sharon’s death - The Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch instructed police on Sunday to probe public placards that have appeared proclaiming satisfaction and even joy at the death on Saturday of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The notices were posted in several Yeshivas or religious academies after Sharon’s death Saturday.   Read more .

A Racial Justice Bucket List for 2014

Rosana Cruz @ Colorlines - The fresh page of a new year—what a thrilling place to be. And to kick off 2014, Colorlines asked several community leaders to share their racial justice wishes for the year. We wanted to to know, what are some truly attainable victories for justice in the coming year? And how could any one of us help achieve them? Just reading the list we received gives me a lot of life and excitement for what lies ahead.   Read more .

Washington's Millionaire Boyz Club

Michael Winship @ Moyers & Company - Over the holidays, I was watching that old Marilyn Monroe comedy “How to Marry a Millionaire” on Turner Classic Movies (okay, I have no life). This week, a new report suggests (to me, at least)  that if Hollywood were to produce a remake of that 1953 film, the variety of now politically incorrect tactics Ms. Monroe and her friends deploy to land a well-to-do partner could be reduced to one: start dating a member of Congress.   Read more .

Pussy Riot abandons ‘brand,’ will form human rights group - The recently released members of punk band Pussy Riot say they will not continue their musical project, but will instead fight for human rights in Russia. The women plan to crowdfund a rights group and have invited Khodorkovsky and Navalny to join. Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina held a media conference in Moscow on Friday, announcing their plans to create a human rights group called “Rights Zone.” The two spoke to journalists days after their early release under President Putin’s amnesty... read more .

Now We Know: JPMorgan Chase Is Worse Than Enron

Richard Eskow @ Campaign for America's Future - It's beginning to look as if JPMorgan Chase has had a hand in every major banking scandal of the last decade. In fact, it's the Zelig of Wall Street crime. Take a snapshot of any major bank fraud and chances are you’ll see JPMorgan Chase staring out at you from the frame.   Read more .

Unemployment Falls to 6.7 Percent Due to Workers Leaving the Labor Force

Dean Baker @ Center for Economic Policy Research - The headline unemployment rate fell sharply to 6.7 percent in December. The drop of 0.3 percentage points was almost entirely due to people leaving the labor force as the number of people reported employed in December only rose by 143,000. This was just enough to keep the employment-to-population ratio constant. The establishment survey was also surprisingly weak, showing a gain of just 74,000 jobs. In addition, the length of the average workweek fell by 0.1 hour leading to a decline of 0.3 percent in the index of weekly hours for the month.   Read more .

You Have the Watches; They Have the Time

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III @ Truthout - According to the BBC News and other sources, the US-installed and -backed government in Iraq has lost control of the city of Fallujah to fighters aligned with militants who are affiliated with al-Qaeda. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Residents and officials said US weapons were pillaged from armories after fighters took control of Fallujah and skirmished with Iraqi government troops on the road to Baghdad."   Read more .

Ex-Israeli PM Ariel Sharon dies at 85 - The iconic but controversial former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has died after his medical condition significantly deteriorated, his son confirmed to the media. The 85-year-old politician died in Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer hospital, also known as the Chaim Sheba Medical Center, where he had been in a coma since January 2006 after suffering a stroke and brain hemorrhage.   Read more.

Obama Administration Stays Quiet as Boeing Strikes Major Blow to Pensions

In These Times - On Friday, yet another nail was put in the coffin of the defined-benefit pension in America. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the percentage of U.S. private-sector retirement plans with defined benefits fell by half between 1989 and 2010, from 42 to only 22 percent. Yet this type of plan is much preferred by unions and worker advocates over defined-contribution plans such 401(k)s, because if a company makes bad investment decisions, workers’ retirement benefits don’t suffer.   Read more.

Officials reject concerns over 500 percent radiation increase on California beach - Health officials in California are now telling residents not to worry after a video uploaded to the internet last month seemed to show high levels of radiation at a Pacific Coast beach. The video, “Fukushima radiation hits San Francisco,” has been viewed nearly half-a-million times since being uploaded to YouTube on Christmas Eve, and its contents have caused concern among residents who fear that nuclear waste from the March 2011 disaster in Japan may be arriving on their side of the Pacific Ocean.   Read more .

Crippling West Virginia chemical spill leaves Charleston dry, quiet

LA Times - Downtown Charleston, normally packed with Friday night customers at restaurants and bars, was dark and quiet Friday evening. The local health department had ordered restaurants and other businesses to close as a faint chemical odor lingered on the streets. Residents were warned not to drink, cook with or bathe with tap water.   Read more .

Life in the Electronic Concentration Camp

John Whitehead @ The Rutherford Institute - What is most striking about the American police state is not the mega-corporations running amok in the halls of Congress, the militarized police crashing through doors and shooting unarmed citizens, or the invasive surveillance regime which has come to dominate every aspect of our lives. No, what has been most disconcerting about the emergence of the American police state is the extent to which the citizenry appears content to passively wait for someone else to solve our nation’s many problems. Unless Americans are prepared to engage in militant nonviolent resistance in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, true reform, if any, will be a long time coming.   Read more .

State of emergency, water ban issued in West Virginia over chemical leak - West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced a state of emergency in nine counties on Thursday, following a chemical spill into the Elk River, prompting a water ban that is reported to impact 300,000 customers. Local residents are urged not to drink, bathe, or cook with the water from their taps. Water use has only been permitted for flushing or fire emergencies.   Read more .

Obama's Sideways Attack on Edward Snowden

Marcy Wheeler @ Empty Wheel - Kudos to Shane Harris who, unlike a number of other reporters, brought the appropriate skepticism to Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger’s attempt to fearmonger Edward Snowden’s leaks. Not only did Harris use the correct verb tense — “could” as opposed to “has” — to describe documents describing the activities of the Armed Services that have not yet been released... read more .

Target's Data Breach Just Got Much Worse

Business Week - Target’s massive data breach in November and December may have been 75 percent larger than earlier estimates, according to a statement from the retailer this morning. The company said personal information was stolen from up to 70 million customers, compared with its previous estimate of 40 million.   Read more .

Feds recognize same-sex marriages in Utah

Salt Lake Tribune - The federal government will recognize same-sex marriages in Utah that took place before the U.S. Supreme Court granted the state’s request for a stay. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision a day after the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) urged him to ensure that those couples would be eligible for federal benefits.   Read more .